Friday, 27 November 2015

Number 10 BLOCKS a review on controversial FOBTs

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News for Graham
Number 10 blocks much-needed review on FOBTs

News emerged this month that David Cameron had blocked a review of addictive fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The story broke in the Times – and made reference to fellow Tory Boris Johnson and his public concerns around the £100 a spin machines.

It revealed that the The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had proposed a review of the machines, which made £1.6bn for thebookies in the year to September 2014, a £45m rise on the previous 12 months.

However, the proposal was blocked by the Cabinet Office, in a move that Tory MPs say was sanctioned by Number 10.

Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, said the decision flew in the face of mounting concerns among fellow Conservatives.

"There are a growing number of colleagues on our benches who are concerned about FOBTs," Walker said. "I would have very much welcomed a review. I don't like the idea of them, I don't like the way they operate and I don't like the way that the betting industry tries to defend them.

"We all know what they are — they are a way of extracting vast sums of money from people who can mostly ill- afford to lose it."

The story also made headlines in Totally Gaming, BBC Kent and the Christian Institute

Senet Group in hot water for "aggressive" lobbying

The Senet Group found itself in hot water this month when it was accused of being all over an MP chairing an inquiry on FOBTs "like a rash."

When MSP Kevin Stewart rebuffed the advances of senior gambling industry figures and advised them to contribute to the public scrutiny, he said the response from the Senet Group was "aggressive".

William Hill then sent a representative to track Mr Stewart down at the SNP conference in Aberdeen last month, the MSP said.

Mr Stewart said: "I had never heard of Senet until recently, until suddenly they wanted to talk to me. I wonder why that is. A cynic would maybe say it was because we were conducting this inquiry - and on this occasion I am a cynic."

The story was also picked up by The Daily Record and The Scottish Times.

Heartbroken partner of FOBT addict shares story

The heartbroken partner of a man who took his life after spending a fortune on high-stakes betting terminals has called for new curbs on the controversial machines.

Lee Murphy committed suicide after losing up to £30,000 in a year on the machines – once gambling a month's wages in a couple of hours.

Lee became hooked on them and, as the 37-year-old's addiction spiralled out of control, he took out payday loans to cover his losses and even borrowed cash in his partner's name without her knowledge.

The training co-ordinator gambled almost all of his £28,000 salary and about £10,000 of high street loans.

He took his own life after losing £900 in the space of 20 minutes at a casino months after saying he was hooked on the betting machines.

His partner Wendy Bendel said: "The Government allowed these terminals into bookies but they now have to stop the despair these machines can cause. I guarantee there are more people out there like Lee."

You can read more in The Daily Record and Sunday Mail and the Mirror.

Crime and violence on FOBTs continues

The spate of crime and violence associated with FOBTs continued throughout November. In the South West, a gambling addict pawned his friend's possessions while they were at Glastonbury in order to fuel his addiction.

Meanwhile in Yorkshire, police are hot on the trail of 400 winning FOBT tickets after a local drug dealer used the now infamous "crack cocaine" of gambling machines to clean the proceeds of his ill-gotten gains.

In Bedfordshire, police were forced to remind businesses about important safety procedures following a robbery at a Linslade betting shop.  Two men entered BetFred in Wing Road, and grabbed a staff member before pushing him and forcing him to empty the till.

FOBTs in the news

In Islington, Caledonian ward councillors said "enough is enough" when new betting shop plans came in, with Birmingham Council sharing a similar sentiment as they bid to ban the city of the casino-style gambling machines.

That wasn't all, in Scotland both the Scotsman and the Evening Times reporting that there were too many bookies in poorer areas of the country.

In Liverpool, the city's bosses have called for limits on how much can be gambled on FOBTs, whilst in Leicester, the number of betting shops is still causing concern.

The Daily Star reported on the bookies raking in a £1.6bn jackpot from the addictive roulette terminals, whilst the Bradford Telegraph and Argus ran a story on the Campaign's efforts to get Bradford Council more powers to halt the spread of the machines.

For more news on FOBTs, please visit our News and Events page. 


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Monday, 23 November 2015

The scandal of cold homes this winter

Cold homes are a scandal. I see young families onto breadline in private rented properties across Haslingden and Hyndburn and my heart aches. I go home and worry about the cold weather the conditions these young children grow up in. Of course it is not just families freezing, it is also the elderly too who suffer the cold.

