Archive | February, 2011

Call for action as Auto Windscreens goes down

Call for action as Auto Windscreens goes down

The devastating news that Chesterfield based Auto Windscreens had been liquidated was announced at Noon today when employees met with bosses and representatives of administrators, Deloittes. Auto Windscreens called in Deloitte’s after a winding up order was given by HMRC around two weeks ago. Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, said that the news was a devastating blow to Chesterfield and to the staff who had lost their jobs.

Hope remains that the name of Auto Windscreens will continue to feature in the town as a new firm, Trifords has bought some parts of the business from the administrators. Trading as Auto Windscreens the new firm will employ around 250 people, including about 100 in Chesterfield in call centre and head office functions.

Toby has been heavily involved in the campaign to save Auto Windscreens. Over the last two weeks he has raised the issue three times in the House of Commons, has spoken to dozens of concerned employees and has liaised with the administrators on a daily basis.

Mr. Perkins has demanded that more must be done to ensure that the new company can return to past glories, and that those laid off are provided with the best possible support to recoup lost earnings and get into new employment.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“This news comes as a massive blow to the loyal employees and to Chesterfield. The Government’s response to this situation has been disappointing to say the least, and I will be demanding that all those hard working employees are given the best possible re-training and employment opportunities. Staff have worked for two weeks without pay, and then had two weeks of waiting for news that never came. Many of them now have mortgages to pay and no salary to pay it with, it’s awful.

The response of the government agencies has not been adequate yet, and I will be contacting the Department of Work and Pensions to learn about their plans to support the workers into new employment.

Obviously I wish the new company every success, and hope that Auto Windscreens is turned around and grows into a company we can all be proud of again.”

Posted in Featured, News, Press Release4 Comments

Auto Windscreens – Latest News

Auto Windscreens – Latest News

Employees of Chesterfield-based Auto Windscreens will be meeting with bosses and representatives of administrators, Deloittes, later today (Friday 25th February).

 Further updates will be posted as soon as news emerges.

Posted in Featured, News, Press Release2 Comments

BLOG- Question to Business Minister - re Auto Windscreens

BLOG- Question to Business Minister – re Auto Windscreens

As the luck of the draw would have it, today it was the turn of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIZ) to attend the parliamentary chamber to answer questions from members on their portfolios.

I was glad to be called by the Speaker under the Topical questions section, to ask a question on any area of the department’s work, and I asked the Business Minister, Mark Prisk about the apparent lack of a co-ordinated approach from government to supporting the work of the administrators, Deloitte, to find a buyer for Auto Windscreens.

Whilst I appreciate that the department can’t just go around showering struggling firms with money, I had been asking, all week, for the business department to make contact with the administrators to see if there was any potential help that could be given by government to ensure that the business survives.

I am frustrated that this has not happened yet, or that, as I saw it, the co-ordinated approach previously in place under a Labour government, that worked through the Regional Development Agencies was not being replicated now.

The Minister accused me of being ‘churlish’ for stating my dissatisfaction with the efforts of government, but I am very desperate that the jobs at Auto Windscreens be saved and felt frustrated that more wasn’t being done to help them.

I have spoken regularly to the administrator who is working hard to ensure that there will still be an Auto Windscreens, and though the time pressure is critical, I remain hopeful that there can be a future for Auto Windscreens.

Posted in Blog, Featured, News4 Comments

Speech on Auto Windscreens- request for a debate

Speech on Auto Windscreens- request for a debate

This is the speech that I made on Tuesday to highlight the case of Auto Windscreens, a Chesterfield based company who went into administration on Monday.

In it I requested a debate on the matter, which was refused by the Speaker. However it allowed me to put the matter on the public record and to highlight the importance and urgency of this case.

15th February 2010, 358pm

I rise to propose that the House should discuss a specific and important matter that I believe should have urgent consideration-the decision of Auto Windscreens to go into administration yesterday, with the possible loss of 1,100 jobs.

