Thursday, 31 March 2016

My LT Column - Global terrorism.

Sadly terrorism has struck again and again and again. Just this month (March) suicide bombers callously carried out their cowardly acts of barbarism in Brussels, Istanbul (tourists), Ivory Coast (tourists), Anbar (council workers), Baghdad (inside football stadium), Aden and Lahore (children and families in a park).

In the first three months of this year so called Islamist terrorist acts have also occurred in; Kenya, Nigeria (village), Cameroon (market), Pakistan (third time - a university), Burkino Faso (big hotel), Istanbul (again- tourists), Jakarta (in the city), Iraq (shopping mall), Kabul (hotel), Kabul (again), Libya, Morocco, Libya (again), India, Mogadishu (beachside restaurant), Hurghada (tourists) and Marseille (Jewish school).

That’s 24 attacks January to March this year. The average being 8 a month.

At least 542 killed (38 of which in Belgium). The average death toll being 23.

At least 1063 injured or maimed from 16 of those callous acts. The average injured 66.

Children, families, ordinary people in most cases. So let's be absolutely clear;

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Saving Lancashire's Libraries.

Please sign the e-petition to help save Lancashire's historic library & museum services. Following £685m of cuts to @LancashireCC many of the counties libraries and museums will close throwing away hundreds of years of our history.

David Cameron and George Osborne are guilty of cultural vandalism for these facilities, once lost will never be brought back. Not only will many of the exhibits be lost but the skills and knowledge, the passion that has been invested in this history will be lost too. …

Rossendale Council standing up for people in supported housing

Rossendale Council have quite rightly raised the issue of Housing Benefit cuts to people in supported housing. They quite rightly point out that;
"The proposed change will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who totally depend on this specialist housing, and many are the most vulnerable people with nowhere else to turn – older people, the homeless, those with dementia, people with mental health problems, ex-veterans and women fleeing domestic violence.

According to the National Housing Federation, this change would hit vulnerable people by an average of £68 a week and at least 82,000 homes for these groups would be forced to close. In a recent survey by Inside Housing magazine 95% of supported housing providers would be forced to wind up housing schemes for the most vulnerable if the planned benefit cut goes ahead.

The cut will link the amount of housing benefit to the level of Local Housing Allowance but rents in supported housing are typically much higher than this due to the care element provided. Discretionary Housing Payments will go nowhere near addressing this shortfall leaving tenants with huge arrears if the benefit is capped."

"Keep Rossendale Valley Green" & stop the Tories building 5,000 more houses in Rossendale

Many people in Rossendale are angry at the Tory government for breaking a promise. A promise to let local people decide on planning decisions. Now Rossendale is being asked by government to build thousands of new properties in the valley.

"Keep Rossendale Valley Green" is a campaign that opposses the government's desire to build 5,000 houses in Rossendale.  Alyson Barnes, Rossendale Borough Council leader has written a letter to David Cameron asking him to reverse his government's decision to force the Council to build houses that will damage the Valley forever.   Over the last few weeks campaigners have been delivering Keep Rossendale Valley Green leaflet across the Valley and have been asking people to join the campaign by adding their name to Alyson's letter.
The campaign now has cross party support.

You too can sign the letter and read more about the campaign at keep rossendale valley green

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Dear Member of Parliament, Today CBI Director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, delivered a lecture at the London Business School on the economic impact of the UK leaving the European Union. At this event, PwC presented independent analysis they have conducted for the CBI which models two different scenarios for a “Brexit”:

1.     An optimistic ‘FTA scenario’ for leaving the EU: the UK signs a quick trade deal with the EU, keeps all its existing trade deals and signs a UK-US trade deal. Even in this scenario, UK GDP is projected to be 3% lower by 2020, with 550,000 jobs lost and GDP per household £2,100 lower.

2.    A less optimistic ‘WTO scenario’: the UK does not secure a deal with the EU and trades under WTO rules, but is able to recover its trade deals over the coming years and signs a UK-US trade deal. In this scenario, UK GDP could be lower by as much as £100bn – about 5% - by 2020, with 950,000 jobs lost and GDP per household £3,700 lower.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

My LT column: Libya is fast becoming a new haven for Da'esh.

Things are getting serious in Libya. Very serious. Potentially far more serious than Syria and Iraq where territory controlled by Da'esh is largely an empty dry dusty space hemmed in on four sides with a fraction of the oil.

Da'esh, helped by the huge revenue raising largely from oil in occupied Syria and Iraq are able to multiply and fund an army in Afghanistan and crucially North Africa.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

WaterAid campaign

Today WaterAid are highlighting the impact on women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa, who spend at least 16 million hours collecting water every single day – water which is often still unsafe to drink.

