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Coronavirus

John Redwood (Wokingham)

This blog raises some questions and seeks your thoughts. Contrary to the assertions of a  couple of my recent correspondents I do not have a view of what is the right course of action for the UK authorities to take, and this piece does not offer a solution to the problems posed.

Let’s begin with the way the government is proposing to handle this.  Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer is an epidemiologist who has studied contagious diseases. He will lead for the government in keeping us informed of how many cases there are, what the current state of knowledge is concerning the virus and its transmission, and progress with diagnosis, testing and a possible vaccination in due course. He will also give advice on how government and private sector should respond to contain and defeat the virus.

Most of us who are not  medical experts will listen carefully to him. I have also taken advice from two doctors so far on this issue, and have talked to my local NHS General Hospital about their response.

To yesterday Chris Whitty  has reported 19 cases in the UK, all thought to have been caught outside the UK. The latest four come from Italy, Tenerife and Iran, showing the spread of the disease worldwide.

The Secretary of State will announce governmental decisions based on the advice, and will be responsible for informing Parliament, passing any  necessary legislation and ensuring the NHS has the resources needed for its role. The Chief Executives of the NHS in England and the devolved Administrations will be responsible for planning for contingencies, providing sufficient capacity for patients, and balancing resources should numbers escalate substantially.

Whilst the politicians will lean heavily on the professional advice, they ultimately will have to make crucial and difficult  judgements. As Chris Whitty has said recently, a policy like closing all schools or cancelling lots of sporting events and entertainments might be needed, but they do not yet know they would be a good idea. As the CMO said  “We do not know yet. We need to find that out. … How likely are they to work? What’s the evidence? What’s the cost?”

The problem for both the experts and the politicians is that they do not know enough about the virus. Will higher temperatures kill it off as they do many flu strains? How long does it rest in someone without symptoms, and how catching is it from that person? Is it true it little affects young people?  Can we believe the Chinese numbers implying they are gradually getting in control of it in Wuhan at the centre of its  genesis?  Is the death rate the same or lower than conventional flu, or is it worse?

Current advice is to self isolate and to ring 111. It is also to wash hands thoroughly and frequently as a likely route for infection. Are there additional measures which could usefully be taken to try to prevent further transmission?

How far should a free society go in banning flights from affected locations or requiring people who may have been in contact to be isolated for 14 days?

Current policy also hinges on tracking contacts of anyone confirmed as having the virus. What happens when someone with it has been on the tube or attended a football match?

All this shows that the response is a matter of judgement. Currently governments and experts seem to be relying to a considerable degree on the World Health Organisation, who are spreading information and helping co-ordinate work on this infection. I wish them all well in researching it more thoroughly so we do know exactly how it is transmitted, and can produce a vaccination to ward it off.

Meanwhile the government will also need to weigh the practical consequences of any advice or regulations they bring in. Closing all schools means many parents having to stay at home to look after children. Imposing more movement restrictions and flight cancellations has an economic cost. If safety clearly requires it then it should be done, but Chris Whitty’s questions about efficacy and cost need answering before any such decision. There is also the issue of fairness related to efficacy. Is banning a play or sporting event fair if we are not banning conferences or demonstrations? Parliament itself could be a good way to spread the virus but presumably we wish  to keep it meeting.

I am delighted to hear that Notts County Council will receive £500,000 for local services that enable domestic abuse victims and their children to stay safe, recover from the trauma, and access safe rehousing where needed.
This funding is part of a £16.6 million package announced by the government to support 75 projects across England that work with victims of domestic abuse and their children to keep them safe, including those in the East Midlands.
The funding will be shared between councils to fund domestic abuse refuge services, helping up to 43,000 survivors have access to the help they need as they move towards a safer future, free from domestic abuse.
I've seen the fantastic work these services do and last year I ran the Mansfield 10k to help raise money for NIDAS, a local charity that supports survivors of domestic abuse in North Notts. It's so important that we raise awareness of domestic abuse and ensure refuge services have proper financial support.
I'm looking forward to working with leaders from Nottinghamshire County Council to ensure the money gets to where it needs to be - on the front-line helping victims to rebuild their lives.

Software updates for smart devices – Minister’s reply

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland was invited to the Stevenage Asda store to check out some of the technology innovations being developed by the retailer. The Stevenage store has been picked to be the Technology concept store, allowing local shoppers to get a glimpse into the future.

Stephen was given a guided tour of the store during which he was shown the new features, and afterwards commented, "It is great to hear that Stevenage has been picked by Asda as its Technology concept store, allowing local shoppers to get a glimpse into the future of retail.

"From my behind the scenes tour of the store, it was interesting to see how Asda are testing the various technologies, like the automated click and collect machine, to give their customers a shopping experience that is fit for the future, and upskilling their colleagues in the process."

The Stevenage store is already testing over twenty different technologies since phase one of the project was launched with more to come throughout 2020. One of the innovations that Stephen tried out for himself was the Cleveron Flex Machine, an automated parcel service for Click & Collect shoppers. One of the Asda team explained, "It is essentially a large, and very clever, vending machine. You put your order number in, the machine will find your parcel and it will be delivered at the front of store for you to pick up. In the past a colleague would have to go and find the parcel, but now the machine does it all. It's pretty cool to see how these latest technologies can enhance the services we provide."