Auto Windscreens employs about 400 people in my constituency, in head office, call centre and manufacturing functions. The loss of those jobs would be catastrophic to an area that is already set to be the worst hit in Derbyshire by the cuts in public sector jobs. Staff were sent home yesterday, and as of today there is no money to pay them for the 14 days’ work that they have done this month, nor for their ongoing employment. However, in an effort to sell the business as a going concern, the administrator, Deloitte, has not yet made staff redundant, so they are effectively in limbo. The company is unable to trade, which will make it more difficult for it to be sold. Time is very much of the essence.

I would like to debate what action the Government can take to support Deloitte to get Auto Windscreens trading again. With every passing day that it is not trading, the task of finding a buyer becomes more difficult and the challenge of turning the business round grows. I would like to debate what action the Government can take to support finding buyers; to help them access the funding required to get the business back on a stable footing; and to support either the moribund regional development agency, which would previously have been expected to co-ordinate the response, or the fledgling Sheffield city region local enterprise partnership, to undertake that co-ordination.

I would also like to debate whether, in the absence of Auto Windscreens, Autoglass, the UK market leader, would have an effective monopoly, and the impact on pricing and, by extension, insurance premiums. I would further like to debate what action the Government can take, in the event of the company failing to be salvaged, to assist the 1,100 employees to find work, and to find out whether discussions have taken place with the trade union to explore the possibility of some sort of employee or management buy-out.

Auto Windscreens is an important employer in my constituency, an important contributor to the UK economy, an important part of the UK automotive industry, an important supplier to the motor insurance industry, and an important component of any private sector-led recovery.

At times like this, it is vital that the employees affected, and people throughout Britain, can see politicians working together swiftly to save those jobs in the national interest. I hope that we can debate in the Chamber what can be done, or that the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Mr Prisk will agree to meet me, the administrators and any other people who can help get Auto Windscreens trading again and save those 1,100 jobs, which we can all ill afford to lose.

Posted in Featured, News, Press Release2 Comments

Auto Windscreens falls into administration: MP Update

Auto Windscreens falls into administration: MP Update

As the details of the Auto Windscreens situation unravelled today, Toby Perkins MP has been central to talks designed to drive forward any potential way forward for the Chesterfield based business and its 1100 employees of the company, 400 of which live in Chesterfield.

Mr. Perkins spoke to Chris Harrington of the administrators, Deloitte LLP, who have received upwards of 70 expressions of interest in acquiring the company. Further conversations are set to take place between the MP and the international accountants as the long term future of Auto Windscreens requires significant investment to enable it to move forward with confidence.

Mr. Harrington also explained that staff are currently left ‘in limbo’ with no guarantee of payment for work done in February or of their future employment status, and confirmed that he would take every action to end the uncertainty.

Toby has met with Business Minister Mark Prisk to ask the government to meet with him and the administrators to identify any potential avenues that could rescue the firm. Toby also raised the issue on the floor of the House of Commons.

Mr. Prisk has pledged to respond with urgency to the request to consider government support.

Toby also asked UNITE the Union, who represent many of the employees of Auto Windscreens, to assess whether there is any possibility of a staff led takeover.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“I am working round the clock, as are the administrators and trade unions to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the efforts taken to save these 1,100 jobs.

I will continue to demand that all potential avenues are explored, including staff takeovers and outsider investment deals. The Government should now step up and support the 1100 employees of Auto Windscreens, and the town of Chesterfield, which is already feeling the impact of the cuts to public sector jobs”.

Members of staff from Auto Windscreens can keep up to date with the latest developments by viewing www.tobyperkins.org.uk . Or by contacting the constituency office with regard to any concerns not answered online.

