Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Minister suggests Hyndburn's Conservatives are not interested in transport investment

I asked the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress he has made on the Todmorden Curve rail project.* Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 22 July 2010, c506W)

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)admitted that "The Todmorden Curve rail project is being promoted by Burnley borough council and Lancashire county council" with no mention of Hyndburn Council despite the significant benefits from the Manchester economic hub it will bring to Hyndburn and Haslingden.

The minister went on to explain that "these local authorities are working with Network Rail to develop a business case for funding from local sources".

The Leader of the Council was quick a few years back to march in protest to the London to demand £300,000 from the Treasury but the fight seems to have gone from them these days.

The lack of effort on this and on other things such as elderly accomodation for all or the Accrington Bus Station has resulted in the area being 'last in the queue'.

Cuts to NWDA funding have created doubt on what "funding form local sources" will be available. Hopefully LEPs funding will be forthcoming but the doubt is of concern to Hyndburn and Haslingden.

Mercer Hall Leisure Centre loses £400 000 of funding and may face closure.

The future of Mercer Hall Leisure Centre on Queen Street in Great Harwood is now uncertain as plans for it to receive funding of £400 000 were cancelled in the drive to reduce public spending.

The Leisure Centre which is operated by Hyndburn Leisure Trust has long been in need of urgent investment to improve the facilities at the centre. The council had initially won a grant which was to be provided by Sport England to the sum of £400 000 to help regenerate the centre.

The council has agreed to fund vital maintenance work from its own budget to the cost of £70 000 which it is hoped will keep the centre open in the short term. However with the loss of such a considerable investment in the facility the centre’s long term future is now left uncertain.

Asbos too much hard work for Tory Council's.

Conservative councils did not apply for Asbos because it might be 'too much work'. FOI requests to all local authorities across the country showed exactly where Asbos were being used - and in 2009 it was Conservative councils who were twice as likely never to even apply for an anti-social behaviour order as Labour ones.

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill designed to gerrymander constituencies across the country

While Labour remains in favour of holding a referendum on the Alternative Vote, the party is unanimously opposed to a Bill that contains at its partisan heart clauses designed to gerrymander constituencies across the country.

It's quite ironic to see David Cameron’s sudden change of heart about the size of the House of Commons?
Somebody might take the view that at 659 there are already too many Members of Parliament at Westminster. They may take the view, depending on what happens in the European constitution, that Westminster has less to do, with less MPs - I certainly hope that is not the case. This is all someway off.  David Cameron MP, Oxfordshire Boundary Inquiry, 2003
When it came to protecting his own constituency boundaries, David Cameron opposed a change in the number of seats. But now that he sees political advantage in cutting seats, he favours a reduction.

What’s in the Bill?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Bury to Rawtenstall rail extension

Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ) 19/07/2010 HoC
514 c23W Jones/Graham to Villiers/Theresa

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress he has made on the Bury to Rawtenstall rail extension project.

* Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 19 July 2010, c23W)

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

The Bury to Rawtenstall rail extension project is being promoted by Rossendale borough council in partnership with Lancashire county council, Bury council, Rochdale metropolitan borough council and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE). GMPTE has commissioned a study from Atkins to look at public transport on the A56-M66 corridor between Bury and East Lancashire which includes the reinstatement of commuter services between Rawtenstall and Manchester as an option. This study is due to be completed in October 2010.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

I oppose this unfair VAT rise

Raising VAT is an unfair tax rise. Pensioners will have to pay the full cost of the VAT hike – but those over 65 will not receive any help from the Government.

I know that difficult decisions need to be taken as we come out of the worst global recession in living memory. I agree that the deficit needs to be reduced. At the election I stood on a Labour manifesto that had a plan to reduce the deficit by half over four years.

We rejected a VAT increase as part of our deficit reduction plan, and chose to increase National Insurance Contributions instead – which wouldn’t have affected pensioners.

Part time workers to be hit with pay freeze

It has been revealed that the public sector pay freeze for workers earning £21,000 and over will affect low paid part workers pro-rata.

Employee's doing a just few hours but on payscales of £21,000 and over will also face the Coalition's public sector pay freeze.

Local Housing Allowances (housing benefit) rates cut from April 2011

Local Housing Allowances, housing benefit paid to private rented sector tenants in Hyndburn and Haslingden are to be cut by £5 per week, £22 per month.

There is a big issue of a disincentive to work but reducing housing benefits across the board is the wrong answer. It presupposes there are jobs at a time when unemployment is to rise significantly.

It accepts that private sector rents (£128 pw) which are more than twice that of former Council homes (£63 pw) is acceptable and that tenants must carry the burden for a lack of Council homes.

Clearly the answer is to build more Council homes, lowering further the housing benefit bill, reducing the rent dependency and facilitating greater mobility from welfare to work.

New rates April 2011
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) June 2010
1 Room  1 Bed   2 Bed   3 Bed    4 Bed    5 Bed
£51.00  £84.89  £92.05  £113.92  £159.95  £166.85

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) April 2011
1 Room  1 Bed   2 Bed   3 Bed    4 Bed
£46.00  £80.55  £87.45  £103.56  £137.51

*Haslingden rates slightly higher that Hyndburn

Monday, 12 July 2010

Hill Top - Baxenden

For over a decade the District Council has abandoned elderly accommodation and left many old people, many on the 90’s living lives of misery in unsuitable old terraced houses.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

We are not all in this together

Osborne promises not to hit the poorest

“We are all in this together. I am not going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” – George Osborne, News of the World, 13 March 2010.

The reality is the poorest are paying for the recession and it is the higher income earners who have seen their incomes grow 3 or 4 times higher than inflation whilst the poorest have incomes have declined 5 or 6 times inflation in the last 12 months alone.

These statistics show that the poor are paying for the rich to get richer, they are paying for the mistakes of the reckless bankers, they are being told by this Coalition they alone will pay off the deficit via unemployment, lower wages, public sector cuts and removal of the welfare safety net at at time they are losing their jobs.

These statistics show the last 12 months have been boom time for the rich and a deep recession for the poor.

It makes a mockery of the recent Coaltion cuts aimed squarely at the poorest. The reasons stated for those cuts. Hyndburn's share of over £4 million of cuts and rising, the highest in the country alongside neighbours Burnley and Pendle erases any argument by the Coalition that there is anything fair about these budget decisions.

The £4million cuts exclude the 8 Building Schools For the Future projects hitting every secondary school in the constituency bar the Academy, axed.

The full report

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Hyndburns special school provision takes a step backward under coalition cuts

Building Schools for The Future cuts will impact on Hyndburn's special school re-organisation.

The amalgamated White Ash and Broadfield School's (with the closure of North Cliffe) were to be mainstreamed on a multi-campus's at Hollins Technology College and a Primary School.

Tory-Liberal Coalition Axe local school building plans

8 Schools in Haslingden & Hyndburn have been told that their planned school rebuild won’t now go ahead after the Government cut a flagship school rebuilding programme, Building Schools for the Future.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government have announced that they will scrap the programmes that were announced under the previous Labour government. The Schools affected in our area are;