Sunday, 29 December 2013

Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder alive and well in Hyndburn

Why the Hyndburn Labour Party should take credit for the innovative Woodnook regeneration scheme attracting national attention...



I missed the BBC programme 'Empty Homes' broadcast last month which had a piece on Hyndburn Labour Party's innovative Woodnook regeneration scheme (which the Council were instructed to undertake) and which has attracted much attention from TV companies and the trade press.

You can rewatch the video here on Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/77678726

However the BBC's coverage if you watch it trots out the same old mis-information. That previous government housing scheme had failed referring presumedly to Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder. 

I feel obliged to write to the BBC to ask them to justify such assertions particularly considering the scheme today is almost identical to the scheme the Labour Party put forward in 2007 using Housing Market Renewal funding and yet it today's scheme is deemed by the BBC (and everyone else) a success.

I personally campaigned since 2005 with the then and current Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration Clare Pritchard for regeneration to be undertaken in the neglected neighbourhood. During the Conservative years spending focused on Blackburn Road and despite a decade of broken promises, little resource or effort went to Woodnook - the real basis for the BBC's poor reporting.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Rossendale BC to get tough on rogue landlords in Haslingden.

Graham Jones MP & Rossendale Council Labour leader Alyson Barnes in Haslingden
Following very agreeable meetings I have I had with Alyson Barnes, the leader of Rossendale BC who shares my view, and after campaigning nationally against rogue landlords, I'm pleased that , the Leader is looking to take action against rogue landlords in Haslingden thanks to Rossendale BC's successful grant application to fund staff.

Alyson and I have had many conversations about about Haslingden and in spite of the huge government cuts to Rossendale Council's budget ,I am grateful that the Labour Council is starting to make some progress on this issue.

Operation CARL (Co-ordination Against Rogue Landlords) is an exciting and innovative approach that will tackle this problem of rogue landlords and provide a blueprint for others to follow.
The main focus for the scheme will be co-ordinated action across a number of agencies (DWP, Trading Standards, HMRC etc) to target rogue landlords operating in Rossendale and will include prosecution where evidence exists of criminal activity.
This scheme will provide the council with the resources to be in a position to empower more tenants to come forward and help take action to stop the on-going, underlying abuse being perpetrated by rogue landlords. 

Poor quality housing in the private rented sector is something which must be eradicated if we want prosperous towns in East Lancashire. I'm pleased that the local authority are taking steps to improve the living conditions of working people who deserve a good home.

Hyndburn Council short changed by the Government again.


On Monday - take note of the date - the 23rd of December (when wasn't Parliament) the Department for Local Government and Communities sent out letters on top ups to grant funds that prevent the seven councils facing cuts deeper than the 8.8% cuts (the maximum cut) announced by Government.


The Government backed down and awarded extra grants to the top seven authorities facing cuts above 8.8% and agreed for 2013/14 and 14/15 only, these authorities would receive the difference in grant funds. In Hyndburn's case this was around £1.25million in both years (Efficiency Support Grant)

However the chancellor following agreed to pay an extra 25% provided Council's worked more in partnership with each other and produced further savings (Efficiency Support Grant Reward Element). 

Pennine Lancashire EU Assisted Area Status: East Lancashire working together

Over the last two months East Lancashire leaders and MPs have been working together to make the case for the 2014 - 2020 Assisted Area Status with the EU. The Government have have accepted the the first stage of consultation on the wards which will qualify.  The number of wards included in East Lancashire is far greater than the last period 2007-2013 - an additional 17 wards over the last period.

Essentially the assisted areas status has been focused on prime industrial areas along the M65 and where there are significantly large employers.

I and my colleagues Councillor Bernard Dawson and County Councillor for Huncoat Clare Pritchard pressed for the inclusion of Huncoat, originally omitted on the first map and now importantly, included. 


Volunteering at Hyndburn's Community Solutions Foodbank; sending out christmas food parcels and presents

Foodbank currently wrapping up presents for children. About to deliver food parcels.

Volunteering Foodbank. Awesome community response with around 40 volunteers helping out across rooms.


Christmas at Salvation Army Hostel - meeting vulnerable young people

Visiting vulnerable young people for their xmas buffet at the Salvation Army refuge in Hyndburn with

Friday, 20 December 2013

My visit to A & E at Royal Blackburn

This morning I visited Royal Blackburn hospital to discuss how the A and E service are coping and to show his support for the hard working staff there.

The cumulative actions of the Tory-led Government have meant that across the country the NHS is struggling to deal with the A and E crisis. This situation is predicted to become worse over the coming winter months with more ambulances queuing up outside A and E units and more people waiting longer before being seen.