Posted in Featured, News, Press Release17 Comments

Down but not out: MP calls for ‘immediate and decisive action’ to save Auto Windscreens

Down but not out: MP calls for ‘immediate and decisive action’ to save Auto Windscreens

Following the devastating news that Chesterfield based Auto Windscreens had entered administration, putting around 400 jobs in the town at risk, local MP Toby Perkins has called for all parties to come together to save the company from extinction.  In a series of emergency talks, the MP will be talking to administrators Deloitte LLP and working alongside UNITE the Union, Government Ministers and the Local Enterprise Partnership to call on potential investors to facilitate a swift takeover after the issuing of a winding up order yesterday.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Perkins met with the Managing Director to learn about the company’s attempts to emerge from an extremely tough period. After registering a loss of £5 million in the financial year ending in December 2009, there had been optimism that the company could trade their way back into profit, but a winding up order, enforced by senior creditor HM Revenue & Customs and further delays to the company’s attempts to find a buyer have seen the company fall into administration.

After staff were sent home on Monday, Mr. Perkins is calling on the Secretary of State for Business to consider Government intervention in the same way as the Pfizer site in Kent when jobs were saved in a last minute deal.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“This is a crucial period for the future of Auto Windscreens and for hundreds of Chesterfield people currently worried about losing their jobs. This is also a time for Government, the trade union and the Local Enterprise Partnership to come together to consider any avenue available to keep this company trading. With immediate and decisive action there may still be a chance to turn this awful news around. I will continue to hold talks with all parties concerned in the hope that this situation can be salvaged for the good of Auto Windscreens and the people of Chesterfield”.

Posted in Featured, News, Press Release3 Comments

Gove under legal pressure over axeing school building programme

In the wake of the High Court ruling against Michael Gove in relation to Building Schools for the Future, Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, is calling for an independent inquiry into the Secretary of State’s actions and the decision-making process.
 

Andy Burnham MP said:
 
“Michael Gove’s competence and judgement have all been fundamentally called into question by this ruling. A High Court judge has described the actions of a Cabinet Minister as ‘so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power’. That is an extremely serious statement. It raises the question of whether the public can have confidence that Mr Gove is discharging his duties fairly and properly.
 
“This is why we urgently now need an independent inquiry into Michael Gove’s handling of this whole sorry saga. The communities most affected by these decisions deserve nothing less. All relevant paperwork should be disclosed so that people can see what advice was given by civil servants and how these decisions were taken.
 
“Public money has been wasted because of the shambolic handling of this matter. We hear reports that Michael Gove overruled civil servants who warned that errors were likely and ignored legal advice – this is no way to run a Department of State.
 
“The inquiry needs to address a number of important questions:
 
–       If and when Michael Gove received legal advice on the risk of judicial review and what action he took on the back of that advice? What advice did civil servants provide to Ministers on the back of the legal advice and was it followed?
 
–       What other advice Michael Gove received from civil servants on BSF and whether it was followed? In particular, did he or the Department receive advice that it should consult with affected parties before cancelling any projects? What was the advice on consultation from Partnerships for Schools?
 
–  How much has been spent by the Department for Education in fighting these legal challenges?

“Communities are increasingly fighting back against this Tory-led Government’s high-handed actions. As with school sport, Bookstart and today school building and forests – Ministers are being forced to listen.
 
“Today’s ruling will give further hope to those seeking a Judicial Review against Michael Gove’s unfair axeing of the Education Maintenance Allowance, again with no warning and no consultation.
 
“Of course there is a need to find savings in public services, but this Government is cutting too far and too fast and forcing the most deprived to bear the heaviest burden.”

Posted in News, Press ReleaseComments Off on Gove under legal pressure over axeing school building programme

Sunday Times Online Discussion - Sunday 6th February

Sunday Times Online Discussion – Sunday 6th February

As part of a live question and answer session for The Sunday Times Newsroom online, Toby Perkins MP took questions ranging from the state of the economy to the proposed privatisation of national forests.  The full transcript follows:

Graham Grant

Toby, the assault by the coalition on families is quite horrendous. Would a future Labour Government seek to return such programmes as SureStart to where they were before the coalition came in?