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Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has formally submitted a proposal to the Restoring Your Railway Fund for a passenger service from Stockport to Ashton-under-Lyne, stopping at Reddish South and Denton.

The Restoring Your Railway Fund will distribute £500 million of funds to reinstate axed local services and restore stations. MPs, local councils and community groups from across England and Wales can submit proposals to the Department for Transport.

With the support of Transport for Greater Manchester and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Gwynne has submitted a proposal to expand and upgrade the line between Heaton Norris Junction in Stockport and Guide Bridge/Ashton Moss Junction. Trains would stop at Reddish South and Denton stations, which would both be upgraded.

The route would form part of an orbital rail route between Stockport and Tameside, something that Greater Manchester is currently lacking.

Andrew Gwynne said:

“In Denton and Reddish, we have been under-served by a rail system for far too long. That’s why I was delighted to submit a formal bid for funds for an Ashton-Stockport line, stopping in both Denton and Reddish.

 

“This line would open up all sorts of new opportunities for people in our area, as well as finally providing a proper rail link between Tameside and Stockport – which is long overdue.

 

“Thanks to the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Transport for Greater Manchester for their technical help in putting the big together.”

Catching up with Esher & District CAB

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

Today I had a good meeting with Elaine Bissell and Sarah Waite from the Esher & District Citizens Advice Bureau. We caught up on a range of important issues for local residents including mental health, Personal Independence Payments, Universal Credit and housing.

This is a valued partnership which is key to making sure that we are supporting people across Elmbridge. Our teams will continue to work closely together.

Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, is holding an event on Saturday 7th March to celebrate International Women’s Day and the area’s brilliant and successful women.

The all-day event, which kicks off at 10am, will feature a marketplace of excellent local businesses run by women, charities and community groups run by and supporting women, as well as demonstrations, displays, live performances, a pop-up cafe and a host of guest speakers.

It is taking place at Batley Community Centre in Upper Commercial Street, Batley, WF17 5DH. Entry to the event is free and is open to all.

Businesswomen taking part include entrepreneurs who have set up their own perfume shops, make-up lines and gyms, as well as charities including Heckmondwike’s Rainbow Baby Bank and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Guest speakers include make-up artist Julia Townend who has spent the past 25 years working in the film and television industry and now runs her own studio in Batley, and local businesswoman Salma Karolia who founded Salma’s Beauty Academy based in the heart of the town centre.

Lin Davie, who has worked behind the scenes on hit TV series such as Gentleman Jack, Doctor Who and The Stranger in a career spanning 30 years will also be giving a talk at the event, with more exciting guest speakers still to be announced.

Cleckheaton-based Sarah Sutton School of Performing Arts will also be putting on live performances throughout the day in the main hall.

Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, said: “We have so many brilliant, successful women in Batley and Spen and this is an opportunity to celebrate them.

“Women still face so many more challenges than men in business, the workplace and in everyday life. These women are prime examples that with hard work, talent and determination you can smash these barriers and have successful career.

“This is an opportunity to meet local businesswomen in a wide range of different sectors, local charities and groups that support women, and to hear and learn from women at the top of their game.”

A limited number of stalls are still available for local businesses and community groups to hire, and if you want to take part, please call Tracy Brabin’s office on 01924 900036 or email Ingrid.scott@parliament.uk

Rushanara Ali MP campaigns to save Mildmay Hospital

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow)

Following news that London's only HIV/AIDS Hospital, made famous by Princess Diana, faces closure, Rushanara Ali MP joined the team at Mildmay Hospital to support their campaign. 

 

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, has visited Beverley Minster Primary School to get an update from school leaders.

Meeting with the Headteacher, Rachel Hatter, and the Chair of Governors, Tim Walker, Graham spoke with them about improvements being made around the school – and also found time to meet some of the pupils to hear about their time there.

The visit is part of the local MP’s efforts to speak to school leaders across the constituency following the Government’s recent announcement of £14 billion extra funding for schools, that will see every school’s per-pupil funding rise at least in line with inflation next year. The average increase across the country is 4%, with historically underfunded schools receiving the greatest uplifts. The average per-pupil uplift in Beverley and Holderness next year will be 8%.

Graham said, “With schools set to benefit from new absolute minimums of £5,000 per pupil for secondary schools and £3,750 for primary schools, I want to visit as many as possible to stay informed of the progress being made in improving outcomes for children and providing them with a world-class education.

“In particular, I’m hoping to visit schools that could benefit the most from additional funding to help them provide a good education to children across the constituency.

“I had a great time chatting to pupils at Beverley Minster. They were very confident and polite, and spoke enthusiastically about their time at the school. I got the chance to hear what they were enjoying studying, and I also spoke a little bit about what my role is as an MP.

Graham was also interested to hear about changes Beverley Minster had made to how they teach reading. England is now in joint-8th place in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study – up from joint-10th in 2011 and 19th under the last Labour Government.

Graham added, “The school’s new approach to reading was very interesting to hear about as I know the school’s last Ofsted report did mention there was room to improve in this area in Key Stage 1.

“Because of the reforms to phonics that we’ve pushed, 163,000 more 6 year-olds are on track to become fluent readers compared to 2012.”