Visit to the newly completed Great Harwood Health Centre on Water Street, Great Harwood

I visited the newly completed Great Harwood Health Centre on Water Street, Great Harwood today.

As soon as I got elected to Parliament I made the new health centre in Great Harwood one of my top priorities. There was a time when it looked like it wasn’t going to get built, so to visit the facility today and to see the difference it is making for patient is really fantastic.

I know that a lot of Great Harwood residents, the Community Action Group and the Council were all part of the campaign to make sure this happened and I’d like to thank them for their efforts in securing the centre. I’d also like to thank NHS property services for showing me around today.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stop the FOBTs takes its fight to Parliament



Campaign takes to College Green to urge MPs to vote no to "status quo"

The Stop the FOBTs Campaign team joined Tom Watson MP and other Members of Parliament earlier this month on the House of Commons Green to raise awareness of roulette machines in betting shops and to call for a reduction in the maximum stake from £100 to £2. The event was attended by journalists from national newspapers, and supporters included councillors, activists and problem gamblers.

Latest correspondence from Dept Health on the Accrington Victoria walk in centre

I continue to campaign locally and in Parliament to save the walk in centre at Accrington Victoria. Last Friday I met with Patients Voice to discuss their concerns over the proposed closure.

My speech on food banks


Below is the speech I had prepared ahead of the debate in the House of Commons yesterday on the subject of food banks which I had wanted and expected to deliver. Unfortunately due to the number of people who wished to speak in the debate, and the delays caused by the distruption to the opening frontbench speech I was unable to take part in the debate due to time pressure. 

Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of the motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. At present I have four food banks in my constituency: RAFT, Maundy Relief, Tesco Fairshare and Community Solutions. I have visited or volunteered at them all and I will be volunteering at Community Solutions over Christmas. 


Peel Holdings v Hyndburn Council

Peel Holdings v Hyndburn Council

Peel Holdings have pursued their interests relentlessly in the courts to change Whitebirk Retail Park from selling white goods to one where famous high street names selling high street goods are permitted to locate.

Hyndburn Council has defended the interests of Accrington town centre in the courts defending current Council planning policies in the courts.

The development of the Trafford Centre according to Council sources saw an 11% fall off in trade in Accrington Town Centre which is the largest employer in the Borough.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Government changes to digital radio policy to reflect local concerns.

Thanks for the email – I was monitoring yesterday's speech with interest!

I think it's fair to say we're pleased with the outcome – in particular that there was no "in principle" decision for switch-over and "emphatically no FM switch off". This allows time for the consumer demand to dictate how and when and even if a digital move will take place and it safeguards the long term future of FM.

I'm in no doubt that the movement of position in favour of the smaller commercial sector is down to the huge support we have received from our constituency MPs, so thank you to you and Graham for your support in this matter.

Wishing you both a peaceful Christmas and an exciting New Year

Best regards

Simon Brierley
Managing Director

New Gingerbread research: Paying the price: Single parents in the age of austerity

Dear Mr Jones, Please find attached the executive summary from Gingerbread’s new report, Paying the Price: Single parents in the age of austerity, which has been published today. The report is the first from a three-year project tracking single parents’ experiences of living in the current difficult economic climate, and key findings include:

Friday, 13 December 2013

Keeping up the campaign to tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector

@GrahamJones_MP: Keeping up the campaign to tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector. Reply from minister. Are the government finally buckling on the issue?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Wanted: 15 young people aged between 16 and 24yrs old Prince's Trust Team Programme, starting on Monday 13th January 2014

Graham, I am delighted to inform you that Hyndburn Fire Station (Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service) in association with Accrington and Rossendale College will be delivering another Prince's Trust Team Programme, starting on Monday 13th January 2014.

Between now and then we are looking to recruit a new team of 15 young people aged between 16 and 24yrs old.

The success of the first team was largely due to the support that you, as partner agencies provided us, by referring the young people that took part in the first Hyndburn Fire Station, Prince's Trust team.

It is for this reason that I am now hoping you can provide us with the same support as you have done previously.

I have attached a number of information documents and also a referral form. If you have any young people that you can refer to the programme this can be done by emailing the form back or by posting it to the station address below.

Many thanks, in anticipation,

Chris West

Prince's Trust
Team Leader
ACCROSS Team
Hyndburn Fire Station
Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service

01254 356987
accrosstl@lancsfirerescue.org.uk

MPs pay. Ed Miliband's letter to the Prime Minister

Ed Miliband has sent the below letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister calling for cross-party talks to resolve this issue before the General Election. Below is also what Ed Miliband said at PMQs on this issue as well as the line issued before the publication.