Monday, 21 March 2016

My Syrian refugee experience.

I went to see my sister recently backpacking along the southern Turkish coast where everyone lives and travels. The hinterland being a mountainous, snow capped, sparsely populated inhospitable region.

I thought I may see parts of the migrant flow as it is the obvious route for migrant flows across Turkey to The Greek Islands.

Travelling on a half empty local bus running along the beach with its dunes and palm trees every now and again a ramshackle tent or tents would appear. From a moving bus in another world it's hard to know what this means other than some form of poverty. I suspected it was in fact migrating Syrians?

Sunday, 20 March 2016

4Children, the national children and families charity; “Britain’s Families: Thriving or Surviving?”

Dear Mr Jones, I am getting in touch to let you know that 4Children, the national children and families charity, has today launched the findings of its “Britain’s Families: Thriving or Surviving?” inquiry, and to send you a copy of the final report which is attached.

Over the last six months, 4Children has heard from thousands of children, young people and parents to find out about what modern family life is like in Britain today.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Family and Childcare Trust’s annual Childcare Survey.

Dear Mr Jones, I am delighted to be able to share with you the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual Childcare Survey. This report – the 15th in a series – provides the most comprehensive analysis of childcare costs and availability in Britain.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Business rates: The next big Conservative attack on the north is coming...

The next Conservative attack on the north is coming. It is a big one. Huge.

At the moment all the business rates collected in London and the south are divided up equally across the country. That is fair. We all pay for swanky head offices in London and the South East gets £billions in infrastructure spending, is the centre of lucrative banking industry etc..

They are proposing to scrap that redistribution to councils outside the South East and London. Councils will keep it all. Alarm bells are ringing.

It is no surprise that Lancashire fairs badly and a piece of work commissioned by Hyndburn Labour shows just how bad it is if this scam, another one of Osborne's 'Tory beneficiary schemes' goes through. This after he: - took most local government savings for the north for 9 years running, - gave £300m to southern Tory shires who faced small or no cuts.

The table below looks complicated but isn't.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Accrington Victoria to be part of 12 month review of primary care

Spoke with Dr Mike Ions former CEO of East Lancs CCG (still involved) over rumours of the impending closure of the health access centre (HAC or Walk in Centre) at Accrington Victoria.

Contract will be extended to April 2017 pending a review of primary care starting April 2016. In other words a major reconfiguration. 

I believe the HAC should remain open and I have expressed my view to the CCG as I have little faith in the reconfiguration given Governments mishandling of NHS, the goal to simply save money and the out of touch idea that GPs are the answer to everything. 

I intend to promote the consultation and participate in the debate.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

@EnvAgency & gov't response to my questions on the flooding & flood prevention of the River Irwell.

@GrahamJones_MP: @EnvAgency & gov't response to my questions on the flooding & flood prevention of the River Irwell.

It is vital that we hold the government to account and that as the issue disappears from the media those that need help are not forgotten about.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

My LT column; 9 March 2016

My attitude to the EU Brexit vote on the 23rd June is more D-Day than Dunkirk.

My heart wants to leave but I’m being offered nothing, zilch, none, nichts, nada by the Leave campaign.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Owner of NIPA chemical site fined (with costs) £47,500 for large illegal waste dump

Back at the end of 2012 Oswaldtwistle experienced a storm of flies breeding from illegal waste dumped at the old NIPA chemical site. See old blogs with extensive photos.

As your MP and with the local Labour Council we undertook to do everything possible to solve this problem.

Promises to;
  1. liaise with residents; 
  2. ensure all public bodies turned up to public meetings; 
  3. controlled the fly infestation by chemical treatment; 
  4. work towards the polluters footing the £650,000 clean up bill and not the Council Tax payer (difficult if they chose liquidation); 
  5. to get them to clear the site quickly of 'hard to transfer' contaminated waste that required hundreds of truck loads and a road management plan. 
  6. to ask the EA to ensure that the offenders were prosecuted 
All those promises were kept.

This week the EA notified me of the result of the prosecutions they had pursued (see press statement below)

18 photographs on Flickr

Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Dept of Health response to Rossendale Council inquiry into local ambulance services.

The Dept of Health response to Rossendale Council inquiry into local ambulance services.

Watch the salt - avoiding salt in the foods that we eat

Watch the salt - avoiding salt in the foods that we eat

Many of us enjoy a bit of salt on our food. And you might think you don’t eat much salt, especially if you don’t add it to your food. But don’t be so sure.

