Archive | August, 2015

Toby Perkins recently completed a blindfolded walk with a guide dog to raise awareness of the risks of street clutter

Chesterfield MP calls on the town’s businesses to ensure equal access for people with assistance dogs

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Small Business Minister, is urging all businesses in the town to provide equal access to people with assistance dogs – and wants members of the public to help report businesses that refuse entry.

Mr Perkins said, “If we saw a wheelchair user being refused entry to a shop, café or taxi, we would quite rightly be very angry. But across the country, there are far too many people with assistance dogs reporting that they are being refused access and not enough is being done to address this.”

A recent survey by the charity Guide Dogs shows that nearly eight out of ten (75%) assistance dogs owners have at some point been turned away by a business because of their dog. Taxis and private hire vehicles were highlighted as one of the worst culprits for refusing entry to assistance dogs, despite this being illegal under The Equality Act 2010.

Toby Perkins recently completed a blindfolded walk with a guide dog to raise awareness of the risks of street clutter

Toby Perkins recently completed a blindfolded walk with a guide dog to raise awareness of the risks of street clutter

Toby said, “Taxi drivers and operators face fines of up to £1,000 for refusing access to assistance dogs and can have their licenses removed. Unfortunately, blind or partially-sighted people can have trouble identifying the firms or individuals discriminating against them. I would urge operators in Chesterfield to ensure their drivers are complying with the law and I would ask members of the public who witness discrimination taking place to help report these incidents. I have also written to the Government urging more action be taken”

Anyone wishing to report incidents can contact Toby’s office on 01246 386 286 or at

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Blog: The Future of Mental Health Services

New research by YoungMinds, a leading children’s mental health charity, has shown that since 2010 a total of £85m has been lost from the budgets of mental health trusts and local authorities, with £35m of these cuts coming from mental health services for children and young people in England.

Mental health is an urgent national policy issue, particularly when it comes to the care and support we provide to children and young people.  Mental ill health will soon be the biggest burden on society both economically and sociologically, costing around £105 billion per annum.  By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem.  But we spend a fraction of our overall health budget on mental health. Mental health research only receives just 6.5% of total funding in the UK compared with 25% for cancer, 15% for neurological diseases and 9% for cardiovascular conditions.

These are figures which should make every politician sit up and take notice.

There are a number of areas in which our mental health provision needs to improve:

  • Stop neglecting child mental health – a recent report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce showed that only 6 per cent of the mental health budget is spent on children, even though three quarters of adult mental illness begins before the age of 18. Since 2010, the underinvestment and poor delivery of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have led to a growing number of young people being placed in adult wards, and many sent hundreds of miles for hospital care as a result of bed shortages. This not only puts young people at risk but has a negative impact on their rehabilitation and recovery.

I am regularly contacted by concerned parents who feel their children are not receiving the support they need for their mental health and that this is having a negative effect on their education, physical health and quality of life.  Going forward we need better provision of talking therapies for children and a better understanding of how to identify and respond to mental health in schools. Before the election the Tories pledged to increase funding for children’s mental health services, Labour will be making sure that they honour that pledge.

  • Early Intervention – since 2010 there have been a cutbacks in early intervention and prevention services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis Services and the Early Intervention Grant which funds Sure Start services. This short-sighted approach by the government means that people are not getting the support they need when they first develop ill mental health and it ends up costing the NHS billions down the line when these people eventually reach crisis point. I firmly believe focusing more on early intervention services will achieve better outcomes for patients and create long-term savings for the NHS.

To ensure we have early intervention for our children and young people, we need to properly train our teachers to deal with mental health issues, so that mental health needs are identified sooner and children receive the treatment and support they need as soon as possible.

  • Talking therapies – there is a limited availability of counselling services in Chesterfield even though they can provide the kind of lower-level, preventative intervention that can stop problems subsequently becoming more serious. It is completely unacceptable that some of my constituents are having to wait almost 6 months before they can be seen by a counsellor, by which time their needs can have increased significantly and the treatment they need be more extensive and costly. A Labour government would have introduced a maximum 28-day wait once a patient has been referred for talking therapies.

  • Parity of Esteem – This needs to be more than just a political slogan. Real action needs to be taken to so that mental health is given parity of esteem with other areas of health. This means improving diagnosis, increasing mental health awareness across all NHS departments and commissioning the right services to deliver the parity of esteem agenda. Mental health patients should have equal access to the most effective treatment possible, equal consideration regarding waiting list times and the equal regard and consultation as other service users. And the delivery of our mental health services needs to have an equal focus on improvements in the standard of care and a commensurate allocation of resources.