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

In the wake of the terrible flooding that has hit my Neath constituency following Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, I want to say again how much I feel for all those who have been so badly affected. If you need any support in the coming days and weeks, then please get in touch with my office to see how we can help. The Welsh Labour Government are making available payments to homes affected by flooding. To see how to apply, visit their website here. I have also signed a letter from all Welsh Labour MPs to the UK Government to ask them to contribute to repairing the huge damage caused by the flooding and to look again at the devolution settlement which uses outdated formula to calculate the Welsh Government budget so that in future Wales can enjoy a fairer share of the UK Treasury funds.

I returned to the issue of the recent floods in my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, when I tackled the Government on their response in Wales Questions. The Welsh Government have done their best to respond to flood victims and have set aside £10 million to help people affected by flooding with a severely restrictive budget thanks to ten years of Tory cuts, but last month the Treasury took back £200 million from that budget due to recalculations in the devolution settlement. The Prime Minister has shown a complete lack of action and compassion on the flooding; indeed, he has been absent throughout this entire crisis. It’s simply not good enough and the UK Government need to step up to their responsibilities and start investing in communities around the UK to put right the damage that ten years of Tory cuts have done.

Over the course of this week in Westminster, I’ve met with some fantastic campaigners on a range of very important issues. The British Liver Trust are the largest liver charity in the UK and raise awareness of the risk factors contributing to liver disease and provide vital information to people in order to improve liver health. So many of the causes of liver diseases can be mitigated by simple lifestyle alterations. Monitoring consumption of alcohol and making sure it does not exceed the recommended limits, maintaining a balanced diet that limits fat and sugar intake, and includes drinking plenty of water, and taking regular exercise can all help to reduce your risk of liver disease.

It was a pleasure to meet with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has a number of projects based around the world helping to protect endangered animals in the sea and on land. But they also know that in order to help protect animals, they have to help humans understand the value of animals and to help them make a living in a way that means they are not driven by desperation to poaching or illegal trade. They create jobs in wildlife protection so that those looking after animals around the world are the local people. They support domestic abuse victims to find new homes that will also take their beloved pets, so they do not risk leaving them in a dangerous situation. They help run vaccination programmes where unvaccinated dogs are the cause of rabies. It’s great to see them promoting the symbiosis of animal and human so that we are not the cause of animal suffering and can benefit in a way that doesn’t cause any damage.

I also met with representatives from the Law Society during this year’s Justice Week which aims to improve access to justice by raising awareness of what justice means and the rule of law, and by ensuring that it remains at the forefront of public and political debate. The justice system has suffered massively from the Tory decade of austerity and more recently has faced persistent attacks on the independence of the judiciary which impact on the ability of the legal system to ensure that everyone has access to justice and fairness. They believe, as I do as a former barrister, that it is essential for young people to understand the importance of our justice system, hailed around the world as the pinnacle of justice, and to see justice and the rule of law as fundamental elements of our freedom and democracy.

The Government made a statement on our future relationship with the EU this week, speaking about protecting UK sovereignty, pursuing a comprehensive trade deal, and protecting UK interests. However, once again there was no detail of the impact on employment and communities within the statement and their basic, bare bones relationship is one that will harm the Welsh economy and jobs. It’s time the Government put the people of the UK before ideology and sound bites and get down to work ensuring that the negotiations with the EU lead to a comprehensive trade deal, taking into account our close, integrated economy, to prevent the increasingly likely scenario of us crashing out at the end of the year with no deal.

It is St David’s Day this weekend, and so on Thursday it was time for our annual debate in Parliament. It was a pleasure to hear such passionate voices from all over Wales, and the calls for Westminster to listen to the voices and needs of Wales and to respect the wonderful things that are being done there. If what we’re led to believe is true and that the Tories have a spending splurge planned, then I hope that Wales will receive its fair share, although based on current standards and the Tories’ terrible record when it comes to setting a fair budget for the Welsh Government, then I will not hold my breath. But it is time that the UK Government stopped pretending that the Welsh Government is responsible for cuts to services during the Tory-imposed austerity of the last decade and provide the funds for fair investment in Wales so that our communities can prosper.

If you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk or call us on 01639 630152.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Good Economic News!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Last week’s economic figures show that employment remains at a record high and unemployment at a 40-year low giving families the security of a good job and more money in their pockets thanks to another month of rising wages.

As we embark on our future outside the EU, we are delivering on people’s priorities and helping families with the cost of living through lower taxes, higher wages and more well-paid jobs – including by giving the National Living Wage its largest cash boost ever from this April.

On March 11th we will present the first budget since the general election and we will set out our plans to repay the trust people have placed in us – levelling up and unleashing the country’s potential, ushering in a decade of renewal.
This is welcome news and we should also recognise the role of local employers and businesses in helping to achieve this.
Wages are rising faster than prices which is good news, but there is more to do on our path to create a stronger and fairer economy for the benefit of everyone.

At some point in our lives, most of us end up in debt. Whether that is a mortgage, a credit card, or finance for a car – we’re used to facing debt in our daily lives. But what happens when debt gets out of control? When working families are taking out loans with eye-watering levels of interest just to get to the next pay day? The risk of uncontrollable debt is that people end up bankrupt and lives end up ruined, while loan companies and legal loan sharks make a killing.

