Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pennine Reach: A scheme still alive and kicking despite media reports as to it's premature demise.

Whilst having a deferential opinion on the wider Pennine Reach scheme, my continued interest lies in seeing a new bus station in Accrington. A major part of the Pennine Reach scheme put forward by business leaders.

The death of Pennine Reach is much exaggerated. Its architects, the business community silent as Council officials scramble towards words of condolence on its apparent demise.

The Government is giving up on growth

John Denham MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary, responding to the Government’s Local Growth White Paper, said:

“Just when action to promote jobs and growth is essential, the Government has shown it has no real plan for regional growth. The Regional Growth Fund is a pathetic fig leaf to cover the absence of any plan for growth.

NHS Ambulance Trust: Hyndburn MP visits Ambulance Service

Press release from the North West Ambulance Trust.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones paid a visit to North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) on Friday 29 October to hear from staff about their work.

Mr. Jones met with senior representatives from NWAS to discuss the Trust’s progress and future plans before being given a tour of Lancashire’s emergency control centre in Broughton near Preston to see first hand how 999 calls are handled.

NWAS’s Chief Executive, Darren Hurrell said: “We invited Graham to visit us to make sure he is fully informed on our developments, initiatives and the steps we are taking to provide an excellent emergency care and patient transport service to people in the North West.

Landlord Licensing: Burnley landlord fined £2,000

A CRACKDOWN on unsuitable landlords in an area of Burnley has led to one property magnate being fined £2,000 by magistrates.

Landlords who own a house in the Trinity ward have been warned that they need to be licensed by the borough council.

Under a selective licensing scheme, housing bosses have been trying to weed out unsuitable landlords and ensure basic standards for rented properties.

Read More >>

Transport: Railways: Bury

Written answers and statements, 19 July 2010

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.

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.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Article in House Magazine for Parliament

On a Wing and Prayer.
An article by Graham Jones MP in the Parliamentary magazine, House.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Housing Market Renewal axed

The Government despite the empty noises in support of housing market renewal have axed funding from April 2011.

After cuts, HMR funding has been shifted to the national regional growth fund open to bids from any area for any project ending ring fencing for HMR areas and direct housing funding.

Post Office privitisation is wrong - it is a service, not just a business

The Postal Services Bill 2010 was debated in the House of Commons today. The Bill would see amongst other reforms the Privatisation of Royal Mail, something to which both Labour and many Lib Dem MPs have for a long time been opposed.

It was Labour MP's who scuppered plans by the Gordon Brown to move towards a private sector solution in the last parliament.

The current 'Conservative Party' Bill would end the link between Royal Mail and local Post Offices and has raised concern over the future of many post offices across the country.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Panorama - Rogue Landords ripping off the taxpayer

Last nights Panorama on poor landlords who are using Housing Benefit to rip off the taxpayer was only one side of the horror story.

The other was the misery of the victims. Helpless, sentenced to deprivation by profit for uncaring slum landlords.

Last nights programme may have focused on Newcastle and Tameside but it could well have been Hyndburn and whilst the BBC were innacurate in explaining the legislation, the thrust was correct.

Panorama on bbc website
Panorama on BBC iPlayer- The_Great_Housing_Rip_Off/

Monday, 25 October 2010

INSIDE HOUSING: Planning shake up sees 300,000 homes axed by The Government

4 October 2010 | By Rhiannon Bury

The latest figures from Tetlow King Planning, for the National Housing Federation, suggest the number could reach between 280,000 and 300,000 by this time next year.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/development/planning-shake-up-sees-300000-homes-axed/6511928.article#Scene_1

PANORAMA TONIGHT: Housing Rip-Off - Housing benefit going to bad landlords

From the BBC website

There are fears public cuts will force people into substandard rentals.
Reporter John Sweeney discovers that by one estimate housing benefit money totalling as much as £3.5bn a year is going to private landlords deemed bad or neglectful.

In his analysis, Sweeney says the result is that some of Britain's poor are now living in 21st century slums.

