Friday, 23 December 2016

State nurseries: we need more, not less.

‘Early intervention’ before kids start primary school is vital for giving children an opportunity to fulfill their potential. It reduces the life chances gap and combats the postcode lottery, by closing attainment disparity between disadvantaged and affluent kids. This is why the last Labour government introduced free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, created Sure Start Centres in every community and expanded school nurseries.

Unfortunately, in the last decade, 500,000 poorer children were not school-ready by the age of 5. And since 2010, the Tories have closed more than 800 Sure Start centres and 1,000 childcare providers. 45,000 childcare places have been lost.

Yet despite this, the Government plans to drastically cut funding for state nurseries even further. Through its new funding formula, childcare provision will be threatened in every region and 750 providers (both state and private) now fear closure.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Accrington Postie Strike

Accrington Postie Strike

This is about bullying at the Accrington depot. Bullying by one señor manager. Bullying that had been resolved until Royal Mail decide to renege on an agreement and keep the said manager at Accringtion Office. And then things got worse.

Going on strike means a loss of pay and our posties don't get paid a great deal. If you want to contribute to the strike fund then donations can be sent to:

Ben Barnes
CWU East Lancs Treasurer
Burnley Delivery Office
Bank parade
BB11 1DY

Yesterday I joined the Accrington posties on the picket line. Bullying in any workplace is unacceptable. Makes peoples lives miserable and can lead to all sorts of personal problems.

No postal worker wants to loose money & neither do they want to take strike action especially at Christmas, They work all year round come rain or shine & are the greatest asset Royal Mail posess.

No Postal worker should have to attend work to be shouted at with foul & abusive language by their manager. They should be properly renumerated for work performed over and above their contracted hours.

This is not the case at Accrington delivery office. For some time now the management of this office has ruled with fear & intimidation.

The CWU who represent workers at Accrington engaged with Royal Mail to try to resolve the issues being raised. This ended up with mediation under our mutually agreed processes. The outcome of the mediation process was that both sides agreed the manager should be removed from the office. However Royal Mail have refused to act on this recommendation. Whilst clear evidence exists that the
manager bullies his staff he is seemingly allowed to carry on with impunity making the senior management responsible complicit in these bullying actions.

The CWU members within the unit have balloted to take industrial action and have started a series of 24 hour walkouts to defend their absolute right to attend work without the fear of being bullied & harassed in an unprecedented move from
a office with no history of industrial turmoil.

We call upon Royal Mail to take its duty of care to its staff at Accrington seriously & resolve this dispute in a mannor where its greatest asset 'The Postie' can go to work with dignity and without fear.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

My LT column. Tories to bring in Bedroom Tax for Pensioners

So the Tories are to bring in a Bedroom Tax for pensioners! Do you want me to repeat that? They have also said they will no longer protect pensions after 2020. The the nations poor finances under the Tories the reason why. They are starting with grandparents who have the spare bedroom for the grandchildren.

I’m all for going after scroungers but non-scroungers (aka people who need genuine help) need a leg up the ladder, not a snake all the way to the very bottom.

Sunday, 11 December 2016


I'd like to thank Miles Parkinson who has worked tirelessly for many months to save these libraries. I'd also like to thank all the community activists who have come forward for without their help these facilities would have been lost.

For both of us this has been a huge issue that has consumed an awful lot of time and resource. I have had countless discussions with County Hall, raised petitions in Parliament, spoken in Parliament, spoken with ministers and made the case personally to the Prime Minister. 

Hyndburn Council Leader, Cllr Miles Parkinson, today welcomed news that Lancashire County Council have agreed to explore proposals by community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running libraries in Oswaldtwistle and Clayton-le-Moors.

Cllr Parkinson said; “It’s absolutely wonderful news that Oswaldtwistle and Clayton–le- Moors look set to have their own independent community libraries soon, housed in two much loved iconic buildings, providing a fabulous resource for local people.”

Cllr Parkinson added; “Hyndburn Council has fully supported the bids in the run up to the County Council’s decision, which is has meant a lot of hard work and dedication by so many community volunteers, who always give their time, energy and expertise so freely. A huge thank you should go to them.”

