Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Grant Shapps says This blog is a must read for housing!

Having bumped into the affable and warm Grant Shapps, housing minister in the tea room I was informed his reading of choice was this blog.

Such high compliments I am sure!

A friendly discourse of course but I am pleased to say Mr Shapps has agreed to visit Hyndburn. During 2011 was as good as he'd say though I must stress - as he reads this - the people of Woodnook cannot wait that long.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Woodnook residents let down by Council

The Council have decided to renege on promises due to Government cuts. Promised purchases of homes on Wilfred Street will now not go ahead. Residents planning on moving have been notified that any agreed in principle sale will now not be continued. One couple had already agreed a purchase price on a house elsewhere.

It’s an absolute disgrace. Cameron promised people that urban regeneration schemes were safe in Tory hands and housing minister Grant Shapps stated that housing market renewal areas were priority schemes that he was impressed with.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Last night’s debate showed a solution to Lancashire’s LEP woes remains distant

In last night’s Westminster Hall debate, Lancashire MPs and the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise – Mark Prisk – discussed the future of Lancashire’s Local Enterprise Partnership bid. I was left feeling optimistic that the possibility of a Pennine-Lancashire LEP, which reflected the economy and wishes of business, is still alive and well.

I secured the debate because the current situation is becoming untenable, both East and West Lancashire are losing out due to the absence of a serious proposal. But I simultaneously wanted to challenge what is becoming the consensus as to how to solve this; the so-called pan-Lancashire proposal.

A pan-Lancashire proposal would not reflect local economic realities, and does not have the support of business or local councils in the region.

As I said last night: “With a population of more than 500,000 people, the area is greater in size than many major UK cities and is similar in size or greater than some of the LEPs already approved. The area is characterised by a strong manufacturing base and entrepreneurial people. More than 21% of employment in the area is in the manufacturing sector, compared with 10% in the UK as a whole. Self-employment rates are significantly higher than regional and national levels. Despite not having a dominant city centre, the area collectively contributes more than £6 billion gross value added to the economy each year.”

There is a clear case to be made for Pennine-Lancashire as a separate LEP, socio-economically, East Lancashire functions well independently of the whole of Lancashire. As the very purpose of a Local Economic Partnership is to replace the arbitrary boundaries of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) with bodies reflecting ‘natural economies’, a Pennine-Lancashire LEP would fulfil the very purpose of replacing RDAs with LEPs.

Moreover, independent analysis has shown there to be over 200 high growth businesses that have achieved at least three years of continuous growth in East Lancashire, this is a massive success story, and something a Pennine-Lancashire Bid could support, in a way a pan-Lancashire bid would obscure.

But beyond this argument, there are also massive problems with the proposed county-wide bid, namely the fact that it is not county wide.

As I said last night: “I do not accept that there is a pan-Lancashire solution because Blackburn refused such proposals and had the common sense to look south to Manchester. Blackpool is hesitant on the matter. I shall come on to some of the conflicts that exist. We do not have a pan-Lancashire solution; we have a proposal based on three separate areas. The problem is that three proposals are being labelled as one proposal. We will all lose out. There is no pan-Lancashire solution-there never has been and there never will be. There is Lancashire county council, Blackburn borough council and Blackpool borough council.”

This is why I have referred to the pan-Lancashire proposal as a Swiss cheese proposal, because it is full of holes, it is not pan-Lancashire in any recognisable sense, and we must move away from this simplistic and emotive opposition to the breakup of Lancashire.

The fact is economically, Lancashire already functions in two halves. And as I noted in the debate last night, there are already two British Chamber of Commerce accredited Chambers of Commerce operating in Lancashire, one in the East and one in the West.

A pan-Lancashire proposal simply does not reflect the realities and desires of businesses on the ground. Indeed there is cross-party agreement on this, as my Conservative counterpart, the Honourable member for Pendle noted: “Lancashire is an historic county and there are many things that we can do by working together, and I applaud the work of the county council, but if LEPs are supposed to reflect natural economic areas, the case for Pennine Lancashire is fantastic. I hope that the Minister will set a decision date, and I urge him to bring the issue to a head.”

The good news is that the Minister of State has heard the concerns raised by myself and my counterparts in East Lancashire, and is willing to listen to alternatives to the pan-Lancashire proposal. Mr Prisk said: “I am mindful of the challenge.

