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The Borough Council, Toby Perkins MP, Hardyal Dhindsa and various agencies, charities & businesses have joined together to discuss ways to tackle issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre at a series of summit meetings.

GUEST BLOG: Cllr Helen Bagley, Cabinet Member for Homes & Customers, writes about Chesterfield Borough Council’s response to homelessness in the town

Hardly a week goes by without homelessness or rough sleeping hitting the national news.

While Chesterfield doesn’t have the same level of problems faced by some of the big cities and towns we do experience issues too – and one person homeless is one person too many.

The causes

Cllr Helen Bagley, Cabinet Member for Homes & Customers at Chesterfield Borough Council

Cllr Helen Bagley, Cabinet Member for Homes & Customers at Chesterfield Borough Council

The cause of this is a range of factors coming together. Some of the most common are drug or alcohol dependency, mental health issues or benefit changes, particularly the recent introduction of Universal Credit.

We also know that Chesterfield is attracting rough sleepers who see it as a safer option than being in some of the surrounding cities. The generosity of local people to give food, clothing and other items, combined with the lower risk of violence towards them means that some rough sleepers have specifically come to Chesterfield.

What complicates the situation further is that another group of people who are not actually homeless but are friends with people who are rough sleeping or themselves have drug or alcohol dependencies are often on the streets too.

The solutions

In the same way that there is no one cause, equally there is no one easy solution. That is why Chesterfield Borough Council is working together with all the other public bodies (eg police, Derbyshire County Council, NHS, probation), the voluntary sector and the business community to tackle all the issues as a whole.

This work is brought together through the Chesterfield town centre summits chaired by the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa. The group’s work is focused on three linked areas:

  1. Enforcement: This focuses on tackling some of the anti-social behaviour that has been seen in Chesterfield town centre that is often associated with people who are, or appear to be, either homelessness or rough sleeping.

This area of work has already seen the police significantly increase their patrols and presence in the town centre. They have targeted some of the dealers who are supplying people on the streets with drugs, particularly the drugs that were previously known as ‘legal highs’.

As a council we have introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which gives the police and our enforcement officers powers to deal with some of the anti-social behaviour experienced in the town centre over recent months. PSPOs are not aimed at people who are homeless or rough sleeping but at dealing with people who are breaking the law and creating problems for the law-abiding majority.

  1. Treatment and support: This strand of the work recognises that the only effective long-term solution is to provide people who are on the streets with the support they need to get permanent accommodation or deal with the underlying issues that aggravate their situation.

By working together the various agencies can avoid duplication and identify any areas where support is not currently provided so that both can be addressed.


Chesterfield Borough Council also supports this work through its funding of voluntary agencies. We have a strong working relationship with Pathways and others who support the hard to reach homeless.

Within the council itself our homelessness prevention team works to provide accommodation for anyone who needs it. We are also a key player in the North Derbyshire Homelessness Forum that brings together a range of agencies who are working to prevent homelessness and support people who are rough sleeping.

  1. The final area of work is lobbying the Government to make them aware of the impact that welfare reforms are having on the streets of Chesterfield. While the group is not seeking to make political points the recent welfare reform changes have undoubtedly had a visible impact on this issue.

With the support of our MP Toby Perkins we are asking the Government to be aware of what is happening and make changes to their welfare policies to help provide more assistance to the people who need it.

More information about homelessness and the support the council is able to offer can be seen at www.chesterfield.gov.uk/homelessness

The Borough Council, Toby Perkins MP, Hardyal Dhindsa and various agencies, charities & businesses have joined together to discuss ways to tackle issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre at a series of summit meetings.

The Borough Council, Toby Perkins MP, Hardyal Dhindsa and various agencies, charities & businesses have joined together to discuss ways to tackle issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre at a series of summit meetings.

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police cuts

Toby Perkins slams Derbyshire’s Tory MPs for putting party ahead of constituents in police funding vote

A parliamentary vote on further cuts to police budgets took place on Wednesday 7th February and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has expressed his disappointment that the call from Derbyshire Police Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa for a cross party approach to protecting Derbyshire Police had fallen on deaf ears.

