Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Poorest to be hit the hardest, say IFS

Poor families will be hit hardest by the Coalition's proposed cuts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said today.

Low income families with children are set to lose the most as a percentage of net income due to benefit cuts announced in the Budget.

The IFS report said, " Once all of the benefit cuts are considered, the tax and benefit changes announced in the emergency Budget are clearly regressive as, on average, they hit the poorest households more than those in the upper middle of the income distribution in cash, let alone percentage, terms."

James Brown for the IFS told BBC radio, " When you also include the measures that were pre-announced by Alistair Darling in previous Budgets and pre-Budget reports, the overall package does seem somewhat regressive, particularly within the bottom nine-tenths of the income distribution."

Friday, 20 August 2010

BAE Systems plays vital role in North West economy by Graham Jones


New Rearch shows the valua of BAe Systems to the North West economy
Research released this morning by Lancashire Economic Partnership has reignited the debate on the importance of BAE Systems to the UK economy and specifically the manufacturing Industry in the North West of England.

The research which was undertaken following a request by Graham Jones MP reveals that BAE Systems plays a vital role in the North West of England’s economy making a considerable contribution to employment and also investing heavily in Research and Development. The research clearly indicates the extent to which other businesses in the region depend indirectly on BAE Systems’ presence in the North West.

BAe systems are currently building the Eurofighter, a project LibDems said before the election would be scrapped and which is currently under review by the Coalition.

In light of the Government Spending review in October there are concerns that cuts to Government investment in the region might impact heavily on BAE Systems and this poses a considerable threat to the local economy to which the report today shows that BAE Systems is a major contributor.

A previous report in 2008 by Oxford Economic Forecasting showed that BAE Systems employed more than 35 000 people in the UK in 2006 with a particular concentration of this employment located in the North West of England.

The key findings of today’s research by Lancashire Economic Partnership are:
1) Lancashire has the highest concentration of BAE Systems workforce employing around one third of UK employees.

2) BAE Systems MAS employs c11,500 people in Lancashire, (7,000 at Warton, 4,100 at Samlesbury with the remainder at a number of facilities in Preston). At least the same number of jobs again are supported indirectly through BAE.

3) BAE Systems invests significant amounts on education locally, including a £1million partnership with the University of Central Lancashire for research into energy management.

4) In 2009, MAS recruited c50 graduates, the vast majority of which are based at Samlesbury or Warton.
Graham Jones MP quote: “This is yet another strong reminder of the importance of BAE Systems to the North West. The research clearly demonstrates the extent to which the North West economy depends on BAE System’s and the Government needs to be aware of this when it publishes its Spending Review in the coming months. BAE Systems employs from every constituency in the North West and there is a real possibility that the livelihoods of a vast number of families in the North West will be put at risk if investment in the region is cut. We cannot underestimate the importance of BAE Systems to the North West.”

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sale of Great Harwood Co-op Store to a 'major supermarket retailer?

It would appear the Co-op store in Great Harwood has been sold to 'major supermarket retailer'. I must confess as co-operative member myself I do not know the history of this store but it's closure, if true is disapointing.

Staff have already been informed of the changes.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Police Numbers - Labour hits at 'broken promises'

You might be forgiven for thinking this is from The Financial Times this week. It isn't. It's from Financial Times - 3rd March, 1996 when the Conservatives were coming to the end of their 18 years in power and despite record crime levels, Police numbers were being reduced.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Housing Market Renewal may be scrapped

Before the recess I met with housing minister Grant Schapps to talk over the housing crises in this constituency.

We talked about housing market renewal, the £120million housing scheme or Hyndburn over 15 years which is half way through. We discussed the lack of any private finance for demolition programmes or facelifting grants by their very nature. That facelift grants (£11k approx) have transformed declining neighbourhoods.

Received this week
We spoke of The Council's unique decision here to exclude certain areas (Rishton, Woodnook to name two) in favour throwing money money down the drain in chosen areas after expensive schemes such as group repair (£55k approx, relocation grants up to £30k, interest free loans up to £30k) failed, flopped or were grossly wasteful leaving a shortfall in funding.

This waste has left even those areas underfunded.

I am concerned that the Government will turn their back on this constituency where 40% of housing fails to meet the decency standard and 11% is unfit for habitation. Wheer 2,500 properties lie empty out of 42,000.

I have published his reply in which he clearly avoids any committment to housing market renewal.

Woodnook is a scar on humanity when you consider the UK is supposed to be a first world developed nation.

I just hope their colleagues in government don't abandon their promises to protect the poorest but that isn't the message coming across since the election.


George 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.

Before the election, the Conservatives explicitly promised that they would protect frontline services. George Osborne said “I will not accept frontline cuts”
, and David Cameron said that “any cabinet minister if I win the election, if we win the election, who comes to me and says here are my plans and they involve frontline reductions, they will be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.”

“The promise is absolutely explicit. We will protect the frontline, we are looking at waste, inefficiency and that is what is has to go in the coming year. I will not accept frontline cuts, that…I would not allow cabinet ministers in a Conservative government to come to me with frontline cuts. They have to do the hard work with their officials, with the permanent secretaries and they have to come back and find the efficiency savings, the productivity gains that every business in Britain pretty much in the last two years has had to do and find and there is plenty of that waste out there in the government and we have the government’s own efficiency experts, waste experts, telling us that.”