Must up our cyber security

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

This week at RUSI (Royal United Services Institute) we discussed the huge challenge of how we protect ourselves from Cyber attack….. not just public sector but private sector essentials like food distribution……need real political will if we are to meet these challenges. A must for the Government’s foreign, defence and security review.

West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has expressed his disappointment that evening and weekend GP out of hours services at the Vale of Leven Hospital are to be suspended temporarily by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The local MP has written … Continue reading

The post MP CALLS FOR HEALTH BOARD TO RESTORE VITAL VALE HOSPITAL OUT OF HOURS GP SERVICE appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack following his recent comments regarding the UK Government’s immigration policy. 

Mr Jack recently stated that the immigration system is good news for the Scottish economy and that it will be less restrictive than at present.  The current UK Shortage Occupation List includes classical ballet dancers but makes no reference to the fishing industry.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“The West Coast of Scotland’s fishing industry has for years been crying out for crew and I have repeatedly called on the Home Office to listen to these concerns, yet boats are tied up due to lack of crew – this is damaging to the fishing boat owners, the processing sector and our economy.

“The fishing industry need crew now – while I do not wish to take anything away from the Arts, prioritisation of classical ballet dancers is not what our economy needs.

“I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland to ask him to clarify when fishermen will be added to the list of skilled workers.  Only then will the new immigration system benefit the Scottish fishing industry.”

ENDS

MP's latest video on climate change

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The UK is leading the way on protecting our planet for future generations.

Residents living in tenements will have access to a wider range of communal recycling facilities with more frequent collections if a Communal Bin Enhancement project gets the green light today.

MP keeps Cotswold Line dualling on track

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has welcomed news that Network Rail has confirmed a 12-week study to assess plans to add extra sections of dualling to the Cotswold Line. read more »


Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has welcomed the announcement this week by SWR of a new compensation package for season ticket holders and other rail users who have been impacted by strike action.
 
The additional compensation is for up to five days travel and will be offered to season ticket holders and daily ticket holders who travelled frequently during the strike.
 

New figures show extent of sight loss in the Borders

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

New figures from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) show a large increase in the number of people living with sight loss in the Borders.

From 2008 to 2018 there has been an increase of 17% in people living with sight loss, up 530 to 3,710 in total across the Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk parliamentary constituency.

A copy of the letter I received from George Eustice MP, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regarding the response to Storm Dennis and Ciara.

Lower Thames Crossing Consultation 2020

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

At the end of 2018, Highways England held a consultation in which almost 29,000 people shared their views on proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing, a new road connecting Kent, Thurrock and Essex through a tunnel beneath the River Thames.

Highways England reviewed the feedback received through the consultation and have continued to progress designs ahead of submitting a Development Consent Order application later this year.

They would now like to hear your views on our proposed changes to the route.

This is the latest stage in the planning process and is an opportunity for you to have your say. Information on their website outlines the changes to the route, provides project updates, explains how to give your feedback and details the planning process we will go through before the final decision is made by the Secretary of State for Transport.

To have your say and review the proposals click HERE.

Shepway Sports Trust and the Folkestone Coastal 10K

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

We have seen big investments over the last ten years in the sports facilities across the district. Much of this has been led by the Shepway Sports Trust, of which I am a trustee, in particular with the creation of the Three Hills Sports centre in Folkestone, providing excellent all-weather facilities for cricket, hockey and […]

Few news stories in recent weeks have been as shocking as the revelation that a number of babies have died at one of the East Kent hospitals when the deaths were preventable. We now know that the number of these preventable deaths might be as high as 15, despite lower numbers being quoted earlier.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Half term gives me a chance to spend good quality time in Teignbridge getting to grips with local challenges and problems, some of which are unique to us, and others which we share with many rural communities up and down the country. The week was a productive one, talking with both the police and the fire service, retailers in Newton Abbot, a housing association and our local work and pensions team, and of course a busy surgery.

Blue Light Services

If you’ve visited the Sovereign Centre recently, you’re bound to have seen the cheerful #SUPERWESTON exhibitions about what Weston’s future should hold. The ideas range from designer shops to skateparks, tenpin bowling or even virtual reality cafes; you can take your pick.

Quite a few of us want Weston’s future to include protecting our past. We don’t have to exclude all the new, shiny stuff by preserving the old; we can and should have both at the same time. Preserving or regenerating historic Westonis a key part of what makes us unique and different today. We don’t want to be an identikit town that’s no different from any of the others in Somerset, or anywhere else for that matter. 

Reassuringly, the buildings that experts in big national organisations like Historic England think are important in Weston line up pretty much exactly with what you and I as local residents think too. 

Take Birnbeck Pier – we all know the current owner should step aside and let someone with a plan take over before it’s lost to the sea, and both the Council and Historic England agree. 

Or Worlebury Hillfort – built around 2,300 years ago, it’s a piece of Weston’s History that has suffered over the years and would be a travesty to lose.

Or Weston’s high street, which is facing the same pressures from internet shopping and out-of-town malls as many others, and which needs to reshape itself into something new and different, that’s more than just coffee and charity shops please.  