Overall, we feel that the pan-Lancashire bid has some strong elements, but that the Pennine Lancashire bid also has good arguments in its favour. Neither is without its flaws. Like many hon. Members, I am keen to bring the matter to a conclusion without undue delay, so the Government are today asking partners involved in the competing bids to submit revised proposals no later than 8 December.”

I am glad that the Minister understands the value added by the Pennine-Lancashire bid, and I will continue to lobby for two independent LEPs operating in Lancashire. I am also glad that Mr Prisk sees the urgency in the need to resolve this issue, reflected by the December 8th deadline.

A full transcription of the debate is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101124/halltext/101124h0002.htm#10112454000383

Time to end Lancashire’s LEP confusion

Graham Jones MP writes for E-Politix about the potential effects of a pan-Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership on businesses in the region.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Labour's Stance on Housing Benefit Reforms

Labour is in favour of reforms to Housing Benefit. In fact it is only two years since we introduced the Local Housing Allowance to reform the system and in the March Budget Alistair Darling moved to change the way that rent entitlements were calculated so that big increases in house prices at the very top of the market didn’t skew spending on Housing Benefit.

Government deregulates Houses in Multiple Occupation - Real concerns for streets like Avenue Parade

Last week the Government removed legislation brought in by the last government on licensing and planning of residential properties with 4 or more occupants.

This is a backward step for Haslingden and Hyndburn in the battle to prevent private landlords purchasing family sized terraced properties and creating 4 unwanted and undesireable bedsit flats. They are unwanted and undesireable because the market tends to steer landlords towards larger houses in poorer areas.

Three years ago residents fought a conversion at the bottom of Avenue Parade and whilst car parking provides some planning protection, an explosion of unregulated and HMO's would have considerable adverse consequences.

CALLING ALL HASLINGDEN AND HYNDBURN VOLUNTEERS

MAKE THE MOST OF THE GOVERNMENT’S OFFER, URGES GRAHAM JONES MP

Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn today urged volunteers and community sector groups in East Lancashire to take advantage of an offer to meet the Minister for Civil Society and express their concerns over how the government’s cuts are affecting their work.

“Today I received a letter from the Minister for Civil Society with an offer to meet representatives from local voluntary and community sector organisations. In the face of cuts to the government funding which is vital to so many of these groups, I wish to extend this invitation to the volunteers of Haslingden and Hyndburn.”

The future of our local post offices are under threat with the Coalitions Privatisation plans

The Postal Services Bill means post offices could lose all their Royal Mail business (a third of their income)

o Coalition has also dropped Labour’s plans for a Postbank – another LibDem manifesto pledge broken

o The promises of extra government work meaningless without bankable contracts – no guarantee even of getting DWP contract renewed

o With this outlook subpostmasters will be looking to get out as soon as possible, with nothing to attract in new entrants – a backdoor closure programme.

New survey: Police Forces shut door to new recruits

Almost every police force in England and Wales has shut its doors to new recruits, research published by Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls reveals today.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Channel 4 Exclusive: Spending cuts have abandoned tens of thousands of people in derelict areas such as Woodnook

Cathy Newman Political Correspondent
Exclusive: Tens of thousands of homeowners are marooned in derelict streets after the government decided to save money by stopping an ambitious housing regeneration scheme.

http://www.channel4.com/news/spending-cuts-leave-homeowners-in-dereliction

Channel 4 Exclusive News Video - 



Graham Jones:  The Government is in chaos on this issue. Any simple introspection reveals a policy of human neglect, political naivety and ideological salesmanship.

Right from the very top there is no clear pathway for progress with the savage regeneration cuts to housing market renewal funding and perverse incentives in the New Homes Bonus Scheme.

The Prime Minister, some might argue cynically, has turned 180 degrees away from every promise he made before the election and his ministerial appointments are standard bearers in the that volte face.

Midstream in to a 15 year clearance programme of some of the worst of the 770,000 unwanted Victorian homes in the North, the Coalition have pulled the plug without notice or any plan B. Contrary, the schemes had been encouraged by positive comments from housing minister Grant Shapps.