Under Lancashire County Council’s proposals:

Oswaldtwistle Library will be transferred to the Oswaldtwistle Lamp group to provide an independent community library. Lamp is also proposing to strengthen trade and encourage new business by offering space to entrepreneurs, as well as offering volunteering opportunities to increase people's employability and reduce social isolation.

It has also been agreed that an independent community library can be established by Mercer 1842 at the Arthur Wilson Centre, Hyndburn, using the book stock and resources from the former Clayton-le-Moors library. The Arthur Wilson Centre is not a county council building.

All of the proposals are subject to further discussion and final agreement on the terms of the transfer.

Media Contacts Cathy Kierans- Senior Marketing and Communications Officer 380108

Accrington Victoria Walk in Centre is changing

The Walk in Centre at Accrington Victoria which provides a free GP service from 8am to 9pm to people who cannot get a GP appointment with their doctor.

The reply I have received from the CCG is at the foot.

I have long opposed the closure of this and had numerous conversations with the CCG over the last few years expressing my feelings. Notably three;

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Please support the CWU ongoing Post Office campaign by writing to Theresa May

The CWU has launched a campaign to save the Post Office. Our members working in the Post Office have already taken 2 days industrial action, as a result the government has now launched a consultation into the future of the Post Office Network.

As part of the campaign we need thousands of postcards to be signed across the UK. Our target is to have 500,000 postcards signed by 12th December. Stand up for local Post Office workers and send this card to Margot James, Minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility.

Backing the campaign to help shoppers get problems with faulty goods solved

I am backing National Consumer Week, a campaign to help people use their consumer rights to get problems with faulty goods like TVs, laptops and mobile phones resolved.

Research from Citizens Advice has revealed that two thirds of people had a problem with faulty electrical goods in the last two years.

However, 1 in 4 people were turned away by retailers when they tried to get a refund, a replacement item or get their item repaired, despite it being the retailer’s responsibility to help.

The research also showed that persistence paid off, with 61% of people who were initially turned away going on to get some form of solution.

NHS want feedback: learning disability and/or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

NHS England is consulting for a period of 12 weeks starting today, December 1st , on how low and medium secure services for people with a learning disability and/or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) should be provided across the North West. For further details and to take part in the consultation please see : .

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Supporting the Dying to Work Campaign

Time to secure employment rights for terminally ill workers who can suffer discrimination as they face the battle against their deteriorating illness.

Read Jacci's story at:

Cheap booze leading to ill health

Dear Mr Jones, I am writing to draw your attention to the problems associated with cheap, high strength alcohol products such as white cider, and to ask for your support as we call on the Government to take action to protect our most vulnerable communities in next year’s spring Budget.

We have produced a short video, which we hope will be of interest, summarising the scale of the problem, and laying out the policy solutions.

Also attached a recent report from the Alcohol Health Alliance, which revealed the shockingly low prices of many drinks. Incredibly, large bottles of strong white cider, containing as much alcohol as 22 shots of vodka, were found on sale for as little as £3.49. Such products are drunk almost exclusively by underage and dependent drinkers and have a devastating impact, with over a million hospitalisations and 23,000 deaths each year in England due to alcohol.

The system of taxation on alcohol, branded “a mess” by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, currently contributes to this problem. The structure of cider duty in particular perversely incentivises the production of stronger alcohol, supporting the high strength cider market. Furthermore, successive real term cuts in alcohol duties since 2012 will cost the Treasury a total of £2.9 billion in the five years to 2018.

Stop discrimination against disabled people #AccessAllAreas Bill

I visited a Guide Dogs event in Parliament on 16th November to show his support for taxi and minicab drivers receiving disability equality training when getting their licence. A Private Member’s Bill that sought to introduce such training was debated on 18th November but was not voted on due to a lack of time.

Lifestyle Mag launched for Hyndburn


Business and council officials have welcomed the launch of a brand new glossy magazine for Accrington.

Councillor Clare Cleary and Tracy Leeming, Marketing Manager of Oswaldtwistle Shopping Mills, are supporting the publication which is produced by Scott Dawson Advertising.