ED MILIBAND LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER
11 December 2013
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 1AA
Dear David

Today at Prime Minister's Questions you agreed with me that a pay rise for MPs many times above inflation in the midst of a cost of living crisis would be wrong. You indicated that the Deputy Prime Minister shared that view. You also said the door was open to discuss this issue.

The public expect us to resolve this now and not wait until 2015. It only undermines confidence and trust in our political system if the uncertainty about MPs' pay is allowed to continue.

Therefore I believe the three party leaders should meet Sir Ian Kennedy tomorrow to make clear our view that we cannot go ahead with the current proposition.

I look forward to hearing from you.

I am copying this letter to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP

STATEMENT ON MP's PAY PRIOR TO PUBLICATION

Spokesperson for Ed Miliband:

If the package of proposals being set out by Ipsa is as reported it cannot go ahead when people are going through the biggest cost-of-living crisis for a generation.

We cannot have an outcome for MPs which does not command public confidence.

Therefore we are asking the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats for a cross-party approach which recognises the current economic circumstances where workers in the public and private sectors are going through such difficult times.


PMQ'S TRANSCRIPT OF ED MILIBAND QUESTION'S ON MP's PAY

Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab): Does the Prime Minister agree that, given the crisis in living standards that ordinary families are facing, Members of Parliament should not be awarded a pay rise many times above inflation in 2015?

Edward Miliband: I am glad that the Prime Minister agrees with me about this issue. Does he also agree that we should not let it hang around as an issue until after the general election, and hang over trust in politics? May I urge him to work with me, on a cross-party basis, to find a way of making IPSA think again, and to stop this package happening?

Edward Miliband: I agree with the Prime Minister, but I hope he agrees with me that waiting and seeing will not work and that we do have to get together to deal with this. The reason this is not the right time for this pay rise is that most people are going through the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation, and I want to turn to that cost of living crisis. Last Thursday, the Chancellor claimed living standards were rising. That just is not the case, is it?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Accrington Victoria Walk In Centre: Latest letter from CCG

Latest DCMS response to the survival of local radio




Digital Radio may offer a clearer future, literally. However the spectrum is small and many local radio stations will be forced to remain on FM.

In Hyndburn we have 2BR, 107 the Bee, Accrington Asian radio (which broadcasts 1 month every year) and Rossendale Radio which is in the process of re-establishing itself.

Remaining on FM is seen as being disadvantageous. Partly quality, partly because some radios are DAB only, partly because people will see FM as a poorer source with poorer choice as the high profile stations broadcast from DAB.

I have had a five cornered response on this issue. From DCMS, my office, pro and anti DAB campaigners and our own local radio stations which I have blogged about previously.

This is the latest response from the DCMS on the issue.

Monday, 9 December 2013

A and E in East Lancashire unsatisfactory according to patients.

The latest Friends and Family Test feedback (October) for East Lancashire Hospitals Trust show that for accident and emergency out of 142 hospitals, it ranked a lowly 132nd.

Anyone with any experience could tell you that there is a significant problem. I have previously written about my efforts to resolve with the Lancashire Ambulance Trust the chaos of ambulance's parked up awaiting bed space at A and E last winter. Some progress has been made.

I have sat in A and E with my young daughter and experienced how hard the staff in triage work but how over overwhelmed they are. I went to have a simple blood test for a cold having been to a malaria infected country. An important test given death comes quickly. Tropical diseases seem to be a non-priority so overstretched at A&E the staff are.

More recently we have seen the colossal numbers, some 36,000 using the GP walk in centre at Accrington. Should it close an estimated 11,000 will go to A and E instead at Royal Blackburn.

Add to that the cuts the government promised wouldn't happen. The costly NHS reorganisation. This month we have learned the scale of the redistributive cuts taking money from the NHS in deprived areas and giving it to the wealthy areas. This week the Mark Brearley, chief executive of East Lancashire’s troubled hospital trust has quit following a barrage of criticism from campaigners and NHS inspectors.

It's no wonder the public have no faith in the service. It's not the staff but government cuts, issues with the management and the scale of deprivation in East Lancashire.










Massive NHS cuts in East Lancashire to fund the NHS in other areas

The government has decided that deprivation figures should be replaced by average age (the older the average to more money) in calculating NHS funding in the future. See letter below.

This essentially switches funding from deprived areas with greater need to affluent areas like Bournemouth, Hertfordshire and Surrey where people are wealthy enough to live to a ripe old age.

- David Cameron promised no more top down reorganisation but implemented the biggest top down reorganisation the NHS has seen privatising services.

- He promised no cuts but the £3billion reorganisation and deep cuts to Social Services have meant the NHS is once again in crises under a Tory led government.

