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The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

BLOG: Toby Perkins MP shares his thoughts as Chesterfield commemorates the Centenary of the end of the Great War

This year sees the centenary of the end of the Great War and has renewed our focus on the sacrifice that was made by so many millions of men then, and which are still made today by those that serve in our Armed Forces. Remembrance Sunday in Chesterfield has grown over the last few years, with an increase in events and a real feeling of the town coming together to honour those who have given their life for their country.

The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

There are numerous important documentaries and articles regarding the Great War and it is important that, as the events pass from living memory, we never forget the catastrophic conflict the world went through and hopefully ensure it never happens again. The War cost the lives of 10 million soldiers worldwide, including 886,000 British military personnel, and almost 7 million civilians. And whilst we remember those who served, on this centenary the Royal British Legion is asking us to thank the entire First World War generation, commemorating not just those who fought and died on the battlefield but all of those who played their part on the home front and those that returned to build a better future for generations to come.

It is also important that whilst we recognise the contribution that has been made in the past, we also support today’s generation of Servicemen and women. The Armed Forces are not in the news as much lately as there are no major conflicts that we are currently engaged in, but our personnel are still in service across the world, spending months away from their families and maintaining a level of preparedness and professionalism to ensure they are always ready to step into action in our defence.

As an MP, and as Chair of Labour Friends of the Forces, it is my duty to ensure that the interests of the defence community are at the very top of Parliament’s priorities and to ensure that our Armed Forces’ personnel and veterans are getting the recognition that they deserve.

Toby in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit Kenya

Toby in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit

This is the main reason that I signed up to Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which I proudly ‘graduated’ from last month. I and several colleagues volunteered 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. Over the last couple of years I have spent time in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) taking part in battle ready exercises and seeing what it is like setting up camp out in the field. I also 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. Though these trips could never replicate a long term life in the Forces, it did give me a good idea of the conditions our Armed Forces have to live in, how they feel about their roles and learning about why people join and leave our Armed Forces.

In Chesterfield, I am always proud of the effort, pride and community spirit on Remembrance Sunday. You may have already seen the cascade of poppies adorning the town hall and other public buildings, presenting a powerful public reminder of this important occasion and put together through the hard work of many volunteers and contributors from across the borough.

Toby at the Graduation ceremony for the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme

Toby at the Graduation ceremony for the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme

There will be numerous events in Chesterfield over the next few days to mark the Centenary and I hope that you will be able to join me at one. I will be speaking at the Festival of Remembrance at the Winding Wheel on 8th November at 7pm, I will be joining the Staveley Annual Remembrance Day Parade and Service on Sunday 11th November at 10am, before joining the Borough Council’s ‘Service of Remembrance’ at 2.30pm when I will lay a wreath at the War Memorial on Rose Hill.

I hope that whilst we stop and take time to remember the fallen from the Great War, that we also think about our servicemen and women who are serving today and I resolve to always fight their corner in Parliament.

Toby has taken part in battle ready exercises as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme

Toby has taken part in battle ready exercises as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme



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Toby at Chesterfield Pride 2018

BLOG: Chesterfield Pride 2018 suggests we are making good progress here, and our society is all the better for it

This year’s Chesterfield Pride was the biggest and best yet, with over 4,000 people estimated to have attended the event at Stand Road this year, making it one of the fastest growing Pride events in the country. If you were lucky enough to be there you would have enjoyed music, games, stalls and a real sense of fun, community and, of course, pride. These Pride events were borne out of a demonstration against the discrimination and violence that gay people faced, and whilst they are now and enjoyable and flamboyant social event they still carry an important message. Homosexuality has been illegal for most of our history and even now, in many countries, gay people can face grave consequences. Whilst the riot of colour, music and fairground rides was celebratory, the Derbyshire LGBT+ stand had a historic reminder of the legal discrimination this community has faced.

The Pride movement, and the huge numbers of people now attending, including families with children and grandparents, shows the huge steps that have been made and how attitudes have changed. The Rainbow flag has become a familiar sight and something that people and organisations proudly display. I saw children with the rainbow symbols painted on their faces, men and women carrying rainbow flags or wearing technicolour clothes, and people from all walks of life coming together in solidarity under the rainbow banner.