Royds Street, Accrington

Swing the axe on all the HMR funding has left councils halfway through schemes and with communities hung literally out to dry with no possible substitute funding. Unwanted and untouchable as far as private finance is concerned, areas partly in private ownership, partly in the local council ownership, blighted with crime misery and excess to local housing need, there are few if any options with Councils facing 30% cuts in budgets.

Areas like Woodnook where midway means the Council own some of boarded up properties whilst many properties in between are not in Council ownership and lie abandoned by their owners. 'Tinned up' either unrentable, unsellable, usually squalid and often the motoring equivalent of a 'write off' they have no value except the estate agents speculative value or worse, the libility of council blight.

Residents living in the remaining houses face at least a decade of misery.
The Conservatives have let down Woodnook which has had £50million of promised regeneration cut. David Cameron on a visit to Liverpool in 2006 'pledged his commitment to regenerating Northern Cities'.
Cameron said "We want to make our cities better for people to live in. It's part of my programme of getting the Conservative Party back in every part of our country and taking cities and urban regeneration seriously."
And in August 2008 David Cameron reaffirmed his commitment to northern housing schemes saying again; “The Conservative Party policy will continue the good work of regenerating cities right across England, including northern cities.” David Cameron MP, 13 August 2008
Broken promises which have left ordinary people living in ghetto's. As one resident put it "although I voted Conservative at the last election and even convinced my friends to as well, I wouldn't vote Conservative again, never."
Grant Shapps housing minister says they can bid the Regional Growth Fund available to every area of the Country. A paltry £1.4billion already ten times oversubscribed on all sorts of schemes from the affluent to deprived, the north to the south.

It's criteria don't even allow for housing regeneration bids and Mr Shapps assertion that the new homes bonus will also fill the gap shows how out of touch he is. For every bonus payment for new build, there is an equal bonus deduction for demolition and Mr Shapps is arguing that in abandoned areas, this will be of benefit? His argument is utterly stupid and clearly does understand what it is he is doing.

Now there will be no demolition and for those homeowners trapped between the rows of privately abandoned properties and those the Council has managed to acquire the next prospects for the next decade seem to nil leaving areas like Woodnook looking like a slum landlord’s ghetto. A paradise for arson, crime, drugs and misery and for those trapped in negative equity, a return to the early 1800's when the working class were dispensable.

It is now paramount we return a Labour Council able to assist in some way with these issues.

BT: a year's free broadband for community groups in Hyndburn

I promised to keep you updated on opportunities for groups in your constituency, so I wanted to let you know that BT has today launched a scheme which allows eligible community groups in your constituency to apply for a year's free broadband.

Hyndburn suffers some of the highest government cuts in Britain? Official DCLG statistics?

George Osborne says 'we are all in this together' and Lord Young tells us 'we have never had so good'.

There is talk of 'leaked' DCLG figures showing that Hyndburn will face a 30 to 38% cut in funding over the CSR period at the very same time as other councils such as South Cambridgeshire, West Oxfordshire, Tonbridge Wells, Uttlesford, Reigate and Banstead, Dartford and Harborough will get a 25-37% increase. 

Many other authorities in the North West are predicted to lose around 25 to 29% - so we appear to be amongst the very hardest hit.

We await with worry but it seems that not only have the LibDems misled the nation but teh Tories are at it too. The Tory Council Leader contuinues to remain silent on the issue and it would appear only the MP's office is 'batting for Hyndburn'.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

New Homes Bonus Scheme - Empty Homes and The Consultation - chaos

On Friday The Coalition launched the consultation for the new homes bonus scheme. This is a totally flawed gimmick that will hit the north hard. It will hit the construction industry hard.

In simple terms, East Lancashire's population is declining very slightly. The proposal pays an allowance from the government to the council for each new additional house built. Why would the Council  build new houses?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Music licensing on Warner Street takes a new turn

Last week I received a letter from the PRS and PPL requesting a meeting to explain music licensing and defending their right to collect royalties from traders on Warner Street.

This week I have recieved correspondence from RadioCentre, a group who identify with the problems experienced by retailers on Warner Street.

As your MP I will be in contact with both sides and have posted the correspondence you will find below to the traders who have made representations to me.

Why the proposed increases in Tuition Fees are abhorent - Labour favours a Graduate Tax

• Labour will be opposing the Government’s proposal to increase fees to £6,000 with a maximum cap of £9,000 a year from the 2012/3 academic year.

