Archive | December, 2013

Toby Perkins MP with members of Old Hall school council and Sharon Stone, Head Teacher.

Old Hall grilling for local MP

Toby Perkins MP with members of Old Hall school council and Sharon Stone, Head Teacher.

Toby Perkins MP with members of Old Hall school council and Sharon Stone, Head Teacher.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins paid a visit to Old Hall Primary school and praised the children for their attentive listening and deeply thoughtful questions.  Said Toby ‘when I’m in the House of Commons I rarely get faced with such eager anticipation or active listening.  It is something the honourable members on the opposite benches could learn from!’ 

Toby visited the school to discuss local and educational issues with the Headteacher Sharon Stone and Chair of Governors, Mrs Pennington.  He then spoke to year 6 pupils about being an MP, getting elected and what it means to live in and represent Chesterfield while working in Westminster. 

 Toby said ‘the children asked very pertinent questions such as my views on allowing pupils to have holidays in term time, as well as what it is like to be an MP and why I wanted to be one.  I was very impressed by the breadth of their knowledge; knowing what a manifesto was and the names of all the major political parties was impressive’.

‘Parliament encourages pupils of all ages to visit Westminster and the schools programme does an excellent job in hosting these events.  I have met a number of school groups now and I very much look forward to meeting Old Hall pupils in Westminster in the future’.

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Toby supporting local firefighters

Chesterfield MP’s Update: Toby’s December Review

Firstly Happy Christmas, can I wish you all the very best for the festive season. In between putting up the mistletoe and preparing my Christmas list, I have put together my latest email briefing highlighting some of my recent work in Chesterfield and Westminster.  I hope you find it of interest.

Standing up for local services

  • On Monday 25 November I called a debate in Parliament on cuts to our local fire services.  I think this is an extremely serious issue which jeopardises the safety of many local people and I am determined to fight these cuts.  Click here to watch a Calendar report on the issue and to watch highlights of the debate.  You can watch the full 30 minute debate here.
  • I am hugely concerned about the Post Office’s plans to relocate Chesterfield’s Crown Post Office into the Pavement’s Centre branch of WH Smith’s.  I have expressed these concerns directly to Post Office bosses at a public meeting in the Chesterfield library (read more here), have responded to 287 enquiries received from constituents opposing the plans, and voted against the government’s privatisation of the Royal Mail in Parliament (read why here).  I am urging everyone who shares my concerns to attend a public consultation tomorrow (11 December) at the Chesterfield Hotel, opposite the Railway Station, on from 4.30pm to 8.30pm. Anyone unable to attend can share their views on the move by emailing comments@postoffice.co.uk or writing to the Post Office, addressing envelopes ‘Freepost – Your Comments, Post Office Ltd’ (read more here). I won’t be at the public meeting, as I will still be in parliament, but my office Manager will be there, and I will be meeting Royal Mail bosses to discuss my concerns with them.
  • I have recently conducted a local survey to find out people’s views regarding the quality and performance of the GP practices in Staveley and the Holywell Medical Group’s surgeries in particular, following a number of complaints and a damaging CQC report.  You can learn more about my work here.
  • Last month I also spoke against the wholesale privatisation of the Probation Service in Parliament (which you can read and watch here) and sent this message of support to those striking to save the service in Chesterfield.
Toby supporting local firefighters

Toby supporting local firefighters

Backing local businesses

  • I have been a strong supporter of the first ever UK Small Business Saturday which was held on 7 December.  You can read why here.  I was delighted that a battle bus which toured the country to promote the day decided to call at Chesterfield, the smallest town on its route, as shown here, and met local business and press on the bus whilst it parked in the market square.
  • On Small Business Saturday itself I visited 25 independent retailers around our town.  You can see a picture gallery of the visits here and view all the sites I visited on this map. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to shop local and support our small businesses at Christmas, they are crucial to the diversity of Chesterfield and Staveley.
  • I also believe it is important to promote our town to investors across the country.  That is why on 26 November I hosted an “Invest in Chesterfield” event in Westminster to demonstrate why businesses should choose to locate in Chesterfield and bring continued jobs and economic growth in our town.  You can read more about the event here and here.
  • Another group of small business which are struggling in the current climate are pubs, and I recently wrote this article highlighting how Labour can support our pub industry.
Toby Perkins visited traders across Chesterfield on Small Business Saturday