The LGBT rights movement has won numerous legislative victories in this country in a relatively short space of time, such as Equal Marriage, equal rights to adopt and foster children, the right for transgender people to have their birth certificate changed, specific protections from hate crimes. Only 16 years ago, transsexualism was still classified as a mental illness and it is only 13 years since Tony Blair’s Labour Government introduced civil partnerships. The steps that have been made in the last 15-20 years are immense and the Pride movement has been central to these achievements.

But LGBT people still face discrimination both at home, in society and at work. A new Chesterfield LGBT office is being set up to support LGBT people and their families with a view to increasing respect and tolerance. Historically, gay people were forced to live their lives in total secrecy. But they wish to be able to be open about their lives, and celebrate their relationships, just like everyone else. The success of Chesterfield Pride 2018 suggests we are making good progress here, and our society is all the better for it.

Toby at Chesterfield Pride 2018

Toby at Chesterfield Pride 2018

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Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby's constituency office

GUEST BLOG: Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, asks the question ‘Grammar schools, do we need them?’

Earlier this year, the Conservative party announced their plans to spend an added £50million on grammar schools. This raised the very important question of whether we should still have grammar schools.

The concept of grammar schools has been around since the 16th century, with the more recent concept of having grammar schools and secondary moderns, for those who did not meet the grammar school’s entry requirements, first being put in place in 1944. However it wasn’t long before this was changed with the Labour government in 1965 pushing local authorities to phase out these and replace them with the standard comprehensive schools, as they claimed that the system reinforced class division. This was met with resistance in some conservative counties such as Kent, where there are still a number of comprehensive schools. In 1998, Blair’s Labour government passed legislation prohibiting the creation of any more grammar schools. After this the debate had seemingly ceased and many people were willing to turn a blind eye to the remaining number of grammar schools. However, recent revelations under the Conservatives have seen the debate be reignited.

Perhaps the most prevalent argument against grammar schools is the two-tier education system they create. This is caused though many different factors, but none more so than their ability to select their students. Meaning that through the selection process they can select the most ‘academic’ students and children who are ‘likely to succeed’. With the students who have been turned away ending up in the comprehensive schools. From this alone it is clear to see the divide that is created in ability but also in mentality, with those turned away thinking they aren’t good enough, which is contrasted by the ‘you can succeed anything’ mentality of grammar schools, which, in contrast, is shown by comprehensive schools often performing worse than the national average in areas with grammar schools. And while in the 1940s those who were not accepted would often find themselves working in trades, this is no longer the case as our country has gone through significant changes since, such as the primary and secondary sectors deceasing dramatically and the huge increase in the tertiary sector’s input into our economy. This would suggest that the two-tier system that is created is no longer fit for purpose as it doesn’t fit our nations demands as many people in grammar and comprehensive schools will find themselves in the same fields of work, especially with the increased number of people taking up further education from low- income households.

Conversely, people may argue that grammar schools should be more prevalent in our education system because they get results and perform well. Which on the whole is a true and fair argument, as grammar schools perform way above the national average. For example in 2016, according to the BBC, grammar schools had 96.7% of their students achieving A* to C in at least 5 subjects, compared to the 58.1% national average. Based off these statistics it is quite clear to see the case for grammar schools. However, these should be taken with a pinch of salt as there are many factors influencing this. None less so than the fact that grammar schools hand pick the ‘brightest’ students who are deemed most likely to succeed, based off their 11 plus entry exams. These students are taught in classes, often smaller than the national average, with students of similar ability to themselves. From this it is clear to see that there is a huge difference to the mixed ability state comprehensive schools. It also remains unclear whether the grammar schools actually contribute to the students’ success, as many argue that the students who succeed in grammar schools would achieve very similar results in comprehensive schools. As their results often similar the results of the ‘brightest’ students in catchments without grammar schools, suggesting that they have little to no impact on those specially selected intake who would seemingly succeed anyway, however we cannot know this for sure.

