Friday, 28 August 2015

Fwd: RSPCA Animal Hero Awards

Dear Graham, I am writing to introduce you to this year's RSPCA Animal Hero Awards, held in partnership with the Daily Mirror.  I also wanted to encourage you to consider nominating an animal or individual from your constituency who has shown inspiring bravery or a dedication to improving animal welfare.

There are a plethora of categories available for nomination, including 'Young Animal Enthusiast of the Year', 'Animal Hero of the Year', and for an 'Outstanding Contribution to Animal Welfare'. 

In particular, if you know an animal that has gone above and beyond for an owner or friend, or a pet that has shown resilience in overcoming traumatic circumstances to bring happiness to others, we'd be delighted to hear from you. 

We'd also be keen to receive nominations of constituents that have campaigned tirelessly for animal welfare causes in your area.

You can find more details on the awards, and submit nominations online at  All nominations must be made no later than Friday 11 September to be considered.

The winners will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony, hosted by Amanda Holden, in Central London on Wednesday 21 October.  All winners will also be invited to a reception in Parliament, which you would be more than welcome to attend.  Further details will be announced shortly.

I do hope you can make a nomination.  If you have any questions about the Animal Hero Awards, or the RSPCA's wider work, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,


Claire Robinson
Government Relations Manager
RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, 
Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 9RS

Our ultimate ambition is to have a world in which all humans respect and live in harmony with members of the animal kingdom.

Fwd: OSS Anniversary Ezine 2015

OSS Ezine Summer 2015
Our 150th anniversary
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Campaigning for 150 years

150 years ago on Sunday 19 July our organisation was launched: Britain's oldest national conservation body.  Without the society countless commons, green spaces and public paths would have been lost for ever.

And there would be no National Trust, since it was the society's founders who formed the National Trust in 1895, thirty years after the society's own foundation in 1865.

The society is famous for having saved Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and other London open spaces in the mid-nineteenth century.  In fact it has campaigned tirelessly throughout England and Wales.  Click 
here for just a few of the cases in which the society has been involved during its 150-year history.

Please help us reach our target of 150 new members in 2015 to mark 150 years of campaigning -  JOIN TODAY.

Join our campaign to save England's much-loved green spaces.
We have published an open spaces tool-kit for communities to protect their green spaces, and have called on planning authorities to respond positively to requests to save local spaces.

The pressures for development in Wales are as strong as in England but, with the support of Assembly Members and our own members in Wales, we are delighted to celebrate a victory for the green spaces of Wales in the recently introduced Planning (Wales) Act 2015.   
Copyright © 2015 Open Spaces Society, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a current member of the Open Spaces Society or have requested information about our work.

Our mailing address is:
Open Spaces Society
25a Bell Street
Henley on Thames, Oxon OX49 5AQ
United Kingdom

Fwd: The Ramblers' Big Pathwatch

Dear Mr Jones, Congratulations on your re-election as a Member of Parliament, we look forward to working with you on our mission to help everyone, everywhere, enjoy walking and protect the places we all love to walk.

This summer, The Ramblers has launched a new project called the Big Pathwatch. The Big Pathwatch is encouraging communities to get outside and survey our rights of way network—footpaths, bridleways and byways—in England and Wales. While people are out walking, they are reporting their findings, both positive and negative, via our purpose-built app or our website. Once the survey closes later in the year, we'll have the first comprehensive nationwide analysis of the condition of our paths. The project is also allowing us to:
  • celebrate our path network and why it matters
  • find cost-effective ways to maintain it
help improve the health of our communities by getting more people outside and enjoying our beautiful country.

We would be delighted if you could add your voice to this campaign on social media. You can share your support using the #BigPathwatch hashtag, and our video: You can also help us by sharing this project with your constituents – we want as many people as possible to take part and enjoy the incredible path network that weaves across the country. We'd really appreciate it if you could put out the attached press release to show your support and encourage others to take part.

In England and Wales we have a network of 140,000 miles of public rights of way where we can walk, cycle and horse-ride through varied landscapes. We want to ensure this network is protected, as we know that walking is good for us and our communities:

Regular walking can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's and some cancers by between 20% and 50%.

Walking can reduce the chances of developing depression by up to 30%.

In the English countryside walkers spend over £6 billion a year, supporting up to 245,000 full time jobs.

As a sociable, inclusive and free activity, walking helps improve our sense of community, build social networks and tackle crime through the 'eyes on the street' effect.

Please show your support by sharing this project on social media, and encourage your constituents to get outside and enjoy our beautiful country using the attached press release.

Please do contact us at if you have any questions about this project.

