Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Heritage Lottery Fund in Hyndburn - a priority development area

Dear Graham Jones, I thought you’d appreciate an overview about projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in Hyndburn.

HLF is committed to providing MPs with information and advice about our funding in their constituencies and I would be very happy to meet with you, provide opportunities for you to visit an HLF funded project in your constituency or supply you with further information about any of the projects mentioned in this letter.

As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, with around £375million a year to invest in new projects and a considerable body of knowledge, we are also a leading advocate for the value of heritage to modern life. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our heritage. Since 1994, HLF has supported over 36,500 projects allocating more than £6billion across the UK.

We have identified a number of priority development areas within the North West; one of which is Hyndburn. Priority Development Areas are the focus of additional targeted activity by our development staff who will be doing more to raise awareness about Heritage Lottery Fund programmes and supporting local organisations and groups in making applications for grants in these areas. As a Priority Development Area Hyndburn will not receive automatic funding but our aim is to generate a greater number of good quality bids which will be able to compete with applications from other places.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Armed forces recruitment from the BME community: offering opportunities to young people

I have written the minister regarding armed forces recruitment being offered to constituents form BME backgrounds. British armed forces have long and proud record of attracting people from various backgrounds to fight for British values of freedom and democracy.

Indian, Pakistani and Gurkha regiments amongst others have a long and distinguished history within the British army.

Employment within the British armed forces can be very rewarding in terms of skills and employment. However I do not believe constituents are being offered such opportunities and I have written to the minister to express my concerns. It is difficult enough getting a decent job in this area. The MoD state that since 2007 the number of Muslims serving in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force has risen by more than 40 per cent but here in Hyndburn that figure does not reflect that statistic.


There are barriers to recruitment and the British Army has a duty in this area to actively encourage and overcome any misperceptions. The British armed forces' first Muslim chaplain says there is no conflict in being a Muslim and fighting for Britain. Imam Asim Hafiz, one of two Islamic advisers to the Ministry of Defence since 2005, says Islam encourages the defence of life and country. There are currently 650 Muslims in the military making up less than 1 per cent of its strength.

It is important that such good and rewarding careers area available to all. The British army must do more in this area to offer opportunities and I will be writing to the minster again to seek assurances that those opportunities are highly visible to those that would wish to consider such a rewarding career.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Haslingden Task Force update

The Haslingden Task Force has released its second newsletter for local traders. The report outlines the work that the taskforce is undertaking and the continuing consultation with local traders and other key stakeholders. I'd ask people to keep Sunday 14th September free in their diaries for the Haslingden Street Fair which will be taking place in the town centre in aid of local community and voluntary organisation.

There is also an important section on local parking arrangements and possible proposals for changing the current parking waiting times. In addition, it's crucial that residents and those interested express their views on the public realm changes discussed and the possibility of Haslingden applying for conservation area status.

I'd like to thank Rossendale BC, local traders and volunteers for their work on the task force and for producing the newsletter – I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the future of Haslingden.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We need more Superheroes in Hyndburn and Haslingden

The Antony Nolan Trust has ranked Hyndburn and Haslingden as 228th in the league table of constituencies by the number of registered stem cell donors. We have a total of 840 people registered and I’d like to think we can recruit more people in order to help people with blood cancer.

I was recently contacted by a young Hyndburn family whose son Charlie aged 5, needed a registered donor and I hope this story will encourage others to register as a superhero donor.

Lucy Hamlin, Charlie's mother has given permission to use Charlie's details to help raise awareness of the issue.

Charlie, had just turned 5 when he was taken to Royal Blackburn A and E in January 2013 with a nosebleed that just wouldn’t stop. A blood test at the hospital showed he had low red blood cells and platelets and that he needed an immediate blood transfusion, followed by a platelet transfusion. The next morning he was transferred by Ambulance to Royal Manchester Children’s hospital with suspected leukaemia.

Further tests including a bone marrow aspirate and further blood tests showed that he had Aplastic Anemia - bone marrow failure - and needed ATG treatment or a Bone Marrow transplant as soon as possible. He was let home after a week’s stay but had to return twice weekly to Manchester for blood tests and weekly blood and platelet transfusions. He was at risk of infection and was unable to return to school, or mix with other children in case he picked up an infection. He was also on antibiotic medication to prevent him getting ill.