Toby Perkins visited traders across Chesterfield on Small Business Saturday

Recent appearances in Parliament

  • On 28 November I was called to sum up a Backbench Business Committee Debate in the House of Commons on how government should support small businesses.  You can read my contribution here.
  • On 2 December I asked a question of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and urged him to support a petition calling for an immediate freeze in energy bills which 5,000 local people in Chesterfield have already signed.  You can add your name here and calculate how much a prize freeze would save you and your family here.
  • On 4 December I lead an Opposition Day Debate in Parliament (one of the rare opportunities when those parties not in government get to set the agenda of the House of Commons) on Business Rates.  You can watch the debate here, my opening speech starts after 1min and 42sec.
  • On 9 December I had the honour and privilege of speaking during the tributes to Nelson Mandela in the House of Commons.  You can read my short contribution here.
Toby in the House of Commons

Toby in the House of Commons

And finally …

Christmas is coming so along with many people in Chesterfield I’ve been busy finalising my Christmas card list, which includes Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II.  To design my card I hosted a competition for local school children and the winner whose design I will be using is Rehman Abdul from Hady Primary School.  You can see the winning design and read more about the competition here.

Best wishes,

Toby Perkins MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield – Shadow Minister for Small Business (BIS)
Westminster Tel: 020 7219 4702 – Constituency Tel: 01246 386 286

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IMG_9427

Small Businesses in the East Midlands lose out from lending

Shadow Small Business Minister, Toby Perkins MP, commenting on the BBA’s new regional breakdown of lending statistics, said:

IMG_9427“Business repeatedly say the biggest thing holding them back is the finance they need to grow, yet these figures show that it is even harder in some areas of the country. And these are the areas where we need to see MORE business growth.’

“The Government promised action on rebalancing but THEY ARE OUT OF TOUCH AND everything points to a failure. Not only is there a lending gap in regions where it is needed but government schemes have reinforced the disparity. A third of the Growing Places Fund to kickstart development went to London and the SE and 44% of Start-Up Loans have also been in London and the South East.

“Labour wants to see entrepreneurship and business growth developed and supported across the country. That’s why we’ve said need more competition within THE banking SECTOR and ALTERNATIVES to banking like peer-to-peer lending. WE ALSO NEED a proper British Investment Bank with a network of regional of local banks to get the finance to business they need.”

Unfortunately government schemes designed to address this (Funding for Lending and Start Up Loans) have just exacerbated the problem:

  • The Conservative-led government’s “Plan for Growth” sets as its key aim a; “’strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country”[i].
  • Government schemes designed to address inequalities and gaps in the market have been unable to deliver regionally balanced growth:
    • The £700m “Growing Places” fund designed to kick start local development projects, only emphasised existing regional divisions.  £255m (over one third of the total) was pumped into London and the south-east , but the north-east of England received just under £34m – 4.5%[ii].
    • The Government’s Start Up Loans project has now lent £50m to 10,000 start up firms. But 44% of these resources found their way to London and the South East, whilst just 5% has gone to the North East.  Even when weighted for the population this record is disproportionately geared towards the south – 15% of the population lives in London, yet 36% of the start-up loans have been delivered there[iii].
  • A full region-by-region break down of figures published jointly by the British Bankers’ Association and the Council for Mortgage Lenders reveals the unequal nature of bank lending in each region:

 

Region

Population

SME lending

SME lending per head of population

East Midlands

4,533,222

£5,490,020,950

£1,211

East of England

5,846,965

£6,877,812,396

£1,176

Greater London

8,173,941

£21,636,784,817

£2,647

North East

2,596,886

£3,069,547,385

£1,182

North West

7,052,177

£11,406,564,426

£1,617

Scotland

5,313,600

£7,726,582,760

£1,454

South East

8,634,750

£13,114,959,866

£1,519

South West

5,288,935

£11,013,025,043

£2,082

Wales

3,063,456

£4,760,612,948

£1,554

West Midlands

5,601,847

£9,386,514,590

£1,676

Yorkshire & Humber

5,283,733

£7,264,574,818

£1,375

GB

61,389,512

£101,747,000,000

£1,657

 

http://www.bba.org.uk/media/article/british-lenders-set-out-levels-of-borrowing-across-country-in-major-move-fo/press-releases/

 

For further information please contact Toby on 020 7219 2320

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Munitions 1

We must stop the “Gagging Bill”

Toby Perkins MP, explains the dangers of Part Two of the Tory-led Government’s “Gagging Bill”.

“I share the concerns of the 80 or so constituents who have contacted me on part two of the Lobbying Bill in the last two weeks alone.  I fear that we are seeing a repeat of the ConDem tactics at the time of their costly top-down reorganisation of the NHS.  At that time the Tory-led government pushed through this reform to our health service they faced severe opposition from almost every organisation in the health sector.  In order to overcome this, the government ordered a “pause” for further consultation.  After the pause they then came back with exactly the same bill!