- His promise of no NHS cuts is a betrayal to NHS workers and constituents.

These latest redistributive cuts will see £millions taken out of East Lancashire and will have a dramatic impact on the level and quality of health services particularly following the Keogh Report. Cuts such as the closure of the Accrington Walk in Centre.

It's a cliche but so true - you can't trust the Tories on the NHS. Cameron has broken so many promises that adorned Tory billboards at the last election.



Dan Jarvis on Labour's commitment to WW1 commemorations


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Letter to Lancashire MPs over NHS changes in Lancashire that will see £miillions cut




Letter to Jeremy Hunt in response to the huge new cuts to the NHS in Lancashire

The Government is currently consulting on one aspect of the funding formula for local NHS provision, a change which I believe would be in the short and long term detriment to people in East Lancashire.

Jeremy Hunt wants to make a change which would result in a redistribution of money away from poorer areas with lower life expectancies (such as Hyndburn) towards (generally wealthier, southern) areas with higher life expectancies. The Government’s thinking is that older people need more NHS money, which taken at face value makes sense. However, in practice that means taking money away from people who have lower life expectancies, rewarding healthier people with better health provision.

Ignoring health inequality and favouring age will put further strain on the budget of the NHS in East Lancashire, the result of which would be less in the way of services.

When is a cut not a cut? When it is a redistribution from poorer areas of health need to areas where people live longer.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals have been called 'the crack cocaine of gambling'. Cameron should defend vulnerable people, not the gambling industry.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals have been called 'the crack cocaine of gambling'. Cameron should defend vulnerable people, not the gambling industry.

Last week in Parliament, there was a vote in Committee regarding whether the Commons had considered the draft Categories of Gaming Machine (Amendment) Regulations 2014. This is something that usually takes place on the nod, in the committee rooms of Parliament, and normally doesn't make the news.

These regulations relate to gaming machines of all kinds, from pub fruit machines to penny slots – however these supposedly carefully designed regulations had one glaring omission, they had absolutely no mention whatsoever of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs); an issue on which Parliament and the Government gets much correspondence on. I have personally never been contacted by anyone asking for the prize of a pub fruit machine to be doubled – however I have been contacted innumerable times by people wanting FOBTs capped or removed altogether.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

ECO and Solid wall insulation - An overview

I recently asked the library to look into the ECO. With both Blackburn and Hyndburn engaging in large scale schemes it is important to understand how the scheme is or isn't working.

ECO performance

The House of Commons library briefing, The Green Deal and The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) has the latest statistics included on ECO progress including costs, supply chains and measures installed. The figures are from the 9th in the series (November 2013)of Green Deal and ECO monthly statistics which are published by DECC. The next set of Monthly and quarterly statistics will be published on 19 December 2013.


Monday, 2 December 2013

Cameron's Special Offer. Energy Bills up by £70.

Transport Minister has no answer on the time of the opening of direct rail line to Manchester

I have asked the government as to the progress of the direct rail link from Accrington to Manchester.

The track work is due to be completed by May 2014, on time however there is potentially a problem with the rolling stock which may delay the opening of the line. Some suggestons are that this delay will be for a further 6 months to November 2014. 

My Accrington Pals Speech - Minister drops a kind note...

Last week Thursday the House of Commons debated a motion on the First World War. In the debate I spoke at length about the Accrington Pals, and the centenary commemorations which are taking place across the constituency in the next few years.


A reply from the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group Accrington on the Victoria Health Access Centre

Below is a letter I recently received from the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group – the body ultimately responsible for the decision as to whether the hugely popular and hugely valued Accrington Victoria Health Access Centre stays open, and in what form.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Graham Jones MP visits Isothane.


Isothane press release.

Earlier this month Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, visited Isothane to witness first hand the innovative work being done in tackling the huge problem of insulating Hard to Treat Cavities throughout the UK.

Graham was shown how Technitherm® makes the insulation of Hard to Treat cavities a simple task, and was given the details of the Local and National Projects now being developed by Isothane, and the subsequent benefits to householders and the local and national economy.



Saturday, 30 November 2013

Fixing Britain's broken energy market

Ed Miliband and Caroline Flint have this week launched our Energy Green Paper that sets out the steps a One Nation Labour government will take to reset the market during the 20 month price freeze to ensure energy is affordable and available for the long term.

People in Haslingden and Hyndburn know times are tough. Prices are rising faster than wages and people are working harder, for longer, for less. That amounts to a cost of living crisis for people here and across the country.

As we head into winter people have been telling me they are worried about how cold it will get and the choices they will have to make to pay their energy bills. I don’t think that is right. People shouldn’t have to make the choice between putting food on the table and turning on the heating.

