Friday, 30 November 2012

Moving towards the plain packaging of tobacco & cigarettes

I was recently contacted by Tobacco Free Futures regarding the issue of plain packaging for cigarettes. There is a great deal of support in the constituency for the introduction of these measures in the UK, and it is something with which I have a great deal of sympathy – however with all measures, the devil is in the detail. I would not want to exacerbate or create an adverse problem.

The Australian Government passed a bill last year that requires tobacco is sold in olive green boxes with large graphic health warnings. This was based on research which supposedly showed that this colour would be the most off-putting to smokers.

The UK has been very active in the past when it comes to reducing smoking, and the public have broadly backed measures to achieve this. Plain packaging of tobacco could help further reduce the burden of smoking in this country.


Today is national Carers Rights Day

National Carers Rights Day supports Carers UK’s campaign urging people caring for ill or disabled loved ones to access all the support they are entitled to.

There are around 6.4 million unpaid carers in the UK who provide care and support to family, friends and neighbours, saving the country an estimated £119 billion each year.

This year, new Carers UK research has also pointed to the additional pressure faced by ‘sandwich carers’ who are juggling childcare with looking after ageing or disabled relatives. A survey of over 1,000 ‘sandwich carers’ showed that 4 in 10 were struggling to cope, with two thirds reporting strain on marriages and personal relationships and three quarters saying they had seen a drop in earnings as they struggle to combine work with family responsibilities.

Policing on the cheap; ASBO's being replaced by 'restorative justice'.

At the request of the Police Federation, I recently met with several concerned police officers from across East Lancashire, who serve in various roles and at various levels within Lancashire Constabulary. They wanted to meet with me to tell me what impact the Government’s police cuts are doing to policing in Lancashire. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

GUARDIAN - Top Tory accuses Michael Gove of 'bully boy tactics' over academies

Lancashire county council leader, Geoff Driver, turns on education secretary for ignoring improvements in LEA schools.
Michael Gove has been accused by one of the Tories' most senior figures in local government of resorting to "bully boy tactics" to drum up support for his flagship academies and to undermine traditional schools.

In a scathing letter to the education secretary, the leader of Lancashire county council says it is "incredulous" that he fails to acknowledge improvements in schools still under the control of local education authorities.

Geoff Driver, a Conservative who represents Preston North on the county council, turned on Gove in a five-page letter after the education secretary said in a letter to Lancashire MPs that its schools were under-performing. His letter followed a warning in July by Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, the schools commissioner for England, that primary schools in the county would thrive as academies "rather than staying under the control of the local authority, which clearly isn't working".

Read more at ...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/28/tory-accuses-gove-academies-bully-boy

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Press release – Eastgate Parking 28.11.12

Excel parking, the company responsible for issuing parking notices on Eastgate car park over the summer have finally issued a statement. They have advised motorists who received a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) in respect of a parking contravention between 2nd June 2012 to 8th July 2012, that:


Baxenden digital tv reception - my own mystery?

I have never contacted EnergieKontor personally about my grandmothers house in Baxenden but this week had a call from them saying their engineer could not get access. The engineer pushed this note through the door (see below) with scrawl on it and a bogus telephone number.



When I queried this with the co-ordinator Nathan Wicks he said "someone calling themself Graham Jones MP has left a message with telephone number, asking us to check his aerial last Tuesday".

Monday, 26 November 2012

Age UK published its new campaign report, ‘The Cost of Cold’,


Thousands of older people die avoidably each winter and yesterday Age UK published its new campaign report addressing the issue, ‘The Cost of Cold’, which you can find on our website here.

Government accepts my amendment on vehicle badging for scrap metal collectors

The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill has passed the Commons and is now making its way through the House of Lords. An issue I have led the campaign on for over a year and I delighted the government have accepted  that this must legislate to tighten up on the weal legislation that exists.


Tory Lancashire a 'failing education authority' says Michael Gove

Tony Roberts, Lancashire NAHT Admin and Membership Secretary on behalf of Lancashire Primary Schools sent this letter to Lancashire's MP's.

Dear Lancashire Member of Parliament,

I am writing to you on behalf of ALL Lancashire Primary School Headteachers and their schools.