It’s a fine balancing act and local views matter. So the next time you see one of the #SUPERWESTON exhibitions, please stop for a moment and let them know what you think. Investing in Weston’s heritage makes us more interesting as a place to work, visit and live. And keeping good-looking buildings and public spaces makes our town-on-the-bay more beautiful too.

Evennett holds Social Mobility debate

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, held a Westminster Hall debate yesterday (12 February) on Social Mobility.

Incinerator Update

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

This morning I was informed that Wheelabrator had withdrawn its plans for a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator at Barton Stacey. This is great news and a tribute to the community’s campaign against this project.

I made my opposition to the incinerator clear to the government and Wheelabrator from the start and I have worked closely with my neighbouring MP Caroline Nokes, in whose constituency the incinerator was to be built and who has done sterling work inside and outside Parliament to support the campaign.

With just one week to go until the South Bristol Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair, the full list of exhibitors has been unveiled. 
 
The fair, which takes place at City of Bristol College’s South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove from 11am-3pm on Thursday 27 February, brings together some of the city’s biggest employers, training providers and organisations that support people with apprenticeships. 

From public sector services such as Avon & Somerset Police, HMRC and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to key local businesses including Babcock International, Fowlers motorcycle dealership and Jeffway Electrical Services, recruiters and apprentices will be on hand to talk about the opportunities available (see below for full list). 

Organised by Bristol South MP Karin Smyth in partnership with City of Bristol College, Bristol City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, the event is the only one of its kind in South Bristol.  

Karin says: “I’ve been organising this event with the college for four years now and each year we see new employers and organisations coming on board. We’ve got a good mix of employers from Bristol South and beyond and the colleges and support agencies which can help you with your career. It’s one of the highlights of the year for me – a chance to talk to employers and apprentices as well as parents, grandparents and students and learn more about their experiences.” 

Award-winning apprentice Jess Perrett completed a carpentry apprenticeship with On Site and Bristol City Council. She is now working towards a higher national certificate in construction.  

The 25-year-old from Knowle said: “I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I wasn’t enjoying my A levels and wanted to try something else that’s wasn’t classroom based and a more practical hands on approach. The knowledge I have gained is not only applicable to my work life but to my home life. With this insight, I’ve managed to renovate two properties and about to start my third.” 

21st Century Building Services which also takes on apprentices via On Site explains how apprenticeships are of benefit to them. 

Claire Stockham, from the Bedminster based business, said: “As a business we have always appreciated the value of training and developing our employees and have found this has contributes greatly to having such a committed and loyal team. Our Managing Director started as an apprentice and has invested in apprenticeships from day one of the business. Being able to find the right people and help them train and develop means we can ensure that we have the very best people working for us.” 

Andy Forbes, Principal of City of Bristol College, which helps train hundreds of apprentices each year and has just started work on a new Advanced Construction Skills Centre, added: “We are really looking forward to welcoming such a wide range of employers to our South Bristol Skills Academy. Apprenticeships at City of Bristol College have so much to offer. The chance to earn money while you learn is an attractive option, and in many areas you can now do apprenticeships right up to university level. Hope to see you there!”  

For more information, visit: www.cityofbristol.ac.uk/news/south-bristol-jobs-and-apprenticeships-fair-returns-for-2020 

Exhibitor list: 

Avon & Somerset Police    

Arthur David Food Wholesalers 

Avon Fire & Rescue

Avon & Wiltshire NHS Trust 

Avon Cosmetics 

Axcis Education 

Babcock International 

Barratt Homes  

Bath College 

Brandon Trust  

Bristol Airport (Alpha LSG Sky ChefsMoneycorp, Swissport and others) 

The Bristol Port Company

Bristol Waste 

Carers Support Centre 

CITB Apprenticeships 

Class Recruitment 

Co-Op Distribution 

eXPD8 Field Marketing Agency 

Fowlers Motorcycle Dealership 

Future Bright 

Greene King 

Greggs 

Hayes Parsons Insurance Broker 

Hengrove Park Leisure 

HMRC 

Home Instead  

Jeffway Electrical & Training  

Knowle West Media Centre  

KPMG

Lidl Distribution Centre 

McDonalds     

Marriott Hotels   

Medacs Healthcare 

Midas Construction 

Mitie Technical Facilities Management 

National Careers Service  

Network Rail   

Newcross Healthcare 

N-gaged Training  

On Site

Orridge  Stocktaking and Supply Chain Solutions 

Pattersons Catering Supplies 

Pertemps  

Princes Trust 

Professional Apprenticeships  

Proud To Care 

Redcliffe Precision     

St Monica Trust

Severn Ride & Stride

Sodexo catering based at Clifton College 

Teleperformance 

Tesco Distribution   

Travelwest  

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust  

United Living        

UWE Bristol  

Weston College

Wages back to pre-economic crisis levels

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

Tuesday 19th February 2020

Alec has welcomed news released today that averages wages are now back to pre-economic crisis levels.

Alec said: “Workers lost a decade of wage growth after Labour’s economic crash, but by helping the Government to pay down the deficit and rewire our economy with record employment, the patience of the British people is paying off”.