BBC Website Panorama Story in detail

Watch Panorama - The Great Housing Rip Off?  - Monday (tonight), 8.30 BBC One

Stronger sentencing has reduced crime

Hearing constantly the flow of negative statistics about reoffending rates amongst prisoners I tabled a question on reoffending rates for offenders given community sentencing.

The table of evidence is not conclusive however it highlights high rates reoffending for those given non custodial sentences.

My enquiry was picked up by the Mail and carried on the front page a week last Friday.

Double Click to Enlarge

East Lancashire's BAE Systems in 'mixed deal'

From the Lancashire Evening Post.

AROUND 2,000 jobs at BAE Systems in East Lancashire were yesterday effectively safeguarded – but hundreds more have been placed at risk.

The Government announced plans to order more Eurofighter Typhoons, all but securing the future of around 2,000 engineers who work on the project at the defence giant’s Samlesbury plant.

But 1,000 Samlesbury employees working on the rear fuselage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter face uncertainty as ministers look set to slash the UK’s order of the aircraft.
On Friday I wrote to Liam Fox for urgent clarification of MoD orders for the JSF.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Tories gerrymander constituency boundaries to fix next general election

As many people will be aware, The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats this week have been pushing through the Constituency Boundaries Bill to reduce Parliament from 654 MPs to just 600 and equalise all the seats to around 76,000.

Hyndburn as you can see from the table below would lose Great Harwood but gain parts of Blackburn and Burnley.
Table at foot contains the Electoral Reform Societies (Lancashire) interpretation of the new constitutency boundaries (by ward) for 2015 General Election.

Councils power to reclaim tax payer's money on delapidated buildings under threat

Written answers and statements, 19 October 2010

The Government is considering removing Councils power to reclaim tax payer's money on delapidated buildings from forcing the property to be sold so the money can be reclaimed from absent owners.

This would seriously limit the Council's scope to tackle blighted buildlings knowing any money spent could not be recovered.

I hope the Government, quite rightly in trying to protect owner occupiers finds two solutions that serve best the needs of both scenarios.
Photo of Graham Jones
Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his policy is on 'enforced sale' (on delapidated buildings the Council has had to repair) on unsecured debts of less than £25,000; and what assessment he has made of the likely effect this would have on bringing (a) empty and (b) visually-blighted residential properties back into use.
Photo of Andrew Stunell
Andrew Stunell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Hazel Grove, Liberal Democrat)
The Ministry of Justice has responsibility for the legislation which would be affected by this coalition agreement proposal.

Officials in Communities and Local Government are working closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure the right balance is achieved between protecting homeowners from losing their home as a result of modest unsecured debts, and maintaining the powers local authorities need to tackle dangerous or visually blighted properties, including empty homes.

Shelters Response to the Spending Cuts

Housing has been the biggest loser in the CSR. The coalition, like previous governments, has failed to meet the aspirations of a generation of people who are seeking decent, secure, affordable housing.

This briefing provides a summary of what has been announced, the likely impacts of these announcements, and Shelter’s response.

Shelters response in summary

The fight to save our PCSO's

Below is a letter sent to civic leaders in Lancashire regarding the recent cuts (CSR) and the impact on PCSO's. I have written today to the Minister to point out how this Government is failing the people by going soft on crime.

Last Friday's Daily Mail carried a front page article which I instigated highlighting the dangers of relaxing a tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime stance that has seen crimnal behaviour for the first time in 60 years fall and by a staggering 40% under Labour.

PCSO's are the backbone of the police service and that 40% reduction in crime and this is acknowledged in Pennine and Easter Divisions (broadley East Lancashire) by Divisional Commanders when I have spoken with them.

Without PCSOs the vital intelligence the police gather with go from a flood to a trickle. CID, Environmental agencies, Council's rely on partnership intelligence. Joined up thinking as part a 'total place' strategy preventing criminals from evading relevant authorities as easily and helping develop a broader picture of just who they are and what they are doing. Drug users tend not to put out their wheelie bins for example.

New Homes Bonus Scheme in Chaos, Housing Market Renewal to continue?

