Archive | February, 2017

Toby with centre manager, Dave Radford, outgoing chair, Sheelagh Hanson, and newly-elected chair, Fee Unwin

Toby Perkins MP congratulates Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Volunteer Centre on another successful year

Local MP Toby Perkins joined staff, volunteers and stakeholders at the Chesterfield & North East Derbyshire Volunteer’s annual general meeting (AGM), which marked another successful year for the organisation.

Toby said, “Volunteer organisations across the country have struggled over the last few years but The Volunteer Centre remains resilient during these tough times. Much of this is due to the excellent fundraising skills of the centre manager, Dave Radford, and because of the hard work of the staff, volunteers and board, who really go above and beyond for the people they are supporting.”

The Volunteer Centre, which is based on Knifesmithgate in Chesterfield town centre, has over 250 volunteer-supporting organisations registered with them and provides a number of services across the Borough and North East Derbyshire. Toby presented a special recognition ward to volunteer, Brian Veasey, and to the Chair, Sheelagh Hanson, who is standing down after 4 years in the role.

Toby made special mention of the Centre’s ‘Elderfriends’ befriending service, which is aimed at lonely and socially isolated people who are over 50 years old and live in Chesterfield and NE Derbyshire.

Toby with centre manager, Dave Radford, outgoing chair, Sheelagh Hanson, and newly-elected chair, Fee Unwin

Toby with centre manager, Dave Radford, outgoing chair, Sheelagh Hanson, and newly-elected chair, Fee Unwin

Toby said, “With the huge pressures on social care and cuts to council budgets, there are many older people who are not receiving the support they need and are becoming increasingly isolated and cut off from the community. The Elderfriends service is a vital lifeline for many vulnerable and lonely people in Chesterfield. They currently have over 400 people waiting for befrienders and I would urge more people to volunteer with the service”.

Toby is supporting the new Parliamentary Commission on Loneliness, which was originally conceived by Jo Cox, the MP for Batley & Spen who was murdered last year.

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Toby with CSC Unite rep, Colin Walker

Chesterfield MP calls for parliamentary debate on CSC job losses

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), which has an office on Old Road in Brampton, announced plans to cut another 1,100 jobs ahead of a potential merger with a division of U.S. Computer giant, Hewlett Packard. Following a meeting with Union reps, Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, has called for a debate in Parliament to discuss the job losses and potential effect on government contracts delivered by CSC.

Toby said, “Over the last 4 months, CSC has announced plans to cut over 1500 jobs, which is a third of their workforce. When this number of jobs are cut in the steel industry, it becomes front page news and questions are raised at PMQs, and it should be no different for the IT industry. CSC deliver services for the NHS,  The Passport Office, The Metropolitan Police, and many other arms of Government and it is only right that MPs get to scrutinise the potential effect on public services”

Toby has now applied for an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons and is arranging a meeting with union representatives and the MPs from all the areas where CSC have sites. Unite the

Toby with CSC Unite rep, Colin Walker

Toby with CSC Unite rep, Colin Walker

Union have criticised CSC management for the lack of transparency in the decision-making process and accused the company of seeing workers as “collateral damage” in the pursuit of a merger deal.

Toby added, “I will be doing what I can to keep job losses in Chesterfield to an absolute minimum and to ensure that any losses do not impact on public services or compromise personal data”

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Toby with the school council and governor, Cllr Keith Mils, at Spire Junior School

‘Running for cash is the only alternative to sacking staff’

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins questioned the Prime Minister on the new national schools funding formula after a local school serving a deprived area was told it would receive the biggest cuts in Derbyshire. The funding formula dictates that Spire Junior School will lose funding equating to £17,000 per annum.

Toby highlighting the cuts to school funding at PMQs

Toby highlighting the cuts to school funding at PMQs

Spire Junior School serves an area of high deprivation, it is ranked 3rd in the list of Derbyshire schools by both deprivation indicator and Free School Meals, with 70% of pupils receiving Free School Meals.

This is the school where the Government launched their Pupil premium initiative. The pupil premium was supposed to give additional funding to publically funded schools, to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities, closing the gaps between them and their peers.

The Governments complicity in stripping the most deprived schools of funding is shameful.

Dave Shaw the Headteacher of Spire Junior School, was going to run the Great North Run, for a cancer charity, but Governments cuts mean that running for cash is the only alternative to sacking staff.

Toby with the school council and governor, Cllr Keith Mils, at Spire Junior School

Toby with the school council and governor, Cllr Keith Mils, at Spire Junior School

 

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Toby meeting with Green Peace activist Jeff Smith to discuss fracking

Toby Perkins MP gives his views on fracking

Any major planning development attracts local objectors. As an MP ensuring those voices are both heard and informed is an important part of my role. It is also crucial to help objectors to focus on which of their concerns are legitimate and worth fighting for and which actually don’t stack up.

