Archive | November, 2017

For each of the last 15 years I have taken tremendous pride and satisfaction in Chesterfield’s commitment to the Remembrance Sunday ceremony that takes place here. This year’s was made all the more poignant having just attended the 3 Para Remembrance service with them at the British Army Training Unit in Kenya where I had stayed for 6 days.

I had the opportunity to attend as part of my role in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. I and several colleagues volunteer to spend a minimum of 15 days in a year witnessing our Armed Forces in action. The scheme is designed to increase the knowledge base of MPs about Service life and give serving soldiers, sailors and Airmen the opportunity to question MPs too.

The most recent week was with our soldiers at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).  This was one in a series of deployments I have done as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. I spent time with a battle group of around 700 members of 3 Company of the Paratroop regiment, as they conducted some of their 8 week battle ready exercise. Alongside witnessing a live firing light infantry exercise, I also a live simulation where the 3 Paras were defending their camp from an onslaught delivered by a foreign army (played by members of the Ghurka regiment).

Over the course of the 6 days we learnt about what life is like for those members of BATUK who live permanently in Kenya, and for those who had set up camp in the Kenyan outback, lived in the battlefield.

We also saw two of the Community projects that the British Army had helped with in a Kenyan school and orphanage, and saw the joint work that our Army is doing working alongside and developing the Kenyan Army. Sleeping in the field with the Army, and living on ration packs, and washing in a bucket was a world away from normal life, but it certainly brings home the reality of life in the field for our soldiers.

Last year I spent time with the Navy, sailing to Amsterdam on a Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland and on our new destroyers, as well as witnessing the new Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It all added to the poignancy of our Remembrance Day ceremony here, which I believe was as well attended as any have been in Chesterfield.

I think that so many attend because there is a growing awareness of both the contribution that has been made in the past and as a way of showing support to today’s generation of Servicemen and women.

Having spent time with the Army and Navy at all levels, I was very struck by the proper context that is given to the need to utilise the Armed Forces. They are keen to be trained and to be available to be used when the situation demands it. They were neither gung-ho nor daunted by the demands made of them, they simply recognise operations and deployments as a necessary part of service life.

Their commitment reinforces why the decision around whether to send our troops into hostile arenas is one that weighs heavier than any other on Parliament. For my part I will continue to do all I can to be the best informed that I can be, and to push for our Armed Service personnel to have the equipment and support they need to be  world class now and in the future.

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Toby with Chesterfield College Principal, Julie Richards

Further Education funding crisis threatens Derbyshire colleges

The Further Education funding crisis was the topic of discussion when Toby Perkins visited Chesterfield College last week.

Toby met with Principal, Julie Richards, to discuss the challenges the College faces if the funding for 16-19 years old education is not increased.

Toby said, “Julie and her team are doing a fantastic job and providing high quality education under difficult circumstances. However, the Government’s current funding formula for colleges is unfair and unsustainable. I have written to the Chancellor ahead of his Autumn Budget Statement to urge him to listen to the recommendations of the Association of Colleges and provide fairer funding for further education.”

The Government currently spends 4.3% of GDP on education and training, which is expected to fall at a time when student numbers are increasing. Per-pupil funding for 16-18-year-olds is 22% lower than the funding for 5 to 16-year-olds. The Government’s apprenticeship levy on businesses, introduced earlier this year, has also seen apprenticeship new starts reduce by 61% across England & Wales, placing further pressures on colleges.

Toby with Chesterfield College Principal, Julie Richards

Toby with Chesterfield College Principal, Julie Richards

Toby added, “There are many students who may have struggled in a school environment who then flourish once they are in college. If funding for further education is not increased it could push colleges to the brink, reduce course provision, increase the skills gap and mean the Government cannot deliver the 3 million apprenticeships they promised.”

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Hardcase Pic 1

MP banging the drum for growing Chesterfield firm

Chesterfield based HARDCASE International Ltd, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rigid plastic protective cases for drums and percussion instrumentation, was visited by local MP, Toby Perkins, to discuss their recent management buy-out and plans for expansion.

Toby with new owner and managing Director, Dave Eyre

Toby with new owner and managing Director, Dave Eyre

The company manufactures over 30,000 cases every year from their base on Sheepbridge Industrial Estate, supplying countries across the world. The company, which employs 15 people, now has plans to recruit more staff, relocate to larger premises and expand into new markets.

Toby said, “People often complain that we don’t make anything in the UK anymore, but we have SMEs, like HARDCASE International, that are in our communities, manufacturing high-quality products that are then shipped all over the world. HARDCASE is an internationally-renowned brand that are used by some of the biggest artists in the world and we should be banging the drum loudly so people recognise these products are made in Chesterfield.”