With best regards,

Tom Fewins
Policy and Advocacy Manager

About the RamblersThe Ramblers helps everyone, everywhere, enjoy walking and protects the places we all love to walk. We are the only charity dedicated to looking after paths and green spaces, leading walks, opening up new places to explore and encouraging everyone to get outside and discover how walking boosts your health and your happiness.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Fwd: Google Alert - Graham Jones MP

Graham Jones MP
As-it-happens update August 24, 2015
Lancashire Telegraph
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: "It's a hard life being a taxi driver and they don't make a lot of money. "Most taxi drivers have families and young ...
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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fwd: Google Alert - Graham Jones MP

Graham Jones MP
As-it-happens update August 23, 2015
New Association of British Bookmakers boss Malcolm George offered “greater engagement and transparency” to Labour's Graham Jones. The move ...
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UK Parliament Disclaimer: This e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Saturday, 25 July 2015



I have recently commented on historic and well documented poor health statistics for Hyndburn which have been reported on in the local press. 

People are dying unnecessarily - or suffering chronic ill health as a result - from smoking, heavy drinking, fatty food and sugar. People are being hoodwinked into the attractiveness or cheapness of these products. 

What hurts me personally is seeing parents in supermarkets with cheap fatty food whilst purchasing cigarettes and or alcohol. Moralising isn't the answer but tackling the food and drink industry is. However we have weak prime minister who is unable and unwilling to do anything about it. 

35 Swanage Road
London SW18 2DZ
Tel: 07769 745281

Dear Mr Jones,

Over the last twenty years, wine has become ever stronger. As a 2011 study of 80,000 wines from across the globe by the American Association of Wine Economists reveals, the average bottle was around 10% more alcoholic in 2011 than in 1992.

It's a big shift. And while the reasons behind it might be understandable - climate change with warmer, sunnier countries making wine, improvements in technology and viticulture - that doesn't mean they are desirable - or unavoidable. 

Another consequence of stronger wines is to be seen in British waistlines. According to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, one in four Brits is obese; three times as many as 50 years ago. Approximately 10% of the calories consumed by the average adult comes from alcohol. Two large pub glasses of 14.5% red wine represent around a sixth of the the ideal calorie intake for the average male.

Recent research for Sainsbury's suggests that 85% of consumers are unaware of the number of calories in a glass of wine, while a YouGov study revealed that over half the respondents thought a glass of wine contained a third less calories than it did.

The tide is changing however. A growing number of British wine drinkers are increasingly aware and concerned about the ever-increasing strength of their favourite tipple. In a recent survey conducted by Wine Intelligence among UK wine drinkers, 40% of the respondents said that alcohol level is an important influence on their purchase, up from 28% in 2010. Two in three respondents to the Sainsbury's study would like to see calorie labelling on alcohol; 62% say they limit their consumption for health reasons and 44% include reduced drinking when trying to manage their weight.

The Healthy Drinking Alliance is a new lobbying body, aiming to increase awareness of the wide range of alcoholic strengths and calorie contents in wine and alcoholic beverages in general. Among its aims is the introduction of a three-tiered duty rate on wine that rewards producers making wine at a lower level of alcohol and penalises their high-strength peers.

We believe this will incentivise wine producers to move towards wines with more moderate alcohol levels, and encourage consumers - who are already warm to the idea - to drink them. We will be in regular contact with Parliament, the EU and the national media to get behind the idea because we think it's a sensible way of moderating our country's alcohol consumption, and one that will have a positive impact on two major health issues. 

A14% ABV wine has almost 100 calories more per bottle than the same wine at 12% ABV (626kCal against 542kCal). Drop the alcohol further to 8.5% and there are fewer than 400kCal in a bottle. 

Even more significant is the role that a lowering of ABV could have in addressing alcohol related health issues. This is not a way of combating extreme problem drinkers (over 50/35 units per week for men/women) but it can have a significant impact on groups of people who regularly go beyond their weekly and daily limits without even realising it. 

The Office for National Statistics estimates that a third of men, and a fifth of women, between the ages of 25 and 64 regularly surpass their approved unit intake - probably because wine is stronger than it used to be. A man, for instance, can drink two standard glasses of wine at 12% ABV and be within his daily alcohol limit of four units. But two glasses of 14.5% ABV wine - at five units - will put him over. 

Lowering the strength of wine by a few percentage points, in other words, can be an effective way of helping the population to lead healthier lives, without resorting to the controversial issue of minimum pricing.

As well as a nudge towards lower alcohol, the HDA intends to push for a more effective labelling system.

The last government's Alcohol Strategy (published March 2012) admitted that, despite years of efforts, the public's comprehension of alcohol units was still poor. We believe there is room for an easy-to-undertand, medically robust system that will quickly and easily allow the public to make a more informed choice.

We will be sending you further details about this in the autumn, but our ambition is to create a system that could be adopted across all alcohol products, Europe-wide. 

So, a better- informed population, willingly choosing healthier products and living more active, balanced lives as a result with zero cost - indeed a financial benefit - to the country as a whole.

We think this is a laudable and achievable aim, and while we will be in regular contact over the next 12 months, we would welcome any feedback from you now. 