In Hyndburn we have a very high proportion (over 50%) of energy inefficient solid wall (or hard to treat cavities) properties. We also have park homes and Age UK are running a campaign to raise awareness of their vulnerability to cold weather. Haslingden and Hyndburn has some of the oldest and coldest properties in the country, and people of all ages suffer from expensive to heat, poorly insulated housing.

I have spoken out about the scandal of cold homes backing the efforts of Energy Bill Revolution, AgeUKs campaign for warm homes, NEA's Warm Homes Campaign and Turn2US.

Shelter and Friends of the Earth have also supported campaigns to tackle cold homes and Shelter offer a dedicated housing helpline.

I am very happy to support Age UK’s warm park homes campaign (below) this winter. I will be writing to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State responsible on behalf park home owners.

Government cuts to local authorities though the Energy Companies Obligation and the Green Deal, has meant more people in Haslingden and Hyndburn living in cold homes, spending more of their money on heating. I am glad that Age UK is continuing to hold the Government to account.

Alongside local companies such as Isothane, I have lobbied the Government persistently to change policy towards energy conservation as it is the most efficient way of reducing energy. Locally Hyndburn Council has shown the way stripping out 5 rows of terraced houses in Woodnook and insulating them to a very high standard.


Good afternoon Graham,

I hope you are well. I am writing to thank you for supporting Age UK’s Campaign for Warm Park Homes to date, to give you an update on the campaign and to inform you about Age UK’s wider campaign for warm homes.

Our broader campaign for warm homes is launching on Monday 23 November ahead of the release of the Excess Winter Death Statistics on Wednesday 25 November.  With the campaign, we are calling on the Government to reform its energy efficiency schemes to enable all older people to live in a warm home. Please find attached a copy of our new campaign report, ‘Still cold: What next for older people in cold homes’. The report explores why the Government’s flagship energy efficiency schemes, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal, have had insufficient impact. It also shares the stories of older people in England who have struggled to access support from these schemes and sets out what Age UK believes the energy efficiency schemes of the future should look like and how they should be funded. We hope that you will support our proposals. 

After reading the report, please could you write to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP and urge her to:
-       Commit to a dedicated energy efficiency scheme for park home residents.
-       Reform ECO to ensure that it has the reach and scale to help those in need.
-       Roll out a new scheme providing incentives to people who are able to pay for improvements.
-       Make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority.
-       Commit to bringing at least 2 million low income homes up to EPC Band C by 2020 and all 6 million low income homes up to this standard by 2025.

I would be grateful if you also put Cold Homes Week (1-5 February 2016) in your diary. This is a week of action on excess winter deaths and fuel poverty, when local Age UKs around the country will be staging events to raise awareness of these issues in their local areas. Please let me know if you are interested in attending a local event.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Kind regards,

Suzanne Foster
Public Affairs Adviser

Age UK
Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square
London WC1H 9NA
T 0800 169 80 80

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Fwd: Design Council Spark Product Innovation Fund – up to £165k available to take inventions to market | Spread the word

Dear Mr Jones,

Design Council Spark Product Innovation Fund – up to £165k available to take inventions to market – deadline for entries 14 December 2015 – apply online:

Is your constituency home to the UK's next big invention? Do you know someone with a great product idea, but they now need support to make that idea a reality?

Following the success of the first round of Spark, Design Council has launched the second wave and the deadline for entries is midnight, Monday 14 December 2015.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Fwd: Survival of Asian Elephants

Dear Graham Jones,

I am writing as CEO of Save the Asian Elephants (STAE; to inform you about the results of a new public opinion poll that shows overwhelming demand for government action.

The visit to the UK of Prime Minister Modi of India last week was a whistlestop tour with limited agenda and time for debate, and there are of course issues that remain to be addressed over the coming months. One of these is the dire situation for Asian elephants in India. The numbers of this ancient species are declining dramatically in the wild from poaching and loss of habitat, and they suffer greatly in captivity through brutal pajan "training", confinement and beating.

A new poll by leading research consultancy Populus (which included Asian and Hindu respondents) has found that 77% feel the Indian government is not doing enough to protect Asian elephants, and an overwhelming 81% consider it important that the UK government takes action to provide support for this, as promised in the Conservative Party's 2015 election manifesto.