What we don’t realise is that salt is hidden in everyday foods that don’t even taste that salty! Things like bread, breakfast cereal, ready meals, sauces, baked beans and pizza. In fact, three quarters of the salt that we eat is found in the foods we buy.

Friday, 4 March 2016

This week the Government published the results of its public consultation on the future of the BBC

This week the Government published the results of its public consultation on the future of the BBC, with over 190,000 detailed responses showing that the British public overwhelmingly support the BBC and its special place in UK broadcasting, as well as the importance of maintaining a universal, independent, high quality BBC in the next charter period. 

Over 80% of respondents believe the BBC is effectively serving audiences and around 75% support the licence fee as the best method of funding the BBC and believe the BBC is delivering value for money. Almost three quarters of the respondents believe the BBC’s services are truly distinctive and about two-thirds think it has a positive wider impact on the market. 

You can read BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead’s speech to the Oxford Media Convention this week which further addresses distinctiveness here, and the BBC response to the report commissioned by Department for CMS on the market impact of the BBC’s TV, radio and online services here.

Graham Jones MP
Chair PLP DCMS Committee

Opportunities with Credit Unions for both the unions themselves and customers:

Don't use payday lenders or Brighthouse! 

Use your local First Choice Credit Union Accrington & Haslingden.

Accrington’s First Choice Credit Union is perhaps not a household name like other services on the high street such as high profile orange rent-to-own stores or or colourful payday lenders who both charge very high interest rates.

Credit Unions like First Choice provide a financial community in which everyone benefits – there’s no third parties to gain profits and they are an excellent alternative to an arguably dangerous dependency upon Pay Day loan companies. Not only are Credit Unions accessible to people of varying financial wealth/stability but your money is safe with them – protected in the same way as with a normal savings account. Suitable for issues such as small loans Credit Unions prove to be an accessible way of getting the financial aid you require without the danger of high interest companies.

Tragic gambling addict took his own life after “losing control” and splashing thousands on FOBTs

When will the government take action? I stood to ask a question on FOBTs ion Thursday but didn't get called.

Last week the Mirror reported the tragic tale of a 27 year old carpenter named Ryan Myers who took his own life after losing control of his addiction to FOBTs and getting himself in thousands of pounds of debt.

Frank Field's Bill To Direct Cash Automatically To Poor Children Wins Cross-Party Backing

I am delighted to support Frank Fields Bill (unlikely to progress this year alas) Free School Meals (Automatic Registration of Eligible Children) Bill. The Bill was due to receive its second reading this Friday.

This is important for Hyndburn and Lancashire for two reasons. All children below the age of 7 are automatically entitled to free school meals which means parents do not register their child's eligibility. Stigma is one barrier but another reason is it is not necessary. Except it is. For every child from a limited means background entitled to receive a free school meal triggers a extra payment to that school (known as  the pupil premium).

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

My irreverent LT column: The cabin baggage nightmare

Michael O'Leary is to blame. He of Ryanair.

No longer do people desire to put luggage where it belongs - in the hold. Today’s traveller has become conditioned. They have abandoned the get lucky destination carousel containing the multi-coloured suitcases and apparel for the nightmare that is the fight for overhead cabin storage. A nightmare that has spread like a pandemic to every other airline.

It was O'Leary, the pied piper of cheaper than cheap airways who began charging for hold luggage and in doing so sending hordes of ‘lets get there first' passengers seeking their piece of cabin storage real estate. A black friday every day on a full Ryanair flight.

Congratulations to Martholme Greenway

Congratulations to Martholme Greenway who have secured funding for the development of the first phase of the greenway project. The funding is from the Bags of Help scheme that is being run by Tesco's and Martholme Greenway have got through to the final round in which the exact level of funding will be determined.

This is to be determined by a public vote in the local Tesco stores between the 27th Feb and 6th March 2016 where the group with the greatest number of votes will receive £12,000 the next £10,000 and the third £8,000 for their project.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

My speech opposing government plans to shrink the UK pharmacy network

Many issues where raised during the debate last week which I agreed with so in my 8 minutes I focused on the future importance of Healthy Living Pharmacies (see my previous article on this in Hyndburn) and the trend towards warehouse pharmacies and the sharp practice (with reference to Hyndburn) which we may see in the future. I have been supported by many health professional in Hyndburn. But come on: it's obvious??

Apple verses MI5 and the British security services - update

Update: I wrote an article below about the pending Surveillance Bill which has had second reading and what this means for your mobile phone maker particularly given Apple's stateside stance int eh USA with eh FBI over the the privacy of California terrorists iPhone. Whilst Apple are taking a muted view, Facebook, Yahoo and others aren't. This article is a good update on the issue.