The cuts to mental health funding we have seen over the last five years were the first time the mental health budget had been cut in over a decade. The government focused on short-term savings that left patients without the help or early support they needed and that will cost the NHS billions in the long-term.

Together with improving services, we also need to start changing society’s attitudes towards mental health. This government has relegated mental health to the sidelines and once again made people feel stigmatised and less likely to talk about or address their mental health issues.

3627086678There can be no short-termism in our approach to mental health. People need help as early as possible, for as long as needed and individual to their needs.

This is the right thing for patients and for the long-term viability of our health services.

If you would like to read more about the research carried out by Young Minds please click here

Please also visit the ‘Labour Campaign for Mental Health’ facebook page to read statements on mental health from the Labour leadership candidates

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Toby at Chesterfield Canal encouraging people to request a water saving pack

Toby Perkins MP calls for constituents to ‘Save a little, Save a lot’ and help give people around the world access to clean safe water

The MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, has joined forces with Yorkshire Water to ask local constituents to help reduce the region’s water use by applying for a free water saving pack.

Yorkshire Water provides around 1.24 billion litres of water a day and is aiming to highlight how using water more efficiently is not only good for the environment but can help lower utility bills. Greater water efficiency will also help ensure the region’s reservoir levels, which are currently at a healthy 92 per cent, remain full.

Called ‘Save A Little, Save A Lot’, the campaign aims to encourage customers to think more carefully about how they use water in their homes, such as turning the tap off when brushing your teeth and spending less time in the shower. This will help reduce the current 100-150 litres of water each customer uses on average per day, which is the equivalent of up to two full bath tubs!

Yorkshire Water will donate 10p to WaterAid for every pack ordered to help give people around the world access to clean safe water. Yorkshire Water has supported WaterAid for many years and lots of colleagues from across the business have given their time, energy and money to help change lives in developing countries.

Neil Dewis, Head of Service Delivery at Yorkshire Water, said: “Our ‘Save A Little, Save A Lot’ campaign is about providing our customers with information on how they can save water and why it’s important to do so.

“Some people take water for granted but it is a precious resource and we need to ensure that in the future we can continue to meet the demands of a growing population and the challenges climate change could bring. We work really hard to manage our own leakage and to supply our water in the most efficient way, but we need our customers to play their part too. To help our customers we‘re offering free water saving packs via our website that include simple to install devices that can reduce household water consumption. For every pack ordered we’ll donate 10p to WaterAid to help give people around the world access to clean safe water.”

Toby at Chesterfield Canal encouraging people to request a water saving pack

Toby at Chesterfield Canal encouraging people to request a water saving pack

Toby Perkins MP for Chesterfield, said: “By ordering a free water saving pack and following Yorkshire Water’s useful water saving tips, we can all play our part in helping the environment whilst saving money on our water and energy bills.

“Simple changes like turning the tap off when brushing your teeth could save seven litres of water per person per day! Order your free water saving pack online by visiting”

Last year, 25,000 free water saving packs were ordered by Yorkshire’s residents and the company is hoping they prove equally popular this year.

Water Saving tips:

  • Turning the tap off when brushing teeth could save seven litres per person per day!
  • A bath can use as much as 80 litres of water. Swapping this for a short shower can save on average 10 litres of water per day
  • Fixing that dripping tap could save £18 a year. A dripping tap wastes around 5,500 litres of water a year.
  • Simply by making sure the washing machine is full before using could save eight litres of water per household
  • Fitting a free flushsaver in the toilet cistern will save one litre of water every time the toilet is flushed

To order a free water saving pack and for useful water saving advice visit Yorkshire Water will donate 10p to the charity WaterAid for every pack ordered.

You can also watch a video from the ‘Save a Little, Save a Lot’ campaign on how to get involved and save water

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Toby at the recent 'Medieval Market'

Blog: Chesterfield Town Centre – why we should be optimistic about the future

Just as bygone Christmases are remembered as snowier, and summers more sunny, so anyone who can remember Chesterfield market from years ago will tell you it was a much busier, bustling place. I have had many constituents contact me over the last few years to lament the reduction in the size of the market and fewer shoppers visiting our town centre. Whilst there is an element of truth about it, we still have much to be proud of.