Toby said, “At the end of last year, the Home Office set out its provisional funding settlement for 2018/19, falsely claiming this equated to £450m in extra funding. The reality is that the only new money is an additional £50m for counter-terrorism and the remaining money will only be realised if PCCs increase their policing precept to the maximum amount allowable. The proposals mean that police are facing a further £100m real terms cut from central government with local tax payers expected to pick up the pieces.”

“There is no hiding from the fact that cuts in the Derbyshire police grant have led to less officers and PCSOs on our streets and an increase in violent crime and antisocial behaviour. As a Member of Parliaments, the health and wellbeing of constituents should always be our top priority. I am disappointed that Derbyshire Tory MPs didn’t put their  constituents before their party and send a message to the Government that we won’t accept soaring violent crime in our communities and that we insist on fairer funding for Derbyshire police.”

Figures reported in the Derbyshire Times last week showed that in the 12 months to September 2017, robbery rose 19%, rape & sexual offences increased 16% and knife crime soared by 20%. In 2010-11 Derbyshire Constabulary received £116.2million in police grant, reducing to £99.8m for 2017-18. Derbyshire Constabulary has lost almost 335 police officers and 26 community support officers in this period and seen the number of front counters open to the public falling from 25 to just 4.

Police Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa had written to all Derbyshire’s MPs asking for them to fight for extra funding for Derbyshire Police services and outlining the impact that further cuts would have on services.

Following the vote, Toby said, “The police are doing a great job considering the limited resources they have. The growth of cybercrime is providing additional challenges and we’re seeing forces stretched too far. Our Chief constables and Police Commissioner have done an excellent job in coping with cuts this far, but there is nothing left for the police to cut without cutting deep into service provision”.

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Toby on a visit to New Beetwell Street Bus Station last year to discuss the homelessness issues in Chesterfield

How we’re tackling rough sleeping and antisocial behaviour in Chesterfield

Chesterfield is an attractive market town, but in recent months, visitors to our town have been alarmed by the amount of rough sleeping and street drinking that now diminishes that attractiveness.

This was brought into particular focus this Christmas when David Fuller, a homeless man, died in an abandoned property in Brampton.

I am writing this to lay out the issues that have led to this alarming development and the steps I, and others, are taking both to reduce rough sleeping and support the people involved.

We are seeing rough sleeping levels in Chesterfield that would previously have been expected only in a city centre location, and also experiencing increased street drinking and substance misuse that has also created antisocial behaviour.

I am regularly contacted by constituents concerned about the unacceptable behaviour they’re seeing in town, as well as dozens of emails from people wanting to help the genuine rough sleepers who are at great risk on the streets this winter. Why is it happening?

Chesterfield is by no means unique in suffering like this. A report published by the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, at the end of last year, showed that since 2010/11 rough sleeping has increased 134%, and the number of homeless households forced into temporary accommodation was up 60%. The report is clear that one of the driving forces behind the increase in homelessness are the Government’s welfare reforms.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit no longer cover the rent and Council Tax bills, which means that many people on benefits fall into arrears and are evicted from their properties.

In addition the bedroom tax caused significant rent arrears, the sanctions regime leaves people who have nothing without a weekly subsistence income and the lack of stable work means that many people’s work patterns see them falling behind on their payments.

We are currently in the longest period of static wage growth in history just when property prices continue to rise due to the lack of new affordable housing being built.

A time when Welfare Policy is leading to increased poverty and desperation is also the worst possible time to drastically cut Local Government spending, because this funding has led to the closure of homeless hostels, and cuts to funding for the charities providing homelessness prevention, and Council tenancy support services.

These cause of these social problems all reside in Westminster and are a direct result of deliberate Government policies. As Chesterfield’s representative it is my job to argue and to vote against the policies that cause this, which I am doing.

But whilst the cause may lie in Westminster the problem is ours to deal with. The cost of trying to deal with homelessness is costing local government around £1.1bn a year, at a time when the Government are continuing to slash hundreds of millions from council budgets.