Today’s news sees a record high number of people in work, a record high employment rate, more women in work than ever before, female employment rate at a record high, full time employment at a record high and almost 3.9 m more people in work since 2010.

The post Wages back to pre-economic crisis levels appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke.

Coneygear Centre Opening

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Jonathan Djanogly MP attends the official opening of the new Coneygear Community Centre in Huntingdon.  read more »

Helen’s Law, at Second Reading

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

Last week, MPs passed the Bill we have all come to know as Helen’s Law, at Second Reading. For decades, Marie McCourt has shown dignity, tenacity and sacrifice in persevering with this campaign, even after her own daughter’s killer was released just weeks ago. Because the Government has introduced the Bill itself, Helen’s Law will now make swift progress and become law. This rare step is testament to Marie McCourt’s […]

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
if you have money for Surrey,
can we have some too?

Dear Chancellor,

Congratulations on your new appointment.

With the Local Government Association indicating that Surrey is set to receive an additional £26million of Government funding while Nottingham is set to lose another £14million I wanted to write to urge you to change course.

Ahead of your first Budget I’m asking you to begin to restore the resources that your predecessors have taken away from Nottingham.

Nottingham has had its main Government grant cut by £102 million since 2013, at a time when demand for services like care for the elderly and protecting vulnerable children have been rising.

In Nottingham over the last 9 years we’ve had to save £267 million, due in large part to Government funding cuts. We’ve been innovative and improved efficiency.

We’ve implemented a range of commercial and trading activities which bring in over £20 million a year to help fund local services. We have prioritised vital front line services and tried to protect our most vulnerable residents.

The funding cuts imposed by your Government have gone too far, they’ve hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, they mean that local people are having to pay more to fill the funding gap and without new resources are putting vital public services and the financial stability of councils at risk. Just like in other local areas up and down the country we’ve had to cut services, increase some charges and increase council tax in an attempt to counter the funding cuts.

There are three specific areas I would ask you to prioritise to ease the pressure on our financial position and help us to unlock Nottingham’s potential:

  • Social Care Green Paper – Care for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people are the biggest areas of expenditure in Nottingham. The LGA has warned there will be a £6.7 billion spending gap in children’s and adult social care services by 2025. Since March 2017 we have been waiting for the Government’s Social Care Green Paper but its publication has been delayed time and time again. A clear plan for how local authorities continue to provide social care services as demand rises is essential for the long term financial sustainability of councils.
  • Fair Infrastructure Funding – There is a serious disparity in spending on infrastructure between regions. London gets £3636 spent per head compared to just £741 per person for the East Midlands. Projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline have been shelved while projects like London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 are set to go ahead.
  • Funding Based on Need – Cuts to local authorities have disproportionately fallen on urban areas with higher levels of deprivation. Since 2011 Nottingham has lost £529 spending power per household compared to wealthier areas like Surrey which have gained £19 per household. A new funding formula is needed that recognises the differences between areas of the country and has need at its heart.

Councils do so much to transform local communities and economies, but given adequate resources and powers we can do much more. As a Chancellor delivering his first Budget you have an opportunity to work with us rather than against us.

The people of Nottingham will be watching closely on 11th March to see if you’ll begin to return to us some of the funding that’s been taken away.

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre

The post Valentines Letter to Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP Ahead of Budget 2020 appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Growing momentum behind apprenticeships

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

After a fantastic National Apprenticeship Week this year, I am keen to keep growing the excitement and momentum behind the apprenticeships programme which is so important to us in Wiltshire. Yesterday I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the issue.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about apprenticeships is that they are a proven way to drastically improve social mobility and there are hundreds of success stories from this right here in Wiltshire. This year we have increased available investment in apprenticeships to over £2.5 billion – double what was spent in 2010-11 in cash terms.

It is also vital that we keep growing our pool of employers, especially from small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Wiltshire is the proud home of thousands of SMEs and they can provide local people with brand new opportunities through apprenticeships.

The post Growing momentum behind apprenticeships appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

HS2 given the green light. East Coast Mainline needs investment too!

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

  Today the government have finally given the green light to the HS2 rail line. We desperately need a new north-south mainline railway in the UK and this crucial investment has been held back by dithering and delays for too long. It was first announced by the last Labour government in 2009 so this is … Continue reading HS2 given the green light. East Coast Mainline needs investment too!

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will publish her Department's response to the Wild Justice Challenge on the effect of rearing gamebirds on Sites of Special Scientific Interest; and if she will make a statement.

The Vatican suggested in 2014 that about 100,000 Christians were being severely persecuted. Open Doors suggests that 11 Christians are killed every day—or 4,000 a year. Christians are probably the most persecuted religious sect in the world. Unfortunately, most of that persecution takes place in Muslim countries.

Elimination of Homelessness Bill

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Debbie Abrahams sponsors motion to eliminate homelessness

I have sponsored an Early Day Motion on homelessness which you can read in full here. It is absolutely unacceptable that since 2010, we have seen a 77% increase in the number of homeless families in temporary accommodation in England to 84,740 since 2010. This includes 126,020 children, with a further 82,000 children sofa surfing according to the Children’s Commissioner.

Policies are desperately needed at national level to stop these shocking numbers, and the numbers of deaths of street-homeless individuals, rising ever higher.