Grammar schools can be very harming to our education system with the 11-plus exams adding a large amount of pressure on to the children who are still in primary school with this possibly removing what should be a positive learning environment. Not only this but by the time thee children take the test there is a large divide just based on prosperity. As in Kent in 2013 a child on free school meals was 5 times less likely to achieve key stage 2 results by the age of 11, than those who were not, and in turn almost identically less likely to be accepted into a grammar school. It is no secret that prosperity plays a large factor in a child’s likelihood to succeed in terms of exam results, with the most deprived often performing far worse than the most prosperous in society. Furthermore, wealth does play a large factor in the grammar school debate as they under-represent the poorest children. And a possible cause of this is the availability of private tutors to help your child pass the entry tests. Because many of the poorest cannot afford this service it allows the more wealthy children get a helping hand, creating an uneven playing field. As well as children from main-stream primary schools not being specifically taught how to pass the test adding to the inequality and creating a divide between the richest and poorest children, which is why Labour opposes them.

On the whole grammar schools are extremely divisive. They add to inequality by creating a two-tier education system and harming social mobility, as areas with a selective education system reinforce and, sometimes, increase social segregation by endangering the social cohesion between those with and those without. Not only this but dividing the most able and the rest from an early age adds to the long list of problems grammar schools have. By looking at the evidence it is clear to see the issues there are with the selective school system and how it is no longer fit for purpose. The proposal of the additional funding appears to be taking our education system back a step. And I for one would much rather see that money being used to fund the comprehensive schools that are struggling to remain open, or to improve the schools that perform the worst so that everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at  Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby's constituency office

Toby Perkins MP with Stan Tomkinson, student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, who has been on work experience in Toby’s constituency office

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Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

GUEST BLOG: Outwood Academy Newbold student, Lucy Parker, asks the question ‘Should people automatically get paid more just because they’re older?’

Earlier this year, the national living wage was raised to £7.83 an hour while the rate for people aged 21 to 24 trailed behind at just £7.38 per hour. My question is; should the national living wage be applicable to everybody and not just people in the over 25 age bracket?

From a survey conducted by The Telegraph, research disclosed that the average person expects to move out of their parents’ house by the tender age of 22. This makes it apparent that people around the age of 22 will need an enhanced income to remain solvent, while paying a mortgage. The national minimum wage is the minimum pay per hour that workers are entitled to by the law. The national living wage is the minimum pay per hour workers aged over 25 are entitled to by law.  I would like to raise the argument as to whether pay should be determined by age, experience or work conducted. One issue that I’ve focussed on is whether the current minimum pay system discriminates against age and doesn’t considerer the capabilities and experience of the employee to determine the pay that they receive.

Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

Former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with Toby and Lucy at the Chesterfield Labour Party gala dinner

Some possible factors that could affect the wage that a person receives include; education, industry, company, location and age. The prevalent theme in these factors is that they are all able to be altered by us. We can enhance what level of education we have and whether we want to pursue higher education. We also get the choice regarding which industry we would like to enter, along with the instilled hard work to get work experience. The only factor that we cannot change is age. We can’t morph ourselves to be two years older just so that we receive a better wage, so why should this restrict the earnings a person receives? In addition, the pay system also doesn’t delegate pay in proportion to the need of the employee.  An employee aged 22 may have a mortgage as well as two young children, yet still earn less that a 25 year old who lives in their parents’ house. As a society we encourage young people to begin building their own lives from a young age yet where is the support in the minimum wage system to do this?

It is also apparent that when an individual becomes an adult on their 18th birthday they are given adult responsibilities. They can now vote in political matters, get married on their own accord, join the army and stand for parliament. Surely their entitlement to these adult responsibilities ought to entitle them to an adult wage? The low pay commission justifies the low wage by claiming “young workers are most at risk of being priced out of jobs”, meaning that working for less helps us get into employment.  But shouldn’t we employ people based on their experience and hard work rather than how much they cost the company? Young people can work for poverty inducing wages yet still give the exact same to the company. For example, two waitresses can both work the same number of hours, at the same workplace, doing exactly the same job with the identical responsibilities, yet receive enormous differences in pay. In addition, people with no experience automatically get paid more than their experienced colleagues. Why? Because they’re 18 and you’re not. Personally, I have worked in pubs and restaurants since I was 15 and therefore have two years of catering experience, however an 18 year old who is just starting their first job automatically gets paid more. Younger people earning lower wages also makes university seem more financially strenuous and adds to the concerns of the impending student debt. That’s why I believe that two people who conduct identical jobs should be paid the same amount of money. Under the equality act of 2010, a woman can challenge her boss if she is getting less than her colleague who conducts the same job role, yet with the factor of age, a pay gap is encouraged.