Accrington's LIFE:STYLE Magazine, as a pilot scheme, will be distributed throughout the borough and published twice a year.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2016

_Users_lpaskins_AppData_Local_Temp_tmp153F_files_image001.jpgDear Graham Jones MP,

I am writing to you on behalf of United European Gastroenterology (UEG), regarding World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2016. UEG are working with Pancreatic Cancer Europe (PCE) to raise awareness of the fight against pancreatic cancer, the risks and clinical symptoms.

Pancreatic Cancer is set to become the 3rd biggest cancer killer in Europe, the number of people dying from pancreatic cancer in Europe has increased continually over the past 40 years. The median survival time for someone diagnosed with the disease is only 4.6 months. These worrying statistics highlight a need for a revolution in pancreatic cancer diagnoses, awareness and treatment.

The video ‘Pancreatic Cancer: Stuck in the 1970s’ is available to watch here It would be of great help if you could spread the word to your constituents, feature this on your website or any social media platforms – to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms and help tackle this killer disease.

Thunderclap campaign, which can be done using this link:

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Cavity wall insulation problems? Poor installation? Causing damp?

Two constituents have approached me about failing cavity wall insulation fitted a while back when little was known about the products, the process and the consequences.

Since then I have picked up a point of contact for constituents who are experiencing the same problems and have tried to help those affected.

CIVALLI - Cavity Insulation Victims Alliance
founder of CWIVA who sent me a letter which is attached.


Monday, 14 November 2016

Cross Party EDM opposing Gov't privatisation of Channel 4

I have campaigned against Channel 4 privatisation (and other public asset sales) and will signing a cross party EDM this week in Parliament opposing Channel 4 sell off ahead of the Autumn statement.

The Government must not be allowed to sell of Channel 4 or other national infrastructure assets. Besides which how do you value an asset that is not for profit? (other than make it make a shareholder profit at the expense of spending on programming).

I also oppose the sell off of the Post Office, NATS, OS and the Land Registry as mentioned in the EDM.

"That this House notes that the new government appears rightly ambivalent about selling off profitable national assets – no final decisions have been made about privatising the Land Registry and Channel 4 while plans are at an early stage for selling off the public stake in National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and introducing private sector capital into Ordnance Survey; welcomes the publication of the report by We Own It and the New Economics Foundation ‘Future profits vs short term cash: What’s at stake in the Great British sell off’; notes the conclusion of this report that selling off profitable public assets means we lose out in the long run on future revenue; notes that within 10 years the British public will be losing money as a result of the Royal Mail privatisation; notes that the Land Registry sale would lose us money in 25 years’ time and for NATS we would lose out in just seven years; is proud of our successful, innovative public assets; believes they are important to the future of our country; and calls on the government to confirm in the Autumn Statement that the national treasures mentioned above will stay in public hands."

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Government response to my petition on library closures.

I recently presented in Parliament a petition and including my online petition to stop the tragic claver of Lancashire's libraries and museums.

The Secretary of State has finally replied and following interventions by Lancashire MPs, the Government is looking into the matter and has written to Lancashire County Council.

The Governments response is below.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Respect for Shopworkers Week

I am delighted to support Usdaw's campaign to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse

Members of the retail union Usda are campaigning for an end to abuse in the workplace. As part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff, Usdaw members are highlighting the problems faced by staff during Respect for Shopworkers Week, which runs from 14 to 20 November.

Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse whilst serving the public. It is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

The A56 and M66 update form Highways England

Three issues.
1. Speeding, ice, central reservation on Accrington bypass (A56)
2. Rising Bridge Roundabout (I fixed the A56 lights previously)
3. A56 to M66 junction and turn just after Tesco's Haslingden

Here is Highways England update on all 3.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Transport for the North parliamentary meeting

I mentioned I had met with David Brown, Chief Executive at Transport for the North (TfN) to discuss plans for future investment in IEast Lancashire, notably the M65 as well as recently submitted proposal to the Department for Transport to become a statutory Sub-national Transport Body.