• The Government’s proposals will make our universities some of the worst publicly funded and with the highest fees of any public university system in the industrialised world.

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill - Public Inquiries and Boundaries

Public Inquiries
This note is provides additional information on the value of public inquiries in the boundary review process.

Clause 10 of the Bill proposes to abolish the right to hold a local public inquiry into the recommendations of a Boundary Commission.

Are we all in this together - Tory ministers splash out adorning office walls with art, paintings and carpets

MINISTERIAL ART:
ITEMS ON LOAN FROM THE GOVERNMENT ART COLLECTION

This report makes public each item of artwork that has been moved into ministerial private offices since the Coalition Government took office on 12 May. The information was obtained using the Freedom of Information Act.

The items of artwork listed are all on loan from the Government Art Collection. In total, £19,652 has been spent on transporting, installing and removing works of art from Government Departments since the Coalition took office.

Friday, 12 November 2010

LEPs elsewhere given green light to bid, Lancashire left out in cold as Tory infighting continues

Tory squabbling about who should be in charge of Lancashire's economic regeneration, Pennine Lancashire or Lancashire County Council has hit the hopes of local communities wishing to bid to Government for grants through the regional growth fund.

Defending the Future Funding of the BBC

This week I spoke out in defence the BBC World Service in Parliament and raised concerns over the future funding of the service following the Coalition Government's Comprehensive Spending Review.

The BBC is a fantastic and unique institution and we must do everything possible to preserve the quality of programming and editorial independence which has made it the envy of the world.

Below is a transcript of my addition to the debate in Parliament:
Graham Jones (Haslingden and Hyndburn) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) on securing this vital debate. We all recognise the role of the BBC in the world. The then shadow Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (David Miliband), said that the World service is an independent

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Baroness Warsi, zealous cutter and arch Cameronite walks past Hyndburn's poor

This week Baroness Warsi marched in to Hyndburn. Parliamentary courtesy to the sitting MP reduced to a hastily one line email dispatched the night before with the illuminating text, 'Following Parliamentary protocol (on courtesy), Baroness Warsi will be in Hyndburn tomorrow'.

Courtesy there was though for those of correct political persuasion; Hyndburn's great and blue were attendant with abundant catering awaiting, resplendently organised.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Postal Services Bill 2010

It is my view that Post Offices have been used as a political football, the strongest element of which is the excuse of the pensions deficit created by the Government, as a reason to privatise.

The Post Office is a public service that is prevented from operating on a level playing field subsidising private mail companies with uncommercial and restrictive door step delivery charges.

The Post Office network, described by many Conservatives as a socail service and/or the community hub in many rural communities has been undermined by aggessive market testing and withdrawel of services with no policy for growth of within business, or recognition of it's community role.

I am wholly opposed to privatisation and support the modernisation process within the context of 'more than just a business'.

1) Key Points - Postal Services Bill 2010

• Wholesale privatisation The Conservative – Lib Dem Coalition Government’s plans for the Royal Mail threaten to turn a public service into a private monopoly, with a maximum of 10% reserved for an employee share ownership scheme.

How the Tories have hit pensioners incomes hard

Despite misleading comments towards pensioners such as Nick Cleggs ridiculous Triple Lock Guarantee, pensioners have been hit hard by this Coalition Government. The Tories have had little to say leaving it the the LibDems to do the explaining and carry the can.

To add to this list are Housing Benefit reductions. 2,000,0000 pensioners are currently in receipt of Housing benefit.

The Government’s Boundary Reform Proposals

http://hhgrahamjones.blogspot.com/2010/10/tories-gerrymander-constituency.html
http://hhgrahamjones.blogspot.com/2010/11/governments-boundary-reform-proposals.html
http://hhgrahamjones.blogspot.com/2010/07/parliamentary-voting-system-and.html

Executive summary

• The Labour Party agrees with the principle of creating equal-sized seats, which has long been written into the law and which is the main purpose of the Boundary Commissions’ work.

• But the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill pursues the objective of a rigid equalisation of seats in a way that will mean millions of eligible voters – predominantly younger people and those from lower income groups – are ignored from the Boundary Commission calculations, distorting the results.
• The inflexibility of the proposed new rules for drawing parliamentary seats will mean that local authority boundaries will be breached and pointless anomalies created. For example, they will probably make it impossible for local electoral wards to continue as the building blocks for constituencies.