Good wages can encourage students not to pursue higher education as they may think that the short term buzz in each pay packet will be enough for them to get a mortgage and fund a household in the future. Additionally, younger people generally have less experience than their older peers. This would give the employer a reason to pay younger workers a lesser wage that their older colleagues as the workplace may have higher training costs and therefore will need compensating. In partial agreeance with the low pay commission, a lower wage does give the employer a bigger incentive to take on younger staff.  Young workers also do generally work in lower paying sectors such as retail and catering. But nevertheless, they still ought to be entitled to an equal wage that their colleagues are earning. Businesses also argue that they can’t afford to pay their staff a fair and equal wage, but then should a business be allowed to morally operate if it can’t afford to pay their staff fairly? Arguably, people aged under 25 and under 18 typically have less financial needs than their older colleagues. For instance, an under 18 year old probably won’t have learnt how to drive and therefore won’t have to fund a car, along with the dreaded first-year car insurance. Similarly, an over 25 year old is more probable to have moved out, and therefore will be more likely to need a bigger wage to fund their lifestyle. I understand that the pay brackets have got to be general to suit the majority of the population, but employers could easily notice the hard work that young people contribute and pay them an equal wage. Understandably, younger people can’t always expand their job roles while acting legally. For example, an older colleague may be able to work both on the bar and in the kitchen in a pub, meaning they can give more to the company and therefore are entitled to a better wage.

People who conduct the same job should be entitled to the same wage without regard to their age. If younger people were to earn equal wages, it would encourage them to save for bigger life events such as their first car or their university costs, along with their virtually impossible deposit on a house.  It would also provide them with the transferrable skills of budgeting and managing their money. Pay should be proportional to the quality of the work that is conducted, not an employee’s age. Society wants to give us adult responsibilities yet we are not entitled to an adult wage. The media claims that young people are being priced out of jobs, but the concept of being employed ought to be based on your contribution to the company and not the wage that you get paid. I think that they current minimum wage system is based on the traditional and stereotypical belief that older people work better than younger people whereas, younger people are freshly out of education and can bring new and innovative ideas to a workplace

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Pubs are at the heart of our community – as we have seen during England’s brilliant World Cup run

The power of sport to galvanise a nation and bring communities together has been demonstrated once again this year- as has the role of our pubs in providing a focal point for that collective excitement.

As a Football fan for the last 40 years, I can count the number of major Football tournaments that live long in the nation’s memory on the fingers of one hand.

The aspect of this year’s thrilling run that stands apart from previous exciting events is how little expectation this year’s squad took with them into the tournament. We English are great ones for building up false hopes and then seeing them dashed, so it has been a pleasant surprise that the team that so little was expected of have performed so well.

I write this before England’s semi-final so I have no idea of how the story ends, but what is beyond question is that the run through the tournament has captured the public imagination hugely. The game with Sweden attracted the biggest television audience for an England match for 22 years, and the words ‘it’s coming home’ have assumed a meaning all on their own.

But what is also indisputable is that the focal point of much of this collective merriment has centred around Britain’s pubs. Our pubs have been through tough times in recent years for a myriad of reasons. Changing social habits, tax and cost of alcohol, the numerous alternatives on offer, the smoking ban and the drink drive clampdown have all for different reasons reduced the pull of pubs. Those that have survived have had to develop an attractive offer to thrive when there is such competition for our social spend.

The renaissance in Real ales, a lively pub music scene, sports bars, hugely creative pub menus and more attractive spaces are amongst the benefits that successful pub operators have now brought about in order to attracts us behind their doors.

And whilst it is extremely welcome that there is so much innovation in this traditional sector, the value of having a place to be together and watch events like this summer’s world cup with friends cannot be overstated. Nor can the wider community value of Britain’s pubs.

Pubs are also an economic necessity. Over 1 million people are employed in pubs, which pay over £8Billion in tax revenues every year. In Chesterfield we have around 90 different pubs, and videos on social media have been showing Chesterfield’s pubs leading the way in providing scenes of collective ecstasy during this summer’s Football.

It is because of a desire to salute and celebrate Britain’s pubs that I have created the inaugural Parliamentary Pub of the Year competition in my role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs. The competition, which will give every MP from across Britain’s 650 constituencies the opportunity to nominate a great pub, was launched in Westminster’s famous Red Lion. Appropriately enough, the competition was launched just minutes before England took the field to play Colombia. Already dozens of MPs have signed up and selecting the ten finalists will be devilishly difficult, but as a pub enthusiast, it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to taking up!