Munitions 1Cameron has copied these tactics when it came to the Lobbying Bill.  He was forced to apply the brakes to this sinister and badly drafted Bill when it looked like he was about to lose key votes. Now it is back in an almost unamended form and still has the potential to have a chilling effect on our democracy.

The Tory-led government point to a few minor amendments to clause 26 in part two, but these only partially address one of the many problems in part two of the Bill and overall I am sure you will agree with me that it would be much better for them to just go back to the drawing board. A loosened gag is still a gag.

I have read Commission for Civil Society’s report on part two of the bill you sent to me by many consituents (read more here) I can assure everyone that Labour welcomes this report.  In consulting widely with affected charities and campaigners the Commission have done what the government should have before they brought this bad Bill to parliament.  The Commission’s recommendations are wide ranging, and many of them will help to remove some of the worst excesses of this sinister gagging bill.  Labour will be working closely with the Commission and with all concerned charities and campaigners from across the UK as this Bill goes through its next stages in the Lords.

In the coming weeks and months the Tory-led government will try to smeer anyone who opposes this bill as being against political reform.  Always remember that this is not the case.  For example, on lobbying, both transparency campaigners and the lobbying industry agree that the Lobbying proposals will make things worse and not better. As the proposed register has no code of conduct or sanctions, it is a step backwards from the voluntary registers that already exist.

Part two of the Bill increases the regulation of charities and campaigners in the year before the election and restricts their activity.  There are still fears that campaigning will be restricted even if it wasn’t intended to affect the outcome of an election, for example by engaging in public policy debate.  Staff costs and overheads will also have to be included in what campaigners have to declare, which could mean that larger charities have to pull back from any public facing activity in the year before the election to avoid hitting the lower spending limit.  There are also concerns that the Bill will deter smaller organisations from campaigning because they won’t be able to afford the administrative burden required to report.  It will also prevent charities from campaigning in coalitions because the full cost of the coalition would have to be registered against each organization.

So this Bill is still a gag on charities and campaigners.  These changes will have chilling effect on our national debate in the year before the election.  The government is trying to insulate its record and its policies from legitimate, democratic criticism.

This will have the effect of chilling debate in the run up to the election, and allowing the government escape scrutiny on their record and their policies. For example it could:

  • stop organisations like the NUS from being able to hold the Lib Dems to account for their broken promises on tuition fees
  • stop organisations like the Daycare Trust highlighting how Cameron has driven up the cost of childcare for working families
  • stop organisations like the Royal College of Nursing from warning the public about David Cameron’s cuts to nurses

At a time when trust in politics is at an all time low, it is nothing short of amazing that the government wants to restrict the one part of our politics that is doing a good job at engaging people.

The Government claims this is an attempt to take the big money out of politics, but it doesn’t even mention the real source of the problem: the amount spent nationally on election campaigning by political parties.  Political parties nationally spent £31m at the 2010 election, compared to just £3m by third-party campaigners. The biggest third-party spender spent just 4% of the £17m spent by the Conservative Party.

The government have wasted an opportunity to tackle the real problem of big money in our politics and have ripped up the cross-party approach to party political funding.

To make matters worse they are rushing the Bill through Parliament so that the rules can be in place before the next election.  Because the rules cover the year before an election, they would need to be in place by May 2014, with guidance to affected parties issued well ahead of that date (up to 6 months).  There has been no pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, nor any consultation with the sector on the Bill’s proposals. The Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform Committee were forced to take emergency evidence from some affected third parties.    The Electoral Commission have been particularly critical of the lack of discussion with them on the proposals and the lack of opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny.

No wonder the Electoral Commission have said they have “significant concerns” about the changes. They have said that the Bill creates uncertainty and significant new regulatory burdens for charities and campaigners: “the Bill creates significant regulatory uncertainty for large and small organisations that campaign on, or even discuss, public policy issues in the year before the next general election, and imposes significant new burdens on such organisations”.”

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Chesterfield Crown Post Office is earmarked for relocation

Chesterfield Crown Post Office: Update

As readers of this website will know, Toby Perkins MP has had long standing concerns about plans to move Chesterfield Crown Post Office from it’s historic home to  a location inside WH Smiths (read more here) as well as the overall privatisation of the Royal Mail (read more here).  In particular, Toby has encouraged local constituents to participate in the ongoing consultation around this move (read more here).