Along with the motion, Reverend Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty wrote to the Prime Minister to pressure the government to address this crisis including through the draft Elimination of Homelessness Bill. You can read this in full below.

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your 12th December 2019 election victory.

We are asking your new government to make an end to the humiliation of low income renters by making the elimination of both rough sleeping and family homelessness an immediate and on going task for both national and local government. That is why we are sending you and other political parties represented in Parliament the attached Elimination of Homelessness Bill and brief.  

On the 16th December we launched Social Housing, Affordable Rents and Elimination of Homelessness Bill covering England and Wales. It has been drafted by Ian Wise QC from a brief by Professor Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, following discussions initiated by Taxpayers Against Poverty (TAP). The Bill is based on our experience of working with and for families and individuals who have been evicted into homelessness.

You are no doubt aware that there is a housing emergency in the UK.  In October 2019 the Office for National Statistics published figures showing an estimated 726 homeless people died on the streets in England and Wales in 2018, a 22 per cent rise from 2017. Your Minister told MPs; “As you will know this Government is committed to putting an end to rough sleeping by 2027 and halving it by 2022, and we have changed the law to help make this happen”. Jessica Turtle of the Museum for Homelessness says that people were mainly dying (on the streets) from drug and alcohol misuse, which is directly linked to a cut in services. “A lot of these deaths are preventable,” she said. She expects an increase in 2019.

The House of Commons Library reports that since December 2010 the number of families in temporary accommodation increased by 77% to 84,740 with 126,020 children. 56,280 of the families are in London. The Children’s Commissioner for England suggest there are a further 82,000 children sofa surfing. Based on freedom of information requests, the exclusive analysis by Shelter shows that more than 33,000 homless families in temporary accommodation are holding down a job, despite having nowhere stable to live. This has increased by 73% since 2013, when it was 19,000 families. Former residents of Grenfell Tower have been in temporary accommodation for over two years. Other homeless families been there for up to and over ten years. There are currently no plans at national or local level urgently to reverse the trend of increasing homelessness.

“The good news is that London is full of enough housing for all. There are more empty bedrooms in London than there are people who need housing – but almost all of those bedrooms are in under-occupied privately owned property”. (Dorling and Tomlinson –  “RULE BRITANIA” pages 184-185)

We are also sending you all a brief by Fred Harrison, of the Land Research Trust, who predicted the financial crises of 1972, 1994 and 2008. He shows how the next financial crisis is due in 2026 unless remedial action is taken by your government. This is important to TAP because we know it is the low income renters and their children, for whom we work, whose health, well-being and life expectancy suffer most from each financial crisis. 

At the time of writing the Elimination of Homelessness Bill is supported so far by the following NGOs; Compassion in Politics, Equality Trust, Land Research Trust, London Community Land Trust,  Progressive Policy Unit, Taxpayers Against Poverty and Shelter, we expect the list to grow.

With our best wishes for 2020,

Rev Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty

 

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The post Elimination of Homelessness Bill appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, Labour Candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

I have said from the very beginning that if we are to ensure a 24 hour A&E Service at RGH then we need to forget about Party Politics, and come together to work cross-party.

We need you to play your part too, by signing the below letter. If you wish to do so then please let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page:

 

The configuration of Emergency NHS services across Cwm Taf Morgannwg has changed over the years – and will continue to change along with medical advances and changes in the local population. We welcome, for instance, the development of the new Major Trauma Centre at UHW, which will almost certainly save lives and we recognise that for some specialist forms of care it will be necessary to travel to a regional centre of excellence such as the Burns Unit at Morriston. We also understand that there is a UK-wide shortage of Emergency Consultants. and that Cwm Taf Morgannwg is not in a unique position with the recruitment challenges it faces,but would note that 5 of the 7 LHBs in Wales have substantially increased emergency consultant numbers over the last 6 years whereas Cwm Taf Morgannwg has not. We would argue that the uncertainty created over the future of the hospital due to the South Wales Programme has itself created a self-fulfilling prophecy about recruitment problems.

Our starting point, however, is that all NHS services should be safe, efficient and delivered as close to people’s homes as is medically and logistically feasible. Time-critical medical interventions can make the difference between life and death in many emergency situations and we are concerned that if the A&E were permanently to close at any one of the three hospitals, significant numbers of patients in some of the most deprived communities would not be able to get to an Emergency Department in time. A&E cannot be seen in isolation from other services such as GP surgeries, local minor injuries units and out-of-hours support. Additional capacity in these services would almost certainly lighten the load in the Emergency Departments, but this must be put in place before any changes to the configuration of Emergency Care is considered, let alone implemented, with evidence that they have substantially reduced the load on Emergency departments required before any changes. Changes to A&E provision at any one of the hospitals would have serious implications for other services within the hospital, including ITU and theatre and might harm the recruitment of other specialists.