Why Chesterfield?

Whilst this is a national issue with national causes, conversations that I have had, both with local homeless people and with Police and Homeless charities has identified a number of reasons why Chesterfield has seen such a noticeable increase.

Firstly, Chesterfield has a higher amount of social and Council housing than most towns of a similar size, and so the numbers affected by issues like the bedroom tax are greater.

Secondly, whilst Chesterfield’s population is around 100,000, the town centre acts as the focal point for people across a much wider section of North Derbyshire.

Thirdly, homeless people have travelled here from many larger cities due to it being both safer and the wider network of charitable support that is here than many other areas.

We also lack adequate hostel services, and the Borough Council are now looking at introducing a night shelter.

There are also clearly people who are not homeless, as such, but spend time with street sleepers, and so the numbers hanging around on the streets during the day are greater than the number sleeping rough at night.

So what are we doing locally?

Whilst many people understand why Government policy has led us to this appalling situation, they rightly expect us to take action locally.

We are adopting a multi-agency approach locally to ensure that everyone with expertise and the ability to contribute is involved in addressing the issue in Chesterfield.

One of the most important things I am doing is helping individual constituents who find themselves homeless or at the risk of homelessness.

  • I have supported homeless families living in B&Bs or other temporary accommodation to secure council housing.
  • I am helping constituents who find themselves in rent arrears to try to address these before they become homeless.
  • My office supports people every day with getting benefits back in place, accessing appropriate debt advice and liaising with landlords to try to give tenants more time before eviction proceedings are instigated.
  • I am also helping constituents to access emergency accommodation. For example, just before Christmas my office ensured two homeless men, who were sleeping in a tent during sub-zero temperatures, secured a place at a night shelter in Derby.
  • In another case, we arranged for the Council to provide a house to a family that had been evicted and had rent outstanding rent arrears, and also arranged for temporary accommodation in the period leading up to their new Council house being ready to move into.
  • I have also supported lots of constituents with their applications for housing, to ensure they are rehoused as quickly as possible.

Alongside supporting individual constituents, I work specifically across the Town to support those who support the homeless.

  • I have provided documentation to support letters for grant applications made by Pathways, which have helped them secure thousands of pounds in additional funding.
  • I also joined with Framework Housing Association and Pathways with their sofa push event in Queen’s Park, which has helped raise awareness of the ‘sofa-surfing’ problem in Chesterfield, as well as raising funds for the vital work done by both charities. I wrote to the Prime Minister in the summer to highlight my constituents’ concerns about increasing homelessness and to urge the Government to provide additional funds in the Autumn Budget to help local authorities to tackle rough sleeping.

I also wrote to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions asking him to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit due to the heightened risk of rent arrears and eviction for UC claimants. I continue to attend summit meetings arranged by Derbyshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa. The meetings have brought together representatives from Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Constabulary, local businesses, homelessness support charities, health & treatment services and other agencies, to create a proactive approach to tackling rough sleeping, antisocial behaviour, street drinking and drug abuse. The majority of homeless people are victims of circumstances, and our priority will always be to ensure that everything is done to try and get people to engage with support and advice, to help them address their issues. However, for those who will not engage with offers of support the police and council officers will have powers to issue fines which could potentially lead to prosecutions.

The Council’s new Public Space Protection Orders aim to stop the behaviours we have seen in the town that are causing disruption and concern. The new powers allow police to confiscate alcohol and prevent people loitering near cash machines and shop doorways begging, allow Police to issue fixed penalty notices for urinating or defecating in public and stop people setting up tents in inappropriate areas. These new powers are about ensuring genuinely homeless people are being encouraged to engage with support, whilst helping the police and council officers to take action against those who won’t engage with help.

When I went down to Beetwell Street myself to talk to people in sleeping bags in the area, there were people who despite being offered Council flats, felt they were better off on the streets. They had been evicted before and weren’t wanting to be housed.

The Council does have one bedroom flats for rent, but that doesn’t resolve the issues with the Welfare policies that I referred to earlier.