Last Wednesday (11 December 2013) the Post Office hosted a consultation drop-in at the Chesterfield Hotel to allow local people to voice their views.  Unfortunately Toby was unable to attend the drop-in in person as there was an important vote in Parliament that night, however his office manager did attend and raised many issues of concern.  These are briefly summarised below and this will be helpful for those who were also unable to attend.

Questions that constituents got in touch with me to ask to raise at the meeting:

Chesterfield Crown Post Office is earmarked for relocation

Chesterfield Crown Post Office is earmarked for relocation

Will local people with visual impairments be able to access the new facilities?
All the designs are DDA compliant.  Any changes will also be DDA ratified.

WH Smiths is already very busy, how will the new Post Office effect this?
The information given out on the night did not show any new layout for the WH Smith site, and there was a presumption that it would stay the same.  A new pathway would be clearly marked to create a natural flow through to the post office.  Some of the existing stands will be removed to make room for this.

What would be the new queuing system?
The current facility is designed to allow for long queues but the build up is in the wrong direction, this will be changed.  The meeting was told that all WH Smiths stores which already include a post office have a sub 4 min waiting time and this would be in place for Chesterfield to.

What about lack of seating in Smiths – how will this impact on older people?
At the meeting it was admitted that there is no room for significant seating.  Two chairs will be available but these aren’t central to the design and were probably an afterthought.  I am very concerned about this development.

Is there a legal requirement to provide a crown post office in a town as large as Chesterfield? What happens if Smiths shuts down?
There is a legal duty to provide post offices where the population reaches a certain point, so there will always have to be a post office in town.  There were assurances at the meeting if WH Smiths collapses or decides to move out of their current premises another venue must be found, and this has happened in other towns where the post office was in a shop like Smiths.

Further questions my office sought answers to:

The current site is used by a number of older people as their local POs were closed down.  Older people will find it harder to walk into a bustling store and the DDA does not recognise age as a disability.  How will the plans take account of this?
The Post Office agreed to take all points back and look again at the plan for WH Smith’s layout.  However, they would give no concession on queuing system which may be difficult for older people to navigate.

What account has been taken for the drop in service points from 12 to 6 (which conveniently fits the available space in store)?
The meeting was assured that the number was decided upon first and then the space found second and the speakers quoted research to demonstrate that waiting times no worse than now.  I will closely monitor this situation.

There appears to be no ‘back room’ space so how is the confidentially/security of post assured?
The Post Office gave assurances that this be guaranteed in the plans.

After the change, staff would be employed by WH Smith not the Post Office.  There are a number of staff related issues connected with this:

  1. Quality and understanding of staff
  2. Transfer arrangements
  3. Staff numbers

The meeting was given some assurances over staff transfer.  The new facilities will have the same management structure, and staff will be given the option of transferring to other branches if they prefer to remain a Post Office employee.  Initially all WH Smith staff working at franchised site will be Tupe’d over from the Post Office.

When staff were TUPE’d over from Royal Mail to CSC  there were considerable problems with their pension as it was viewed as a second pension.  Will this happen again?
The Post Office representatives could not answer this question on the day but have promised to come back with more information.

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Toby Outside Big Ben

GP Services in Staveley

In recent weeks Toby Perkins MP, has asked people in Staveley to complete and return a survey regarding the quality and performance of the GP practices in Staveley and the Holywell Medical Group’s surgeries in particular.

After reading through all of the responses, Toby spoke of how “shocked and saddened” he was to learn the full extent of the issues he is now uncovering.

Toby went on to explain:

I have previously met representatives from the Holywell Medical Group to discuss long standing patient concerns over a variety of issues. Following the increasing concerns of my constituents, I also met with Jackie Pendleton, Chief Officer of the North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss the escalation of the situation and the release of a CQC (Care Quality Commission) report which found Holywell Medical Group to be lacking in several areas. Following the CQC report, I raised the level of concern both through an article in the Derbyshire Times and through the postal survey in Staveley to which you have responded, asking my constituents to let me know their comments on GP Services in the area.

Toby Outside Big BenSince receiving the survey responses I met with Dr Nadine Kale, Practice Partner, to discuss the Group’s future and the steps planned to address the issues facing this crucial provider of GP services across Chesterfield but in particular Staveley. At that meeting I heard how government changes to health budgets and GP contracts have led to some of the problems at the practice.  In addition, a GP recruitment crisis has led to wider problems with insufficient staffing in many GP practices which has in turn compounded the specific problems at Holywell.