Article by Hacked off on Leveson Enquiry

Article by Professor Brian Cathcart, Executive Director, Hacked Off.

w hackinginquiry.org 

As you will know this Thursday Lord Justice Leveson will be publishing his report into the culture, practice and ethics of the press.
Today’s Mail on Sunday reported: 
‘David Cameron is heading for an explosive confrontation over press freedom this week by resisting calls to introduce heavy-handed new laws to police UK newspapers. But he will order them to “clean up their act” immediately with a tough new watchdog – using the threat of sweeping legal action if they fail to do so.’

Eastgate parking tickets update

Excel have now officially cancelled all tickets from 2/6/12 to the 8/7/12 that were not paid for. However, for those that have paid they have referred it back to Aston Rose (the managing agent). My office has attempted to contact Aston Rose but so far they have been unavailable.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Letting Agents - Raising the issue in Parliament

Back in November I raised the issue of letting agents who rip off tenants on the floor of the House of Commons;
Graham Jones (Hyndburn, Labour)
In a recent survey, one in four tenants reported that they had been ripped off by letting agents. Do the Government recognise that and, if so, what are they going to do about it?

Minister - Don Foster (Bath, Liberal Democrat)
I understand the hon. Gentleman’s concern. He will be aware, however, that a number of letting agents have come together to form the safe agent scheme. We urge all people using such agencies to look out for that scheme, which gives an absolute guarantee that the funds are available to provide the necessary support.
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 November 2012, c21 )


Since then I received this corespondence from Sarah in London,
I noticed your recent oral question to Don Foster 'Do the Government recognise that [1 in 4 tenants have been ripped off by letting agents] and, if so, what are they going to do about it?'

The answer you received was that 'a number of letting agents have come together to form the safe agent scheme. We urge all people using such agencies to look out for that scheme, which gives an absolute guarantee that the funds are available to provide the necessary support.'

Friday, 23 November 2012

Street Map squeezed out by Google monopoly?

I was recently contacted by the company Street Map, commenting on a debate I held on Google in Westminster Hall a while ago. This was completely unsolicited and I have had no dealings with this company in the past.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Unfair Cuts to Local Government.


Last week The Guardian carried an article on the unfair targeting of cuts in local government spending power (See Appendix A for article). The heatmap of cuts can be found at Appendix C and the Guardian have an interactive comparison of the cuts with other indicators of social deprivation (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/nov/14/council-cuts-targeted-deprived-areas, http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/nov/14/council-cuts-england-detailed).

A new study has shown that cuts to local government spending power in the Tory-led Government’s current spending review are been targeted at the most deprived areas.

Analysis shows that Councils in northern, urban cities and London boroughs with high levels of deprivation, predominantly run by Labour, have seen their budgets cut by almost 10 times the amount lost by mostly Tory-administered authorities in rural southern England.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Baxenden TV reception update - Impact on TV Aerials - S106

Impact on TV Aerials - S106. I have received the correspondence from EnergieKontor. So far the company appear to be doing everything they can to comply with the S106. I have blogged previously about the developing problem and what EnergieKontor are obliged legally to do to residents affected.

If you want to be kept abreast of the latest development and the roll out of 4G which will also affect reception, please stay in touch either by email or checking this blog.


Supporting the national “Hole in the Roof” campaign.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, a division of Energy and Utilities Alliance, has launched an energy efficiency awareness campaign called ‘Hole in the Roof.

Hole in the Roof” is an innovative campaign designed to raise the awareness of energy efficiency and encourages people to take action by giving them practical advice on the best ways to reduce their heating costs.


Baxenden TV signals - an update

I am contimuing to receive a significant numbers of letters regarding the pixelisation of tv pictures in Baxenden possibly related to the wind turbines. Energiekontor have provided this response to a Baxenden resident who is affected. 
Thank you for your e-mail regarding the television reception at your property. We are in the process of investigating the issue. Please could you e-mail me your telephone contact number so we can arrange for an engineer to contact you. 
Kind Regards, Nathan Wicks
Project Manager, EnergieKontor UK Ltd
I am currently looking into 4G transmission units across Hyndburn. Only Everything, Everywhere (T Mobile, Orange) have a government licence to install these, however they do not always require planning permission.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stuff David Cameron Forgot To Say...