HARDCASE have and continue to supply cases to bands such as Iron Maiden, The Pigeon Detectives, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and Level 42. All their cases are manufactured on site in Chesterfield. New owner and Managing Director, Dave Eyre, who led the recent management buy-out, said, “HARDCASE are extremely proud to fly the flag for British manufacturing and keep operations firmly fixed herein Chesterfield. We have a fantastic team at HARDCASE and I truly believe their skill set, work ethic and our approach as a company to both product quality and customer service remain key to the brands success. The recognition and respect we continue to receive from the global market place never ceases to amaze which we all take great pride”.

Toby watching the initial modelling process

Toby watching the initial modelling process

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Toby Perkins is urging the Government to take action now on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals

Chesterfield Gamblers Lose Over £2.5m in one year on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals

Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, is urging the Government and bookmakers to take action to kerb excessive gambling on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs) after figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling revealed Chesterfield customers lost £2,594,206 in 2015-16.

Toby said, “These machines allow users to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds, which can quickly lead to huge losses and can become highly addictive for some people. The Government need to take action now, rather than extending the consultation on this issue and kicking it in to the long grass. As well as reducing the amount that can be spent on an individual spin, I would urge the Government and industry to look at pre-pay top-up cards that people use in high street bookmakers, rather than using cash. This would allow companies to monitor and restrict excessive gambling”.

A report released by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has shown British gamblers lost a total of £1.7 billion on FOBTs in 2015, and 11.5% of all FOBTs users are serious gambling addicts. In Chesterfield, £17,575,381 was lost on FOBTs between 2008-16.

Toby Perkins is urging the Government to take action now on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals

Toby Perkins is urging the Government to take action now on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals

Toby added, “It is important we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and cause thousands of bookies to close. Bookmakers have been one of the more resilient shops on our high streets and the revenues from business rates and taxes they generate are vital to the public purse. I would urge the Government and bookmakers to work together to come up with a solution that protects customers, encourages responsible gambling and doesn’t close down shops, but reduced the amounts that people can lose in a single spin, which could lead to people gambling excessively online or moving to venues with less regulation on machines, such as casinos and pubs.”

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Lilly is currently doing work experience one afternoon a week in Toby's constituency office

GUEST BLOG: Lilly Beards, sixth form student at Brookfield Community School, gives her views on the ‘Votes at 16’ campaign

On Friday November 3rd, Labour MP Jim McMahon will introduce his Private Members’ Bill – aiming to lower voting age in UK elections and referendums to 16 – into Parliament.

I’ve been a follower of the Votes At 16 campaign since 2014, when voting age was lowered for the Scottish independence referendum. Surveys and interviews suggest that young people and MPs alike agree that lowering the voting age for the referendum hugely increased Scottish young people’s interest and engagement in politics, as they were finally being given the opportunity to have their say in a vote that would hugely affect them.

This is why I believe 16- and 17-year-olds should be given the vote; issues voted on in elections and referendums will affect their lives directly. For example, a prominent topic in the 2017 general election was tuition fees, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowing to scrap tuition fees for both current and future university students. To me, it seems ridiculous that 16- and 17- year olds, an age bracket that alteration of tuition fees and other educational topics hugely affect, were not allowed to vote to help determine the outcome of the election.

The average government term in the UK is 3 years and 10 months, and can be up to 5 years; this means that, most likely, 16-17 year olds will have become adult members of society in the midst of a governmental term, but will not have had the opportunity to choose which party will dictate their early adult years; this is unfair, surely?

A common argument for not lowering the voting age is that 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t “educated” enough to vote knowledgeably and sensibly; surely, then, the government should be taking steps to bring better political education into our schools.

Before September of this year, when I started my A-Level in Government & Politics, I had received little to no education in school regarding anything to do with current affairs or how the UK’s political and voting systems work. I had PSHE lessons once a week, which followed a hugely ineffective specification and did not teach anything of transferrable use, especially not regarding the world of politics. It is my strong belief that, in order to combat the Conservative Party’s supposed belief that young people are not socio-politically aware enough to vote in elections and referendums, political education should be improved and made compulsory, in order to prepare them for voting at a younger age; this would be both beneficial to young people, who can have a say in their future, but also to the country as a whole – equipping the country’s citizens with a wider political knowledge can do nothing but good.

241 out of 261 Labour MPs support the Votes At 16 campaign, a movement founded in 2003 in the hope that the franchise would be expanded to young people in the UK aged 16 and 17. Whilst a 14-year battle without success seems quite a long time, it’s important to note that it took 41 years since the 1928 Representation of the People Act – in which it was stated that all eligible citizens over 21 could vote – that the voting age was lowered to 18, in 1969. In today’s era of powerful social media lobbying, campaigning, and e-petitions, however, it is easy to imagine that it would not take as long to lower voting age to 16; it is only a matter of expanding political education, awareness, and responsibility to the young people who are the near-future of the UK. Friday November 3rd could be the catalyst for change in the journey to lowering the voting age in the UK to 16.

Lilly is currently doing work experience one afternoon a week in Toby's constituency office

Lilly is currently doing work experience one afternoon a week in Toby’s constituency office



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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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