Archive | December, 2010

MP presents awards at ‘Outstanding’ Brookfield Community College

MP presents awards at ‘Outstanding’ Brookfield Community College

Brookfield Community College celebrated yesterday as former A-Level students and teaching staff gathered at the Annual Presentation Evening. Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, was invited to present outstanding achievers with certificates and trophies, with many travelling back from university to attend the occasion.

Many of those receiving awards had achieved several top grades at A-Level, with several obtaining the new A* award. Hannah Rogerson, now studying at Nottingham University came away with the Sheffield Hallam University Academic Achievement Award. From modern languages to textiles, former pupils had excelled across all the subjects available to them in staggering numbers. The event concluded with a speech by Mr. Perkins who stressed the importance, and value, of a good education and the opportunities open to high achievers in new technology driven industries.

After the event Mr. Perkins said:-

“It was tremendous to see so many former Brookfield students of the highest quality attend the Presentation Evening. So many have achieved outstanding grades throughout their education and I have no doubt that scores will go on to great things in the future in their chosen fields. With so many young adults going on to the top universities, it is a clear reflection of the quality of the teaching and leadership at Brookfield. This year’s cohort has a lot to live up to if they are to challenge the group of students I had the pleasure of meeting last night!”

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Kids 1 Gove 0: Schools celebrate after Government U-turn on School Sport Partnership funding

Kids 1 Gove 0: Schools celebrate after Government U-turn on School Sport Partnership funding

Yesterday Michael Gove, the Education Minister, bowed to pressure from teachers, pupils and sporting celebrities as he announced the School Sport Partnership programme would continue until at least next summer. Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield and Member of the Education Team on the Opposition Front Bench, was in the House of Commons as Gove performed yet another climb down in an error prone start to his ministerial career.

In October the Education Minister announced that the SSP would be axed from March 2011, bringing to a close the £162 million programme focused on raising sport participation in schools and improving the health of young people across the UK. As part of a national campaign, involving Olympic stars Dame Kelly Holmes and Darren Campbell, Mr. Perkins had held emergency talks with local secondary school, Brookfield Community College. The Sports College had previously seen hundreds of additional students participating in activities from table tennis to mountaineering, improving dietary education, fitness and academic attainment.

In a staggering climb down Michael Gove announced that the Government had decided to allocate a further £47 million to keep the SSPs going until next summer. The minister also intimated that schools would be given £65million to cover two years of additional sports teaching after existing funding, under the School Sports Partnership, ends in the summer.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“This is a partial success for the thousands of young people across the country who currently benefit from the SSP programme, getting fit and enjoying all that comes with an active lifestyle. On the one hand, the Government has admitted the folly of their original decision to cut this programme. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that SSPs or additional spending to improve sporting participation in schools will exist in any significant way after the Olympics. This would be a hammer blow to any real Olympic Legacy and a huge backwards step for youngsters of all abilities and backgrounds”. 

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

“I am pleased the Government has recognized the impact School Sport Partnerships have made on the lives of young people in Chesterfield. The announcement of further funding supporting a School Sport Coordinator type role is a small step in the right direction”.

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Toby Perkins MP supports Warm Homes Campaign 2010

Toby Perkins MP supports Warm Homes Campaign 2010

Toby Perkins MP is backing National Energy Action’s Warm Homes Campaign 2010 and is stressing that a national energy efficiency drive is vital in combating rising levels of fuel poverty.

The support comes after recent Government statistics revealed that the numbers of households in fuel poverty is continuing to escalate, with NEA estimating that the figure in England and Wales has reached over 4.1 million.

Toby Perkins Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, said:

“The Warm Homes Campaign highlights that there are still millions of people who are simply struggling to keep their homes warm and protect their families from the ill effects of the cold. Fuel-poor households experience a number of detrimental health impacts and reductions in general wellbeing as a result of cold, damp living conditions. Whilst this is unacceptable, the campaign also demonstrates how help is available.  It also underlines how important it is that future government schemes are able to target support for the most vulnerable households effectively.

“The most important message this year is that there is help out there for vulnerable households. I urge everyone to contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to get help and advice on staying warm in their home this winter without the fear of fuel debt and ill health.”