Labour is turning the spotlight on David Cameron as his shambles of a Government reaches its halfway point today.

The campaign includes a mock Tory manifesto document – as it could have been if David Cameron had promised what he was really going to deliver by this point in the parliament. This highlights how, despite David Cameron's promises of change, things have got worse, not better. Alongside the document there is a new website focussing on David Cameron’s broken promises, plus the “Real Conservative Party Pledge Card”.

A copy of Not the Conservative Party Manifesto – a verdict on David Cameron’s broken promises and failure to deliver can be download here.

The website, Stuff David Cameron Forgot To Say – highlighting David Cameron’s broken promises – can be found at www.stuffdavidcameronforgottosay.com.

Swift response from Hyndburn Council on lost TV reception in Baxenden

Graham, in respect of television reception, the Section 106 Agreement associated with the Oswaldtwistle Moor Wind Farm planning permission states that any complaint made by an owner / occupier of a property within a 5km radius of the site, and holding a current valid television license, to be investigated by the developer (or their appointed approved body) in order to determine if the quality of television reception at the claimant's property has been materially adversely affected by the operation of the wind farm. Complaints should be made directly to Energiekontor (by email to nathan.wicks@energiekontor.co.uk) and then they are to send a copy to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) within 7 days of receipt.

Energiekontor have now appointed a local aerial company which has extensive experience in this field to investigate the complaints. The company has 28 days to investigate each complaint and then a further 10 days to issue their findings to the properties affected and to the LPA. The report shall set out whether the impairment of television reception is directly attributable to the development, and if remedial works are required to restore the quality of television reception. If remedial works are required, they shall be undertaken by Energiekontor at its own cost using all reasonable endeavours and completed as soon as reasonably practicable. Energiekontor have confirmed that boosters have already been installed at some of the affected properties and they appear to have resolved the problem, however this will be monitored over the next couple of weeks during the commissioning process to ensure there is no interference with the turbines.

Supporting the White Ribbon Campaign

What is the White Ribbon Campaign?

The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) - www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/   - is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action amongst men. Throughout the year we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, and to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC. We distribute Education and Action kits to schools, colleges and youth clubs, maintain a website, and speak out on issues of public policy.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Baxenden homes losing their TV signal due to wind turbines?

In the last few days my office has received numerous complaints from people in Baxenden who have suffered a loss or pixelisation of their digital TV signal which has left it unwatchable.

This could have been one of two things. Interference from 4G masts or the wind farm and I must confess I thought like some residents it was the former rather than the latter.

One constituent rang my office Monday morning after having seen this article, furious that the government knew about it in advance and didn’t inform people. I have also had an elderly gentleman in to the office morning on behalf of a number of other pensioners in the Baxenden area – he said one old lady had spent over £600 on a new TV and aerial and she still has poor transmission. All channels are affected.
"Recently, it has become apparent that the signal quality has deteriorated significantly and at times we receive no signal at all.
So far I have probably received around 20 collective complaints complaints from people in Baxenden – from Warmden Avenue, Royds Ave, Sandy Lane etc about loss of TV transmission.

Tories try to wreck Scrap Metal Dealers Bill

Backbench Tories tried to wreck last weeks Scrap Metal Traders Bill the Bill sponsor Richard Ottaway MP has revealed.

What sort of mindset do these MPs have I would ask? This bill had universal support of the public and crucially the industry. The consequences in cost and disruption run into £hundreds of millions. Add on top the theft of historic plaques and artwork and in particular war memorials. Backbench Conservative MPs who tried to wreck this bill are simply out of touch.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Draconian Cuts to Victims’ Compensation wrong

The Government’s cuts to compensation for injured victims of crime as punitive and draconian.

Last night I voted against the Government’s cuts to compensation for over 90% of seriously injured victims of violent crime and for the dependants of murder victims. However the vote was passed on Monday night, meaning that awards under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme will be abolished or reduced for 90% of injured victims from Monday 26th November.


The new Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 will take effect on Tuesday 27 November, so claims under the current scheme will not be accepted after Monday 26th November, or possibly Friday 23 November.

Therefore anyone who has been injured in the course of a crime needs to make a claim as soon as possible.  