Yours sincerely, 

Peter Darbyshire.

The Healthy Drinking Alliance - Company number 9636314
Registered Office: Devonshire House, 582 Honeypot Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex HA7 1JS

Thursday, 23 July 2015

FOBTs: The SNP are abandoning working class communities

I recently wrote to Scotland’s First Minister about the SNP’s duplicity on FOBTs and problem gambling. Empty SNP rhetoric simply doesn’t match their inactions In a strongly worded response to my letter raising concerns about the SNP’s approach to dealing with betting shop clustering and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), Nicola Sturgeon claimed that I am “entirely wrong” to assert they are doing too little.

Obviously a little sensitive on this issue, she claimed that rather than not doing enough, the opposite is the case for the SNP, even though the Scottish Executive have “very limited powers available”.

We saw in the Scotland Bill that there has been an SNP capitulation (to the Tories)from their rhetoric in their Smith Commission submission, their manifesto and communiques. The SNP sought to table no substantial amendments to Tory policy. An acceptance that the Tory policy - through the SNP - is best for Scotland. Labour tabled substantial amendments that not only fulfilled those unmet SNP manifesto commitments but substantially strengthened Scottish devolved powers to deal with FOBTs.

The SNP claim Scotland has too few powers but if that is true, why did they table no substantial amendments to the Scotland Bill. The SNP claim that Scotland doesn’t have powers to deal with FOBTs but that’s a convenient untruth.

In the area of planning policy and regulation, the Scottish Executive have full authority. Last year, hot on the heels of a Westminster government consultation for England and Wales on the issue of planning and betting shops, the SNP launched their own Scottish consultation. Both proposals similarly concluded that betting shops should return to a “sui generis” class thus ensuring all proposed new betting premises would be required to seek a planning consent.

The proposal under the Scottish consultation was to remove the word “betting offices” from the current A2 use class category and transfer them to a category for “undefined use” along with amusement arcades, pubs and hot food takeaways. This was backed by Labour run Glasgow City Council which has the highest number of betting shops of anywhere in the UK.

Then in February this year came the sudden announcement by SNP ministers that they wouldn’t be seeing the consultation proposal through – it was dropped and so betting shops in Scotland would continue to open in any premises they wished with no consideration under planning consent. This was contradictory to the promises of Derek Mackay, the former SNP local government minister, said in 2014 that the Scottish government would change planning legislation to prevent the proliferation of betting shops and pay day loan shops. The SNP Scottish Government consultation proposed to do just that and Scotland has the devolved powers to implement this aspect of legislation, but didn’t. 

Whilst Scotish Labour was standing up for oridnary people and for Scotland – the SNP have hidden behind the Tories in Westminster.

Nicola Sturgeon is wrong to say they have taken action within the “limited powers” available to them, as the SNP have taken no action in the one area they already have full autonomy.

Sturgeon’s empty rhetoric has instead focused on an irrelevant piece of regulation to defend SNP wider inaction. The First Minister relates “action” to the very limited, bureaucratic and costly powers contained under Article 4 direction, which allows councils, subject to 12 months’ notice (or pay compensation), to implement an exclusion of new betting premises (A2) within a designated area. A small number of councils in England have tried this and the Local Government Association has said it doesn’t go far enough. Not least because in areas where this has been tried, there has been an influx of betting shop applications in the 12 month notice period.

As it stands now the Scotland Bill will allow the Scottish Government to vary the number of machines where the maximum stake is more than £10.00 but not the numbers on race tracks or at sporting events.

The question being asked in the boardrooms of the major betting chains, prompted by the proposals under the Smith Commission, is: how many FOBTs will the SNP allow bookmakers to have?

Will the power to set a limit be devolved to licensing authorities? Surely there has to be a centrally set number per premises to avoid such devolved powers becoming strategically incoherent? Some of these questions will be answered under the proposed consultation launched by Holyrood last week.
The SNP’s inaction and acceptance of Tory policies and Tory agenda is somewhat inexplicable. Despite denials of donations from betting operators, it is no secret that the family of one senior betting industry figure has assisted their independence campaign financially, whilst understanding some of their more of their direct donations is more difficult.

My amendments proposed for the Scottish Bill address areas of real concern emanating from betting shops and FOBTs, beyond those of just machine numbers but these amendments were not supported by the SNP at committee stage. What the SNP fail to recognise is that the speed and intensity of play at 20 seconds per spin, the addictive content when linked to maximum stakes of £100 are toxic and socially damaging. Given Nicola Sturgeon is keen to assert that the SNP are seeking powers to take “effective action” that Scotland would like to take maybe the SNP will backing my amendments to report stage of the Scotland Bill?

The current SNP & Tory position on the Scotland Bill of setting “stakes above £10” stake threshold to identify the machines that will fall under new devolved powers is a shortsighted SNP view that fails that is a capitulation to the Tories and and abandonment of working class communities.