If you would like to choose the pub you think I should nominate, email your suggestion with a description of not more than 100 words as to why it is a winner to and let’s tell all of Britain about Chesterfield’s great pubs.


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Toby speaking to ITV news about Chesterfield's relegation from the football league

Toby Perkins MP shares his views on Chesterfield FC’s relegation from the football league

As the MP for Chesterfield, taking a pride in, and promoting our town, is in the job description. Often that is easy, but on occasions, when things go wrong, it can be tough.

The recent relegation out of the Football League that befell Chesterfield FC is one such occurrence. Founder members of the Football League Division 3 North in 1921-22, Chesterfield FC have been in the Football League ever since. Despite being in the lower divisions in every season since the war, the club have never had to apply for re-election, nor even been close to relegation out of the Football League.

Therefore, it is a bitter blow to Spireites fans that in the first season that there has been a true relegation battle the team have succumbed to relegation.

Alongside our famous Crooked Spire and beautiful Market Square, the Football Club is one of the things for which Chesterfield is best known.

The whole town has joined in celebrations when they have won trophies, and which of us can forget the pandemonium that accompanied the trip to the FA Cup Semi Final back in 1997?

As a lifelong Football fan I have taken a keen interest in the goings on at the Proact Stadium and have had a good and constructive relationship with Directors there throughout my time as the Town’s MP. Their candour and generosity has meant that I have been able to learn a great deal about the tribulations at the club in recent years.

However that positive relationship never overshadows my ultimate responsibility as the Town’s MP to speak up for the fans.

Off the field there have been well publicised errors which have destroyed many fans trust in the current regime. The club has also been undermined by the fact that it has been apparently up for sale for much of the last two years, and the owner has not been present at the club for most of that two year period. There has also been a worrying trend of blaming the fans for the failures that have taken place.

It is a telling illustration of the importance of leadership that the side relegated was amongst the most expensive (best paid) of the 24 that competed in League 2 last season.

Whilst a number of potential buyers have come and gone, and three Managers too in that short period, the need for an engaged ownership that shows the love for the club that fans demonstrate on a weekly basis is urgent.

The existing owner has bankrolled the creation of the immaculate Proact Stadium and also the creation of the most exciting Spireites team in the last 30 years or more. That should have been a legacy to be proud of. But that legacy is undermined by the relegations of recent years which has seen the team fall out of the League for the first time ever.

Whilst it is clearly his business whether he accepts any offers he receives for his shares, on behalf of the whole town I urge him to either get involved again and provide the leadership that is missing, or accept an offer and walk away.

Supporters can be simultaneously grateful for his early efforts and furious about the trashing of that legacy on the pitch, but a failure to learn that a club without leadership will continue to drift downwards would be unforgivable. Our Football club has reached a crossroads that many thought they’d never see, the decisions that are taken now will set its future path, and could not be more crucial if the Football club is to remain a part of the nation’s consciousness.

Toby speaking to ITV news about Chesterfield's relegation from the football league

Toby speaking to ITV news about Chesterfield’s relegation from the football league

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Toby signing up to Skys Ocean Rescue campaign

BLOG: We all have a responsibility to prevent plastics from destroying our environment

Over the last 20 years, we have made huge strides on increasing recycling and making people more aware of the importance of conserving resources and reducing our impact on the planet. We are all used to separating our rubbish and ensuring recyclables are in our blue bin, it has just become a natural part of life at home. Whilst many of the plastics we use are being recycled, it has become clear that single use plastics are having a drastic effect on our environment – clogging up our oceans, littering the countryside and causing death and injury to animals.

The need to reduce the levels of plastic has been well publicised and many people have become very conscious about reducing their personal use of plastic. Sir David Attenborough highlighted the damage that plastic causes to the environment and wildlife in the BBC documentary Blue Planet 2.

The food industry has become addicted to single use plastics, and as consumers it is hard for us to get away from them. From coffee cups to cutlery, food cartons to straws, we have thousands of items that are ‘used’ for a few minutes before being discarded and not recycled. A recent study established that more than 8 million tonnes of plastics leaking into our oceans and billions of people across the world are drinking water contaminated by plastics.

