Archive | November, 2010

Open for Business: MP hails Franke Sissons a “shining example of manufacturing” in Chesterfield

Despite a recession hitting the construction industry hard, Chesterfield based Franke Sisson Ltd, a manufacturer of sanitary equipment, continues to defy the odds and stands as one of the most reputable businesses in the town. But during a meeting with Managing Director, Andy Dukelow, Labour Member of Parliament Toby Perkins discussed the many challenges facing Franke Sissons and all UK manufacturers under difficult economic circumstances.

Since 2008, the business has expanded rapidly into overseas markets. Franke Sissons is now a significant player providing washroom facilities to public and private organizations in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, as well as many EU countries. However, the Government’s decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future initiative and Private Public Finance projects plus continuing problems with the regulation of sanitary facilities from developing economies continues to put strain on the company, which celebrated its 225th Anniversary last year.

A monthly meeting with Unite , the trade union responsible for representing the vast majority of its employees, to progress the working in partnership agreement ,and the decision by employees to accept a 2 year pay freeze from 2008, has meant the business still has a bright future despite severe short term concerns .

After the meeting with Franke Sissons Mr. Perkins said:-

“Franke Sissons is a shining example of manufacturing in Chesterfield, and represents a company battling in the face of drastic cuts to the building of schools, hospitals and prisons. This business faces significant challenges, not least with cheap imports from China and elsewhere, but having looked in the warehouse and the offices at HQ, it is clear to see that Franke Sissons continues to be a top class firm providing Chesterfield with skilled jobs and investment. They have a good relationship with a responsible trade union and everyone there is battling to save and create jobs in Chesterfield”.

Mr. Andy Dukelow, Managing Director, added:-

“Although the last two years have been difficult our ongoing partnerships with customers, investment in new products and  innovation and a commitment by everyone at the company to embrace  lean processes, has ensured we remain the market leader in our field and can compete strongly in all Export markets ”

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School sport partnerships- ideology or idiocy?

School sport partnerships- ideology or idiocy?

Of the many billions of pounds that the government have cut in their ideological zeal to shrink the state, few have met with the passion and unified outrage that have greeted the £162m abolition of the School Sport Partnership grant.

For readers of the right wing press it may come as a surprise to learn that competitive school sport has undergone a huge transformation for the better over the last few years.

The Conservative orthodoxy was that Labour were anti-competition and our schools full of callow or obese youths who would rather play on computer games than venture on to a sports field.

Our school teachers were, the same version of history goes, well intentioned but naive sorts, who would much rather have children doing dance or hopscotch than expose any child to the trauma of a sporting contest in which someone was deemed to have ‘won’ or ‘lost’.

Meanwhile in the real world, hundreds of thousands of children have represented their schools in competitions up and down the land in a huge variety of sports.

The School Sports Partnerships have brought coaching expertise that would never have been available to individual schools, particularly to primary schools, and set in place a network of talent identification that has the potential to provide a world class sporting legacy for the future.

The success of Britain’s approach wasn’t just recognised here. In Australia where they know a thing or two about developing world class sports people, the work of School Sport Partnerships was greatly admired.

Wenda Donaldson, Director of Community Sport at the Australian Sports Commission, said: “I am astounded that such an amazing and world leading initiative has been lost to the communities they serviced.”

And it is hardly surprising; the number of children who represented their schools in sporting competition against other schools in 2009/10 is an impressive 49%, up 14% in four years.

But even this figure belies the true extent of the success the programme enjoyed, because the overall figures are skewed by the reduction in school sport that occurs as Year 11-13 children approach exams.

In Year 6, 70% of boys are involved in competition against other schools, and the percentage of children enjoying at least two hours of sport in school has risen from 25%when Labour came to power to 95% now.

A host of leading sporting stars have risen up against the decision, with Olympic sprint gold medallist Darren Campbell , badminton star Gail Emms and England goalkeeper David James amongst the chorus of disapproval.

The government have adopted two strategies in the face of the clamour for them to back down. Claiming simultaneously that nothing has changed and that the improvements in school sport so dramatically evidenced are somehow imaginary.

Their suggestion that schools can retain School Sport Partnerships if they wish and fund them themselves is disingenuous. With growing dismay at the effect the ‘pupil premium’ is actually likely to have on deprived schools, the idea that schools will choose to prioritise school sport is risible. It was precisely this approach back in the 1980’s that saw our school sport decline so drastically then.

Alongside claiming that the evidence given to support School Sport Partnerships is somehow an illusion, the government claim they want to instead spend a fraction of the money saved on a School Olympics.

Whilst in itself this is fine, there are two problems. Firstly, they pretty much already exist; they are called the UK School Games and allow elite athletes to come through a series of local, county and regional competitions to compete in national finals.