Since its inception in 2014, TfN has been working together with local authorities and stakeholders to allow the North to speak with one voice on the big decisions to benefit the region as a whole.

In March 2015 TfN unveiled its vision to help build the Northern Powerhouse by transforming connectivity with a host of transport improvements. I have remain a huge sceptic of the Governments intention to invest in the North. The Government says it is committing to investing £13 billion on transport projects across the North and I believe the M65 should be one of those projects.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Standing up for publicly owned bus companies

On the 30 year anniversary of bus deregulation, I along with my Labour colleagues are backing the campaign to ‘take control of our buses’ by opposing the government ban on new public bus companies.

The government wants the Bus Services Bill currently being debated to include clause 21 which would stop English local authorities from setting up new municipal companies. (1) The clause was defeated on Monday in the House of Lords but is expected to be introduced again in the Commons. We Own It asked MPs to show they support bus passengers and oppose the clause by taking part in a photoshoot on Wednesday 26th October. (2)

On the 30th anniversary of bus deregulation, We Own It is also asking bus passengers to send their 'bus selfies' and explain why they want public ownership to be an option for local authorities.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Small Business Saturday - is your business involved?

Small Business Saturday UK is a not-for-profit campaign, which highlights small business successes and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

Business organisations are planning events in Hyndburn to support Small Business Saturday. The campaign encourages businesses to promote themselves and work with other small businesses. It is supported by a number of organisations, such as the Federation of Small Businesses, and it has cross-party support.

Small Business Saturday has been running since December 2013. In 2013, Graham Jones MP was joined by the then Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Ummuna MP, in celebrating small businesses in Hyndburn.

This year, it will take place across the country on 3 December 2016.

Past success

In 2015, customers spent £623m with small businesses on Small Business Saturday. This represented a 24% increase from 2014.

Harsher sentences for for offenders who assault the Police

I recently attended Holly Lynch MPs (MP for Halifax) event to raise awareness of, and promote tougher sentences for assaults on police staff. #AssaultPolice #PoliceOfficerSafety

It is unacceptable that people who go out there to protect us the general public are not given the maximum protection themselves. That's why I support harsher sentences. I have written recently about this.

Police assaults and poor sentencing remains high on the Police Federation agenda.

Holly recently held a police debate in the House of Commons surrounding this issue. Holly Lynch  led the debate. Holly had gone out for a shift with her local police and ended up calling 999 to get back up for the officer she was out with, she saw first-hand that back is not always just round the corner.. Hollys blog about the issues can be found here:

In Lancashire there have been some appalling cases.

Backing Diabetes UK campaign for better feet assessments

I am backing Diabetes UK call for local action to ensure everyone with diabetes admitted to hospital receives a foot risk assessment and it is an issue I have already raised with Kevin MaGee of East Lancs Hospitals Trust.

In England hospitals are not giving foot checks to more than two thirds of people with diabetes on admission[1], despite this being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

I attended Diabetes UK’s foot care event at Westminster, where I heard about foot care for people with diabetes in Hyndburn.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Fwd: Accrington Carnival 2017

Subject: Accrington Carnival 2017

Last night a small group of people got together to talk about the viability of Accrington Carnival going ahead in 2017 following Accrington Lions withdrawing from organising it. The general feeling is that there is a desire for the Carnival to continue as it would be a shame to break a tradition that was started in 1959. However, the only way it can go ahead is with a large number of supporters and volunteers, plus some serious fund raising. A new community group needs to be formed and then the work load needs to be divided up and this all needs to be done quickly as time flies and there is a lot to be done.

A public, open meeting has been arranged for 6pm on Tuesday 15th November, at the Hyndburn Voluntary and Community Resource Centre on Cannon Street in Accrington.

It is essential that word is spread so even if you can't attend the meeting please send this to any of your contacts and let's get the whole of Hyndburn involved. If you are able to offer any support and want to get in quick with sponsorship or help in any way, please get in touch.

Thank you

Carnival 2017


Just raised in @houseofcommons the lack of northern investment by Tory Govt and the need to extend M65 motorway to the NE.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Delighted to support @DiabetesUK Checking of feet is a vital.