Meanwhile, our local economic development often depends on ensuring that major developments happen, but we must make sure that the greater good doesn’t come at too high a price for the immediate vicinity.

Balancing these twin concerns is always difficult, but it is doubly difficult when it concerns issues as contentious as Fracking, Energy pricing and National Energy security.

For many years Derbyshire was amongst the areas that helped keep the nation going as a coal mining area. As an area that once had coal, we are amongst the many dozens of sites that might be attractive to developers wanting to get permission for fracking,

There are reasons to think Fracking is worth investigating, Gas is a fuel which remains vital to the operation of our homes, services and businesses in the UK. 80% of our homes rely on gas for heating, while around 30% of our electricity comes from gas fired power stations. Most of our coal-powered stations have closed and our North Sea Oil supplies are nearing the end.

While low carbon power generation could reduce the need for fossil fuels over time, we are currently in hock to Russian gas, and with Putin increasingly flexing his muscles, reliance on him is dangerous and foolhardy.

The country’s long-term focus needs to be on reducing our individual energy consumption whilst increasing our output and ensuring energy security from a variety of sources, including nuclear, wind, solar and, potentially, shale gas.

Whilst most people don’t often consider electricity supply (so long as the lights don’t ever go out) it is the job of government to take seriously the potential that we aren’t capable of meeting future demands. Fracking has now given the US and Canada energy security for the next 100 years, as well as reducing wholesale generation prices by 20%.

In Germany, meanwhile, a revolution in Green energy means they now provide 30% of their energy from renewable sources (solar and wind especially), although it has come with an increase in energy prices.

Personally, I would like to see a far greater investment in Renewable sources, although Government policy is heading in the opposite direction and most applications also meet with local objections.

But Fracking in the UK does not yet enjoy public confidence, and Government must ensure that local householders will be both protected from, and rewarded by, any Fracking developments before they should be considered here.

Whilst this process will take place 3000 metres below the surface (far deeper than coal shafts) people will want certainty about the number of lorry movements and the scale of upheaval during construction phase, about whether there reasons to be concerned about land movements (crucially will it have any impact on the ability to get insurance), a good indicator as to whether there are legitimate structural concerns.

We will also need greater clarity on what payments will be made to people for whom Fracking happens under their houses, and whether it has an impact on house prices. Understandably many of these questions won’t be answered until after there have been explorations done to see which sites are likely to be suitable.

Doing nothing on energy security isn’t an answer, but that doesn’t mean that we should just allow anything either. I’ll keep an open mind on Fracking but there are still many more questions to answer.

 

Toby meeting with Green Peace activist Jeff Smith to discuss fracking

Toby meeting with Green Peace activist Jeff Smith to discuss fracking

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Toby speaking in last night's debate

MP battles for Chesterfield in HS2 debate

Local MP, Toby Perkins, attended a late night debate in Parliament regarding the planned M18 route for HS2 which would ensure the high-speed rail link included Chesterfield.

At a debate which went on until almost 2am, Toby demanded that any changes ensure Chesterfield remains part of the plans. Toby said in the debate:

Toby speaking in last night's debate

Toby speaking in last night’s debate

From the perspective of Chesterfield, may I tell the Minister that we were actually quite pleased with the change, because it brings in the whole north Derbyshire area, and up to about 400,000 people? Whatever comes out of this, can we make sure that Chesterfield is served either by the route he is now proposing, or by the route to the east of Chesterfield?

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-02-06/debates/E650CA55-5866-4CB7-A2FF-A51B7C5CC693/HighSpeed2Yorkshire

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Toby behind bar in pub

Chesterfield MP named one of the top 10 “movers and shakers” in Derbyshire’s beer and pubs scene

Toby Perkins MP, who was recently elected as the new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, has been named in the Derby Telegraph’s top 10 “movers and shakers” in Derbyshire’s beer and pubs scene.

Toby is a former Shadow Pubs Minister and was named the British Beer & Pub Association’s Parliamentary Beer Champion for 2015. He was also declared a ‘Pub Hero’ in 2014 by the Punch Tenants Network for the work he has done in trying to introduce a ‘market only rent’ option in order to help thousands of struggling tied publicans.

The Derby Telegraph’s “Beerhunter” columnist had this to say of Toby:

“The Chesterfield MP is the new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save The Pub Group. He’s one of those rare MPs who can transcend party politics and simply argue about what’s obviously the right thing to do. God knows, we’d be better off if they were all like that […] He’s one of the good guys and you won’t catch me saying that about a lot of politicians.”

