Archive | October, 2010

View From the Commons – The New Generation

Parliament closed for three weeks during the party conference season, but returning there this week  it felt like a lifetime.

Following the relative orderly calm of the Lib Dem conference, the Labour leadership contest dominated the airwaves. Reactions and counter reactions were sought by commentators desperate for some good old fashioned in-fighting. The new leader ‘worked’ the conference tirelessly meeting with delegates from across the country and the wider movement, and was quick to assert his desire to unite the party rather than repeat the divisive mistakes of the past.

The leader’s speech is always a Conference highlight but this year, more than normally, the pressure was on. Ed’s speech had something for everyone, from his background introduction to his parents past, fleeing death at the hands of the Nazis, to setting out his pride in Labour’s successes, his contrition over past failures and finally his optimistic vision for Britain on behalf of the new generation of Labour politicians.

The week of Tory Conference was spent back home in Chesterfield. The chaotic and ill thought out announcement of the cuts to child benefit was hotly followed by the plans for huge rises to tuition fees that the Lib Dem party seem willing to support – having opposed all tuition fees only a few months ago.

On Saturday, I attended the protest march against the Dunston incinerator where hundreds of men, women and children joined politicians of every hue and business owners to express their opposition to the plans for the incineration plant. The final decision will be taken on the 19th October at 1pm at County Hall in Matlock, the public are invited to attend.

Whilst marching with objectors a phone call came through: “Would I be available to take a phone call from Ed Miliband at 130pm?”

 I must admit my thoughts immediately turned to the shadow ministerial team that Ed would be putting together, but it seemed so unlikely that I might be involved just a few months into my parliamentary career. The call when it came was brief. Within five minutes I had been appointed to and accepted a place in the Shadow Education Team.

Two days later at 236pm I stood at the despatch box for the first time. The first member of the 2010 intake to speak from the despatch box. My question was solid if unspectacular – about the importance of recognising the strength of a school’s intake as well as its outputs- but for a guy from Chesterfield, who had left school at 17 and been married in a little two up two down in Birdholme, being able to deliver it on behalf of our schoolchildren, my constituents and all the people who have helped to get me there meant the world to me.

I went to bed on Monday night proud, humble and determined- it’s been quite a few weeks!

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Spending Review “betrayal” will damage state education, says Toby Perkins MP

Toby Perkins, Labour’s new front bench Shadow Education Minister joined shadow secretary of state for Education, Andy Burnham in condemning the government’s ‘Pupil premium con’.

Commenting on today’s Spending Review announcements, Andy Burnham said,

“George Osborne’s words are already unravelling. The small print shows that he has sold out our children. The much vaunted pupil premium turns out to be a complete con.

“It does not come from outside the schools budget as the Coalition Agreement promised – we find out today that it is to be recycled from within it, creating huge winners and losers among schools.

“Nick Clegg has failed to secure his “reddest of red lines” in another huge broken promise to our young people. He has chosen a power premium for himself and his friends over a pupil premium for our children.”

Pupil premium a con

The Coalition Agreement said the pupil premium would be funded ‘from outside the schools budget‘. Today’s Green Book makes clear that in fact ‘the premium will sit within a generous overall settlement for schools’. They have broken the terms of the Coalition Agreement and Nick Clegg has not secured his ‘reddest of red lines’.

School funding per pupil cut in real terms

Including the pupil premium, the real terms increase on the schools budget will be just 0.1%. Because of increasing pupil numbers, this will amount to a real terms cut in funding per pupil. The new premium is simply recycling existing funding from one school to another, producing winners and losers. As a result, some schools are facing significant cuts, hence reports today of 40,000 teaching jobs at risk.

Gove sell out on school building

Today’s statement also confirms massive cuts of 60% to the school building programme, twice the level of overall capital spending reduction. This is the biggest capital cut of any Department outside local government, flatly contradicting the Chancellor’s claims to be investing in our children’s future.

Gove breaks promise to young people as EMA replaced

Today’s statement confirmed another broken promise from the Coalition – Michael Gove said in March ‘we won’t scrap EMA’ but today we hear it is to be replaced. Scrapping EMA, alongside massive hikes to tuition fees, means that the Government’s claims to support social mobility will ring very hollow for young people from less well off backgrounds.