Monday, 9 August 2010

Ministers have 'no interest' in the closure of Shadsworth Leisure Centre

Blackburn with Darwen Council's decision to close Shadsworth Leisure Centre just over Hyndburn's border, despite it being the most used leisure centre in Blackburn and in the 13th poorest ward in Lancashire, lacks any logical or moral judgement whatsoever.

The connection between recreation and healthy lifestyle is obvious. Survey and survey repeats what is common sense.

With that view I cannot find a reason for Shadsworth's closure other than folly or stupidity. I do not accept the financial argument. Blackburn's Conservatives are clearly putting health down a priority list, well below for example saving a few copper's on the Council Tax.
I do not accept the financial argument because these cuts are being driven by Whitehall and the Coalition's cuts in local government funding to Blackburn Council. Taking Labour's £73bn deficit reduction and adding another £40bn (£113bn), none of that from increased taxation but all of it exclusively from reductions in public spending.

A choice. They are as much a choice in Westminister as they on King William Street.

Pledging to act in a "big-hearted way" before the general election, David Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "What I can tell you is any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: 'Here are my plans' and they involve frontline reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again. After 13 years of Labour, there is a lot of wasteful spending, a lot of money that doesn't reach the frontline."

Since when has Shadsworth Leisure centre with 330,000 visits been 'not frontline' and 'wasteful'?

Mass resident appeals for a review of funding to save the centre have been rejected out of hand by Blackburn's Conservatives leaving a clear view that they just do not care about any other options. Put succinctly, this is a choice agenda to cut public services and as Bob Neil, Local Government Minister stated, starting with the poorest first.

Shutting recreational amenities would seem perverse following The Minister for Health's White Paper proposing the biggest shake of the NHS since 1947 to improve health care. Perverse it isn't though as the White Paper also proposes to close Primary Care Trusts and focus on secondary care. To believe that health improvements begin in a hospital or on an operating theatre table is ridiculous.

And it is that ridiculousness that I cannot understand. Free swimming has ended and that will be the first of many health care prevention activities that no longer feature as either as part of the NHS's improving health care policies or an overall view of preventative care that includes lifestyle's and recreation.

The closure of Shadsworth Sports Centre, by a Conservative Council under a quasi Conservative government highlights this complete disconnect between the NHS and preventative health care. Between The Minister for Health and his counterpart the Minister for Communities and Local Government. Between central and local government. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing and the left hand doesn't care so long as the right hand is squeezing the poor.

After speaking with Jack Straw on the matter I tabled a parliamentary question to see just how much thought central government had given to the actions of Blackburn with Darwen Council and if they understood the importance of these linkages to a community like Shadsworth.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with Blackburn Council to seek to keep Shadsworth Leisure Centre open. (10548)
One should not be surprised by the reply;
This is a matter for the local Authority. There is no provision for the department to intervene in this case.
East Lancashire's health is amongst the poorest in Britain. That has to paid for. Shadsworth Leisure centre I believe received 330,000 visits last year. The case is overwhelming for at the very least, a revie .

The spirit of scrooge and the ghost of Thatcher are both well and truly alive in the corridors of Parliament and the committee rooms of Blackburn Council.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hyndburn Senior Schools Art Exhibition

From the 24th July - 30th August - Haworth Art Gallery

An exhibition of paintings and contemporary arr done by students from the four Accrington secondary schools.

Pictured here are the students from Mount Carmel.

The Haworth Art Gallery is a fantastic art gallery in the constituency and well worth a visit.

The current exhibition by students is of a very high standard. Far higher than my or previous generations could have achieved. Virtually all are creative, imaginative, professional and sellable, and some if sold would go for several hundred £s.

This exhibition is of the highest standard and would like to thank all those children who made the effort and demand that parents take the time to see this fabulous collection. You will be shocked at the standard.

HASLINGDEN - Community fair at Tesco

Last week I attended the Community fair at Tesco's in Haslingden where quite a few local groups had stalls.

It was great to meet community volunteers and I have to say community groups are very much alive, well and thriving in Haslingden.

It was good to put names to faces and to swap details. 

It is my intention to promote in any way I can local groups in Halsingden and I am more than happy to come to any  engagement, diary permitting.

GREAT HARWOOD - The Dave Smith Football Tournament

GREAT HARWOOD - The Dave Smith Football Tournament

I'd like to thank Mark and the rest of Great Harwood Rovers for their dedication and sterling efforts in not only providing kids in Greta Harwood with something to look forward to with teh multitude of hjunior football teams they run so professionally, but going one stage further and putting on a huge all ages football tournament.

I was delighted to hand some of the trophies to the kids and maybe next year get involved with some refereeing - if asked!

The tournament accomodated boys competitions for under 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, 11s, & 12s and girls under 12s and 14s accross 6 pitches, with referee's, cartering, first aid as well as trophies and medals for all the winners and runners up. A mammoth effort.

"Graham. A couple of photos from the tournament enclosed. The one with you daughter is clearly the better of the two! Thanks for coming on the day and the mention on your website, I hope you didn't get too sunburnt. Regards Mark"