Association of Translation Companies says that languages are important.

Click to enlarge
This follows my discussions with the Lancashire County Council to ensure there is enough provision for crucial languages such as Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in this area.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Accrington Observer column

Whilst the weather has been generous this summer with Atlantic trade winds heading further north bringing warm dry air, the political summer has been a depressing sequence of tragedy and inhumanity.

298 people including some 90 children relaxing on a jet cruising at 33,000 feet had their lives abruptly ended in seconds when hit by a surface to air missile from the area controlled by pro-Russian lunatics. To see the photos of children’s toys and books at the crash site is a picture of death we have all too frequently seen elsewhere in Syria, Gaza, and West Africa. All deeply saddening.

What’s of concern is the ease with which the people who did this accessed such military hardware, had the capability to use it and crucially, the ease with which they pressed the fire button. Images of para-military fatigued militia, brazenly displaying guns and reacting in a worrying psychopathic manner alarming. Their willingness to steal personal items, secrete the black box and other vital components and their unwillingness to allow access to air crash safety investigators, journalists, families, coroners et al demonstrates an ideological or religious fundamentalism that is the cause of so many of the worlds conflicts.

A strident Putin enjoying his ever increasing nationalistic popularity after having illegally annexed Crimea, shows not concern but contempt at accusations of his involvement; of providing missiles and shelter to these violent thugs.

The corollary of this nasty type of flag waving nationalism is the dehumanisation of others, a pathway to inhumanity and violence, the lessons of history a mere adjunct.

It is the images of tiny children, some 409 who have lost their lives being pulled from the rubble of Gaza that has been most indelibly etched on our summer memories. The central question; how can someone do such a thing? Does life have no value? No matter how intractable the Israel-Palestine situation there is no excuse for this killing and I am glad Ed Miliband condemned the Israeli incursion. The Prime Minister David Cameron seems unwilling to say or do anything.

I visited Palestine with the UN back in 2012. I found that hard line Israelis’ share the same hard line fundamentalist view as the Pro-Russian militia do. That death and killing is acceptable, collateral damage in a war of supremacy over land and resources. There exists in too many places around the world a lack of any human value. 5 million people have been murdered, raped, tortured and maimed in the DRC by violent militia.

On my UN visit I saw how Israel has become dangerously right wing. I witnessed Palestinians homes bulldozed for no reason in clearances, how Palestinian farm land has been stolen and how people have been herded into slums such as Shu’afat and denied basic civil amenities and rights.

I was fortunate to meet Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesperson and Moshe Ya’alon, the right-wing armed forces chief as well as Palestinian President Abbas. It was Regev though who I had a frank exchange with. I asked him how such aggression could secure peace? His reply was to secure a peace through better security, justifying the illegal building of settlements on Palestinian farmer’s land, the building of a devastating ‘Berlin Wall’ denying Palestinians access to basic services such as schools and hospitals on the other side and other policies where the welfare of Palestinians on what was their land up until 1946, is an irrelevant issue to Israel.

I wrote last month (prior to TV News running the story) of the dangerous outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the geo-politicsof health, particularly the importance of foreign aid. The Independent last week splashed with the title ‘Western drugs firms have not tried to find Ebola vaccine 'because virus only affects Africans'’. Knocking foreign aid is both short sighted and dangerous. Diseases don’t have borders. A cure may take years so a more thoughtful and respectful view is required.

It leaves me where I left off with my last column, the world is an interconnected place. Commerce, health, security. It’s a world we have to embrace if we are to make progress despite the shocking images that are presented to us or the fears globalisation may bring.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Comment on the crisis in Northern Iraq - Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander MP, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, commenting on the crisis in Northern Iraq, said:

"Iraq today faces an acute internal security challenge, as extremist violent Islamist militants attempt to destabilise the government, terrorise the population, and divide the country

"ISIL's violent and brutal campaign to terrorise and persecute religious minorities, including Christians, has already caused the death and suffering of thousands of innocent civilians across Iraq.

Friday, 8 August 2014