Saturday, 20 December 2014
Labour is launching a new campaign– called ‘Passenger Power’ - about putting communities and passengers in control of local bus services. Labour will hand powers back to local communities to save crucial bus routes.
New government figures have revealed that local bus routes in the North West are being slashed on this Government's watch, leaving people stranded. The new figures show that compared to 2010, there were 13 million less miles of local bus services in the North West last year.
Across England, over 1,300 bus routes have been cut since 2010. People living in rural areas in particular are seeing their bus services disappear. In rural areas, the number of miles of local bus service has dropped by a massive 23 per cent compared to 2010.
At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 - an increase five times faster than wage growth. Over the same period, operating costs for local bus services has stayed the same. The new figures reveal that bus passenger fare receipts from this year were half a billion pounds more than in 2010. And the operating revenue for the bus companies has increased by four per cent since 2010.
Bus companies have been cutting crucial routes that people rely at the same time as increasing fares to maximise their own profits. Like the energy companies, the bus market is broken.
Labour is setting out a new plan for local bus services to fix the problems. The next Labour Government will legislate to give greater control over local bus services to cities and county regions. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.
Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities.
Whilst the bus companies are coining it in, local bus routes are being slashed and this Government says everything is fine.
The bus market is clearly broken and the way local services are provided is not fit for purpose. Labour will stand up for passengers by changing the way things work to hand all English regions London-style powers over local bus services. This will ensure communities get the local bus services they need."
Friday, 19 December 2014
David Cameron to be open and honest with pensioners after new figures showed 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p.
On 4th December 2014 the government announced the state pension would rise by £2.85 a week. But in the following days ministers were forced to admit up to 1.6 million pensioners would see a rise of just 87p in their state pension income.
The government promised the state pension would rise by £2.85 in April next year but 63,180 pensioners in North West are set to receive a rise in the state pension of 87p will receive a rise of just 87p. David Cameron’s government have not been open and honest with pensioners about the state pension, saying one thing and doing another. It’s time for the government to treat pensioners with respect and be upfront about the value of their pensions.”
Gregg McClymont said, “1.6 million pensioners who have done the right thing, worked hard and saved for a pension have been let down by the government. It’s time for David Cameron to come clean with pensioners across the country about the future value of their state pension.”Source: (Figures in a row called: ‘savings credit only’ - http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/pc/pctype/ccgor/a_carate_r_pctype_c_ccgor_may14.html
Constituency figures are available in the first column here: http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/pc/ccparlc/ccptnr/pctype/a_carate_r_ccparlc_c_ccptnr_p_pctype_savings_credit_only_may14.html
(the numbers need to be multiplied by 1000, e.g. Aldershot is at least 450 pensioners affected)
Local Government settlement. Tory home counties can given funding boost (despite austerity), Labour areaas get walloped (again!)
Of the 19 councils with the max 6.4% cut in spending power. 6 are in the NW - Barrow, Burnley, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle and Preston whilst Surrey gets an increase of +3.1% and Buckinghamshire +2.4%
For the provisional allocation the 2015/16 year, only three local authorities (the Isles of Scilly, Oadby and Wigston, Purbeck) get less than Hyndburn.
For the total cumulative allocation, including the provisional payments, only two local authorities (the Isles of Scilly, Oadby and Wigston) get less than Hyndburn.
The Isles of Scilly can probably be discounted from the comparison anyway as it’s uniquely small.
We shouldn't be surprised. The Tories want Britain to return to 1930's. 5 more years of porridge, a rising debt and huge deficit. All to be paid for by the poor and north so a double whammy for Hyndburn. Cameron, Osborne are just two posh boys who've never had any sense of consequence or reality I genuinely don't think they understand or care about areas like Hyndburn. The train less train line to Manchester speaks volumes.
Hilary Benn: Instead of a fairer settlement the Government has hit the communities with the most need the hardest
Please see below and a link to a press release from Hilary Benn Hilary Benn in response to the Local Government Finance settlement:
“Ministers have been criticised by the National Audit Office, among others, for having little understanding of the impact on frontline services of their decisions and they are failing to devolve power so that public money is most effectively spent.
“Instead of a fairer settlement the Government has hit the communities with the most need the hardest, and instead of giving councils the long-term budgets and freedoms they need to make real long-term sustainable savings the libraries that enrich our children’s education, the social care for our elderly to keep them healthy and out of hospital and the everyday council services like bin collections and street cleaning are bearing the brunt.