Monday, 12 November 2012

My seven hour late night shift with CANsafe

I recently did a seven hour shift with CANsafe on a dark Friday night. My experiences showed to me how effective this initiative is. Originally set up in Peel ward it is now a scheme that is running across Hyndburn, being rolling out across Lancashire and I believe such is it's success, it won’t be long before it is standard police practice nationally. It is about to launch in Blackburn. Community activist Joyce Plummer and PC Martin Midgely deserve huge credit for setting up this initiative.

Nearly all the 40 professionals involved gave their time voluntarily or as part of their normal work hours. The extra cost of the operation was remarkably just £400. Not only did it target vulnerable young people and alcohol, but the five teams patrolled every neighbourhood in Hyndburn in unmarked cars for any suspicious activity. Our patrol had numerous police interventions, properties where child grooming is suspected, known haunts for youngsters drinking and where drink was confiscated if an under 18 was present, 16 and 17 years olds found drinking in town centres and pubs, patrolling off licences, stopping suspected burglar’s and individuals acting suspiciously late at night in residential areas.

Patrols were made up of police officer and special constables, child protection professionals and trading standards. The people stopped were surprised to see such an intense police presence. Children deemed vulnerable were taken to a safe place where care professionals spoke with them and their parents. Parents are forced to collect their children and made aware of the circumstances in which they were found.

CANsafe is one of the best recent police initiatives and the feedback they are getting is incredible. The fact it was initiated from the neighbourhood where I live and represented is welcome.

From the Lancashire Telegraph

Booze taken off East Lancashire children

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Mental Health changes in East Lancashire



We must have a plan to build 7,300 homes in the North West

The government should back Labour’s plan to build thousands of new affordable homes to boost the economy and create thousands of new jobs.

Labour says the government should use the £3 billion expected to be raised from the forthcoming auction of the 4G mobile phone spectrum to:
  1.  fund the building of 100,000 new affordable homes across the country including 7,300 in the North West 
  2. and back people aspiring to own their own homes by introducing a two-year stamp-duty holiday for first time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £250,000.
With our economy flatling over the last year and unemployment in North West too high, we need urgent action to kick-start the economy and create desperately needed new jobs.



The government should use the funds raised from the 4G auction to put something back into the economy, build thousands of much-needed affordable homes and help first-time buyers. It would also help create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships in the construction industry and the supply chain too.

Around 7,300 new affordable homes – to buy and to rent – could be built in North West with Labour’s plan. The National Housing Federation says this could create up to 11,100 jobs in construction and 44,400 in the wider supply chain.

Labour’s plan has been backed by the Confederation of British Industry and it’s time this Conservative-led government stopped being so complacent about the state of the economy and backed it too.

Construction industry key to recovery.

It is good news that the UK has finally come out of the longest double-dip recession since the Second World War, but our economy is now only the same size as a year ago and has grown by just 0.6 per cent since the spending review two years ago – compared to the 4.6 per cent forecast at the time.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Conservative backbenchers plan to derail the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill

Article by Andy Taylor
Head of Public Affairs, Association of Train Operating Companies

Christopher Chope MP and Philip Davies MP are planning on talking out the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill at report stage in the House of Commons tomorrow.
This private members bill, which has the support of all parties and the Home Office, is a vital step in cracking down on metal theft.

Every part of the country has felt the effect of this crime. From the disgraceful theft of war memorials, church roofs and cemetery plaques, to the stripping away of vital rail, energy and telecoms infrastructure, this crime causes daily disruption, expense and misery.

From Graham Jones' excellent work in bringing this to the attention of the Commons, to Richard Ottaway's sponsorship of the bill, the issue has gained wide support and traction in Parliament.

There have been over 2,000 incidents of metal theft on the railway in the last three years, and the problem is growing. Signalling cables and even the 25,000 volt power cables which serve our rail system are being stolen, causing around 350,000 train delays every year, affecting around 3.5 million passengers.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust

The Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust is an ambitious project to return football back to where it belongs, it’s roots. An ambition to incorporate fan ownership with a minority stake and a seat on the board.

For too long football and the Premier League has been turning community assets into private clubs and a high profile business for multi-millionaires.
Wayne Wild and Oliver Jones should be congratulated for their professionalism and ambition and as supporters together, we should all get full square behind them.