Toby Perkins said: “School children and parents have been sadly betrayed. The new money that was promised has disappeared into the mist, and all that’s left is a re-direction of funds that looks set to send money from more deprived Councils to Shire and rural counties. The cuts to our next generation of school buildings are more drastic than even we dared fear, and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance removes the last vestiges of fairness from a statement that will go down as the day this government’s claim to fairness was exposed as a sham.”

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MP and local chess champion face off at the House of Commons

MP and local chess champion face off at the House of Commons

14 year old Emma Bentley, a world renowned youth chess champion from Chesterfield, met her local MP Toby Perkins at the House of Commons for a head to head battle. The young superstar and Mr. Perkins also discussed the Chess for Schools programme and ways of getting more young people involved in the sport.

Mr Perkins has been an advocate of chess for many years in Chesterfield including his involvement with the school’s club at Holymoorside Primary. The Chesterfield MP is a firm believer in the game’s advantages in education and would like to see more schools developing their chess clubs and becoming involved with inter school competitions. Ms Bentley and Mr. Perkins were joined yesterday by International Chess Master Malcolm Pein who promotes and sponsors England’s biggest ever chess event.

The match was on a knife-edge, with the young champion eventually showing why she is one of the best players in the world. Mr. Perkins, not to be defeated without a challenge, used his experience well and came very close to producing a shock victory.

Mr Perkins said:-

“Chess is a great game for young and older people to play. Emma is one of the best in the world for her age, as I found out very quickly during our match, but everyone can enjoy chess at their own level. Emma is a fantastic talent and I am delighted to be working with her to develop interest in chess across Chesterfield and the country”.

After the game Miss Bentley said:-

“It was a great pleasure to meet Toby and play chess. We both had a good game and a busy day. I very much look forward to playing him again in a return match in chesterfield possibly in a school promotion of chess”.

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MP and campaigners celebrate as Incinerator plans are dismissed

MP and campaigners celebrate as Incinerator plans are dismissed

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins celebrated  with delighted residents, businesses and campaigners this evening as Derbyshire County Council rejected plans for a waste incinerator plant on Dunston Road, Chesterfield. Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, hailed the ‘Chesterfield Against Incineration’ campaign group as the DCC Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly to dismiss the multi-million pound development.

The campaign group headed by local residents Julie Harrington and Karon Glynn were supported by Mr. Perkins and local councillors at County Hall, Matlock where the Planning Committee gave its decision.  With the meeting room packed to the rafters, Mr. Perkins condemned the Case Officer’s decision to recommend approval for the development on environmental and economic grounds. Despite Cyclamax having the option of appealing the decision, this has been seen as a major victory for those concerned about the impact the incinerator may have on health, local businesses and the environment.

Speaking after hearing the decision Mr. Perkins said:-

“I am delighted that all the hard work of Julie, Karon, Richard and all those who feared for the health and prosperity of their local community has finally paid off. In the end the evidence in support of rejecting the application was overwhelming. Cyclamax may well decide to appeal this decision, but this is a fantastic example of local champions fighting for what they believe in and succeeding. This decision is good for local residents, good for the economy, and good for Chesterfield”.

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The axe falls: Devastating cuts to adult services spark MP campaign

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins says he is appalled that disabled and elderly people in Derbyshire have seen huge cuts in their care packages. Self Directed Support packages aimed at providing much needed help to most vulnerable in society have been slashed by cost cutters at Derbyshire County Council. After seeing her package cut from £12,000 to £4992 a year, severely disabled Ruth Grice has contacted Toby Perkins MP. Mrs. Grice, who is partially blind and who suffers from several serious illnesses, is just one of many people to fall victim of Derbyshire County Council’s new assessment tool.

Far from being a fair and progressive move, the recently introduced ‘SACE Overview Assessment’ tool seems to be taking away support for those who require it most, leading to the laying off care workers who provide such an outstanding service. Mrs. Grice has already had to cope with the loss of her carer and now relies almost entirely on her husband, who is disabled also.