NEA chief executive Jenny Saunders said:

“This campaign plays a vital role in ensuring members of the public, local politicians and MPs understand this link between energy efficiency and fuel poverty. By providing practical advice to local community groups and taking MPs to visit their constituents at home and hear firsthand about how they’ve benefitted from energy efficiency initiatives, we hope to help lift other families out of fuel poverty. I am delighted so many MPs have taken this opportunity.”

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Council compromise over community room closure

Council compromise over community room closure

At its meeting on 14th December the Cabinet of Chesterfield Borough Council decided to compromise over its original decision to close the community rooms at Monkwood Road, Dunston and Wimborne Crescent, Newbold. These two well-used community rooms will now be kept open and the Council will carry out checks over the next twelve months to see exactly how much use is made of the facilities by the community. The Council will then use this monitoring information to decide the long-term future of these two rooms.

The decision follows a recommendation in July by the Council’s Scrutiny Board to whom the Cabinet’s original decision was referred for consideration and review.

Spokesperson for Dunston and Moor Residents and Tenants Association, Graham King, said,

“This is a significant victory for the community groups who hold their meetings and activities in these two community rooms. It is also a triumph for common sense. It took a long public campaign that started back in September last year and involved several public meetings, two community petitions, two public demonstrations and referral of the Cabinet’s decision to the Scrutiny Board; but we got there in the end. At least we now know that the Council will collect accurate information about how much use is made of these facilities by the Community before they decide the long-term future of the two community rooms. Hopefully this time the Council will also identify and consult all the user groups before they make their final decision”.

Graham went on to say,

“The Association remains worried by the proposed big increase in the hire fees to be charged to community groups for hiring the rooms. In our opinion £20 +VAT for a hire period of up to three hours is far too much for a small community room. It is likely to discourage a lot of community groups from hiring the rooms. But at least the Council has said that it will not bring in the increase until June 2011. This gives the community groups who use these rooms at present some time to consider their options for the future.”

Chesterfield Member of Parliament, Toby Perkins MP paid tribute to the campaign run by Graham King and Dunston & Moor Residents and Tenants Association:

“Graham King, Mick Leverton, Mark Rayner, Gordon Simmons, Trevor Reynolds and all those involved in the campaign deserve a large vote of thanks for the principled, intelligent and determined way in which they were able to demonstrate the folly of this closure proposal. It is a real shame that 10 other facilities across the town will be closed without the opportunity to see if more could be done to promote their usage first. We will all be working to make sure that these facilities don’t just get a temporary reprieve but are permanently secured for the many community groups across Dunston and Whittington Moor who rely on these facilities”.

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Toby Perkins MP stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve

Toby Perkins MP stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield has attended an event at the House of Commons to learn about The Royal British Legion’s welfare work with the whole Armed Forces family.

At the event, Chesterfield was told about the charity’s new strapline, ‘Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve’, and about the difference the Legion is making in the local area. The MP also learnt more about the Legion’s ‘Time to do your bit’ campaign amongst MPs, as well as its concern that the Government should support bereaved Armed Forces families through a Chief Coroner’s Office.

Paul Mulingani, the Legion’s County Manager for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, said,

“It was great to see Toby; we really appreciated him making the time to drop in. Many people don’t realise that we spend over £1.2 million a week on helping both the serving and the ex-Service communities, including their families, so we were delighted to tell him about the range of services we provide. The Legion is currently celebrating its 90th Anniversary Year, and campaigning for the Armed Forces family is as important to us now as it was in 1921. We’re really pleased that 70% of MPs have pledged to do their bit as part of our ongoing ‘Time to do your bit’ campaign. People can find out if their MP has pledged at www.timetodoyourbit.org.uk.”

Mr. Perkins said,

“I was really pleased to see my local Legion County Manager and tell him that just as the Legion stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve, so do I. The Legion does very important welfare work for some of my most vulnerable constituents in both the serving and ex-Service communities. I was delighted to thank them for the difference they make to the welfare of the whole Armed Forces family and for keeping MPs like me informed about the issues that matter to them.”

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LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVE MPS FROM 2010 INTAKE UNITE IN SUPPORT OF CROSSPARTY NOtoAV CAMPAIGN

LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVE MPS FROM 2010 INTAKE UNITE IN SUPPORT OF CROSSPARTY NOtoAV CAMPAIGN

20 new MPs give 10 good reasons to vote NO to AV

20 of the new generation of MPs – including leading thinkers from both Parties such as Nick Boles, Tristram Hunt, Toby Perkins and Zac Goldsmith – have today signed the following statement in support of NO to AV, the nationwide, cross-party campaign against the Alternative Vote next May.