And secondly, you guessed it, they rely heavily on the network of School Sport Partnerships to run the initial qualifying events and provide the coaching to identify the talent in the first place.

Sadly this policy decision seems typical of many being made by the government.

It starts with a false assertion, in this case that school sport is in decline. Once the false assertion has taken root, it is followed by the conclusion that abolishing current systems will improve things. Finally, the belief in ‘localism’ then leads to the end of collaborative working, in favour of everyone looking after themselves.

Bizarrely in this case, following the new Tory dogma will not only destroy the public sector network that would have enabled the government to deliver their school Olympics. It will also abandon thousands of school sport ‘ambassadors’ – an army of volunteer sports coaches trained up at secondary schools who deliver the primary school curriculum – the very embodiment of the Big Society, you would think.

So surely the Conservative government’s ideological drive for a more localised and competitive Britain has many unintended victims and a broad range of critics: from Olympic stars to head teachers in some of our most deprived schools, from an army of volunteer helpers to the flagship school Olympics – this isn’t ideology it’s idiocy!

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Veteran Lays Wreath at Chesterfield Remembrance Service

Veteran Lays Wreath at Chesterfield Remembrance Service

Charles Smith MBE, aged 90 and a blind veteran of WW2, laid a wreath on behalf of the Chesterfield Labour Party at the Remembrance Day parade in the town on November 11th. He was guided by Councillor John Burrows.
 
Charles has been a member of the Labour Party for 75 years. Despite being born into a predominantly Tory supporting family, he became interested in Socialism in his teenage years and has been working in a voluntary capacity for the party ever since.
 
Charles has carried out many voluntary community service roles, from distributing gas masks before the outbreak of WW2, to working on Patients Forums for the NHS well into his eighties, until his blindness became too much of an obstacle. Throughout his career as a manager for the Dept of Employment, he was constantly an active trade unionist, receiving honorary life membership of the Society of Civil and Public Servants.
 
Recently, during the last Labour Party leadership campaign, Charles had lunch with David Milliband. David later mentioned this during one of his campaign speeches, saying “When Charles Smith told me that he had shaken hands with only one Labour leader George Lansbury, and that he was still fighting for working people today, I knew that nothing could break the spirit of the Labour Party.

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Expenses Update- September- October

My expenses claimed over September and october are as follows:

Constituency Office costs:

The Chesterfield constituency office cost £1495 per quarter; this includes rent, gas, electric, water, rates and car parking spaces. The payments for the July- September quarter and the October- December quarters have both been claimed within this period.

Phone Bills

July/ August £91.33

Telephone socket £26.32

Stationery _£136.91

Hire of Staveley Hall for surgery £34.88

Travel costs

There has been an error on my travel costs so they are predominantly not currently showing on my expenses will update shortly when resolved.

Staff Travel £150 (member of staff attending training event in London

Costs associated with London flat

Electricity bill £40.21

Rent

September £1430

October £1430

Gas £5.97

Council Tax £597.98

Tenancy fees associated with renting the property £206.75

I believe that this summarises all the invoices claimed in September and October, if you have any queries with any of these, then contact me and I will be happy to answer your questions.

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Government Ministers make ‘elementary errors’ over SSP

Government Ministers have been accused of making ‘elementary errors’ over cuts that will decimate school sport.

When talking down the progress made in School sport since the advent of School Sports Partnerships, Government Minister Tim Loughton twice claimed that “only one in five children played competitive sport”.

In fact figures obtained from the School Sport Survey show that around half of all children have competed for their school against other schools, and that participation rates have risen 14% in the last three yearsthanks largely to School Sports Partnerships.

Toby Perkins, Labour’s Shadow Minister For Children and Families said: “It is very revealing that the Minister responsible for defending school sport should make such an elementary error. A strong framework for school sport participation is being fundamentally dismantled by a government whose rhetoric does not match their policies. That’s why leading sports figures like Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell and Badminton star Gail Emms have been so scathing about this reckless cut.”

The government simply won’t admit the clear success that this Labour programme had before it was axed by the Coalition. That’s why Michael Gove refused to meet Baroness Campbell, head of the Youth Sports Trust who had helped deliver these great results, before he abolished school sport partnerships funding.

But Gove wouldn’t admit this either, giving the impression that he had been in regular contact with Baroness Campbell without telling Parliament that he’d refused numerous requests to meet her  in the run up to the Comprehensive spending review that saw funding to her life’s work obliterated.

“It’s a shame that instead of the Ministers admitting that a generation of potential sports stars of the future have been sacrificed to follow the Tory cuts ideology, they have used false statistics to pursue a false argument.”