Delighted to support @DiabetesUK Checking of feet is a vital. There are 20 diabetes related amputations in England every day. Really important to raise awareness and an issue I will be raising with East Lancs Hospitals Trust to see what more can be done.

Transport for the North - M65 extension to M1

Met with David Brown, CEO of Transport for the North TfN. Agreed that M65 extension to M1 an option for TfN. Had a good discussion about the M65 extension to M1.

A transport project that would help East Lancashire grow by connecting the millions of people in the North East with millions on the North West. Would also require widening of the M66.

LT Column - The conflict in the Yemen

The current conflict in the Yemen is complex, to say the least.

No one would disagree that the current humanitarian crisis that besets the country is extremely dire. As the United Nations has warned, we are seeing a real risk of famine in some areas. More than 14 million people are without reliable access to food and nearly 3 million people have been displaced.

The question, however, is how to bring about a solution.

Friday, 21 October 2016

‘Hy'-end Magazine Boost for Hyndburn

Mock up
‘Hy'-end Magazine Boost for Hyndburn

Scott Dawson Advertising is launching a brand new feel-good glossy publication for the Lancashire district of Hyndburn.

LIFE:STYLE Magazine plans to promote the positive side of Accrington and its surrounding areas appealing to tourists, business investors, heritage, music and culture fans.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, pictured, said: "I am thrilled to see a lifestyle magazine promoting the area and the very hard work going on behind the scenes by my office, the district council, and the many brilliant community groups we have here."

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

MP backs Electricity North West’s priority service for vulnerable customers

MP backs Electricity North West’s priority service for vulnerable customers

I am giving my support to Electricity North West’s priority service register which is available for all vulnerable customers across the North West during a power cut.

The region’s network power operator offers extra support to vulnerable customers during unexpected power cuts, including the elderly or those with a medical dependency on electricity and I would urge those customers in Hyndburn to register.

Electricity North West’s vulnerable customer scheme may just save someone’s life. If you know anyone that would suffer as a consequence of a loss of electricity then contact ENW and ad their name to the Priority Service Register.

Stephanie Trubshaw, head of customer experience for Electricity North West, said: “We’re delighted that MP Graham Jones is supporting our Priority Service Register and he has highlighted the vital support on offer to our vulnerable customers in Hyndburn.

“We have a range of different welfare options so that we are on hand to offer extra support so that you are safe and comfortable in your own home while our engineers are working hard to restore the power.”

To sign-up to the Priority Service Register please visit or call 0800 195 4141. To discover more about the extra support on offer watch our Priority Service video here.

If you experience a power cut you can call 105 or 0800 195 4141 for free or follow @ElectricityNW on Twitter or report the fault online here.

Fwd: PSNC response to Parliamentary Debate

Subject: PSNC response to Parliamentary Debate
Date: 18 October 2016 18:17:24 BST

Dear Mr Jones,
I am emailing on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee  (PSNC) to thank you for taking part in yesterday's debate on community pharmacy.
We were delighted to see the debate so well attended and your input was most welcome, particularly your highlighting the important relationships between pharmacists and the patients who use their services.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

FOBTs continue to be problem for society.

FOBTs continue to be problem for society. The crack cocaine of gambling that allow gamblers to stake £100 every 20 seconds; left thousands of people with gambling debts; have reduced bookmakers to unwelcoming high street casinos and changed their character; seen violence in bookmakers as a result of these machines; allowed the industry to reduce staff and leave often young, female staff lone staffing.

Friday, 14 October 2016

More must be done to tackle assaults on Police Officers

MY colleague Halifax MP, Holly Lynch has called on the government to take steps to keep Police Officers safe from attacks after an event in Parliament which highlighted the shocking extent of the problem.

I joined her at the ‘Protect the Protectors’ event in Parliament which Holly organised to discuss the latest assault figures with members of the Police Federation and serving Police Officers and how violence towards the police affected their ability to protect their communities.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

I want to see the M65 extended to the North East .. My LT column

I want to see the M65 extended to the North East connecting millions of people directly to the North West. It’s about the time the North got its fair share of transport funding. It’s about time too that East Lancashire got the connections that would bring greater prosperity.