“Today was a chance to address the charge of complacency but it is now clear that the government doesn’t have a plan for the future of local services. Labour would encourage further sharing of services to protect the frontline and keep the services residents rely on.”
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
- The FSF's support for the principle of collective selling by the FA Premier League of audio-visual rights;
- The FSF's commitment to the "closed period" for the live broadcasting of matches, between 14.45 and 17.15 on Saturdays (crucial to the economic survival of many clubs lower down the football pyramid);
- The FSF's opposition to any increase in the total number of Premier League games televised live each season.
Last week Ed Miliband set out Labour's first election pledge: to build a strong economic foundation by dealing with the deficit and balancing the books. And just as we will apply the values of the British people in the way our economy is run, so too on immigration.
- Not turning our back on the world, but ensuring our borders are properly managed.
- A sense of fairness means that we can't simply allow wages to be undercut.
- A sense of fairness means that entitlement to benefits should be earned, so you contribute for longer before you claim.
- And belief in community means that people should learn English and be part of our society.
We are proud to stand up for those values because they are Labour's values. Our pledge shows how we will put these values into action. With Labour, controlling immigration is one part of a bigger plan to raise living standards, invest and improve the NHS and turn Britain around for everyday working people.
Labour's immigration plan will be based on five principles:
- Stronger border controls: making it easier to deport foreign criminals, check people in and out of the country, and stop illegal immigration. Not putting up with continued under-investment, chaos and failure, presiding over a borders agency that is clearly unfit for purpose.
- A smarter system of controls: so we get the top talent and investment we need, whilst controlling low skilled migration. Not setting an undeliverable 'net migration' target, which has ended up forcing the government to reduce the number of students, even though they bring contribute millions to Britain, simply because they are the easiest to control, whilst doing nothing to stop low skilled migration.
- Fair rules at work: a new law to prevent employers undercutting wages by exploiting immigration and banning agencies from recruiting only from abroad. Not shrugging our shoulders as this government have done – refusing to act because they are ideologically opposed to any strengthening of workers' rights.
- Earned entitlements: changing the rules so that people coming here won't be able to claim benefits for at least two years. A real plan to deliver change in Europe, not putting Britain on a path to exit from the European Union, which would put at risk 3 million jobs.
- Integration, not divided communities: people working in public services in public facing roles required to speak English. Not simply crossing our fingers and hoping that integration will occur on its own.
Exploitation law to prevent undercutting of workers
The next Labour government will introduce fair rules to tackle people's concerns about the impact of immigration in our economy, our social security system and our communities. Including the way some employers have systematically exploited people from other countries, enabling them to pay lower wage rates and offer worse conditions than for their existing workers. This leads not only to the exploitation of migrants, but the undermining of wages for local workers.
Labour has already promised to increase the fines ten-fold for firms paying below the National Minimum Wage, close down loopholes in agency worker laws that allow firms to undercut directly employed staff, ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad, and calling for a new law against extreme cases of exploitation. On top of that we have announced how the next Labour government will stop employers exploiting foreign workers. The new law would define different forms of exploitation.
To prove that a criminal offence has been committed, evidence would have to be provided that some abuse of power had occurred and that migrants were employed on significantly different terms to local workers. For the first time, it means that undercutting of wages and conditions, although it will not be sufficient on its own, can be used as a piece of evidence of exploitation.
Our social security system needs to be based on our values of fairness, work and contribution, and must work alongside economic reforms to make work pay. But it was never designed for the level of migration we are now seeing and the way it interacts with EU rules is creating anomalies and injustices that are damaging public trust.
A Labour government will work with other European countries to extend the period that EU jobseekers wait before claiming out of work benefits from three months to two years, to put the same system in place for in-work benefits, and to stop child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries.
These are real changes that Britain needs, not the kind of unworkable, hollow and vague promises made by David Cameron.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
I am hoping to get a wide cross-section of people who run charities and voluntary organisations in the constituency to attend, as well as trustees and local volunteers themselves, and that is why I am writing to you.
I know first-hand the vital work that local charities and voluntary organisations do in Haslingden and Hyndburn. There are so many bodies that are active locally and I think that it is extremely important that the Government does what it can to ensure these organisations can keep going and can fulfil their potential. In order to renew and strengthen the relationship between Government and the voluntary sector we need input from groups across the constituency.