• Boundary Commissions will no longer be required to take account of history, local ties or geography (with the exception special protections for seats in the Scottish Highlands and Islands) as the electoral quota will trump all other considerations.

Strategic Defence and Security Review Debate

There are 9 key points:
• National security is the primary responsibility of government, and the Coalition’s decision to conduct a strategic defence review is welcome, a commitment that Labour had also made in our 2010 manifesto. Labour will work responsibly and in co-operation with the government on all areas concerning national security and the welfare of our armed forces.

• The Government’s number one security and defence concern is the war in Afghanistan. The Government has the Labour Party’s full support in pursuing military operations complemented by a political strategy for reconciliation and lasting peace. We will work constructively where possible and scrutinise where necessary. We welcome the Government’s commitment to ensuring the SDSR will not impact on frontline operations in Afghanistan. We pay tribute to all men and women serving overseas.

Young People's Trust for the Environment & Naomi Wilkinson & Dermot O'Leary

I met X Factor celebrity Dermot O'Leary last night at a Reception held in the Palace of Westminster. Together with Naomi Wilkinson (presenter of BBC's 'Live n Deadly')  in Parliament last week to raise awareness of the work of the Young People's Trust for the Environment, of which they are both committed Presidents of.

Guests at the event, which was hosted by Jessica Morden MP, heard about how the Young People's Trust is supporting and encouraging young people to carrying out a huge range of brilliant work to help protect the environment for the future.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

National Housing Federation has today slammed the Government’s decision to cut the affordable housebuilding budget

The National Housing Federation has today slammed the Government’s decision to cut the affordable housebuilding budget by 60% – with ministers looking for social housing tenants to pay much higher rents to make up for the shortfall.

Police Officers - Ed Balls on cuts to Police numbers

Responding to reports that three police forces have been given approval to forcibly retire officers who have thirty years or more service, the shadow home secretary Ed Balls said:
“The Tory-Lib Dem government is putting chief constables and police authorities in an impossible position.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Residents’ fears for Accrington ‘ghetto’ areas

Residents’ fears for Accrington ‘ghetto’ areas (From Lancashire Telegraph)

Back in 2004 I spoke about the wreckless risk the Council was undertaking to only regenerate one area at once. The Government had highlighted many areas the Council should have intervened in and the Council paid lip service.

Crucially Woodnook, probably the most run down area was told by the Council it had to wait seven years until 2011 but only after a presentation that alluded to immediate funding. The balance of the Council then was Conservative 18- Labour 17.

The Government last week cut the £9mllion as year housing market renewal funding with littl e money having beeing spent in Woodnook. The Council Leader talks of new funding bids but this is back to square one, if not further back with a government hell bent on cutting spending at all costs.

The outlook for Woodnook has never been bleaker.

Success: Minister accepts empty properties should be included in New Homes Bonus Scheme

The Empty Homes Agency and myself have lobbied Housing Minister Grant Shapps several times to make the case that empty homes should be included in the New Homes Bonus Scheme.

I caught Grant behind the speakers chair on Tuesday night and he has accepted our campaign to include empty homes is worthwhile and they will now be part of the scheme.

I have raised issues about this particular scheme on the floor of the house of commons.

This is great news for Haslingden and Hyndburn which has some 2500 empties and therre is no need to build new homes with some exceptions. Elderly and displaced social housing.

Further consultation will take place and we will be campaigning to ensure the scheme makes sense and works for the people of the area and of areas blighted by empty properties.

Parliamentary Question : Tenants in Private Rented Sector hardly ever get their day in court

The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for the unlawful eviction of an occupier and the unlawful harassment of an occupier under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 in England and Wales from 2004 to 2008 (latest available) is given in the following tables. Figures are provided by police force area as the Ministry of Justice court proceedings database does not hold details of offences by authority area.

Data for 2009 are planned for publication on 21 October 2010.
Court proceedings data held centrally in an aggregated format do not separately identify individual offences under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Similarly it is not possible to separately identify specified offences under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, and the Housing Act 2004.
Information under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 is not collated centrally by the Ministry of Justice.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2010-09-13c.13731.h&s=section%3Awrans+speaker%3A24835#g13731.q0

Parliamentary Question Police: Accountability - Costs of Elected Police Commissioners spirals

In other words it is anoither cost the Government hadn't considered and will have to paid for. Add in salaries, entourage, the cost of keeping the Police Board, renamed Panel and other huget election costs. £1.4million in Lancashire just for the voting procedure plus £1.4million recall or Council Tax referendum.