Blackburn Rovers is a community club and the trust will give supporters the best chance of ensuring the future of the club is part of our local communities.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Lancashire's Health & Wellbeing Board - Urgent need of reform

Lancashire’s new Health and Wellbeing Board has been set up stuffed with top Tories and health professionals. It is not surprising then that their list of priorities for the Board is both inward looking and based on self interest that will not serve Lancashire well and will waste public money. The board has become simply 'a crutch for the NHS' and hasn't the ability to recognise and tackle the bigger issues.

I have written previously about my concerns.

http://hhgrahamjones.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/lancashires-health-and-wellbeing-board.html

Labour must challenge both the make up of the Board and following next May's local elections radically reform the Board's structure and priorities.

Ash Dieback update - Haslingden

I have received a reply from Rossendale Council on Ash Dieback disease. Whilst most of my queries were ignored it does make two valuable points.

The Government did nothing to inform local councils, the responsible authority with tree experts of the disease in the critical months when ash trees had foliage. Council staff have now been briefed and are on the lookout.

Secondly the disease appears not to be within Rossendale a yet.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday - the forgotten sacrifice of people of muslim faith

8% of the Hyndburn and probably Haslingden is of Muslim faith according to the census. This Remembrance Sunday I'd like to think in the tributes made, we will remember all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for British freedoms including the thousands of Muslim soldiers commemorated in Commonwealth War Graves.
I think there has been a historical barrier to this forgotten story. 

Extremists - found in all walks of life - have presented the distorted idea that the Muslim community should see wars not through the fight for freedom and justice, but through the warped and twisted idea of some religious supremacy. They have projected a view that Muslims should in some way feel uncomfortable about supporting the British Army. This distortion of history is not the view of the vast majority Muslim constituents in this constituency who recognise the sacrifices made.

Let us not forget "on the cenotaph at Ypres, France where the war was particularly brutal and horrific, you find the names Muhammad Aslam, Abdullah Khan, Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Usman and numerous other obviously Muslim names on the memorial that is dedicated to the commemoration of soldiers killed in the Ypres Salient of the First World War.

1.3 million Indians constituted the volunteer force during the First World War of which approximately 400,000 were Muslims - predominantly from what is now Pakistan - who fought for Britain, many on the Western Front in Europe, and sadly many who gave up their lives for our freedoms today.

In May 1915 Subadar Muhammad Agia of the 57th Rifles wrote, “It is just like the grinding of corn in a mill; there is no counting the number of lives lost. Not a single British or native officer of the old regiment is left, and not one sepoy (from the Indian regiments).”

The conditions on the front line made it hard to uphold the requirements of faith while on duty, although many Muslim soldiers struggled on and kept the fasts of Ramadan, gaining strength and solace from their faith. Stationed in France at the time of Eid in July 1917, Abdul Ali Khan wrote, “All of the Muslims of the Division had their prayers together and the assembly was close to our regiment. We, as far as possible, gave them food and tea. About 1,500 men assembled and prayers were offered for the victory of our King.”

During the second world war, over 161,000 Indian army soldiers were killed in the two World Wars according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with Muslims making up about 30-40%.

In North Africa, Indian soldiers were in the region of 100,000 troops, with five Indian divisions serving in that theatre of war. Out of the 50-60,000 troops serving in Italy the Muslim contingent was estimated to be up to 20,000. Three Indian divisions played a crucial role in the Italian Campaign and the 4th & 8th Indian divisions won numerous battle honours for their bravery and gallantry against the might of Nazi Germany.

Of the 122 deaths of soldiers under the age of 18 in Italy, 90 were Muslim. Among them were three 15-year olds: Amir Khan from Attock, Gulab Khan from Rawalpindi, and Mian Khan from Kohat. One of them was a Lance Corporal, quite an achievement for a boy of his tender age."

Those of whatever faith in Hyndburn will I am no doubt remember these three young boys along with all those who made sacrifices for our today.

Remembrance Sunday is a day when we should all stand together in sombre memory of our history.

edited from ... http://www.emel.com/article?a_id=1699&id=65

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tribune column by Ed Balls MP

Tribune column by Ed Balls MP
2 November 2012

Two years ago David Cameron boasted that "Britain was out of the danger zone". And what followed? The longest double-dip recession since the Second World War as his deeper spending cuts and faster tax rises choked off the recovery.