Toby Perkins MP:

Hi Graham, Labour had a really strong record on family friendly policies, and you are right that families and young people seem to have been very much in the forefront of the government cuts. Sure Start plays a key role in giving young children a good start in life, but it is also supposed to be at the heart of the new government’s early intervention work, which is what makes the news that Councils across the country are finding that they haven’t got the money to run them pretty staggering.

ST Newsroom:

We have a couple of questions about coalition plans to change land ownership with regards to our national forests.

Thule : 

Toby, I have read some fairly convincing analysis, including by Charles Clover in this paper, that the selling off of the forests isn’t such a bad idea, and that the details of the bill aren’t as despicable as they have been made out to be. But no one cares about the details, and the Government has failed to communicate its message properly. Which areas of the bill do you actually disagree with?

Antonia : 

This whole selling off of the forests thing seems a little overhyped. No one is going to chop them down after all

Toby Perkins MP:

I think the central point is that our forests are currently the subject of a public consultation yet before that consultation is complete the government are already selling off 10,000 hectares of forests, and the wider sell off takes away that control of what should be a key part of our national heritage. We have seen with many of the other sell offs over the years that they sometimes have consequences down the line that no-one could have considered at the time and I think that people feel are forests are too important to be put in jeopardy.

Eric the Red : 

Toby, you have a very famous predecessor as Chesterfield Labour MP in Tony Benn. Would you describe yourself as a Bennite?!

Toby Perkins MP:

I’m a fan of Tony Benn, I was a member of the CLP when Tony was our MP, but politically we are reading from a different page, I’m afraid. It’s amazing how he has become a national treasure now that the press no longer fear him!

ST Newsroom:

Unsurprisingly, we also have a couple of questions about Ed Miliband…

Hilit Koppel : 

Toby, who did you support in the leadership election? And are you impressed with Ed Miliband’s performance?

Ed Cunningham : 

Why has Labour elected such a lack lustre leader?

Toby Perkins MP:

Hilit, I supported David Miliband in the leadership contest, but I think that Ed has set out his stall well.  He has performed well at PMQ’s which his critics thought he would struggle in, he has made some bold decisions regarding the party, and he is orchestrating a credible and structured programme of policy reform that enables Labour to identify where it went wrong and not leap to commit ourselves to positions that may be outdated by the time the next election comes round.

Toby Perkins MP:

Ed Cunningham, I don’t think he has been lacklustre at all, he has made it clear he wants to steer clear of meaningless stunts, but the fact that this Labour opposition has recovered it’s polling position quicker than any opposition in history suggests he isn’t doing that bad a job!!

Tony, London : 

Toby, I’m a higher rate tax payer – but only just – and have three children. I’m going to be absolutely hammered by the abolition of CB. I know it’s early days yet, but would Labour implement the cut in CB?

Toby Perkins MP:

People are shocked by the ill thought out way that this policy was introduced in a rush for the Tory Party conference, apparently without their colleagues in the Lib Dems even knowing about it. It is patently unfair that it is done on individual income rather than household income.

Labour are not going to get into proposing piecemeal revisions to economic policy for the 2015 manifesto now. But the decisions on CB will need to be considered alongside all of the other economic decisions that we need to make when we assess the state of the economy and propose our manifesto for 2015.

Eric the Red : 

So you don’t think the Iraq war was an imperialist expedition as Tony did then?

Toby Perkins MP:

The Iraq war was a major mistake, in the light of what we know now, though I don’t believe that we could ever have just wished Saddam away but clearly far too little thought or effort went into the aftermath.

I don’t believe that it was done with immoral motives but it caused a rift between the Labour Party and many of our natural supporters that still hasn’t entirely healed.

Neil : 

I am a Brit of Asian origin, and I must say I agreed with most of David Cameron’s speech on ethnicity. I think national identity is important. It isn’t something you can force on people or ever should, but if you are going to have nations functioning coherently don’t you need some form of bond between people?