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Cuts to School Sport Partnership will “damage the health and opportunities of young people” says MP

Toby Perkins has held emergency talks with senior figures at Brookfield School, Chesterfield, after the news broke that the Coalition Government was to withdraw the £160 million funding set aside for the School Sport Partnership initiative. The Labour Member of Parliament, recently promoted to the Front Bench Education Team responsible for sport in schools, met with the Headteacher, the Partnership Development Manager, and Young Ambassadors of the SSP Programme to discuss the catastrophic impact this decision will have on the health and opportunities of thousands of children in Chesterfield and the UK more widely.

The School Sport Partnership had provided significantly more young people the opportunity to compete in a broad range of sports, from organized inter school football competitions to cheerleading. In Chesterfield, the percentage of children who compete in intra school competition during an academic year saw an incredible rise from 55% in 2006/07 to 81% in 2009/10 as a direct consequence of the School Sport Partnership. The percentage of children participating in a minimum of 2 hours of physical education per week also rose significantly, from 65% in 2006/07 to 88% in 2009/10.

Mr. Perkins has called into question the seriousness of the Government’s promise of a lasting Olympic Legacy and damned a decision which will lead to a rise in obesity among young people.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“Contrary to what the Coalition is telling us, the School Sport Partnership worked, and Brookfield School is undeniable proof of this. The figures speak for themselves, with young people getting involved in sport at all levels through SSP funding. Everyone involved in school sport can see that the Coalition is making a catastrophic decision that will ultimately damage the health and opportunities of young people in Chesterfield and the UK. Our young people are being let down badly, and the Olympic legacy is being pulled from under the feet of a generation who had absolutely nothing to do with the near collapse of the banking-led recession”.

Mark Tournier, Partnership Development Manager at Brookfield School added:-

“The impact of withdrawing funding from the School Sport Partnership (SSP) network will impact on the opportunities in PE and Sport for every young person in Chesterfield. Since the inception of the SSP every young person has been exposed to a wider variety and increased number of PE and Sport opportunities. This has increased the likelihood of finding a sport of interest and participating in this as part of a healthy lifestyle. The SSP programme has allowed pupils to be integrated and connected to the wider community through direct links to community clubs and groups. This is further demonstrated within the leadership and volunteering programme, allowing pupils to develop personal skills for the future. Pupils of all ages have increased opportunities in competition, both in traditional and nontraditional sports, with a structured pathway including competition within school and against other schools leading to district and county finals.   PE and sport has been used as a driver to improve individual motivation, commitment, independence, behaviour, attendance, concentration and attainment of children across Chesterfield”.

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toby_ed

Why Andy Burnham is right to say Labour won’t campaign on AV

Following Andy Burnham’s sensible announcement that Labour would not campaign in either direction in the AV debate, a number of AV supporters, led by the usually impressive Will Straw on Left Foot Forward  have been attempting to pressure our leader Ed Miliband to change this view and instead to come out as a party in favour of AV. I wanted to explain why I think this would be a huge mistake.

There is much else to say about why the AV proposal is wrong for electing our House of Commons.  I will write again about the other reasons why I believe that everyone regardless of their political affiliation should vote No to AV, but in this article I want to explain why I think Andy and Ed are right and Will is very wrong.

I will turn shortly to what I see as the weaknesses in Will’s arguments, but firstly, I would like to explain why regardless of which side of the fence you start from Andy Burnham’s decision is the right one.

The elections in 2011 will probably be the most important electoral test facing us in this parliament. Elections to the Scottish parliament and Welsh Assemblies will set in place the devolved administrations that will still be in place when the 2015 General election is called, and Labour’s fightback in local government must start with the key local government elections across the shire counties of England.

The AV debate is an unwelcome distraction to these vital elections, but even more so if we are going to expect the tens of thousands of Labour Party members who will be voting No in the referendum to go out campaigning for a viewpoint they don’t share, have never been consulted on, and in many cases will mean their own political extermination.

I do also recognise that there are equally many people who believe we should be voting Yes in this referendum and, perhaps see political salvation for their local interest in the vote being successful, and so would not presume to foist my opinion into their leaflets either.

Fundamentally, the party does not have a settled view on the subject. this is underlined by a recent Labourlist survey which showed more Labour members surveyed opposed to the change than in favour of it. So to undermine crucial local election campaigns would be disrespectful to the Councillors, MSP’s, AM’s and local activists whose attention should be focused on the local elections.

Some might choose to undermine the arguments of those who speak out of personal self-preservation or self advancement. But to do so would be to ignore the fact that political self interest is the elephant in the room throughout the AV debate. It was present in our original conversion to AV, to the Lib Dems support of it, and to the Tories opposition. It is also relevant to Labour people now fighting shy of it and Tory’s now considering whether it might after all not be so bad.