Written answers and statements, 11 October 2010 Next answer »

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her estimate is of the cost of (a) administration of and (b) distribution of election literature free of charge in relation to the election of a police commissioner for Lancashire; and who will meet these costs.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 11 October 2010, c206W)

Nick Herbert (Minister of State, Justice; Arundel and South Downs, Conservative)
The Government are still consulting on the detail of the policy for Police and Crime Commissioners, and no decision has yet been made on these issues.

Transport: Bury-Rawtenstall Railway Line

Transport: Written answers and statements, 11 October 2010 

Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that the development of the Bury to Rawtenstall rail extension proceeds.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 11 October 2010, c46W)

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

I would be happy to work with Rossendale borough council, Lancashire county council and Greater Manchester Passengers Transport Executive on the Bury to Rawtenstall rail extension scheme should studies that they are currently undertaking confirm that a new rail service is the best way to meet the transport needs of the corridor between Bury and Rawtenstall.

However, all programmes will be subject to affordability and constraints of the outcome of the autumn Spending Review.

New Homes Bonus Scheme in chaos - Lobbying for concessions and clarifications

I have urged Grant Shapps, Housing Minsiter on the floor of the House of Commons to resolve the problem of removing funding from Councils, only to give it back to them as housing incentives in the New Homes Bonus Scheme.

Hyndburn Council grants planning permissions and Lancashire County Council has the biggest budget and would have seen the lions share of funding removed  funding from for example childrens services, to pay for house building in wealthier areas of Lancashire (raher than Hyndburn) where housing demand is greatest and a unfair extra hit on County Councils who fo not grant new house building permissions.

The minister has given way to a 80:20 split after lobbying. There is also the inclusion of empty homes in the New Homes Bonus Scheme is welcome so long as they are classified as affordable, with a 'national Council Tax rate' incentive rather than local rates. Also welcome is the 125% incentive on affordable homes.

Paying Housing Benefit direct to tenants

There is a conflict of opinion ojn this issue. Drug users who don't pay the landlord. Landlords who like direct payments becvause they don't have to listen to tenants complain about broken heating, damp, infestations or dangerous electrics.

And strategically, landlords are free from responsibility to upkeep the property assured of income, mop up poperties in the cheapest, most run down areas to minimise their cost base and maximise their profits.

Direct payments to tenants means choosy tenants who have the power to demand better housing, have the control to terminate tenancies on their terms and relocate to better housing.

My view if not apparent is that payments should go to tenants and landlords shopuld be held more accountable by having to respond more procatively to tenants requirements. Landlords can after around eight week scan seek direct payments to them if there are arrears.

As part of this debate I have published the House of Commons Library Notes on the matter which are very informative.

House of Commons Library Note, Standard Note: SN/SP/3211
Last updated: 29 October 2010, Author: Wendy Wilson

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

In conversation with the Housing Minister Grant Shapps about investment in Hyndburn

I managed to grab a conversation with Grant Shapps, the housing minister last night.

In summary;
- there will be no advantage to housing market renewal areas bidding to the new Regional Growth Fund in 2012.

- housing market renewal ends in 2011 and there is a 12 month gap even if a bid was successful.

- after lobbying, the new homes bonus scheme will include empty properties - consultation to which I will be responding is coming forward this Friday.

- the new homes bonus scheme will be based on average rateable values offering (as Mr Shapps suggested) an advantage to northern towns.

- the empty homes £100m fund is also going out to consultation this Friday?

I will be leading the charge to return government investment in Hyndburn. Sadly I have had no support from the ruling Conservative Group on the Council.

Private Landlords leaving many of their tenants in fuel poverty - Government to act

As part ofthe Governments 'Green Deal', private sector landlords who do not take up the governments free offer to insulate their houses can be fined by local authorities £5,000.

Hyndburn has chronic housing problems in areas of concentrated private rented accocomdation. Fuel poverty in Peel and Barnfield is the highest in the Borough.

