Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My Lancashire Telegraph column

There has been no mention of George Osborne’s much trumpted 'Northern Powerhouse’ which appears to be sinking as fast his career. Not a muffle from Maggie May. Rumour has it our new prime Minster has hinted the Government's obsession with Manchester will come to an end. Good. Lancashire has received now’t from the divvy up devolution. Short changed in Osborne’s dogs breakfast of localism. Some cities. Not all cities. Some cities more than other cities. Some cities faster than others. Definitely not shire counties unless, maybe .. no maybe not. Chaotic.

It was a slogan too. A political slogan to mug voters into believing Mr Osborne cared. To neutralise a reality. The south gets all the money. £billions on HS1 (channel tunnel), £billions on Thameslink, £billions on Crossrail, £billions on Westminster Tube Station and Kings Cross. Hyndburn and Burnley got £7million to improve our comparatively slow rail link to Manchester with hand me down rolling stock. There never was a northern plan.

It looks like Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ needs a headstone. Theresa May has said she wants a country "needed a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them.” Great. I get the message. Manchester. You’re on notice. New sheriff in town. Now the detail. Stop. Reality check. We’ll get now’t, again. Flashing warning sign. Tory rebadging and repackaging exercise in process.

The reality is this. If Mrs May wants an economic powerhouse everywhere for everyone she has to work out how the left behind shire towns are part that wider economic powerhouse. 

So let’s end city specific plans. City selfish mentality which has resulted in every city having an airport at the bottom its garden yet poor train regional services across with regional trains that aren’t connected to airports or ports easily and we have roads that go nowhere (M65) and roads that should go somewhere but not in a straight line or with nowhere near enough capacity. East –West road links are appalling. You can get to Norway faster than you can get to Newcastle

So it’s about time the shires sat in the big chair. It is also time we had regional pow-wow rather than little town hall chiefs from Leeds and Manchester whose only interest is to ensure their own flower bed is watered. Its time for a northern assembly that punches above its weight for the benefit of all.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Meeting with United Utilities

Met with United Utilties Louise Beardmore to promote priority help for vulnerable customers & recent UU water burst.

Also discussed community support and project funding as well as the lessons learned from the recent major burst.

Stopping the Tories Channel 4 Privatisation.

I have been leading Labours fight to stop Channel 4 privatisation. An asset that should be kept in public ownership.

My Mirror Online article

My Politics Home article

My Parliamentary Debate

My parliamentary question on the floor of the House this week

Guardian article

Emails of support from Channel 4 staff ... Obviously private!

My letter to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.

The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
London, SW1A 2BQ

Dear Karen,

I am writing for two reasons. Firstly, to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It is a brief of huge importance and I hope that you will be able to make a better job of it than the previous Culture Secretary. Secondly, to encourage you to resist effecting one of the most worrying ambitions of your predecessor: the privatisation of Channel 4 (C4).

Sunday, 19 June 2016

My Rossendale Free Press column.

The big day is almost upon us. As your MP I will vote to Remain in the EU and here are my personal reasons.

Firstly this is about our children, their future not ours and they are voting 3:1 to Remain. This is their future we are voting on and they are the ones that will have to live with the consequences.

Whilst older voters in Halsingden and Hyndburn have been clear to me, they want to leave another group of important people in our area have over a long period spoken of the negative consequences of leaving. They are the local companies which export to the EU.

Friday, 17 June 2016

My Ob column - Sound reasons to Vote Remain

Last night I attended the inaugural Hyndburn Business Awards and a big thanks to Enterprising People of Clayton for making it happen. the stunningly refurbished Town Hall was packed to the rafters with great businesses and a tremendous atmosphere. Hyndburn Labour is pro-business and this is another piece in that jobs and employment jigsaw but more about that at the end.

The one dark cloud of the evening is the fear amongst Hyndburn’s exporters last night that we are going to vote to leave the EU and the negative impact it will have on their business. Each constituency including Hyndburn exports on average on £360m worth of goods to the EU every year. A lot of Hyndburn jobs are directly dependent or interdependent on that export work.

Here’s the plain truth in numbers and an easy to digest logic;

£100 billion (12 times our EU contribution) has been wiped off the FTSE 100 shares in just 4 days. £ trillions of pounds are at stake in the referendum. FTSE shares are pensions companies and shareholders panicking. The £ is falling on the worry of a Brexit and here’s why they are right to worry;

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Donors in Hyndburn are encouraged to give safely this Ramadan

I recognises the huge generosity of Muslims during Ramadan (6 June to 5 July) and wants to remind donors of how to ensure their money gets to the good causes they want to support.

Whilst many charity collections and collectors are genuine, unfortunately there are occasions where the name and work of charities is abused.

To protect their donation and the charities they wish to support, the Charity Commission is encouraging donors to take small steps such as;

1) Checking the register of charities and the identity and licence of charity collectors before donating. Find a charity - register of charities.
2) Making sure the organisation has an official bank account so money can be traced to its usage.

The guidance relates to all types of fundraising and charitable giving, including giving to telephone appeals, television advertisements, and street fundraising. Please see the full list of tips.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

EU help for Accrington Pals commemorations

The EU are again trying to help our very own Accrington Pals reenactment group cut through red tape.

The Pals reenactment group contacted me having been told they can't take replica guns to France for the 1st of July celebrations.

I wrote to French Ambassador on their behalf and he said that was untrue. They could and was helpful in facilitating the licences required.

Then the reenactment group were told that they could take the rifles but not bayonets by the UK Home Office.

The EU have recently passed a directive which allows for bayonets to be used on such occasions but the UK Home Office are refusing to abide by the EU directive which has disappointed the group to say the least. I would question whether the Home Office are acting without a legal basis.

Here is the latest update I have received.

"Just to let you know Graham, at the moment we will not be allowed to take our rifles and Bayonets to France for the SOMME 100 Commemorations. The Home office have ignored the spirit and intent of the New EU Firearms Directive and are stating categorically that we must have our current legally deactivated weapons upspecced to EU standard with an EU certificate before we can take abroad. So Accrington Pals will be armless! 😞"

Thursday, 9 June 2016

My LT Column: Love Haslingden

In 2009, I rocked up at a place that had fallen out of love with itself. I’d been selected as the parliamentary candidate for Haslingden and Hyndburn.

Knocking on doors in Haslingden it became evident that community confidence had collapsed. No British Legion. No town centre forum or Chambers of Commerce. No local council meetings. In short, there was little civic society. Door and after door residents told me of their despair at the fall of their once proud town.

Something had to change.