Photo of Graham JonesGraham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
Will the Minister not accept that the new homes bonus scheme is in chaos? Can he explain what the incentive will be for local planning authorities, which according to the policy that the Government have set out will receive only 15% of the receipts, with 85% being returned to the shire authorities outside unitary areas, which are not involved in the planning process? Will the incentive be 15%, or will it be greater?
Photo of Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps (Minister of State (Housing and Local Government), Communities and Local Government; Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative)
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is so confused about this. It is actually a very simple scheme, unlike ones such as the local housing delivery planning grant, which his Government used. That was so complex that literally nobody understood it or had any idea how much money would come in. Our scheme is simple. For every home built, there will be match funding for six years at the actual band price at which it is built. By the way, if it is affordable housing, 125% of receipts will be provided. We will consult on the split between district and upper-tier authorities, but something like 80% is likely to go to the planning authority. That will be a massive incentive for this country to get out and build the homes that Labour failed to build during its 13 years.
Photo of Gordon Birtwistle
Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley, Liberal Democrat)
Can the Minister confirm that housing market renewal pathfinder funding will continue in the short or medium term, to enable the removal of all unwanted and uninhabited properties in the pathfinder areas? The acquisition and removal of those properties will clear inner areas of our towns and cities to enable the new affordable homes that we desperately need.
Photo of Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps (Minister of State (Housing and Local Government), Communities and Local Government; Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative)
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have visited pathfinder schemes on many occasions, and some were very good and some had some problems. We will complete all the committed HMR schemes, and we will then roll the funding up into the regional development fund to continue the good work.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Speaking in favour of votes at 16.

The extension of votes to 16 year olds is something that I passionately believe in. Like others I too was 16 once. MPs have claimed that young people would rather be on the X-Box than putting an X in the box but I’m not sure I agree. Important decisions are being made right now that will affect the future of young people in this country and I think they should be allowed to have their say.

Here is a short snippet of my speech in the House of Commons on this issue:


Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
This is a unique and momentous moment, as it could open the door to votes for 16-year-olds in all elections. I would welcome that. We are in danger of marginalising young people, and we have to give considerable thought to which way we vote on this proposal, because we do not want to send out the wrong message to them. When I look around at young people, I see that they are growing up faster, certainly in my area.

We have a more diverse economy and young people have different career prospects: they expect to change jobs several times, and they are more interested in the future than they ever have been. A more uncertain future gives them more interest in the changing job situation. In my constituency, 15, 16 and 17-year-olds want to be involved in that debate. We see it in the schools and colleges where all the young people are involved in debating-more so than I can ever remember in my lifetime, and perhaps before that on the basis of what I hear from other people.

Charles Walker (Broxbourne, Conservative)
I do not mean to disparage 16 and 17-year-olds, but most of them want to be on the Xbox, not putting in the X in the box. Since the hon. Gentleman has been a Member of Parliament, how many 16 and 17-year-olds have written to him demanding the franchise at 16?

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
That is a very cynical and jaundiced view to take towards 16 and 17-year-olds. The hon. Gentleman will not get many votes from 16 and 17-year-olds in his constituency, and he is probably in desperate need of some election training. However, I will leave that to his constituency: if he is going to lose it to 16 and 17-year-olds, I am quite happy about that.

Young people in general want to be involved in politics and take more interest in it. With issues such as climate change, politics has jumped a generational gap to 15, 16 and 17-year-olds, who are very interested in that because it is their planet that is being polluted. It is not just about climate change or jobs, but a series of issues that people of an increasingly young age seem to be gravitating towards. For example, there are big issues of teenage pregnancy. Decisions are being made about them in their formative adult years, and they want to be involved.

It is good to hear that young people are joining trade unions; Labour Members certainly welcome that. The TV debates encourage us to extend the franchise-I think that we all agree that young people in our constituencies were energised by them. The medium and the mode meant that young people could see politics in a different light, and there was an increase in interest and participation. I went around the polling stations in Hyndburn when I was elected, and many more young people were in the polling booths. I think that that contributed to the higher turnout at the election.