So when David Cameron said at Prime Minister's Questions last week "the good news will keep on coming" there will have been eyebrows raised at the Treasury and the Bank of England. It smacked of the same complacency we've come to expect from the Prime Minister.

There was indeed some good news the following day when official figures confirmed that, with the help of the Olympics, Britain had finally come out of a double-dip recession which only one other G20 country has gone into.

But the Prime Minister's complacency the previous day was misplaced. Our flatlining economy is only the same size as a year ago. In the two years since the spending review we've had just 0.6 per cent growth – compared to the 4.6 per cent George Osborne said his plan would deliver and 3.9 per cent growth in America.

Long-term unemployment is rising, while business lending is falling. And the result of this slow growth and high unemployment is that borrowing in the first half of this year has actually been higher than the same period last year.

With living standards falling, energy prices soaring, more tax rises on low and middle income families and pensioners on the way, and the eurozone still in crisis, it would be very unwise of David Cameron and George Osborne to just sit back, cross their fingers and hope for the best.

We need action, not complacency. So there are three tests for the Chancellor's crucial autumn statement next month. First, on jobs, growth and deficit reduction in the short term. Britain urgently needs a plan to secure and sustain a strong economic recovery and catch up all the lost ground of the last two years.

That is why Labour is calling for a jobs plan to boost the economy, including using funds from the 4G mobile spectrum auction to build 100,000 affordable homes, a temporary VAT cut and a bank bonus tax to fund jobs for young people out of work.

The government still has no plan for growth and, as they are starting to find out, without strong economic growth you cannot succeed in getting the deficit down. If their current strategy really is working, as Ministers continue to claim, then the autumn statement should see the very gloomy forecasts we saw in this year's Budget for economic growth revised up and borrowing revised down.

Second, we need long-term reforms to strengthen our economy and ensure that other countries do not continue to race ahead of us. This should include a British Investment Bank properly backed by the Treasury to boost lending to small and medium sized businesses, a long term plan to rebuild our infrastructure and radical reforms to separate retail and investment banking.

The omens are not good here either. Banking reforms are being watered down and business is rapidly losing confidence in the government's ability to make long-term decisions as Ministers dither and delay on big questions about our infrastructure needs for the future.

Third, we need fair action to help people on low and middle incomes with the rising cost of living. The Chancellor would be well advised to use the autumn statement to rethink his plan to give a tax cut to millionaires in April while putting taxes up for pensioners.

The Conservatives cannot claim to be a One Nation party when next year they raise taxes on pensioners, make families and businesses pay more in fuel duty, take away child benefit from middle income families and cut help with council tax bills for those on the lowest incomes, while the only people getting a tax cut are the very richest earners in our country.

On jobs and growth, a long term plan for our economy and fairness our complacent Prime Minister and Chancellor have a few weeks to finally change course.

If they fail to do so then it will be even clearer that only Labour is the One Nation party that can deliver the change Britain needs to make our economy fairer and stronger, get the deficit down and ensure people are better off.

Ed Balls is the shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Morley and Outwood

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ash Dieback disease in Hyndburn & Haslingden

I wrote to Hyndburn Borough and Rossendale Borough Council's this week on their assessment of Ash Chalara dieback disease and have received this quick and helpful reply from Hyndburn;

On the basis of the survey work completed so far, less than 5% of the trees in the Borough are Ash trees. We have not made an assessment of Ash Dieback in Hyndburn as we do not appear to have trees affected at the moment.

The Borough has 55 Ash trees on Highway verges out of 1667 trees, these trees are routinely inspected every 3 years. In addition there are approximately 6176 trees which have been surveyed in Hyndburn’s Parks & green spaces and so far and 369 are Ash. No trees have been found to have this type of Ash Dieback.

Ash dieback was unknown in Great Britain until recently, but the first cases were confirmed in a nursery in Buckinghamshire early in 2012, on ash plants which had been imported from The Netherlands. Since then, more infected plants have been confirmed in nurseries in West and South Yorkshire, Surrey, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and in recent plantings of young ash trees at four sites: a car park landscaping project in Leicester, a Forestry Commission Scotland woodland near Kilmacolm, west of Glasgow, a college campus in South Yorkshire, and a property in County Durham.