Toby Perkins MP:

Yes, you do, the question for Cameron (as he will know) is that as he is talking in general terms but isn’t actually as far as I can see proposing anything specific on policy, what do people take from what he said, on the day of a major EDL march.

Many people in Asian communities who may feel embattled already will take it from his message that it is at least an implicit support for some of the thought processes that those on the far right hold even if it is not support for their actions or motives. I think that to have expanded more on the fight against extremism in all of its forms (that includes the EDL and the BNP) would have been more helpful.

But I do agree that a pride in national identity and Britain and the many stories of our countries past that we can look on with tremendous pride is important.

Jambon : 

Is David Cameron a little Englander? Are we being turned into a country that doesn’t have a global role? And is this the right thing to do? What are your views on Britains global role in the 21st Century?

Toby Perkins MP:

Great question, Jambon. Personally I think that Cameron would like to be more internationalist but is frightened of his own party (or at least a large section of it). I think this is colouring his judgement and resulting in a lack of leadership on the world stage.

If he is going to go into every international negotiation wanting to prove that he has ‘won’ at the end of it, it is going to be very difficult to develop a constructive relationship with his counterparts on the internal stage. Much of diplomacy and progressing Britain’s national interests needs to come from co-operation and that is a two way street.

I do think that our future is at the heart of a strong and co-operative Europe, and that we can play a key role on the world stage, and that global influences can’t be just wished away, we’re a part of a small world now, whether we like it or not, and we need to work together.

Robbie : 

Hi Toby, It’s funny how something like tuition fees was a dominant national issue for two months, and now the bill has been passed it has disappeared from the agenda. Would a Labour government actually reverse the bill it opposed? Once these new funding arrangements are in place, I can’t imagine they will ever be rolled back

Toby Perkins MP:

Labour’s 2015 manifesto can’t be about just undoing everything that the Tories have done and trying to go back to 2010,  That would be a terrible lesson to learn from our 2010 defeat. You are right that when changes are introduced they are much more difficult to undo, because any radical change will require more money coming from elsewhere.

However one of the key things we need to decide from our policy review is to what extent does the government wash its hands of funding higher education.

This government has really picked out higher education as an area that is largely the responsibility of students to fund rather than the taxpayer. I think that is the big question, and I hope that we would recognise that higher education benefits our nation and that government and students should both be responsible for funding it.

OvalSlammer : 

I agree with you about Ed Miliband, I really do think he has done a lot right. But I also sincerely doubt that he has real leadership potential. More than anything, I don’t think the nation would be proud to have him as a leader, for simple reasons like he is awkward and doesn’t speak very well. Sad but true

Toby Perkins MP:

Ed has come through a leadership election that no-one thought he could win and won, I think people will underestimate him at their peril. In very short time he has got the Labour Party to a position of reasonable strength in the polls.

Remember for how long the Tories were trying to get to that magic 40% but couldn’t make it before they finally broke through. He has done it already.

We’d be foolish if we got too flattered by improved opinion poll ratings, but ultimately I don’t see his image being a problem in the way it was for Gordon.

I don’t fancy him personally, not really my type!!

But he seems to brush up Ok as far as I can see, so ultimately people will judge him on who they think he is, what his values are, how they think he will react in a crisis, all parts of his image that he will need to convince people about by virtue of the way he reacts to situations in opposition.

ST Newsroom:

A couple of questions on the economy now…

Richie B : 

How do you rate Ed Balls’ performance so far? Seems like the Balls vs Osborne battle, and the wider economic clash it represents will define who wins the next election

Kev34 : 

Would it be fair to say that if the economy recovers and we don’t face high unemployment, then regardless of how unpopular some policies were, the coalition will get away with it, and the next government will be a Tory one

Toby Perkins MP:

Yes, Richie the economy is going to be crucial, and Ed is going to do a fantastic job of putting over a strong alternative. He actually has a far stronger economic pedigree than Osbourne and it might make for some great TV!!