David Cameron says the economy is fixed - but since he has been in Downing Street prices have risen faster than wages in 40 out of 41 months and energy bills have gone up by almost £300. When the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall.

The problem is David Cameron can’t deal with the cost of living crisis because he stands up for a privileged few, not for ordinary families and people working hard to make ends meet. David Cameron has cut tax for people on over £150,000 a year while raising it for everyone else. We can only tackle the cost of living crisis by building an economy that works for working people.

Ed Miliband announced in September that the next Labour Government will freeze energy prices until 2017 while we reform the energy market to deliver fairness in the long term. I’m delighted that this week he has set out the next steps a One Nation Labour government will take to ensure energy is affordable and availablefor the long term.

These next steps include plans to improve competition in the market, establish a new Energy Security Board to deliver the capacity we need and create a tough new regulator to prevent overcharging.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Dementia: Concerted international action required to tackle this disease

Dementia and the social care system is one of the biggest issues facing this country and has at heart something that is not going to go away over night, and which unfortunately has no simple remedy.

On the 11th of December the UK is to host the first G8 summit dedicated to dementia. The purpose of the summit is an attempt to spur the world into taking globally-coordinated action to combat the disease. This will be done through identification and agreement of a new approach to dementia research; to help break down barriers to collaboration between and within companies, researchers and clinicians; and finally to secure cooperation needed to reach shared goals faster than nations acting alone.

Those not aware of problem will be surprised by some of the facts. For instance 1-in-3 of people over 65 will develop dementia, there are currently 800,000 sufferers and this will rise to 1,000,000 in 2021 and 1,700,000 by 2050. It costs £23 billion to the UK economy each year – more than cancer, heart disease or stroke, and will rise to £28 billion in the next 4 years.

The reason concerted international action is needed is because dementia will soon be the biggest healthcare burden on earth, with an annual global cost of between £400-600 billion and rising. The thing that is perhaps most notable about dementia is that there is no treatment available to slow down the progress of the disease, let along halt, reverse or cure it. It is a huge challenge and one which will not be solved unless countries, researchers and private sector all work together.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tories have axed 410 frontline police officers and since 31 March, many more have gone

New data released by the House of Commons library has revealed the scale of the effects of Government cuts on front line policing. Theresa May repeatedly said that there would be no need for forces to cut back on operational officers, despite the swingeing cuts she has introduced to the forces. The Police Federation warned her that funding cuts would inevitably lead to service cutbacks.

The new figures released show that Lancashire has 410 less frontline police officers than it did before the Conservatives took power, and this is a -13.2% cut in the number of Operational Frontline Police Officers. This is 4.9% higher than the national average reduction in officers (8.3%).

Across the County in September this year there were 14,719 recorded crimes. But in Surrey, which had a criminality count of only 6810 now has 198 more police officers on the beat, a 12.5% increase in full time officers. It begs the question as to why the Government has overseen the reduction of so many officers in Lancashire, an area with a high crime rate, and areas like Surrey are barely feeling the pinch at all. The Government’s policy on policing does not seem to be an evidence-based assessment of where the greatest need for policing is.


Supporting the White Ribbon global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women

25 November 2012 (United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Day)

What is the White Ribbon Campaign?

The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) - www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk - is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action amongst men. Throughout the year we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, and to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC. We distribute Education and Action kits to schools, colleges and youth clubs, maintain a website, and speak out on issues of public policy.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

‘SAVE ENERGY, SAVE MONEY AND KEEP WARM’ - WARM HOMES HYNDBURN LAUNCHED

It is vital that with 60% of homes of 'victorian build' with hard to treat cavity's or solid walls that Hyndburn draws down green energy funding (ECO) to insulate these homes and accesses further funding to deliver other energy saving measures.

Hyndburn's Labour Council is committed to tackling rising energy costs and this week over 40 representatives from Hyndburn organisations plus Councillors attended the launch of ‘Warm Homes Hyndburn’ at Accrington Town Hall on Thursday 21st November.

The scheme is a partnership between the Council, Homewise, Dyson Energy Services and Keepmoat who will access funding to offer FREE energy home improvements to qualifying households.


Backing the campaign to get local school children talking and learning about money

Hyndburn schools are being urged to take part in Personal Finance Education Group’s (Registered Charity) free, new scheme.


Local schools can get their pupils talking and learning about money, as part of a charity’s new campaign to help improve the financial capability of young people.  

Every primary and secondary school in Hyndburn has been sent free Get Money Smart posters and teaching materials by national charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group), which wants to get children talking about money in the classroom.