Supporting Hyndburn Citizens Advice Bureau

I am a supporter of voluntary and charitable organisations and it was a pleasure to speak at a recent CAB event. They receive £56,000 from Hyndburn Council and the Governments 28% cuts to local authorities will mean that voluntary services have their grants reduced.
On behalf of myself and the Board of Trustees, I’d be grateful if you could pass on our thanks to Grahm for your speech at our 70th anniversary event last Friday. It went very well and we got a lot of positive feedback and your attendance certainly made an impact. I really appreciated your presence and the fact that you stayed around to talk to people afterwards despite the demands on his time. It’s good to know that we have your support in such uncertain times.

Hyndburn CAB, New Era Centre, Paradise Street

Lancashire County Council to make £142million of cuts - End of LCC as it stands now

FROM THE LANCASHIRE TELEGRAPH + LETTER TO COUNTY COUNCILLORS

COUNTY council services are set for unprecedented cuts of up to £142 million after bosses revealed a massive financial black hole.

The worst-case scenario figures represents 20 per cent of Lancashire’s budget. The best case would still see £79million of spending slashed.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Urgent Business Question - Helping Hyndburn Exports

Last week I took the opportunity to stand up in the House of Commons and ask for a statement on helping British exports fight subidies other Governments provide to their companies.

In this case the Germans who are offering low loans to Russian companies in return for buying rival German machinery when British is best, but factoring in the cheap German loans is more expensive. The good news is that through hard work of one or two individuals in the Export Credits Guarantee Department, Hyndburn may have secured a large export order.

Britains Export Credits Guarantee Department has been excellent at trying to resolve the matter for two comapnies in the area. However there is no policy and it is all being done
1) by the seat of our pants;
2) in a complex manner;
3) with a laissez faire principle where our banks (rather than Government) seem unwilling to participate in the lending process.
British exports and Hyndburn manufacturing are of vital importance to this area and they are a top priority to me because they represent well paid, highly skilled jobs.

Graham Jones (Haslingden & Hyndburn): Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State to make a statement on the Export Credits Guarantee Department strategy on supporting British exports?

I have two companies in my constituency trying to export high-value products to Russia—Emerson and Renwick and Grahame and Brown. German Government grants are undercutting the loan value and it is impossible for us to export in those conditions so we do not have a level playing field. I hope that the Secretary of State can give a statement on the issue.

George Young, Leader of the House
I am entirely in favour of firms in the hon. Gentleman's constituency winning export orders and providing jobs in his constituency. I will raise with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills the issue of there perhaps being an unlevel playing field and ask him to write to the hon. Gentleman.

Tory Council takes no action against cuts in Hyndburn

Tory Lead Hyndburn Borough Council Makes No Objection to Cuts In Westminster

A Parliamentary Question asked by Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, has revealed that Hyndburn Borough Council has made no official objection to the ongoing cuts in public spending.
I have asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, if he had received any representation from the Tory lead council on the issue of cuts. The Department revealed that it had not.

I have written to Tory Leader of Hyndburn Borough Council, Councillor Peter Britcliffe to ask why the council has failed to represent the interests of the people of Hyndburn and to invite the Tory Leader to meet with him in Westminster to discuss how the Council can better represent the borough in Parliament on this issue.
This comes as the Office of Budget Responsibility, which was created by George Osborne, has today revealed that cutting too much too soon will actually cost £700m in extra dole payments.
It is absolutely vital that the voice of our local communities, through their elected representatives, is heard in Government.
We are seeing some of the deepest cuts to be seen in a generation. The cuts to public spending have left the poor languishing while the rich have barely felt the pinch of the recession. I have seen the devastating effects of these cuts already as families struggle to make ends meet. For Hyndburn Borough Council not to have made any representation to the Government on this issue is utterly disgraceful.
I have written to the Leader of Council several times in the hope that together we can put a good case forward in Westminster. To arrange meetings with ministers. All I have been offered is a meeting at Scaitcliffe House at a time to suit the Council Leader. It just gives the impression they aren't bothered about Hyndburn.

Times have changed. Back in 2005, the Council Leader was leading the charge that 'Hyndburn was being shortchanged by Government', over what is now a paltry £300k. The Council Leader marched to London demanding a rebate. my predessor Greg Pope facilated Westmninster meetings and the opposition Labour leader jopined in the cross party appeal in Parliament.