There would be significant knock-on effects if the A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital were to be downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit, as the hospital would almost certainly lose its Intensive Care Unit and operating theatre. This could jeopardise the long-term future of the hospital. The RGH’s Emergency Department is the most used in the area, with roughly 65,000 attendances a year, and ranked the best in terms of viable outcomes.  We fear the two other Emergency Departments would find it impossible to cope with the additional workload and that many patients will travel instead to UHW, which is also already over-stretched. We are also concerned that extra A&E admissions to PCH and POW would put additional pressure on not just their respective A&E depts but onwards and throughout the hospital system. We are determined to work with people of all political parties and trades unions (and none) to get the best possible outcome for the communities we represent. We believe the eventual decision should be informed by clinical best practice and local experience on the ground – and not by any partisan consideration.

We are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to do the following:
1) Rule out the closure of A&E at the RGH or changing it to a 24-hour Minor Injuries Unit.
2) Reinstate the option of maintaining a full consultant-led A&E at all three hospitals. This would require a serious new attempt at recruiting Emergency Consultants who would have secure full-time permanent posts working across all three hospitals. It would also require at least a ten-year commitment to RGH so that potential staff can apply with confidence.
3) Bring forward proposals to extend the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and make these units more readily accessible for walk-in patients.
4) Bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service, that might alleviate the pressure on all three A&E departments
and bring services closer to local communities.

In addition, we are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to publish the following:
1) A socioeconomic and equality impact assessment of any proposed changes.
2) Detailed analyses of travel-to-hospital times, average ambulance response times and levels of car ownership, for all electoral wards in the area. that analyses such times during periods of poor weather.
3) Detailed statistics for levels of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infant and adult mortality for all electoral wards in the area. and how they compare with the Welsh averages/wealthier wards in Wales.
4) An assessment of how many patients from each electoral ward would be affected by a proposal to move to an 8 to 8, and 8 to 10 and an 8 to midnight Emergency Department.
5) An assessment of capacity in the Emergency Departments at POW, PCH, and UHW and how they would cope with additional patients.
6) Statistics for the number of patients who are admitted on towards at each hospital from A&E.
7) An assessment of the impact to the Welsh Ambulance Service, Ambulance response times, handover response times, in terms of waiting times at hospitals, blue light trauma travel times
and non-emergency transport between hospitals.

Please wait...

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

World Cancer Day

Stewart Hosie (Dundee East)

Today (4th February) is World Cancer Day.
Commenting, Dundee East MP, Stewart Hosie said:
"Almost everyone has been affected by Cancer in some way, whether that be through their own diagnosis, or that of friends and loved one's. And it is important to recognise the toll living with Cancer, or seeing a loved one with Cancer can take, not just physically, but mentally.
That is why I was so happy to be able to meet with Maggie's at their centre at Ninewells recently. Based in a building that in itself instils hope and offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere, the team work incredibly hard to support those living with Cancer and their loved ones through what is an extremely difficult time, whether that be with counselling, light exercise classes, wig fitting, support groups and much more.
I was pleased to tour their fantastic building and hear all about the packed timetable of various free services they run, and in particular to hear about their Cancer in the Workplace programme where they offer advice and support to individuals, employers, and colleagues, on how best to support those affected by Cancer in their return to the workplace.
I want to send a huge thank you to all the members of the public who – in the street, on the trains and elsewhere as I travelled yesterday – took the time to say they appreciated the spirit of my speech in Parliament on Thursday and the related Today programme interview yesterday. They showed me there is appetite for reconciliation and progress in this country: we can hope to come together and move on. Find the full speech on […]
INDEPENDENCE IS ‘BEACON OF HOPE’ AS TORIES SWITCH OFF EU LIGHT Argyll and Bute MP, Brendan O’Hara renewed calls for Scotland to choose its own future, calling independence a “beacon of hope” for people in Scotland against an insular, Brexit-obsessed Boris Johnson Britain. As the UK prepares to leave the EU on Friday (31st January), Mr … Continue reading INDEPENDENCE IS ‘BEACON OF HOPE’ AS TORIES SWITCH OFF EU LIGHT

Less than 3 months after the last Queen’s Speech, which was used as a party political broadcast by the Tories, Health and Social Care was again on the agenda today.

Whilst, I welcome some of the initiatives put forward, it is hard to have faith in what the UK Government propose when Boris Johnson’s previous promise of 40 new hospitals for NHS England turned out to be 6 and their plan to recruit 6,000 extra GPs when they failed to recruit the 5,000 that were promised during the General Election in 2015! Indeed, England now has 1000 fewer GPs.

While NHS Scotland has challenges too, it is leading the UK in Emergency Care performance, Health and Social Care funding and provision of services such as free prescriptions and free personal care.

In addition, the Scottish Patient Safety Programme is an international trailblazer, having reduced post-surgical deaths by a remarkable 37%. For all his talk about Patient Safety, previous UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saw the WHO checklist in action on a visit to Scotland but never made it obligatory in NHS England.

The post My speech on Health & Social Care in the Queen’s Speech Debate 16/1/20 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

Jesse’s Hereford Times Column

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)

I hope all Hereford Times readers have had the chance to have a good break, and went easy--but not too easy--on the mince pies and Christmas pud!

Christmas Greetings

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

2019 Election Victory

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

I would like to thank my constituents for re-electing me to serve as the Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen My campaign was simple. Get Brexit done and move onto the other important issues which, in my opinion, have not received the attention they deserve. The general election returned 109 new Conservative MP’s from all [...]

The post 2019 Election Victory appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a historic debt of honour to them.