Let me extend the argument about extending the franchise, because I believe that it should apply to all elections. We have a by-election in Baxenden on 18 November, and our candidate, if I can plug him, David Hartley, was 18 only days before nomination. He cannot suddenly have become politically aware; he has built up to that. We should encourage young people into politics, and it is good that a young person has come forward. We must be clear that to be politically aware at 18 requires a build-up of knowledge, and 16 and 17-year-olds should participate.

Although the amendment is about the AV referendum, the principle is clearly broad. It is a watershed moment because if we give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote for the referendum, it opens up the argument for the future. Let us consider tuition fees, which my hon. Friend Chris Bryant mentioned. That assists the argument for extending the franchise. Parliament is discussing the differential charging of students. We could go back to the old debate about taxation without representation, but if we intend to subject young people to differential charging based on background, not ability to pay, we should extend the franchise to them. Today could be the day we start extending it.

The major argument against extending the franchise is lack of knowledge and experience among young people, but that is ageist and not based on young people's cognitive processes.

Charles Walker (Broxbourne, Conservative)
I know that the hon. Gentleman is making a heartfelt plea, and I quite like children-I have three of my own. Why cannot we leave them alone to let them get on with being children? They are not obsessed with getting the franchise. Sixteen and 17-year-olds want to chase girls, drink beer and have a good time. Let us stop accelerating the ageing process.

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
Given that the hon. Gentleman is now encouraging his constituents aged 17 and under to vote against the Conservative party, I hope that he has more children.

It is claimed that young people do not have the experience and knowledge to vote. When my grandmother was 95, she had serious Alzheimer's, yet she still held the right to vote. Nearly all young people are far more informed than my grandma was in her later years, but we never thought about taking the vote from her. Saying that young people are not experienced or knowledgeable enough is not a strong enough argument. It does not reflect real life or how people experience it.

Indeed, I believe that 16 and 17-year-olds are often in a better position to make an informed judgment. There is no principled or consistent argument that justifies denying the vote to young people.

Why the Government was wrong to cut MoD defence spending and F35 orders from BAe systems

A letter from the workers at BAe systems to David Cameron and a sperate letter to Vince Cable highlighting the economic impacts, spelling out why the Government is wrong to cut defence spending and the devasting impact this will have.

It is clear to workers, to people I speak to in East Lancashire, to experts that this is the wrong policy. It is a devasting policy that will reduce Britains' industrial capacity and punish ordinary people with redundancy and home loss as a price of banking failure.

Letter to David Cameron & Letter to Vince Cable

Housing Massacred- Hyndburn hit for six

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP Minister for Housing and Local Government

Dear Colleague
Spending Review – Settlement for Housing

(Below is a trite letter that proportes to represent a way forward but in reality represents huge cuts in housing, particulalry the North, wrapped up in a leader which deceives the Britichs public over the scale and background of the current deficit. ie The banks caused it. It is half the size of the debts we had in 1945 when the Government brought in the NHS and a massive house building programme, 'homes for heroes'.)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Play Bus

Two weeks ago I went to meet the a very worthwhile charity, The Play bus on the Roebuck Car Park in Rishton.The Play bus is a place for children aged 2- 3 years to be left to play without their parents.

Copperhouse Children's Centre in Rishton pay for the provision of the Play bus and monitor the children's attendance.

A booking form is available at Copperhouse and any parent of a child aged 2-3 years that isn't receiving their full nursery place entitlement can access the bus.

Anyone interested needs to contact our centre on 01254 887116 and one of our staff will put them on a waiting list. We would then contact the parent when a place arises.

Defence Future: Part One - Ministers response to letter

Dear Graham,

Your letter raises concerns about the aircraft industry in the North West, and to BAE Systems in particular, and if we do not proceed with Typhoon Tranche 3b. It also voices concerns about the effectiveness of future joint NATO exercises, due to our operation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter without steam catapult and arrester hook facilities onboard the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.