Town centres and markets across the country have all experienced a decline, over many years and for many reasons, including because of our economy going in to recession and consumers shopping habits changing dramatically; also the growth of online shopping, development of out-of-town retail parks, diversification of product availability in supermarkets, increasing number of budget retailers, people having less disposable income and various other factors.

To stop the decline and start to grow again, our town centres are going to have to fundamentally change and adapt to the new retail landscape and offer more than just shopping to attract people in. This is something city centres have been doing for a number of years with reconfigured layouts and new attractions, such as urban beaches, big wheels, food festivals etc and is something that our towns need to replicate on a smaller scale.

Chesterfield has been one of the more resilient town centres in the East Midlands and has a much lower shop vacancy rate when compared to nearby towns such as Mansfield and Ashfield. One of the reasons for Chesterfield’s resilience, and why we should remain optimistic about the future of our market and shopping centre, is the Labour-run Borough Council’s willingness to invest during tough economic times and to innovate and adapt to the modern retail climate.

Following on from the recent £4m refurbishment of the Market Hall, which has provided improved retail spaces together with modern business units, the Council has been working with local businesses and stakeholders to develop a ‘Town Centre Masterplan’ together with an event-driven market place. I have been impressed by the recent ‘Artisan Markets’ and ‘Medieval Market’ that have been held and are bringing people in from miles around.

The Council’s ‘Masterplan’ is being finalised and will focus on modernising the layout of the market so that it is more accessible, has improved sightlines, better cover for bad weather and has additional space for other attractions and events.

With the right planning and will to improve, we can make the most of our beautiful town and its advantageous location.

Toby at the recent 'Medieval Market'

Toby at the recent ‘Medieval Market’

Chesterfield is one of the gateway towns to the Peak District and the improvements being made in our town centre will hopefully increase tourism and provide a boost for our hotels, guest houses, cafes, pubs and shops. And with the planned £400m Peak Resorts development being created near Chesterfield, we will see more jobs being created and more opportunities to increase visitor footfall in our town.

There is a lot of work to be done, but we should feel optimistic about the future for our market and town centre businesses.

Please click here to read more about about the Council’s ‘Masterplan’:

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Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

BLOG: England’s Lionesses Should Inspire Us for a Summer of Sport – and a Lasting Legacy in Women’s Football

Toby with Chesterfield FC Ladies football team

Toby with Chesterfield FC Ladies football team

The whole country was captivated by the Lionesses as they defied the odds and roared their way through to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in Canada last month. England played some scintillating football with great team performances that saw them score some of the best goals in the competition and knock out the hosts along the way.

It was heart-breaking to see them dominate in the semi-final against Japan only to lose due to an own goal in stoppage time.

I hope that the excitement, athleticism and sheer joy shown by England’s women will inspire us all to get active this summer and make the most of the (hopefully) sunny weather to enjoy sports and improve our fitness. But what I also hope for, is that this will have a lasting impression on how we view, invest in and engage with women’s sport.

The World Cup has smashed many people’s preconceptions about international women’s football and shown that it can be as competitive, compelling and gut-wrenching as the men’s game. I hope that the buzz created by this team is already inspiring the next generation of girls to get involved in schools and parks across the country. I hope that this is a legacy we can build on to ensure that women’s football continues to grow and improve.

To build on England’s success in Canada we need to see real investment by the FA in to the women’s game, backed up by new facilities, more female coaches and positive marketing campaigns, like the inspiring ‘This Girl Can’ campaign adverts from Sport England. We also need to see football clubs follow teams like Chesterfield Ladies F.C. who have been inspiring women and girls for over twenty years to get involved in the game.

There has been a failure to build on the success of the Olympic Games and create a lasting sporting legacy, with a recent Sport England’s survey showing that the number of people taking part in sport of any kind has fallen by 220,000 since London 2012. The survey also revealed two million fewer women aged 14-40 take part in regular sport than men, and when it comes to competitive sports this disparity is even greater.

Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

Toby with Megan Tinsley, from Chesterfield, who now plays for England under 17s

At a time when there is a great need for more of us to play sport I am delighted that the redevelopment of the Queen’s Park Sports Centre is almost completed. Only with this kind of investment, together with cultural changes in attitude towards women’s sport and each of us finding time to play competitive sports, will we create the next Lucy Bronze or Linda Bassett.

Whether this is going along to one of Chesterfield FC’s first games of the season, playing cricket in the park with the family, challenging a friend to a game of tennis on our local courts or playing volleyball on the beach whilst on holiday. Get active, get involved and have fun.


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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 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
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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