The signed document states “When we were campaigning during the last election we talked to thousands of voters. Their concerns were many and varied: the economy, jobs, immigration, housing, crime. There were several areas where our constituents identified a need for change. But if we are being truthful, changing our voting system was not one of them.

Our country faces significant challenges. We have our differences on how they should be tackled, but those challenges will not be overcome by dismantling our voting system and replacing it with a complex alternative that nobody wants.

We are all agreed on the need to rebuild trust between the public and the politicians who represent them. Their priorities must be our priorities. Scrapping our voting system is not their priority. Nor is it ours. That’s why we will be voting NO on 5 May.”

 

Signed:

Stuart Andrew Member of Parliament for Pudsey (Conservative)

Guto Bebb Member of Parliament for Aberconwy (Conservative)

Jake Berry Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen (Conservative)

Nick Boles Member of Parliament for Grantham and Stamford (Conservative)

Thomas Docherty Member of Parliament for Dunfermline & West Fife (Labour)

Julie Elliott Member of Parliament for Sunderland Central (Labour)

George Eustice Member of Parliament for Camborne and Redruth (Conservative)

Yvonne Fovargue Member of Parliament for Makerfield (Labour)

Zac Goldsmith Member of Parliament for Richmond Park & North Kingston (Conservative)

Julie Hilling Member of Parliament for Bolton West (Labour)

Tristram Hunt Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Labour)

Kwasi Kwarteng Member of Parliament for Spelthorne (Conservative)

Karen Lumley Member of Parliament for Redditch County (Conservative)

Michael McCann Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow (Labour)

Priti Patel Member of Parliament for Witham (Conservative)

Toby Perkins Member of Parliament for Chesterfield (Labour)

Dominic Raab Member of Parliament for Esher and Walton (Conservative)

Gavin Shuker Member of Parliament for Luton South (Labour)

Karl Turner Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull East (Labour)

Chris Williamson Member of Parliament for Derby North (Labour)

 

Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, President of NO to AV, said:

“The NO to AV ‘20-10 statement’ is a call from twenty of the new generation of MPs elected in May to consider the arguments against a change to the Alternative Vote in the referendum next year, rather than the spin about how the campaigns are being portrayed.

“The Yes to AV campaign claim to be speaking for the British public – but are in fact driven by narrow political considerations and their own self-interest. As these newly-elected MPs have said, AV is not the way to rebuild trust between the public and the politicians who represent them.

“Next year the British people will have to make a decision on whether they want the country to start using a voting system which nobody really wants, which is complicated and unfair, and which is massively expensive to administer – or to stick with the current tried and tested system that delivers clear, effective and decisive results.

“This is the real choice facing voters next May.”

 

T EN REASONS TO VOTE NO NEXT MAY

1. AV IS OBSCURE: Only three countries in the world use AV for their national

elections: Fiji, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

2. AV IS UNFAIR: Supporters of fringe parties can end up having their vote counted

five or six times – and potentially decide the outcome of the election – while people

who backed the mainstream candidates only get one vote.

3. AV IS UNEQUAL: AV treats someone’s fifth or sixth choice as having the same

importance as someone’s else’s first preference – but there is a big difference

between positively wanting one candidate to win and being able to ‘put up with’

another.

4. AV IS ‘EVEN LESS PROPORTIONAL’ THAN THE CURRENT SYSTEM: So

concluded the independent Royal Commission chaired by the senior Liberal

Democrat Roy Jenkins in 1998

5. AV IS ‘DISTURBINGLY UNPREDICTABLE’ – another warning from Roy Jenkins.

Elections fought under AV would either wildly increase the majority of the winning

party (e.g. Labour in 1997, the Tories in the 1980s) or create hung parliaments by

giving the balance of power to the third party.

6. AV IS NOT WANTED – EVEN BY THE YES CAMPAIGN: Before the general

election, Nick Clegg described AV as “a miserable little compromise” and the

Electoral Reform Society said they did “not regard it as suitable for the election of a

representative body, e.g. a parliament”.