Before replying to the issues raised, you will understand that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which will define the future shape and role of the Armed Forces to ensure that the right equipment is provided to meet our requirements now and in the future, is scrutinising all MOD equipment projects including Typhoon, the Joint Strike Fighter and the Queen Elizabeth Class AircraftCarrlers. Until the SDSR has concluded, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on how the outcome will impact any individual project.

As l confirmed during the end of day adjournment debate on the "Military Aviation Industry" on 15 September 2010, the MOD recognises BAE Systems’ integral role in the UK aerospace industry. The company brings slgniflcant economic and industrial benefits to the UK, providing highly skilled engineering capability ln aerospace both within large defence companies and across the wider supply chain. They have played an important role since the outset of the Typhoon programme, and it Is vital that the MOD and the defence industry as a whole work together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. I repeat what I sald that evening, that l express deep regret for the job losses at BAE Systems which resulted from earlier decisions.

Typhoon and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) offer complementary capabllltles. Typhoon is a land based aircraft that provides a multi-role capability and wlll assume the roles previously performed by Jaguar and Tornado F3. We wlll continue to study ways to enhance Ty phoon’s multi-role capability over its service llfe to ensure that we have the right mix of combat aircraft to meet dynamic mission requirements.

The Lockheed Martin F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as our chosen aircraft to meet the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement, will fulfil a primarily offensive strike role from land and sea, and will replace the capability provided by the Harrier aircraft of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The JSF development and demonstration phase is progressing well. Flight testing of the Conventional Take'Off and Landing (CTOL) and Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variants of the aircraft are well underway with the STOVL variant having completed several vertical landings. A third variant, the Carrier Variant (CV), has recently commenced flight tests.

The assertion that the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers are being built exclusively for the VTOL aircraft is not correct. They are being built to operate Short Take·Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft when they enter service, but the design is flexible and would allow for the fitting mechanisms for the operation of the Carrier Variant (CV) aircraft if such a capability was required in the future.

The nation requires an affordable, sustainable, expeditionary airpower capability and JSF continues to offer the best solution, operating from land bases and from the new aircraft carriers as a key component of our future Carrier Strike capability.

Turning to Unmanned Air Vehicles, as l said during the debate on 15 September, Taranis is a leading programme on the global stage and a significant step forward in this Country's fast jet capability. lt is a truly trail blazing project which will allow us to gain a better understanding ofthe most cost·eifective and capable future combat air capability force mix between manned and unmanned aircraft. Projects such as Taranis and Mantis will enable the UK to retain vital aeronautical engineering and design skills, not least in the north-west at Warton and Samlesbury but how BAE Systems chooses to distribute its skills and workforce in future is a matter for them.

l do not share the view that Civil Service jobs in London will be safeguarded at the expense of those in the regions. There is a need for organisational change but this will be taken forward in a coherent manner. As announced by the Secretary of State for Defence on 13 August, a Defence Reform Unit has been established, under the chairmanship of Sir Peter Levene, to conduct a full and fundamental review of how the Ministry of Defence is run. Current plans are that the Defence Reform Unit will complete its work by September 2011, but it is likely that reforms will be implemented rolling basis over the course of the year, taking account of the outcome of the SDSR.

Peter Luff MP

The Coalition Government has no plan for jobs or growth in Haslingden or Hyndburn

Responding to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review I am concerned about people in this area stay in jobs, keep their homes and stay safe.

The Government’s cuts are too deep and too fast, taking a dangerous gamble with the area's economic future and people’s jobs.

What the Government is saying is that it wants to take more money off children than it does off the banks. That can’t be right.

And it can’t be right for the government to reduce the number of police officers on our streets.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband stated:

“The government is taking an irresponsible gamble with the recovery.

“I will stand up for people up and down the country who are worried about what going to happen and are fearful for their jobs and the services they rely on.”

Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson said:

“Without growth it’s impossible to get the deficit down. If the Government throws people out of work it costs us all more. So to get the deficit down our starting point must be jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“The Government’s cuts are too deep and too fast, taking a dangerous gamble with our economic future and people’s jobs. The cuts are unwise and unfair.