The Holywell Medical Group’s Practice Director left following the CQC report, and I am assured that significant changes will now occur and that all options for improvement are under consideration. I am hopeful that there will be swift changes to improve procedures and address the issues raised by patients. As a start, I am assured that a new system for booking appointments has been introduced which should enable you to make an appointment in advance. Though I remain to be convinced that the practice are ultimately capable of delivering the necessary service improvements I was reassured that all possible measures to improve the service remain under active consideration.

I will be monitoring the situation most closely in the coming months, and would be happy to receive any feedback you would like to send me.

General Practice is an incredibly important and much appreciated pillar of our community, and I am determined that GP services are maintained to the highest possible standards. I am very grateful to you for taking the time to return the survey and can give you my assurances that I will continue to work hard on behalf of any of my constituents who have received a lower standard of care than they have a right to expect from their GP practice.

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Probation debate

Selling off the Queen’s Head

Toby Perkins explains why he voted against the Tory-led government’s privatisation of the Royal Mail in Parliament.

“My position, and that of my party is clear.  In Government and Opposition, Labour has opposed the wholesale privatisation of the Royal Mail, believing that both the Royal Mail and Post Office should at all times be publicly owned, giving the taxpayer an ongoing interest in the maintenance of the universal service obligation (USO) and an ongoing interest in the inter-business agreement between the Royal Mail and the Post Office, which is so essential to the Post Office network which keeps Britain running and upon which millions of small businesses rely.

Having passed the Postal Services Act 2011 to facilitate the full privatisation of the Royal Mail, the Government has now followed through on their commitment to fully privatise the Royal Mail by way of a share sale this financial year, with just 10% of shares going to Royal Mail employees.

Following this privatisation, the second largest shareholder in the Royal Mail now is the Singaporean Government.  Even Margaret Thatcher believed that “privatising the Queen’s head” was a “step too far” but her political children have now gone further and sold it off to foreign investors.

It is also remarkable that it is a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State who has driven this through and managed the process.

Having committed to this disastrous course of action, the ConDem government have then been utterly incompetent in pushing it through.  As Sky News have revealed JPMorgan accountants told the Government earlier this year that it believed Royal Mail could be worth between £7.75bn to £9.95bn, including its debts, ahead of privatisation.

Probation debateDespite this, the Government sold shares in Royal Mail for 330p each earlier this month, valuing the company’s equity at £3.3bn.  This potential under-valuation of upto £6bn, which could have been spent on other government services like schools, hospital and the armed forces, has rightly become a media scandal.

The reason the Tory-led Government is rushing to a firesale of the Royal Mail is to raise funds to cover the gaping hole in George Osborne’s failed economic plan which has seen borrowing increase by £245bn more than the Government planned.

So Cameron & Osborne are playing politics with the postage stamp and putting their own interests ahead the interests of consumers and small businesses the Royal Mail serves.

At this time, Labour cannot commit to renationalisation if we get into government in 2015  – it would be the equivalent of writing a blank cheque without considering the consequences.  However, there are a number of steps which a future if we are elected we have committed to.

On entering Government, we have committed:

  • to secure the Universal Service Obligation beyond 2015.  A future government could change the USO and Ofcom will be reviewing the needs of customers in 2015
  • to prioritise the future of our Post Office network by working to ensure Royal Mail services continue to be provided through Post Office beyond 2022 – the Inter-Business Agreement (IBA) end in 2022
  • to ensure an appropriate degree of price control (of stamps) over a privatised Royal Mail
  • to address the fact that other postal service operators are not subject by the regulator to the same high performance and service quality standards as Royal Mail.”

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Chatsworth Road artisan baker the Gingerbread Boy is visited by Toby

PICTURED: See Toby’s Small Business Saturday gallery

See some of the 25 businesses Toby visited for Small Business Saturday…

Toby Perkins gets his nails touched up by the Fingertips team in Brimington

Toby Perkins gets his nails touched up by the Fingertips team in Brimington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Holmes of Pooky on Chatsworth Road meets Toby

Victoria Holmes of Pooky on Chatsworth Road meets Toby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby stops for a cuppa at Chatsworth Road eaterie Meringue

Toby stops for a cuppa at Chatsworth Road eatery Meringue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bryan's DIY gets a visit from Toby

Bryan’s DIY gets a visit from Toby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby with VP Catering's Jason

Toby with VP Catering’s Jason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new ride? Toby samples the wares at JE James cycles, Whittington Moor

A new ride? Toby samples the wares at JE James cycles, Whittington Moor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby Perkins visited traders across Chesterfield on Small Business Saturday

Toby Perkins visited traders across Chesterfield on Small Business Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chatsworth Road artisan baker the Gingerbread Boy is visited by Toby

Chatsworth Road artisan baker the Gingerbread Boy is visited by Toby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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