Will Straw makes five central points in support of his assertion.

 Firstly that Labour committed to an AV referendum in the General election and that Ed Miliband said he would campaign for it during the leadership election.

I accept that the party’s inclusion of AV in the manifesto means that if this had stood alone in the bill presented to parliament we would have had to support the referendum, but it is a long distance from that acceptance to saying that we should campaign for it. Ed made it clear during the leadership campaign (as did most of the other leadership candidates) that he would campaign for it, but at no time did he say that he would commit the party to campaigning for it, many people who voted for him despite his support for AV would be left very disillusioned to find that he had now strengthened his view to commit supporters and opponents of AV to supporting it.

Will’s second point was that Labour has to prove it can work with the Lib Dems on areas of shared concern.  On tuition fees, VAT, EMA and Housing benefit, the Labour Party is adopting positions that are in line with the Liberal Democrat position prior to the election . They have abandoned their principles and genuine offers to work together on all of these policies, but now we should, according to Will, race to the Lib Dems aid and introduce a policy on which the Lib Dems (and Nationalists) will be the only certain winners.

His third point about candidates being capable of fighting for their own election whilst fighting the referendum was frankly naive and insensitive. Labour candidates that want to be focused on their own elections, have more than enough difficulties getting activists to work with them without asking them to promote a measure that many of them oppose and some of them will consider will mean their political extinction. Will seems to be operating from the position that the argument for AV within the party is largely won, he is VERY wrong on this, the opposition to it goes much deeper than he appears to realise.

His fourth contention is the most flawed. Namely that AV is in the party’s interest. At the recent General election, Labour would have lost a lot of seats to the Lib Dems on AV; Ashfield, Bristol NW, Rochdale,  Edinburgh South  (and yes, Chesterfield) to name a few. The argument of self-interest must accept this but contend that it would be outbalanced by more victories in Labour- Tory marginals, due to Lib Dem second preferences. At the 1997 election that would have been true; in 2010 it would have been less true, but it is possible that the balance of power would still have been in Labour’s favour. However is Will really saying that after five years of watching Tory and Lib Dem policy converge that those people that were still voting Lib Dem at that point would then vote Labour with their second vote?

Surely it is obvious that those Lib Dems who are appalled by the Lib Dem sell outs in this parliament are likely to have already come to Labour, and those who have stuck with the Lib Dems because they believe that Nick Clegg’s judging the situation right, will agree with Nick that the Tories are the best second choice.

Will finishes by claiming that the bond between the parties leadership’s is too tight for a defeat in the AV referendum to deliver a hammer blow to the coalition. I largely agree with this, which underlines my point above about why this could be very damaging to Labour in Lab/ Tory marginals. But surely he can see that the prospect of fighting the election under AV will bolster the Lib Dems in the coalition to feel considerably more confident in their ability to withstand the unpopularity of government. Similarly a loss in the AV referendum leaves the Lib Dems exposed and places extra leftward pressures on the future policy direction of the coalition.

So, for the reasons listed above, Andy and Ed are absolutely right to say that the party will keep the elections separate. Some of us support AV, some don’t. I don’t ask Will to march round the streets arguing against AV, so I hope he won’t ask me to support it.

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“Families in Chesterfield could be up to £9 a week worse off because of housing allowance cuts” says Toby Perkins

Almost 1250 Chesterfield people will lose up to £11 a week when radical changes to housing benefit are introduced, according to the Town’s MP, Toby Perkins.

The families affected include 350 housing benefit recipients who currently work, figures released by the Housing charity, Shelter. Additionally, over 100 of those falling victim will be over the age of 65. Senior citizens are also fearful of cuts to other vital benefits without which many would find it impossible to stay above the poverty line.  

Speaking prior to an emergency House of Commons debate on the subject, Mr. Perkins said:-

“In a desparate effort to appear tough on so called ‘benefit cheats’ and pander to the right wing press, the Coalition is axing vital support from families who earn low incomes, pensioners and the unemployed. These are benefits for those who most rely on housing allowance for decent accommodation for themselves and their children.

This is a tremendous threat to Chesterfield, with many housing charities warning that many of our people may be thrown onto the streets as a direct result of this hasty and irresponsible proposal.

Douglas Alexander MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added:-

“The Government’s plans mean that 700,000 of the country’s poorest people, including around 640 people in Chesterfield, will be on average £9 a week worse off with no time for individuals or landlords to adjust. This is a big drop in income for people struggling to make ends meet. The Government just doesn’t seem to understand that higher homelessness, like longer dole queues make it harder not easier to deal with the deficit.”

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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

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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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