When the disease strikes Hyndburn it will be a gradual process and any infected trees will have to be reported to the following organisation:

Forestry Commission Plant Health Service
T: 0131 314 6414;
E: plant.health@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

They will then advise as to what should be done, burning is usually the most common control but not in all cases. We will endeavour to only buy Ash trees or saplings from nurseries clear of the disease or not buy in Ash for the time being. If there is an 80% reduction in Ash the Parks Service would require further funds to fell trees.

In relation to private land owners, the land owner is liable for remedial work on private land. If the land owner refused the council may be able to undertake the work and then possibly charge the landowner under the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976.

When Chalara fraxinea is found to be in our parks, public spaces or on public land the Council suggest that it will it will likely be everywhere else and the control measures will just be removing trees as they become dangerous.

Forestry Commission questions and answers.

Chalara dieback of ash - Questions and Answers


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nook Lane update - Multi-Agency Briefing


The Environment Agency

Waste Update
All the waste has been removed from the site, and we are satisfied that the waste which was illegally deposited has now been disposed of at regulated facilities within Lancashire including Whinney Hill and Pilsworth Landfill site. No more waste has been deposited at the site.

Lottice Brook Water Quality Update
This is a former chemical site, and as such we would expect there to be some historic contamination of the land and water. We have been continuously monitoring the water against water quality standards over the last 4 months. This has continued until the end of October. We are now in the process of analysing the results of this monitoring to understand any possible impacts that this site may have had on the water quality of Lottice Brook. We expect the analysis to be complete by the end of November so the Environment Agency can make recommendations to Hyndburn early in the new year on whether the site could be determined as contaminated land.

Legal Update
Our teams are continuing their investigations in the illegal activities at the site. Once we know what course of action we are taking, we will make our decision public.

The Health and Safety Executive

Supplied by Mike Sebastian; HM Principal Inspector of Health and Safety

Received by Hyndburn BC 26th October 2012

Following the HSE formal enforcement action (improvement notices under s21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) taken in August, we are pleased that the most obvious means of access onto the site (which does not have permitted public access) have been closed off, eg by fencing repairs or by re-erecting concrete panels. Our current view is that access onto the site can only be gained by deliberate action and not accidentally; however, our enforcement action requiring the owners of the land to eliminate the remaining drowning hazards at the site continues.

Hyndburn Borough Council

Officers continue to work with the Environment Agency in relation to contamination of the site, and its impact on Lottice Brook, for its possible determination as a contaminated land site. This is within the guidance and legal framework as directed by Central Government.

We also continue to visit the site regularly to maintain a watching brief as to any physical activity on the site, and we liaise closely with the EA on this. This also forms the basis for any need to intervene on a planning basis if illegal development is taking place.

We have also attended a preliminary meeting with an Environmental Consultant working on behalf of the owners who wanted to properly understand the difficulties and hurdles the site presents for re-development. The EA and ourselves fully explained concerns over the site, the complexity it presents for development in isolation, and the high level of public anxiety over any un-sympathetic redevelopment that might be proposed.

Concern has been expressed about the water spilling over Brookside Lane. This water has been sampled by the Environment Agency and results of the sampling forwarded to the Health Protection Agency for their comment. The Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) have looked at the results and concluded they are unlikely to be a hazard to human health for two main reasons:
no obvious pathway to humans the levels in the run-off are actually below the World Health Organisation drinking water threshold values.

Scrap Metal Dealers Bill - progress report

The Private Member’s Bill to reform the scrap metal industry is about to go through to report stage on Friday, 9th November.

The scourge of metal theft that blights all of our constituencies.

Scrap Metal Dealers Bill 2012 proposes a rigorous licensing scheme that ensures every sale of scrap metal is accounted for, and that all people trading in scrap are doing so legitimately. For too long the cash-in-hand and ‘no questions asked’ culture in the scrap metal industry has allowed criminals to ply their trade under the cloak of anonymity.

As a result of this largely unregulated £5.6bn industry – up to £1.5bn of which thrives tax-free because of a lack of honest record keeping – our transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure is under constant threat.