“A million jobs gone – that’s the price we now know the coalition think is worth paying.”

The issue of BSkyB's ever increasing influence and the Government criticism of the BBC

I have been contacted by several people worried about Rupert Murdock's increasing influence over broadcasting.

The media play an ever increasing influential role in civic life. It is with great horror that I watch Fox News. Reporting of exceptionally low standards in that it denies the viewer a balanced view with an open ended offer.

The Times has removed itself from the pedestal of fairness and objectivity and fallen as with BSkyB stable mate, into a pattern of setting news agendas with partisanship.

Talk Sport is deplorable at times and as a working class person my view is that it doesn't try to inform me but deliberately infuriate. The John Gaunt show was about greed being good for society. Such politicisation within a more concentrated media ownership causes great concern.

Legislation is required to protect local programming, quality broadcasting, protection for minors and public decency. To limit ownership and reduce editorial influence over balanced reporting. To limit advertising on TV - particularly subliminal, additional and frequency. To set standards against salubrious and gratuitous magazine and news print and to reform libel in favour of the individual and in reward for honesty.

I cannot see BskyB wishing to follow any of this agenda, and its rapacious expansionism is undermining quality and choice. I will as always push for BSkyB to play a more responsible role within a diverse industry where there are clear limits on ownership and responsibility.

I have written to Vince Cable on the matter and will happily forward copies onto residents who are interested in seeing his reply.

Comprehensive Spending Review has already begun to unravel - Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has said that Comprehensive Spending Review has already begun to unravel:

“This Spending Review is unravelling fast and revealing broken promises and empty words. Buried in the detail of the government’s plans are broken NHS promises by David Cameron, a squeeze on families double what the banks are being asked to pay and serious unanswered questions on how many jobs will be lost and how much the redundancies will cost the taxpayer.

“The coalition claim today’s announcement is fair, it is not. The Treasury’s own figures show the poorest in society will pay more to reduce the deficit than almost anyone else.

“This is a reckless gamble with people’s livelihoods and the case for it is unravelling fast.”

New research reveals Council's who provide Council tax discount's to owners of Empty Homes

There are 770,000 empty homes vacant. Long Term (over 6 months) and Short Term (under 6 months)

Many of these absent owners can claim 50% Council Tax discount (long term only) from their local authority. LA’s set discount levels but national Government pays as they are removed from the Council Tax base and the formula grant settlement.

If Councils remove the discount, they do not benefit. A new Council Tax base lowers the formula grant.

Perversely LA’s owning empty properties end up paying the government through decreased formula grant and an increased council tax liability.

A discouragement to areas in need of regeneration trying to disincentivise empty properties and LA’s trying to CPO or regenerate areas.

The situation became unclear when 3 year agreed local government funding settlements were established.

A discount that encourages them to hold on to them despite a chronic shortage of affordable housing and despite the criminal and environmental problems they attract.

The Empty Homes Agency is campaigning to have this discount removed and the debate now is about allowing local authorities to charge a premium (say 125%) to offset the costs of dereliction.

Of the 362 local authorities in the table attached, 117 allow the maximum50% discount, 5 allow a 25% discount, 46 allow a 10% discount and 194 have removed any discount at all.

Most of the 770,000 are Band A. In Hyndburn two thirds receive the discount. The gross council tax receipt on those 1300 long term voids would be (removing a 50%) £660,000. However 85% of those increased council tax receipts would go to the shire authority.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Open Debate with Graham Jones on Policing in Haslingden

Local Labour MP Graham Jones and Rossendale Borough Police Commander, Ian Sewart, will be holding an open debate in the community next week to discuss issues concerning local community policing. All residents are invited to attend and discuss matters that are important to them.

The venue will be Haslingden Library on Thursday 21st October 2010 between 6.30pm and 8.00-8.30pm.

The full address for the venue is:
Haslingden Library,
Deardengate,
Haslingden,
Rossendale
BB4 5QJ

This will be an opportunity for members of Haslingden Community to meet with Graham Jones, MP covering Worsley and Greenfield Wards; together with Rossendale’s Borough Police Commander (Chief Inspector Ian Sewart) to discuss matters or raise concerns relating to community and policing issues.