Mr. Perkins said:-

I am appalled with Derbyshire County Council’s treatment of Mrs. Grice. However, she is just one of hundreds of people across Chesterfield who will feel the full force of such ruthless cuts. Everybody accepts that efficiencies have to be made but this appears to be an open attack on the very people this Government and Council should be supporting”.

Mrs. Grice added:-

“Direct Payment cuts will put more strain on existing family carers, young and old, and in future they are unlikely to obtain respite care. The savage cuts will disempower disabled people who really need these monies. My service has been cut by two thirds making one support worker redundant and reducing the other’s hours by a third”.

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Problem skate park to be completed after MP demands resolution

Problem skate park to be completed after MP demands resolution

The problem skate park site located behind B&Q, which has been the scene of criminal damage and anti social behavior, is to be completed by a new business partnership. After meeting with representatives of local businesses, council officials and police over many weeks, Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, has been informed that the new investor in the site will be unveiled in just two weeks time.

The former Bryan Donkins site off Derby Road has been a constant drain on police resources and tax payer’s money since Thornfield’s, developers of the site, went into administration earlier this year. With no lighting or CCTV on the skate park itself, the facility has been a magnet for those intent on causing trouble for genuine skaters and local employees alike. Mr. Perkins had been contacted by dozens of constituents expressing deep concern about the skate park, which led to discussions with the local constabulary, B&Q management and the skaters themselves. The news of a near resolution comes as great relief for those who had previously feared to use or work near the skate park, particularly after dark.

Mr. Perkins said:-

The news that a firm has all but signed on the dotted line is great for Chesterfield and for those who have been put off using what is potentially a fantastic facility for young people in our area. Genuine skaters deserve a site which is not only challenging but which is safe for them to visit with their friends. I am informed that the new developers will be completing the skate park as part of a new business park off the A61, which is not just good news for local skaters but for the local economy too”.

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Toby Perkins MP joins Opposition front bench

Toby Perkins MP joins Opposition front bench

After just six months inside the House of Commons, Toby Perkins, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, has landed a new and elevated role on the Opposition Front Bench in the House of Commons. Working under Andy Burnham MP at the Department for Education, Mr. Perkins is now at the very heart of the ‘New Generation’ of Labour Party MPs under the leadership of Ed Miliband MP.

This promotion so soon after his victory in Chesterfield in May follows the Financial Times’ article in which Mr. Perkins was hailed as one of the top six new MPs in the House of Commons.

After receiving the news of his promotion Mr. Perkins said:-

“Becoming the Member of Parliament for Chesterfield was a dream come true for me and to now sit on the Opposition Front Bench is another great honour and privilege. I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to take to task the Coalition government who are planning to dismantle state education at almost every level”.

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MP Intervention saves Derby Road residents’ car park

MP Intervention saves Derby Road residents’ car park

Derby Road residents celebrated last week with the news that Tesco’s have agreed to provide parking spaces for those who had previously relied on the former Angel Public House site. They had enlisted the support of Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, who had approached Tesco’s HQ following his meeting with Father Flynn and concerned locals.

With the news that Chesterfield Borough Council had leased the former Angel site to Tesco’s with little consultation or consideration for those who had parked in its car park form decades, residents presented Mr. Perkins with a petition highlighting their concerns. The campaign group, including elderly and disabled members, was backed by the Chesterfield MP with several letters directed to Tesco’s corporate services department. The news emerged late last week that the supermarket giant had agreed to provide parking spaces for around 15 vehicles, on a trial basis, with a view to the arrangement becoming permanent.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“Car parking is an increasingly difficult problem for many communities so I am delighted that Tesco’s have supported our campaign to help local residents along this stretch of Derby Road. However, the wider battle to improve our parking facilities across Chesterfield will go on”.

Melanie Chiswell, Corporate Affairs Manager of Tesco’s added:-

“We’re pleased to be able to help local residents where we can, and this is our way of showing our commitment to the local community. This is an unusual request, but we are always happy to investigate new ways of helping our customers and neighbours whom we meet in our stores every day.”

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries in Chesterfield and Staveley so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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