The charity’s Get Money Smart posters – for children aged up to seven, 11, 14 and 16 – are designed to encourage classroom discussions about things children can do to learn more about money and personal finance.  Ideas for different ages include checking your change, estimating the cost of a weekly shop, comparing mobile phone tariffs and planning and budgeting for a trip.

Labour pledges new cycle safety laws

Joe Murphy’s piece on today’s London Cycling Summit has just been published. #LabourCycleSafety

Labour pledges new cycle safety laws and our cycling plans can be found here

JOE MURPHY, POLITICAL EDITOR - London Evening Standard (not available in Accrington!)

Lorries will be fitted with special equipment to protect cyclists, under Labour Party plans unveiled at a safety summit today.

Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman joined politicians to launch a 10-point plan for safety HGVs, including beepers to alert drivers when a rider is in a blind spot.

My letter to Jeremy Hunt on Accrington's walk-in centre

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Labour will support neighbourhood policing, not undermine it like the Tories


We all rely on the police to keep us safe and protect our communities but the Tory-led Government is making it increasingly difficult for them to do this.

The police are doing what they can but the scale and pace of the Government's cuts over the last three years is hitting services hard, despite its promises that the front line would not be affected. In Lancashire alone, we’ve already seen the number of police officers cut by 410 (as of 31 March 2013), and across the country we’ve lost over 10,000 front line officers. Since March many more Police Officers have gone.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse


It’s Shoebox World time again!

Over the past 23 years, through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse has delivered 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes in over 100 countries.

While the ‘window’ for dropping off shoeboxes is now closing, it’s not too late for people across the country to send gift filled shoeboxes to disadvantaged children around the world this Christmas!

People can still take part through Shoebox World – a fun and interactive programme to create a shoebox online. It’s a quick and easy way to create a shoebox gift for a child overseas!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The cost of living crisis is hitting working families – they need real help with the cost of childcare

With Shadow Minister Lucy Powell
I’ve spoken to mums and dads in Haslingden and Hyndburn and they’ve told me how tough they are finding things at the moment. Fuel and food prices are on the rise and wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. David Cameron’s cost of living crisis is bad news for local people.

One of the biggest problems that parents talk to me about is the cost of childcare. 

I have a four year old daughter myself and the cost of childcare just mounts up. Nursery costs then breakfast and after school clubs, clothes, books, lunches, sponsored events, fund raisers, birthday parties, christmas and birthday's, hours and days lost at work when your child is ill, ... the list just goes on.


Guest article countering calls for 'parliament of the North' by Eddie Bone & James Black Campaign for an English Parliament

Disclaimer. Eddie Bone & James Black article opposing my support for (following the printing of Paul Salverson article here last week) devolution for the north of England. The views below are those of the authors. Just for clarity, my own view is for regional devolution.

Campaign for an English Parliament: Labour Needs to Grab English policy making by the Collar and accept that the English do not want regionalisation

The Labour Party currently has two choices, it embraces Englishness and nurtures a progressive civic English national identity or it simply falls on its British sword, chanting ‘One Nation!’ as it disappears from England in much the same way as the Conservative Party have disappeared in Scotland. That statement might seem a tad over dramatic but the future prosperity of the British Labour party in England will be dire if it doesn’t adapt to changing attitudes towards Britain by the English.

The Labour party needs to accept that a problem exists in its relationship with England, that it is not just a scratch but a deep wound that will turn sceptic if left untreated. The first step of treatment must be an assessment of why Labour regionalisation policy lost its way and how it has damaged Labours relationship with its traditional English core vote.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The future of local radio isn't secure.

'RADIO TODAY' VIEWPOINT: What does Brighton's small scale DAB test actually tell us?

After the the DAB row last week came the inference that there was a solution for the hundred or so stations that don't already have a plan for a digital future after switch-over.

Daniel Nathan, CEO of Brighton's Juice 107.2, writes for eRADIO on his experience of the trial held up as the answer...

Government communication and public statements by pro-DAB lobby group Digital Radio UK in the last few weeks, have inferred that the “Small Scale DAB” test carried out as a private initiative in Brighton last year, was part of an approved and co-ordinated strategy for digital radio switchover.

My visit to hi tech Hyndburn firm Isothane Ltd

Earlier this month I visited Isothane Ltd, an expanding hi-tech Hyndburn company to see their products, and particularly the demand that exists for their product Technitherm.

Four aspects stood out. The work they have done to show that 80% of terraced properties have hard to treat cavity, the insulating and bonding qualities of Technitherm, its pioneering use in 3,600 properties in Blackburn and Darwen Council and the problems getting Energy Companies to fund and insulate properties through the Energy Company Obligation.

I have long campaigned for improvements to the housing stock in the constituency and it was impressive to see a product designed, developed and made in Hyndburn is being used to improve the homes of East Lancashire residents.