Across the North, people are desperate for improvements in transport. Families are tired of long journeys to visit their relatives, commuters are sick of unnecessarily draining commutes, and local businesses are fed up with needless hindrances to consumers – hindrances which the government could prevent, if only it properly invested in a comprehensive Northern transport plan.

Instead, the Tories continue to preside over extensive delays, poor road networks and outdated railways. These problems are particularly acute in the Pennines and for commuters travelling between the North West and North East, where a lack of investment can be felt by all those who’ve been stuck on the M65, M62 or M606. The M62 being the only east-west motorway.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

My LT column - Government dithering on football governance issues

As Chair of DCMS PLP committee there have been a number of issues I have raised. Gambling, Lord Leveson report, BBC and UK public sector broadcasting including opposing the privatisation of Channel 4.

Football governance is another one of those issues that both the last Tory-Liberal Government and the current Tory government are failing to take action on.

Despite a recent Government report, football fans continue to be prevented from getting involved in their clubs.

The report, which came out in January, called for new opportunities for Supporter Trusts to bid to own their clubs in an insolvency situation; clubs to meet with a representative group of supporters at least twice a year; and an additional £1 million funding from the PL for supporter groups.

Yet for many fans across the country, these recommendations will be too little, too late.

They don’t go far enough to give supporters the opportunity to take a meaningful stake in clubs which had not collapsed financially; nor do they properly give fans the chance to address wider governance issues. Indeed, Manchester United Supporters Trust has decried the report as containing little practical help to assist fans building a stake in the absence of insolvency.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Labour’s purpose must be to unite the country by John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary

Uniting our party is an admirable and necessary aim, but the Labour Party has to turn to uniting the country. Not in my lifetime have I seen our nation so divided.

The gap between rich and poor is growing, as low wages and the Government’s cuts to working families’ incomes bite; we have a new Conservative Prime Minister who wants to segregate children at 11 years old, and race discrimination is becoming more prominent as we see an increase in attacks on migrant workers.

Electorally the divisions are stark: Labour is virtually unrepresented in the south; the Tories barely present in northern metropolitan councils and nationalism is rampant in Scotland. The European referendum vote split the country almost in half.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Another year of sham press regulation


To date, there have been 7 inquiries into the British press in the last 70 years. And each time, the press has utterly failed to clean up its act. Leveson, the author of the latest report into press standards and ethics, has called it a “pattern of cosmetic reform”: a scandal breaks; reforms are recommended; and the press announces a new regulator, which is different to its predecessor only in name.

It is little surprise that the latest cycle of cosmetic changes seems like history repeating itself.

Leveson’s primary recommendations could not have been clearer. The press was to have one more chance to develop its own regulator, without media executives pulling the strings behind closed doors and without newspaper editors doctoring the rulebook. And an independent body should verify any future regulator, in order for that regulation to be free from press and political influence.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fwd: Accrington Pals to screen film to mark the end of the Battle of the Somme


Accrington Pals screen film to commemorate 100 years of the end of the Battle of the Somme

On Friday 18th November, an intimate screening of The Battle of the Somme will be shown at Accrington Town Hall commencing at 10am. 18th November marks the end of the Battle of the Somme, which lasted 141 days.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Fwd: Underfunded. Underdoctored. Overstretched. The NHS in 2016

Dear Mr Jones,

Underfunded. Underdoctored. Overstretched. The NHS in 2016.

As the NHS faces some of the greatest financial pressures in its history and an ageing patient population with more complex care needs, it is vital that politicians, policy-makers and system leaders work together to create a stronger, more sustainable and patient-centred NHS. A new report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) draws on the experiences, views and concerns of consultant and trainee physicians, which added to national evidence, show the grave situation the NHS faces:

  • Underfunded: The NHS budget has not kept pace with rising demand for services.
  • Underdoctored: The UK does not train enough doctors.
  • Overstretched: NHS staff increasingly feel like collateral damage in the battle between rising demand and squeezed budgets.