Toby said:

“I thank the Derby Telegraph for their kind words and will be doing all I can to ‘move and shake’ the pub industry. In my role as Chair of the APPG Save the Pubs group I hope to increase the dialogue between the industry and politicians, and help put pressure on the Government to do all they can to support our struggling publicans.”

You can read the full story at http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/are-these-the-10-top-movers-and-shakers-in-derbyshire-s-great-beer-and-pubs-scene/story-30092026-detail/story.html#2uhTlTKBHxi3yFFx.99

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Toby with Tesco staff and Usdaw organisers

MP calls for better protections for retail workers

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, has joined calls for action to protect shopworkers and retail staff from violence and abuse.

A recent study by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows that the human cost of retail crime is growing, with a 40% increase in offences involving abuse or violence against shopworkers; rising

Toby with Tesco staff and Usdaw organisers

Toby with Tesco staff and Usdaw organisers

from 41 to 51 per 1,000 shopworkers during 2016. And a survey by the retail workers’ union, Usdaw, showed that 8% of shopworkers had been assaulted in the last year, half had been verbally abused and almost a third had been threatened with violence.

Toby said, “Just last week there was an armed robbery at the Co-op in nearby Whitwell, a terrifying ordeal for the staff on duty. Luckily, this type of incident is rare, but every day across the country shopworkers have to deal with verbal abuse, shoplifters, and threats of violence. I am calling on the Government to commit to stiffer sentences for those who assault retail staff”

 

Toby recently joined USDAW members and staff at the Tesco on Lockoford Lane to promote the union’s ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers.

The main aims of the campaign are:

  • Negotiate with employers for safety and security improvements in stores.
  • Campaign for Government to ensure that their policies and actions help tackle retail crime and anti-social behaviour in shopping areas.
  • Raise awareness with the shopping public that violence, threats and abuse against workers is unacceptable behaviour.
  • Give workers the confidence to speak out and not accept abuse as just a part of the job.

Toby added, “I am proud to support Usdaw’s ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign and will do all I can to help protect our retail workers from threats, violence and abuse in the workplace. Retail staff are an important part of our communities and our economy, they should be valued and respected.”

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EU UK Flags

Vote on Article 50

The article that I have sent to this week’s Derbyshire Times in response to an enquiry about how I will vote on Article 50 ratification

This weekend’s deliberations ahead of the vote that will take place on whether to trigger Article 50 have been amongst the most tortured I have faced in my time as an MP.

To many, the issue is a straight-forward one. Britain voted to Leave the EU (as did Chesterfield) and the invoking of Article 50 is the parliamentary ratification of that vote. As a democrat, whilst being disappointed by the outcome, I respect it, and accept that Britain must get on with negotiating our exit from the EU.

However, accepting that Britain will leave the EU is not the same as accepting that Theresa May, an unelected Prime Minister who voted Remain, is the only arbiter of the terms under which we will leave. I am horrified that she appears complacent about the impact that leaving the EU single market will have on our economy, and the speed with which she appears willing to jump into bed with Donald Trump’s dangerous and divisive vision of Anglo American relations.

The image of our PM holding hands with the President, moments before he invoked an arbitrary order to ban Muslim refugees from seven countries, is an image that will haunt those who feel proud of Britain’s historic role in fighting the rise of Nationalist extremists, and promoting international co-operation.

Meanwhile, the vote will take place before she has produced the White paper which outlines her government’s approach to getting the best deal for Britain. I also feel she missed a trick by agreeing to trigger Article 50 without insisting that Britain could start negotiating with non-EU countries alongside our EU talks which will reduce the strength of our hand in those negotiations.

However, despite my many misgivings about the approach that the Government is taking, it would be disingenuous for me to overlook the extent to which last June’s referendum was a rejection of the ‘political establishment’ view. In that context, I feel the argument that says that we must allow those negotiations to begin in line with the outcome of that vote is a compelling one. Whilst I will vote for amendments that seek to protect our National Health Service and safeguard our economy, I will support the Government’s desire to invoke Article 50 at this week’s 2nd Reading vote.

I will also be fighting Chesterfield’s corner throughout. Leave campaigners promised that there would be more money not less for our vital public services and regeneration projects, I will be insisting those promises are honoured. None of us can be certain what the future holds, but my fight is to retain what is dear too us, not to fight the outcome of a campaign that is already over.

So I will vote to honour the referendum outcome this week, but Theresa MAY be sure, there’ll be no blank cheque on her vision of Brexit from me.

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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 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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