The event will also be attended by local Councillors for Worsley, Greenfield, Helmshore and Edenfield Wards providing a further opportunity for members of the community to meet their locally elected representatives.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Animated Accrington

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXQLzGCmerg

Attached is a link to a animated film that has been produced about Accrington. It’s been produced as part of the LET project. Please take the time to watch it and forward it to anyone who might be interested because it’s funny and it’s charming and it shows Accrington in a really positive way.

Gayle Knight, Creative Director, Civic Arts Centre, Oswaldtwistle
http://www.civicartscentre.co.uk/

Landlords - more to follow

Friday, 15 October 2010

Graham Jones MP & the Daily Mail article on crime

Following a Parliamentary Question I asked, the Daily Mail has run this article. My own view is that Prison does work and Community Payback has a place. The police agree.

However there are two major problems with both. Early intervention tends to be weak or non-existent and that extends to family, friends and peer groups. There is a strong case for something more robust, more positive in its outcome and less punitive that Community Payback, that stops short of prison.

Meeting with an employee from the Ministry of Justice he told me of a scheme that took offenders away on hard placements in remote desolate locations. Where teams engaged in challenging activities and where they were removed from the environment that feeds their socialised criminality.

WHAT DOES GET YOU LOCKED UP?
BY DANIEL MARTIN AND JAMES SLACK
15 October 2010, Daily Mail , Page: 01
(c) 2010 Associated Newspapers. All rights reserved

THOUSANDS of career criminals are being spared jail despite having amassed at least 50 convictions. Almost 2,700 were handed a community sentence after being found guilty more than 50 times before.

Incredibly, 315 offenders even received a non-custodial punishment after 100 or more previous offences.

Strategic Defence Review looks gloomy for the RAF: thousands of East Lancs jobs in jeopardy

Strolling around Parliament talking to colleagues of all political persuasions there is a view that the upcoming Strategic Defence Review is a catastrophic soap opera with two lead characters vying for political supremacy rather than best intentions.

That as a compromise for the two aircraft carriers being built, that the RAF will suffer the biggest cuts at the hands of the Prime Minister whose language and tone on the matter has been disgraceful.

Thousands of East Lancs jobs are at stake with the Typhoon and the F35. It's bad enough to talk about cuts but to justify them on the international stage by referring to them as obsolete from a soviet cold war era is hugely damaging to export orders that are under discussion and that may help limit the damage to industrial capacity, manufacturing, advanced engineering and employment in the the North West.

Mr Cameron has has history on buffoonery language which damages Britain's interests and he must take a step back and consider what he he saying rather than reading form the pages of' George Bush's Guide to international relation's'.


Major Suppliers to BAe systems (MAS)


No. Company Name Turnover    (£ Million) Number of Employees Location
1 CML Group 11.7 204 Birkenhead
2 Brookhouse 17.9 236 Darwen
3 APPH 26.8 142 Runcorn
4 Aircelle 107.0 691 Burnley
5 Didsbury 3.3 31 Wilmslow
6 Kilgour 3.4 54 Thornton
7 T&R Precision 3.1 49 Colne
8 Merc Engineering 3.0 50 Barrowford
9 Addison Engineering 2.2 35 Thornton
10 Thyssenkrupp 22.8 98 Preston
11 Hycrome 6.6 100 Burnley
12 Sigmatex 12.9 75 Runcorn
13 Silcoms 11.3 113 Bolton
14 Magellan 40.3 321 Wrexham
15 King & Fowler 4.1 83 Liverpool
16 PDS Engineering 1.3 23 Nelson
17 RLC Callender 26.3 235 Accrington
18 Gardner Aerospace 12.4 122 Burnley
19 Hyde Aero Products 52.0 402 Dukinfield
20 BHW Hampson 13.0 185 Wigan
21 John Huddleston Engineering 13.5 99 Blackpool
22 North West Engineering 2.7 57 Lancaster
23 Morson Projects 33.0 500 Salford
24 Regal 4.1 52 Colne
25 Pennine Tools 2.5 35 Barnoldswick
26 A&G Precision 2.7 39 Fylde
27 Precision Parts Engineering 2.2 27 Blackburn
Total 442.1 4058

Monday, 4 October 2010

Fwd: IPSA: Let's start again, says MP

IPSA should be abolished and MPs should start again, says Labour MP for
Hyndburn, Graham Jones.

