Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Votes at 16 - Rossendale Council passes motion to support

Double click to enlarge
Delighted Rossendale Council is supporting votes at 16.
My grandmother passed away having sadly suffering senile dementia for a good few years. I had to help her to the polling station and she didn't really understand fully what she was doing.

No one is suggesting she should have lost the right to vote so I don't think the argument that 'adults between the ages of 16 and 18 don't understand politics' is a consistent or strong enough argument on its own. There has to some principle and some consistency.

Most youngsters do understand. That argument was employed to stop women getting the vote. Receiving the franchise is a progress and as a result more young people would engage that currently do. Votes at 16 is therefore not a case of the here and now but about progress.

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Monday, 28 July 2014

DECC chaos; Governments shambolic energy efficiency programme hits Hyndburn hard

Hyndburn Council launched an energy efficiency scheme on the back of government grants last November. Within weeks the government scrapped the incentive. This month Hyndburn Council launched a second scheme based on new government grants. Last week after just a few weeks of the governments launch of energy efficiency grants, they scrapped the scheme pulling the plug on Hyndburn Councils efforts before they had even begun.

As a result of both schemes being closed Hyndburn has lost out £milions and there is little chance of the Council or residents being able to fund the insulation measures necessary to tackle drafty and damp homes.

I have written to the Secretary of State and received two replies this week on what consultation he has had with companies and councils on the provison of energy efficency measures.

Scheme 1 

Last November I wrote about a national scheme that the local Labour Council was tapping into to tackle solid wall / terraced / hard to treat cavities from cold damp Hyndburn homes. This was a scheme paid for by energy companies to insulate Hyndburn homes of around 50% are expensive to heat terraced, some 17,000.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Extra curricular provision in foreign languages for young children in Hyndburn

I recently wrote to LCC to ask about extra curricular provision in foreign languages for young children, particularly Mandarin and Spanish. I am now writing to all the head teachers in the constituency.

In 20 years time when most of these young children are beginning their working life the world will have moved on significantly. There is no getting away from the fact that the world will appear a smaller placed and than China long with other developing countries will have have far greater commercial and social ties to the rest of the world. China's growing economic dominance is something our children need to prepare themselves for.

Lancashire County Council have forwarded an informative reply acknowledging the importance and highlighting the opportunities that are available to schools in the constituency to support language development.
(Scan to text) Dear Graham I am writing in response to your request for information on extra curricular primary foreign languages support and opportunities in Hyndburn and Haslingden.

There is a strong tradition of primary language learning in the authority with a range of languages being offered in schools from the traditional French to Mandarin, Portuguese and of course Asian heritage languages. We agree that learning foreign languages is an increasingly important skill our children need to acquire in order to not only compete in the jobs market of the future but also to enhance their understanding and tolerance of other cultures and promote community cohesion.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

More Sport for All Consultation

More Sport for All Consultation

Harriet Harman has published the More Sport for All consultation to support everyone, from children through to the elderly, to do more sport and physical activity.

People's love of sport and enjoyment of it make it an important issue for public policy. Sport helps make us healthy, brings communities together, contributes to the economy and brings our country together when we back our sportsmen and women. The consultation document More Sport for All explores how everyone, from children through to the elderly, can be supported to do more sport and physical activity. You can read a full copy of the speech via http://www.harrietharman.org/speech-on-more-sport-for-all-at-the-queen-elizabeth-olympic-park?Init=1394c7ba-9c83-13b4-c5b0-423953e0d9b3

Electoral Commision annouce there are 7.5m people missing off the electoral register

I received this letter from my colleague Chris Ruane which he has asked MP's to circulate more widely. It was my question on the floor of the House of Commons on 18 June 2012 which revealed for the first time that the government accepted a figure them of 6 million unregistered voters.

The Electoral Commissions announcement today is that there are 7.5m people missing off the electoral register. For the 650 constituencies that's an average of 11,538 per constituency. In Hyndburn Borough (excluding Haslingden) this will be an average of circa 9,000.

Back in October 2011 those on the Council Tax list but who were unregistered where added to the electoral register iincrassing the register by approximately 2,500.

Correction - This week I have also discovered that in Hyndburn Borough it is estimated through data matching is some 9,000 unregistered voters that some 9,000 voters on the current register, who are currently registered but who cannot be (ID) matched with other national data sets (DWP etc..) will need to re-register under the new individual voter registration system that begins in ernest after the General Election. That figure following further data matching has now been revised to 5121. 

Summer childcare costs rising under cameron - more pressure for struggling parent

Under David Cameron childcare costs are soaring and the availability of childcare is plummeting, causing a summer of misery for many parents trying to balance work and family life in the holidays.

But while families facing a cost-of-living crisis come under more and more pressure, this Government has no plan to support families struggling with their childcare before the next election.

New analysis by the Labour Party shows that, under David Cameron, the cost of childcare during the summer holidays has spiralled upwards by 16 per cent – four times faster than wages. This means that parents will have to fork out an additional £100 per child for their summer childcare, compared to 2010.

I know my own childcare will cost around £1260 over the six weeks holiday.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Reply from LCC - Provision of trains for the Todmorden Curve


I have received a reply on the provison of a train for the Todmorden Curve and it appears that there will now be further delays beyond December.

I know a a diesel carriage has been uding the new track, presumedly testing it however LCC advise that the track won't be commissioined until November.

There is still the outstanding issue of a diesel train which is going to be cascaded down from the newly electrified Manchester to Liverpool line however there are now delays and slippage in the planned completion date. Importantly I want to know whether these carriages will require refurbishment or should they be refurbisehd before being 'handed down'.

Incredibly Northern Rail have neglected to train enough staff including drivers. A company hoping to extend their current franchise which is up for tender in 2015. The lack of drivers will almost certainly delay the new service until the spring of next year.

I am also concerned about pricing and ticketing in general. Given LCC will be the sponsor of the service it is crucial it is not used a revenue raising project but that the various fares encourage mobility.

I have written to LCC to meet with staff to dicuss theses and oither issues including the East Lancs line which also runs through the constituency.

A summary of the NPF last weekend.

At the National Policy forum at the weekend the Labour Party agreed a program for Government which will deliver big reforms, not big spending.

By building a consensus the Party have produced one of the most radical policy platforms of any political party in recent years including:

• Increasing the minimum wage by more than average earnings
• An end to the abuse of zero-hours contracts
• Skills and careers for all our young people and new technical degrees
• Cutting business rates for small businesses
• A freeze on energy bills until 2017
• 200,000 homes built a year by 2020
• Three year tenancies, predictable rents, an end to letting fees
• 25 hours free childcare, paid for by a higher levy on the banks
• Abolishing the bedroom tax
• Restoring our National Health Service

This Policy platform has developed out a process which has reached beyond the narrow confines of Westminster – drawing on ideas developed by the grass roots through our online policy hub and meetings across the country.