Activists have even taken to shredding food items of their superfluous plastic items and leaving them at supermarkets in order to make this point.

As an MP I am all too aware that we legislators must play our part in addressing the plastics problem which is having such appalling consequences for our marine life.

I questioned the Environment Minister in Parliament on this subject last year, at the instigation of constituents and local environmental groups.

Voters play an important role in keeping this in the minds of Politicians with their campaigning. A Cornish schoolboy and his Father came to Parliament with all the plastics collected from a single square metre of his local beach, which won widespread attention in Parliament.

We have already seen the positive effect of the 5p charges for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets, which shows the measures politicians can take to encourage behaviour change. Alongside taxation there is a call for a ban on single use plastic straws, and for targets on supermarkets to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging. Already some supermarkets are acting, for example Iceland recently committed to eliminating the use of plastic packaging for all their own brand products.

But each of us as consumers can make a difference. It is estimated that around 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups end up in landfill each year, by using reusable cups we could eradicate this blight. In the same way that taking our own carrier bags to the supermarket has become a habit, using reusable cups could quickly become the norm. As consumers, we can help force supermarkets to change their practices by buying loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packaged, not buying products that use excessive or needless packaging and going to shops that are making positive steps.

I recently visited Newbold milkman, Stuart Needham, to discuss the potential benefits to the environment of returning to doorstep deliveries. Switching from plastic to glass milk bottles, is one significant way to help. It is these small everyday changes that collectively make a huge difference.

We all want to protect the environment and ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a world that is sustainable, pollution-free and beautiful. By making big changes to business and legislation, and small changes to our personal lives, we can help deliver on this vision.

Toby signing up to Skys Ocean Rescue campaign

Toby signing up to Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign



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Big wheel

The big wheel was a big success – let’s build on it

I felt a real twinge of sadness as I made my way to the train station on Monday 12th March and saw the Chesterfield Wheel being taken down. The Chesterfield Wheel has been a huge success that has brought in customers and visitors from miles around, with families coming to spend an entire day visiting our town and coaches bringing in people from across Yorkshire and the East Midlands to visit the attraction. Shops, market traders and cafes have reported higher sales and the town centre has been more bustling and busy place.

The bringing of the wheel to Chesterfield shows that we have a Borough Council that is innovative and business-focussed. Usually it is only cities that have secured the wheel and it is a real coup for the Council to bring it to our town. The Wheel raised a little money for the Council through rent charged to the operating company, but more importantly it has provided a huge boost to the town centre economy and given people a real sense of pride in the town. The views from the top of the wheel were truly stunning, giving people the chance to see the Crooked Spire like they have never seen it before and a panoramic view of the miles of beautiful countryside and hills that surround Chesterfield. Hundreds of people took a turn on the wheel, and the stunning pictures that have been shared on online have been a wonderful advertisement for our town.

I have seen many comments on social media over the last few years lamenting the reduction in the size of the market and noting that there have been fewer visitors to the town centre. Whilst there is an element of truth to this, we need to recognise how well Chesterfield is doing in these tough economic times and changing retail landscapes. The most common complaint I see is regarding vacant shops in town, but a quick ‘fact check’ shows that Chesterfield is doing better than most retail centres. Currently, 93.5% of units are let, which is a shop vacancy rate of 6.5% and far lower than the national average of 11%. Chesterfield is ranked as the seventh largest retail destination in the East Midlands, far outperforming other towns such as Mansfield, Worksop and Sutton-in-Ashfield. Chesterfield is in the top 3% of retail centres nationally and has a total annual consumer spend of £432m. We may only be a market town but we are      punching far above our weight and competing well against cities and large retail outlets.

Town centres across the country have all experienced a decline over the last decade due to due to the growth of online shopping, development of out-of-town retail parks, expanding supermarkets and an increase in budget retailers. These changes make it difficult for market traders and town centre shops to compete on price. Wages have also been stagnant for many years and people have not had the disposable income that they had before, reducing the shoppers in town. 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 innovate and adapt to the modern retail climate.

Hopefully, the visitors who came to Chesterfield for the wheel will have seen how much our town has to offer and become regular visitors. I look forward to seeing how the Council build on this success and we should all feel optimistic about the future of our town centre.

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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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