7. AV IS NO-ONE’S FIRST CHOICE: AV was not in the manifestos of either the

Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats. Many people who want voting reform

have spent years campaigning for proportional representation – which AV is not.

8. AV IS COMPLEX: The Government will have to spend millions of pounds explaining

to voters how AV works to prevent a fall in turnout at elections. In Australia, the only

reason they have high turnout is because they made voting compulsory.

9. AV IS EXPENSIVE: Under AV we won’t be able to count ballot papers by hand on

election night if we want a quick, decisive election result. Local councils will have to

purchase electronic counting machines that are very expensive and prone to

malfunction.

10.AV IS NOT THE REFORM WE NEED: There are lots of genuine reforms which

would go some way to restoring people’s trust in politics – but changing our voting

system to AV is not one of them. That’s why it’s a shame that we’re about to spend

£90 million and five months debating a system that nobody really wants.

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MP and Chesterfield College unite behind opposition to EMA withdrawal

MP and Chesterfield College unite behind opposition to EMA withdrawal

Concerned students and lecturers at Chesterfield College today held an event highlighting their opposition to the Coalition Government’s plans to cut Educational Maintenance Allowance by next summer. Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament and member of the Shadow Education Team, met with the Principal, Judith McArthur, in calling for a re-think on a policy which has created apprehension amongst students, teachers and Labour MPs who believe it will lead to a reduction in the number of teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds entering further and higher education.

Currently young people coming from households which receive £20,800 or less per annum receive EMA. Many within the education sector have hailed EMA, introduced by the previous Labour Government, as a positive impact on the recruitment and achievement of young people.  Last year, at Chesterfield College alone, over 2000 students received EMA, around 60% of the 16-18 year old cohort. Before the introduction of the allowance, tens of thousands of young people from less well off backgrounds were effectively denied the opportunity to study full time at college, and many often worked full time evening shifts alongside completing college courses throughout the day.

The payments Education Maintenance Allowance are received by 600,000 teenagers from lower income families in English sixth forms and colleges. The grant is due to be scrapped in September.

After holding a meeting with Chesterfield College Principal, Judith McArthur, and joining the protest outside the College Mr. Perkins said:-

“Over the last few weeks the hype over tuition fees has dominated the media, and rightly so, but the Government’s plans to withdraw EMA will have an equally devastating impact on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Tens of thousands of bright, aspirational young men and women who rely on the £30 per week are having the rug pulled from under their feet by a Government intent on saving a quick buck at the expense of these student’s futures. The decision to axe EMA is yet another hammer blow for the next generation of young people, a generation needed to contribute to the success of the UK’s economy over the next decade”.

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Council on thin ice as MP turns up the heat on County Hall snow failings

Council on thin ice as MP turns up the heat on County Hall snow failings

As scores of Chesterfield residents remain trapped in their homes and unable to reach public transport, Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield has held emergency talks with Derbyshire County Council. Despite no snowfall in a number of days, there is still disruption to bus routes, housing estates have almost entirely frozen over, and the Council’s plans to support the most vulnerable have been branded as “reactive and inadequate” by the MP after receiving dozens more phone calls from concerned local people.

Derbyshire County Council’s priorities seem not to be working, as many bus routes remain either affected or entirely postponed due to snow and ice on the roads. Despite the buildup of heavy snow on roadsides, the Council is yet to enforce a car removal policy contrary to expert advice. Piles of snow, built up from the use of snow ploughs down main roads, remains an obstacle for pedestrians, buses and cars.

Unlike bordering authorities, Chesterfield’s bus service came to a grinding halt, pensioners became prisoners in their own homes when bungalow complexes were not cleared of snow and ice, and several town centre shoppers were injured after slipping on the snow covered pavements. Royal Mail, unable to send its postal staff out in such dangerous conditions, was reduced to a much reduced delivery with many residents going without mail for almost a week.

After holding emergency talks with Derbyshire County Council Mr. Perkins said:-

“Nobody doubts that this weather is exceptional, but the response by Derbyshire County Council has been reactive and inadequate. Over one week since the last snow flake fell, many areas of our town are in a state of gridlock and the most vulnerable are struggling to leave their homes. I will be urging the Council to create a proactive, town wide contingency for heavy snowfall in the future as all the evidence suggests these conditions will become more and more frequent”.

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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.

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

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