Tourists in the UK want to make the right choice when booking holidays abroad, but have long been kept in the dark about the sinister reality of elephant experiences in Asia. Most are unaware that elephants used in tourism and in temples have been put through a violent "training" process called pajan. This involves complete isolation, deprivation of food, water and sleep and then brutal beating designed to "break their spirits". Many die during this process. Demand for elephants for tourism and temple use is met by the illegal capture of young from the wild. This is dangerous and violent and often goes wrong, resulting in the death of the baby elephant, and other herd members are also killed as they try to defend their young. The Populus poll found that 85% of those surveyed would avoid visiting a tourist experience involving elephants if they discovered that the elephants had been treated badly. This confirms that, if the reality of what happens behind the scenes were to be exposed fully, British tourists would overwhelmingly avoid these attractions. A massive 88% consider the process of pajan to be unjustified in training elephants for use in tourism and temples, and yet it continues to this day.

As your constituents start to plan overseas holidays for 2016, we ask that you bring this issue to their attention. They should be able to make informed decisions with knowledge of the reality of what happens behind the happy façade of elephant rides and festival parades. You can read more at
If you have already signed EDM 45 on the protection of Asian elephants, please let me thank you once more for your support. If you have not done so, and you are able to sign EDMs, please consider doing so now. You can find the text of the EDM here
Thank you for your time.

116- 118 Chancery Lane


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Fwd: Solar industry comments on admission that the UK is not on track to meet its renewables target

Dear Mr Jones,

Solar Trade Association

Press Release


Solar industry comments on admission that the UK is not on track to meet its renewables target

Leaked letter & evidence session exposes folly of attack on British solar power

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, whilst giving evidence at a Parliamentary committee confirmed yesterday that it was 'difficult to say' if the UK was on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy target of 15% of all energy from renewables. The UK target is lower than the pan-EU target of 20% because the UK has always trailed most other European countries on renewables deployment. In the letter, Amber Rudd confirmed that the UK is on track to reach just 11.5% Renewable Energy by 2020 – leaving the UK at risk of delivering only slightly better than half the contribution from renewables as the rest of Europe.

The Secretary of State also confirmed that they were looking at making up the targets potentially from importing renewable power from overseas.  Amber Rudd has also highlighted the potential to increase the role of renewable transport, while underlining the Department for Transport's focus on electric vehicles. There is nothing in the EU Renewables directive that stipulates the share of the 15% between electricity, heat and transport. 

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs said; "It is clearly absurd to be decimating the most cost effective renewable power technologies while exploring the potential to make up the UK renewable target shortfall by importing renewable electricity from overseas. The solar industry has already seen the Government prioritise public support towards more expensive overseas utilities over British solar. It is very difficult to understand the lack of interest in supporting British companies."

"The Secretary of State herself said she would rather meet the target at home so why is she decimating our industry & looking for electricity from overseas?"

The STA is extremely keen to see action on renewable heat, a sector highlighted by the Secretary of State. The UK is exceptionally poor on renewable heat and it has almost the lowest contribution in Europe. The solar thermal market has collapsed in recent years due to inadequate support.

The Solar Trade Association's £1 rescue plan for solar power would deliver 2.7GW of solar power by 2020. This amounts to just 0.17% of total energy in 2020 - the UK renewable energy target is 15% - leaving huge scope for advancing the heat and transport sub-targets. However, the £1 Plan would safeguard the solar power sector.

Leonie Greene said; "We are all for urgent action on renewable heat, but a sensible approach to renewable power does not, as Rudd suggests, mean 'abandoning' heat. There is plenty of scope to strongly ramp up renewable heat while providing a sensible framework to safeguard public investment in the British solar industry. It is not either/or. We are not on track to meet the 2020 targets, investor confidence has been severely damaged by recent policy chaos, the world is half way to dangerous climate change – the UK does not have a minute to waste to get its solar industry back on track."

Logic would dictate that if the UK is falling short in renewable heat, which now looks inevitable, it should make every effort to improve performance but also make up the shortfall in electricity, given the difficulties of making progress on transport. This is especially true if electric vehicles are going to be a contributor to the transport target as the Secretary of State suggested. 


For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

Name: Sonia Dunlop

Title: Communications and Public Affairs Manager

Main line: 0203 637 2945


Background on the Solar Trade Association:


The mission of the Solar Trade Association is to empower the UK solar transformation. We are paving the way for solar to deliver the maximum possible share of UK energy by 2030 by enabling a bigger and better solar industry. We represent both solar heat and power, and have a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Fwd: Winter in Lancashire

Dear Mr Jones,


I'm writing to let you know about how Lancashire County Council is preparing for the winter ahead.