My LT column on FOBTs

On Monday, the BBC aired its much-anticipated Panorama on gambling machines. The programme followed the story of Lee Murphy, who killed himself after struggling with a 20-year gambling addiction. In Lee’s confession to his partner, he talked about the consequences of high stakes, high-frequency gambling machines – otherwise known as Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – and how they wreaked havoc on his life.

ASA take action after my complaints

Following my complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency a year ago regarding 'Penny Auction' websites the ASA launched a project into the sector. These sites are ripping people off for significant sums of money with promises that are clearly misleading in my view.

The are not auctions. Only the lucky few ever win and the amounts collected by the sites in 'bids' can be 10x the high street sale price. A TechCrunch article (July 26, 2010) on MadBid, one such site, called this model "a license to print money."[2] Other such sites includeBid Budgie and and SWOGGI.

The ASA have concluded that there are indeed "exaggerated claims, especially in relation to RRPs, savings claims and sold prices" which has resulted in the ASA drafting guidance distributed to all Penny Auction sites.

ASA take action after my complaints

Following my complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency a year ago regarding 'Penny Auction' websites the ASA launched a project into the sector. These sites are ripping people off for significant sums of money with promises that are clearly misleading in my view.

The are not auctions. Only the lucky few ever win and the amounts collected by the sites in 'bids' can be 10x the high street sale price. A TechCrunch article (July 26, 2010) on MadBid, one such site, called this model "a license to print money."[2] Other such sites includeBid Budgie and and SWOGGI.

The ASA have concluded that there are indeed "exaggerated claims, especially in relation to RRPs, savings claims and sold prices" which has resulted in the ASA drafting guidance distributed to all Penny Auction sites.

A monitoring exercise by the ASA earlier this year found that "there were still outstanding areas of concerns in marketing across the sector." and that the ASA are initiating "a series of investigations against all the pay-per-bid auction sites that we could identify" with the rulings on breaches of the ASA's Code and guidance notes on the code to be published "on our website later in the year".

I am pleased that the ASA has acted in the manner in response to my complaint. It will be a relief to many that at least this Rip Off Britain industry is having action taking against it.

This contrasts with the Gambling Commission who seem to be receiving a lot of criticism for being out of touch and who on this particular issue when I wrote to them refused to take any action and stating that they believed that penny auction sites were essentially not gambling sites. I tweeted "Gambling Commission says 'Gamified' penny auctions not gambling sites & not their responsibility as bring no harm." You can read the full reply from the Gambling Commission which I published here.

From: Louise Hogan
Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2016 11:05
To: Graham Jones
Subject: Advertising Standards Authority update - penny auction websites

Dear Mr Jones

Last year, you contacted our Chief Executive, Guy Parker, with your concerns about pay-per-bid auction websites for Madbid and Swoggi. In his response, Guy explained that because we felt there was potential for consumer harm and detriment and in line with our strategy to tackle more issues in the round through project work, we had launched a project into the sector. Rather than solely relying on complaints, this allowed us to look at the issues in more depth and on a wider scale. Now that we’re reaching the conclusion of this work, I wanted to update you on the findings so far.

We initially carried out a detailed review of the marketing, including the websites, for Madbid and Swoggi. We also contacted other relevant stakeholders, such as Trading Standards departments and Citizens Advice, to find out more information about any consumer complaints they had received. In conjunction with the complaints we had received directly, this research enabled us to build up a picture of potential Code breaches in the marketing for these companies.

The majority of issues we identified concerned exaggerated claims, especially in relation to RRPs, savings claims and sold prices. We also identified a general need to make clearer to consumers how the service worked and associated costs and to ensure that advertising was clearly differentiated from advertorial.

We contacted both Madbid and Swoggi to discuss the issues, ensure they understood their responsibilities under our Codes and seek assurances that their marketing would be amended to bring it in line with our rules. We also drafted guidance covering the main issues we had identified in the sector (published on the CAP website here) which we sent to all the other pay-per-bid auction websites, requesting them to review their own marketing to ensure it complied with the guidance.