The event takes place on Friday 16th January 2015, at 1pm-4pm at Accrington Library, St James' Street, Accrington, Lancashire, BB5 1NQ, and I urge all interested local groups, trusttes and volunteers to come along.
It would be helpful if you can let my office know if you are able to attend so that we can gauge numbers. Please RSVP to email@example.com. Groups are welcome to submit a written response if you are unable to attend the roundtable.
Friday, 12 December 2014
7 Specialist NHS Services are under threat of moving out of East Lancashire, a letter to Graham Jones, Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn has revealed.
In response to a letter from Graham, the CEO of East Lancs Hospitals Trust, Kevin McGee named 7 specialist services which are under threat of being taken out of East Lancashire all together, including:
Pancreatic Cancer Services
Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Services
Neonatal Critical Care
Respiratory – Severe Asthma Services
Complex Vascular Services
Complex Disability (wheelchair) Services
The letter states that this is being driven by the Government’s “centralisation agenda”, aimed at cutting the number of specialists providing these services. This is despite the fact that Mr McGee states that he believes East Lancashire is best capable of providing these services under existing arrangements.
In the letter, the CEO says explicitly: “We believe the above services are provided to a high standard within East Lancashire and would wish to see them continue to be delivered locally.”
Responding to the letter, Graham said:
“These are not trivial services, a significant number of my constituents rely on being able to easily access these services on a regular basis. These services are all for chronic or long-term conditions which many in Haslingden and Hyndburn need to be able to access easily.”
“Moving them from East Lancashire would be a step back as far as Haslingden and Hyndburn is concerned.”
“I accept these decisions should be clinical but in this case I believe – as does the CEO of the Hospitals Trust – that they should continue to be delivered in East Lancashire. Yet because of the changes to the NHS made under the Tories, we now risk losing them to another region, leaving constituents with distant services and potentially affecting the Trust’s finances. It is a pattern which is being repeated up and down the country – communities feeling that decisions on NHS services are being taken against their wishes.”
We discussed the cuts - which I want to say more about following my meeting with the Steve Finnigan, Lancashire Chief Constable and Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Clive Grunshaw. yesterday in Parliament. The cuts in Lancashire are having an adverse impact on policing and the thought that 40% have been allocated and 60% further cuts have yet to come will leave communities unprotected. One figure from yesterday's meeting was the number of incidents that Lancs constabulary deployed to this year (18,000) as compared with years previous (30,000). The police do not attend a significant number of crimes immediately because they do not have the manpower.
At today's meeting the issue of the cuts and the impact it is having on the front line was discussed. Only yesterday the police had to take two separate individuals from road traffic accidents to A&E reducing their capability.
We discussed operational budgets and the tension between funding neighbourhood policing and PCSO's/neighbourhood officers verses full time response bobbies. I like the PCC agree that Lancashire's success has become because of our successful neighbourhood policing model - a model which is already been stretched to thinly. People are saying they see their PCSO's less and less.
One of the avenues the PCC has gone down is to recruit more special constables. It is 10 hours a week voluntary with training with the advantage that that experience can be used in an application for full time posts. If anyone is interested an application pack to be a Special Constable for Lancashire Constabulary can be found here. Hyndburn does offer better opportunities through the successful CanSafe initiative which we discussed. Where professional staff from all agencies come together into 6 units to patrol the streets in an evening picking up youngsters at risk and taking them to a place of refuge and care. CanSafe is now complemented by SafeHaven where children are kept overnight if their parents cannot be contacted and they are vulnerable. Special constables working on CanSafe get the opportunity to work with a variety of other agencies first hand and pick up a wide range of policing and social care experiences.
The is also cadet training on offer. I have previously been out on operations with the teams and seen what brilliant scheme it is. the PCC has also been to see just how effective an initiative this is prevention and care as well as policing. Big thanks to all those involved including Can Safe chair and Councillor Joyce Plummer (Peel Ward/Hyndburn) where the scheme first started.
Operation Aristo was discussed. An on going major operation against drug dealers and suppliers which has led to numerous high profile arrests, court cases and lengthy prison sentences. This has been a significant worry for the people of west Accrington who at times have felt terrorised by these criminals.
We also discussed counter terrorism and anti social behaviour.
Lancashire Constabulary are one the best police forces in the country, well led at all levels and the relationship with Councillors and MPs continues to be strong. Sadly the governments austerity programme is threatening the very existence of polcing as we have known it.