I have already had correspondence with the Leader and Chief Executive of Hyndburn Council to see what can be done in Hyndburn and I have sent a copy of the same report to colleagues across East Lancashire.

I have also informed our shadow minsters of the scheme. It is vital that funding is brought into Hyndburn and that hard to treat homes are insulated in as significant numbers as is possible. 60% of the housing stock in the constituency are old Victorian terraced homes. We must make every effort to tackle fuel poverty and modernise homes.

I also raised awareness with Isothane managers and directors of the opportunities for business in China and passed on helpful business contacts from UK firms in China and the British Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai as well as UKTI details in China. It is vital that Hyndburn firms look towards exports to grow their business and create greater employment.
Visit to Isothane Limited 1st November 2013

WARMER INSULATED SECURE HOMES (WISH) SCHEME
BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN BOROUGH COUNCIL & ISOTHANE LIMITED

Background

Millions of hard-to-treat-homes with cavity wall construction including stone built houses have been mistakenly identified as “solid wall” housing. The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE ) estimates there are 10 Million or 40% of UK homes which are hard to treat and the National Insulation Association (NIA) together with the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) has identified that of these, around 8m HTT cavity walls are capable of being filled. Homes with hard-to-treat cavities can be insulated with Technitherm® polyurethane, an all-in-one energy efficient cavity wall insulation solution manufactured by Isothane Limited in Accrington.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Don’t let your loved ones fall victim to Carbon Monoxide poisoning

Lynn Griffiths, the founder of the Carbon Monoxide Awareness charity will launch the charity’s 8th National Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week at the House of Lords this Monday 18th November 2013.

The mother-of-four set up the charity over eight years ago, after she and her family suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning for over a decade.

“It is shocking that despite living in the ‘information age’ people still don't realise that carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless highly toxic gas that can kill in under three minutes !!



Walk in Centre Accrington Victoria; A response from the Chair of the Clinical Commisioning Group

Dear Mr Jones, Thank you for your email about the Health Access Centre, which will have crossed with my letter to you, including the paper that we have issued outlining the options. I would be happy to hear your views about the options.

I recognise the value placed upon this service by patients and the need to improve patient access. The issue that we have is whether a walk-in centre funded by a fee per attendance, with no incentive for patients to choose other more cost effective services, like community pharmacies, is affordable given the financial challenges we face.

We will be considering this at our Governing Body on 25 November, but may defer a final decision until the New Year so that we can understand the implications of the new contract arrangements for GPs announced today and the Monitor Report about walk-in centres.

Yours sincerely
Dr Mike Ions
Chief Clinical Officer

Road safety week: LET’S ALL TUNE INTO ROAD SAFETY

We all have a right to live in a safe community. People in Hyndburn rely on knowing that their children can get to school safely, that they can cycle to work easily, and depend on reliable public transport and roads to get them from A to B.

But although the UK has some of the safest roads in the UK, there are still an unacceptable number of deaths and injuries happening on our roads every day. Five people die on our roads every day.

This week thousands of children, schools, colleges, workplaces and police officers from across the country will join together in Road Safety Week. The annual campaign led by the charity Brake reminds us that there is still a lot more we can do to make the streets in Hyndburn safer places to be.

Sadly recent figures show worrying trends in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads – particularly for casualties amongst and motorcyclists. Every year over 3000 people are killed or seriously injured on a bike.

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Promise; The next Labour government will repeal the bedroom tax

Hi Graham, there's no place for the cruelty of the bedroom tax in Britain today.

The next Labour government will repeal the bedroom tax. It is one part of my bigger commitment to you: to build an economy that works for all working people, not just a privileged few.

Labour will always stand up for those who need it, support working people, and speak out against powerful interests.

If you share our vision for a better politics and a better economy — and if you want to live in a society with no place for the bedroom tax — I'd like to invite you to do something to help make it happen.

Help kick out the Tories at the next election and show your support for a fairer, better Britain: donate to the Labour Party now.

From United Utilities to Hyndburn customers: Important advice on preventing frozen pipes

From: John Martin
Date: 15 November 2013 13:58:42 GMT
To: graham.jones.mp@parliament.uk;
Subject: Important advice for constituents - freezing pipes

Dear Graham, with temperatures forecast to drop to -5°C in the North West next week, increasing the risk of household pipes bursting, we would be grateful if you could help promote United Utilities' Winterwise campaign.

It would be great if you could tweet or put information on your website over the next few days pointing people in the direction of our campaign webpage - http://www.unitedutilities.com/winterwise

The advice on the website could help save your constituents hundreds of pounds by taking cheap, simple steps.