After carrying out a monitoring exercise this year we identified that although some changes had been made, primarily in Madbid’s marketing, there were still outstanding areas of concerns in marketing across the sector. As a result we’ve initiated a series of investigations against all the pay-per-bid auction sites that we could identify. The rulings should appear on our website later in the year.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Louise Hogan Maroney (Mrs)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Fwd: North West losing out on £761m of trade each year without a new runway – Let Britain Fly

Good afternoon,
It is more than a year since the Airports Commission published its final report on the expansion of airports capacity. During that year, the UK has missed out on at least £9.5bn in potential trade with emerging economies because we do not have a new runway. Those losses will continue to accumulate at the rate of £1.1 million every hour until the runway opens. The North West loses out on £761m of potential trade each year that passes without runway capacity expansion.
Airfreight is essential to the future success of the UK economy. 40% of our £305bn exports travel by air. That includes anything valuable, perishable or required just-in-time, from Scottish Salmon to pharmaceuticals, Brompton bikes to Formula 1 cars. Today's report undertaken by CEBR on behalf of Let Britain Fly, shows that the whole of UK plc is missing out huge volumes of trade with the top ten fastest growing emerging market economies because of a lack of runway capacity and connectivity.
We cannot afford to lose more. Government has a clear recommendation from the Commission to build a new runway, allowing us to open new routes to emerging markets and expand existing links. It must decide.
Please click on the below image to share the impact which runway dithering is having on the North West every year, and to show your support for a swift decision.
Yours sincerely,
Matthew Hill
Let Britain Fly
D: 020 7665 1585   T: 020 7665 1500   M: 07399 528 628
Website:  Twitter: @letbritainfly 
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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

FOBTs and why I raised a Point of Order before recess

On the penultimate day of Parliament, I raised the issue of Tory inaction over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

Under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA), local authorities and groups submit proposals which central government can then act upon. It enables communities to work together to effect change in their local areas.

But the Government failed to meet its obligations under the Act when Newham Council and 93 other councils submitted a proposal calling for local discretion to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2. By failing to hold a consultation within the required time period, the Government ignored communities across the country; more specifically, it ignored councils which represent a total population of nearly 23,000,000 (43% of England’s population).

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My Lancashire Telegraph column

There has been no mention of George Osborne’s much trumpted 'Northern Powerhouse’ which appears to be sinking as fast his career. Not a muffle from Maggie May. Rumour has it our new prime Minster has hinted the Government's obsession with Manchester will come to an end. Good. Lancashire has received now’t from the divvy up devolution. Short changed in Osborne’s dogs breakfast of localism. Some cities. Not all cities. Some cities more than other cities. Some cities faster than others. Definitely not shire counties unless, maybe .. no maybe not. Chaotic.

It was a slogan too. A political slogan to mug voters into believing Mr Osborne cared. To neutralise a reality. The south gets all the money. £billions on HS1 (channel tunnel), £billions on Thameslink, £billions on Crossrail, £billions on Westminster Tube Station and Kings Cross. Hyndburn and Burnley got £7million to improve our comparatively slow rail link to Manchester with hand me down rolling stock. There never was a northern plan.

It looks like Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ needs a headstone. Theresa May has said she wants a country "needed a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them.” Great. I get the message. Manchester. You’re on notice. New sheriff in town. Now the detail. Stop. Reality check. We’ll get now’t, again. Flashing warning sign. Tory rebadging and repackaging exercise in process.

The reality is this. If Mrs May wants an economic powerhouse everywhere for everyone she has to work out how the left behind shire towns are part that wider economic powerhouse. 

So let’s end city specific plans. City selfish mentality which has resulted in every city having an airport at the bottom its garden yet poor train regional services across with regional trains that aren’t connected to airports or ports easily and we have roads that go nowhere (M65) and roads that should go somewhere but not in a straight line or with nowhere near enough capacity. East –West road links are appalling. You can get to Norway faster than you can get to Newcastle

So it’s about time the shires sat in the big chair. It is also time we had regional pow-wow rather than little town hall chiefs from Leeds and Manchester whose only interest is to ensure their own flower bed is watered. Its time for a northern assembly that punches above its weight for the benefit of all.