Please find attached a briefing note which explains how we have prepared, what the public can do to prepare for winter, advice on keeping warm and well, and looking out for elderly and vulnerable people during the winter.


We work hard to keep traffic moving on our main roads and to minimise delays and accidents caused by ice or snow throughout the winter. We have stockpiled over 30,000 tonnes of salt and deploy 49 gritters from nine operational depots across the county. Ideally, we would grit every road in Lancashire, but in reality this is just not possible. Instead we identify priority roads and footpaths for gritting and snow clearing to keep the county moving.


As usual, we are working closely with our partners, businesses and local organisations to deliver a consistent message to the public about what they can do to prepare for winter and how we have prepared.


The government has also issued advice for clearing snow and ice, which explains that there is no law stopping you from clearing public spaces, as long as you do it safely.


Keeping you updated

For more information and advice I have attached a copy of our winter leaflet. If possible could you please include the leaflet on your website. If you would like paper copies of the leaflet please let me know.


If we experience long spells of cold weather, we will issue regular winter bulletins.


You can find out more about the winter service and which roads are on our priority gritting routes by visiting:

You can follow winter messages on our social media channels at:


Please let me know if there is anyone else within your organisation who would like to be added to the list for future winter updates.


Many thanks,


Anne Woods

(Nee Shenton)

Account Executive

Communications Service

Lancashire County Council


Thinking about adoption? Get in touch and we'll support you all the way.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Fwd: Protect 16 and 17 year olds from Exploitation - New Report Launches Tomorrow

Dear Mr Jones,
Tomorrow The Children's Society will be launching the next stage of our Seriously Awkward campaign with the publication of our report, Old enough to know better?, which looks at the hidden sexual abuse of 16 and 17 year olds across the country.
16 and 17 year olds are a group of young people who are at high risk of being victims of sexual crimes. Our analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales has identified that females aged 16 and 17 are at the highest risk of being a victim of a sexual crime – with nearly 1 in 10 (8.6 %) of them reporting that they have experienced a sexual offence in the last 12 months.
If these findings were reflected across the population this would equate to around 50,000 16 and 17 year old girls who had experienced a sexual offence in the last year in England and Wales.
This number is unacceptably high. We want this to be top of the agenda at Home Office questions in a couple of weeks (16th November) and wondered if you would consider balloting for a question. A suggested question would be:
What steps are in place to protect 16 and 17 year olds who are victims of child sexual exploitation?
The deadline for submission is the 10th November. If you are selected we will of course provide you with a speaking note and a possible supplementary question.
Also, I'd like to make you aware that some of your constituents may be in touch about this over the coming weeks and months as we engage our supporters in this important work. Between now and the new year we are planning on asking MPs to help us raise this issue in Parliament in a number of ways:
§  Asking a Home Office oral question
§  Help us secure a Westminster Hall Debate
§  Writing to the Home Secretary ahead of the Policing and Criminal Justice Bill to encourage protection for 16 and 17 year olds to feature in the Bill
You can find a parliamentary briefing here and if you have any questions about how you can support our work on this issue in Parliament then do get in touch.
Yours sincerely,
Lucy Capron
Lucy Capron
Public Affairs Manager
The Children's Society
t: 020 7841 4494
Edward Rudolf House
Margery Street
London WC1X 0JL

Visit our website at 

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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Elderly in Hyndburn - a Christmas appeal


As one of only 5 over 75 community sisters in Hyndburn We're trying to arrange the following
This Christmas we have a large of elderly persons living within our local area that live alone, have family unable to visit this Christmas or are simply housebound. We are looking at giving a little back this Christmas to persons living at home who have lived within our community all their lives and ensure that they get a little something to open this Christmas morning. 

We're asking persons and businesses of Hyndburn to dig deep and donate a small present that we can pass onto our patients this Christmas. It doesn't have to be anything big a gesture just a token that let them know we are all thinking of the this Christmas
Im not sure how much support we will get so the exact number of persons we can help my need to be looked at but my vision was to focus on those that live at home, starting with those alone, vulnerable and then moving out. if we are overwhelmed them we could consider the nursing homes any help you can give would be appreciated 
Thanks Lisa