The future of local radio on FM and the threat of DAB

I have just received this email from Digital UK regarding DAB and the fact that local radio stations are being squeezed off DAB as it does not have a capacity that DAB+ (or FM) has. The government have ruled out DAB+ and the roadmap was for a digital switchover like the one for TV in which analogue (FM/ Medium wave) was turned off.

The reality is there is simply not enough space on DAB and I have expressed my concern to government over this issue and unless significant changes too radios that are for sale are made, local stations such as 2BR and 107 The Bee as well as Rossendale Radio or any other will be forced to remain on FM whilst a radio listening public only have incompatible DAB radios.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hannah Mitchell Foundation: The North needs its own devolution, not an English parliament

Paul Salveson, Hannah Mitchell Foundation

The accelerating debate in Scotland over independence or further devolution is starting to have an impact south of the border though many on the English left haven’t really woken up to the implications of Scottish independence. The idea of an ‘English’ parliament has gathered some currency though the more you unpick the idea, the more its reactionary nature becomes clear. There is an alternative – real devolution within the English regions and strong links with a self-ruled Scotland and Wales. A federal, democratic Britain.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Hyndburn and Haslingden sports clubs under threat from proposed Government changes. Where is the Big Society?

I have been campaigning against subtle changes proposed by the Government to tax rules on Community Amateur Sports Clubs scheme (CASC) which I know will affect at least two cricket clubs in the constituency, Haslingden and Baxenden Cricket Clubs and probably many more of the larger sports clubs.

I have written to the minister - see below for my letter and his response (read more link).

The Government are intending to place restrictions on the amount of income clubs can raise from social activities. Clubs rely on a range of social and non-sporting income from various sources for the sole purpose of keeping that club open and accessible to the community. (I was at Baxenden Cricket Club a week last Friday which had allowed the club to be used for a school fund raiser myself). The income clubs make from its own social activities help maintain the upkeep of the facilities and ensure in working class areas like this, membership fee's are kept at an affordable rate and that resources are available for to support juniors and young people.

The CASC scheme has been a great success and statistics from the ECB show that registered clubs have 32% more participating adult members.

I have long stood up for community clubs and have previously campaigned to extend rate relief in Hyndburn on working men's clubs from 50% to 80% because of their contribution to the community and we simply cannot afford to lose them.

David Cameron championed the Big Society and yet his actions are totally contrary to his warm words. If he believes the contribution of Haslingden and Baxenden Cricket Clubs is a vital part of society and community life he should back them, not undermine them.

China, Europe, Britain, Hyndburn; Two decades of dramatic change?

The Bund & Pudong District - centre of Shanghai. Paddy fields 25 years ago.
“Be scared, be very scared” was the rather chilling advice that ended my trade trip to China last month. The question I had asked of the British Chamber of Commerce members in Shanghai; heads of global British companies such as RBS, BT, HSBC, Arup, “What advice would you give to me to give to SME’s in Hyndburn?”. 

There’s a mistaken argument about Chinese manufacturing I discovered, a convenient untruth perhaps that rising wages and poor quality in China is resulting in leading UK firms repatriating their manufacturing to the UK. That in some way a corner has been turned on Chinese advantage and ‘we’ll now be alright’. A belief based on the rise in power of organised Chinese Labour, the workers protesting as aspiration creates aspiring consumers demanding better living standards and that this will increasingly price out of the market Chinese manufacturing. These hopeful assumption’s are far removed from the reality of Chinese ambition that I met. Quite simply they are ahead of that curve. Low value added manufacturing may still be backbone but high end high value added is China’s future, a view made clear to us when we met the Shanghai Communist Party. They were clear about the country’s needs. They want a high skilled, high added value economy. They want our technology and know how across every sector. From heavy industry, to the environment, from IT to marketing.

In conversation, the British CEO’s were very quick to dispel the myth that chinese manufacturing is inferior. That some of the most hi-tech, innovative manufacturing facilities already existed in China and whilst lesser facilities existed, these were being consolidated into the bigger companies. Companies of such huge global size but who have never traded outside the chinese domestic market as yet. Jaguar Landrover are now selling more vehicles in China that anywhere else and plan to open a plant there but as is always the case, the chinese communist government insist it’s a joint venture with a chinese company.

Pudong District at night - Hyatt Hotel is the tall red bottle opener skyscraper

According to the Heritage Foundation’s “China Global Investment Tracker," China’s non-bond investments in Europe have reached $35 billion, compared to $28 billion invested in the US. China clearly wants an ever greater piece of the European market, and at the moment (due to the sovereign debt crisis that is plaguing Europe) a lot of European countries are willing to overlook earlier hesitations to Chinese investments.