He told Gallery News via Twitter, Having seen the incredible waste, confusion,
bureaucracy, cost, I think it is time IPSA be abolished and we start
again. Time's up on waste.

GALLERY NEWS : STRAIGHT FROM PARLIAMENT.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Government’s Selective Licensing of Landlords Fails Tenants

The lack of regulation of landlords is leaving tenants exposed across the UK, according to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).

The Government recently abandoned plans for regulation of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and cited Selective Licensing powers as security enough to protect tenants.

These powers allow local authorities to monitor and regulate landlords in areas of low housing demand or which experience high levels of anti-social behaviour.

However, according to ARLA’s research, only 12 out of some 400 local authorities have used these powers to introduce Selective Licensing to date.

And across these local authorities, ARLA’s research shows that only fifteen landlords have been prosecuted for failing to comply with the licensing requirements.

This is despite schemes which have been operational for several months having already identified landlords that are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

Letting Agents join the campaign for greater regulation of the private rented sector

Association of Residential Letting Agents
Briefing for Graham Jones MP: Regulation of the private rented sector

Executive Summary
- There is currently no mandatory licensing scheme for letting agents or landlords in the UK, despite 95% of consumers believing there should be one in place

- The previous Government announced that it would create an independent regulator for letting and managing agents, and a national register for landlords – policies that ARLA welcomes. To date, the new Government has not given any indication of whether this important policy will be taken forward, and we would appreciate clarity on this issue
Graham Jones: It is clear that the public, Councils, NGO's, professional bodies and charities want greater regulation of the private rented sector. Grant Shapps, Housing Minister must take notice of the vociferous volume calling for positive action.
ARLA's backing shows this isn't a landlord verses resident issue but a matter of spiralling national concern.

AcornDigital wins award for start up business

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Acorn Digital Inks on Victoria Street, Accrington who have won awards for their start business developing and manufacturing high quality labeling inks for bottles or cans such as date stamps, or batch stamp.

Within six months of setting up they are already winning export contracts as far away as China and gaining a reputation for innovation and quality.

Myself, Chris Raynor and staff at Acorn Digital

I recently supported Emerson and Renwick in their efforts to clear red tape and gain a level playing field in export contracts and this week I have been to major employer, Senator International.

Promoting growth and employment has to be any MP's top priority. I have written to the Council to try and develop a more joined up approach helping businesses in Haslingden and Hyndburn.

Chris Rayner co-owner:

"Acorn Digital an Accrington inkjet company with global ambitions were delighted to welcome local MP Graham Jones to their HQ and manufacturing facility based in Accrington.

We are a company looking to expand through export and are proud to be in Accrington. We have been helped significantly by the East Lancs Chamber of Commerce and in particular Steff Haywood who has helped us greatly through our rapid growth.

Our mission is to expand rapidly and to employ and train Accrington people where possible. We also want to make Accrington world famous for high quality inkjet ink and not just a famous 80s milk commercial".

Great Harwood Health Centre - constituents letter & PCT report

Hi Graham, thanks for your email and article.

There are grave concerns regarding the whole health economy in the Hyndburn area and the ability of the health services to manage both the prevention and treatment of a range of issues given the scope of health inequalities in the borough.

HEALTH: Doctors challenge NHS changes

The British Medical Association have warned that the planned shake-up of the NHS in England could undermine its 'stability and future'.

npower announcement: millions of pounds in customer refunds - advice to constituents

Dear Graham Jones MP

Today npower announced that it will make refunds to 1.8 million customers who overpaid for gas in 2007. Consumer Focus has worked closely with npower to make sure refunds are made fairly and that no one loses out.