But fundamentally, we need to win the battle about the history (why we have got the deficit) and the future (whether the steps that the government take are anti growth – they are) and whether they actually make our recovery more difficult.

Remember Labour’s plans basically worked, we got into a position of growth, we minimised the social damage of the recession, and only four months ago David Cameron was arguing that Britain had now returned to growth. He was right, it had- thanks to Labour, the fall in economic confidence thanks to the rhetoric and policies of GO have seen our economy start to hit tougher times again and Osbourne has to face a large amount of the blame for that.

Toby Perkins MP:

Kev, Popular wisdom is that if the economy is seen to be thriving then it is very difficult for oppositions to win, and with good cause.

The likelihood is that the global economy will be in a better position by 2015 than it was by 2010. Britain’s probably will be too, If Britain’s isn’t then this government will have failed disastrously, but even if there has been some recovery, we need to remind people that under this government’s plans the recovery will be slower, the social cost will be huge and the damage to a generation will be irredeemable.

ST Newsroom:

One more on the economy, from Paul this time…

Paul : 

How can the Labour party and Ed Balls persuade the government to limit the depth and pace of Osborne’s cuts that have proved detrimental to economic recovery and will continue to dampen growth?

Toby Perkins MP:

Getting George Osborne to change his mind may be beyond the combined wit of any group of people, he seems absolutely wedded to the idea that cuts are the whole of the answer and no evidence from Ireland of the danger of cuts without growth is going to change his mind.

But voters can be immensely persuasive, there needs to be a strong message to this government in the local government and Scottish and Welsh elections this year that they are pursuing the wrong course and only a vote for Labour will send that message.

ST Newsroom:

We just have time for a couple more questions

AngryBlue : 

Toby, how does your generation of Labourites feel about the likes of Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson? They must feel like creatures from another planet, I already find it odd that they ran the Labour party for so long

Toby Perkins MP:

I can’t speak for a whole generation, but I would say that unlike the Tories, the Labour Party is much kinder to Labour leaders that lose elections than ones that win them.

The previous generation maybe got to a position of such strength that they focused internally rather than on the problems facing the country too much, there seems little doubt about that, but Tony Blair still has much to be proud of.

I’m not even going to kick Mandelson, he had his flaws, but he was a brilliant political operator at the same time, and I think a brilliant BIZ minister too.

ST Newsroom:

Ok, last question for Toby is a follow-up from Kev34

Kev34 : 

Social damage is a tough thing to prove though. And the argument ‘Yes the economy has recovered but it would have recovered even more if we’d been in charge’ is a tough one to get across

Toby Perkins MP:

I agree, and that is why no-one on the centre left should be in any way complacent about how difficult a job it is going to be for us to win the next election. This government are set on an ideological course that will radically reduce the collaborative nature of our public services and will lead to them getting worse, and I think Britons will take a dim view about that.

The CONDEMS are also allowing their ideology to cause great damage to our prospects of recovery. For the first time we actually have a Chancellor talking down the economy. So there are opportunities there for us to exploit but we have a lot of work to do: to win the economic arguments, to put forward a strong case for the alternative, to adopt a strong and credible policy portfolio for 2015 and if we don’t learn the lessons from the past then we won’t give Britain the strong and progressive government it deserves.

So we must learn those lessons, and I hope some of you will join us in finding the right messages and policies for the future.

ST Newsroom:

Thank you very much to Toby for giving up his time to take your questions this morning, and thank you to all of you who came in and posted. It was a good spread on Labour past, present and future, and what is and isn’t wrong with the coalition government.

Toby Perkins MP:

Thanks very much to ST Newsroom for the opportunity to be involved in today, I really enjoyed it, even if I have had to miss taking my lad to Football for it, thanks to everyone who contributed, put me through my paces pretty well!

Posted in Featured, News, Press ReleaseComments Off on Sunday Times Online Discussion – Sunday 6th February

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

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