The voluntary sector are also playing a massive role in trying to address homelessness in Chesterfield. Two church groups have set up homeless accommodation services in Chesterfield (unfortunately one has had to close temporarily due to a fire) as well as providing soup kitchens, counselling, benefits and other support in Chesterfield, we are well served with charities, church groups and voluntary organisations working with the council and police to help homeless people engage with support and move towards permanent housing and more stable lives, but the barriers that face them are substantial. I expect that there are more challenges to come with the roll-out of Universal Credit and further reductions in council funding. Because Universal Credit is paid to claimants and not to their landlords, I expect arrears and evictions to increase but I can assure you that in Chesterfield we are doing all we can to weather the storm. What we need now is the Government to wake up to the homelessness crisis they have created and to provide people and councils with the resources they need to ensure homelessness reduces to the levels it was before they came to power in 2010.

Toby on a visit to New Beetwell Street Bus Station last year to discuss the homelessness issues in Chesterfield

Toby on a visit to New Beetwell Street Bus Station last year to discuss the homelessness issues in Chesterfield

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Chesterfield FC Takeover Response

Over the course of the last three to four months, Chesterfield FC secretary Ashley Carson and others have been updating me on a possible takeover of Chesterfield FC. That takeover appears to have broken down irrevocably. I am aware that there has been some distrust of the updates being provided by the Club on this subject so I have, with the assistance of the club, done some investigations to provide a third-party oversight of what has occurred.

Chesterfield FC is absolutely crucial to the health of the town and I don’t underestimate the threat that the club’s current League position poses to the success of the club and the town. Therefore, I wanted to provide clarity to fans about the history of this aborted deal.

In addition to being shown the documents that demonstrate that two offers were made (one rejected, and one, in principle accepted). I have also seen the responses from the club, and the final email concluding that the deal would not go ahead. I have also spoken to the potential buyer and got their perspective as to why the deal did not go through.

It is clear that there was an interest in buying the club by investors, that there was an agreement struck on the overall amount the club was to be sold for. It appears that there was some mutual scepticism between the buyer and the club, and that the buyer had reservations about the payment schedule being outlined, although they didn’t come back and negotiate further to alter that payment schedule, nor were the two parties very far apart on the subject of the payment schedule.

I believe that alongside the potential unease about the payment schedule, and the mutual scepticism, that the downturn in results in December which saw relegation from the Football League become more of a possibility that it looked at the time of the initial offer, was another factor that prevented the relatively small gap between the two sides to be bridged or negotiated.

There was no communication achieved between the two parties from the offer acceptance to the offer collapsing, which I think is revealing of the lack of certainty that both sides felt in the likely success of the negotiations.

I have entered into this rather unusual role of verifier of the facts of the case in order to provide clarity that fans deserve. Fans will have their own view as to how things have been handled and the wider history of how the club have fallen so far, so rapidly. From my point of view, the investigations I have made and having spoken to both sides, I think what I had been told about the negotiations over the last few months was basically true from the club’s standpoint.

There has been further speculation about alternative bidders. I am of the view that the Football Club needs to be run by people who want to be there, and thus, it is in the interests of the club to be sold as soon as practicably possible to people who have the long term health of the club at heart, but there are many more Football clubs for sale than there are people wanting and able to buy them. The club is definitely for sale.

In the meantime it falls to those who currently own it to do all they can to preserve the Club’s League status, and there have been a good number of new arrivals to try and achieve that. Whilst entirely understanding the fans desire for news, I would urge the Club to ensure that the public focus is on improving results on the pitch and that announcements about any takeover are made once things have reached a tangible stage and not before. I agree with Mr Carson that this episode has been distracting and unsettling and hope that any future negotiations that can be achieved for the good of the club can be completed, as quickly and quietly as possible.

Finally, I would say, in Football, owners, players, Managers and Directors come and go, the only constant is the fans. The Football League status of the club is one of the most crucial issues facing the town right now, and everyone uniting behind the team for the next 15 games will be absolutely vital. I know how grateful everyone at the club has been of the vocal support that the team have had in recent games, and I hope that this update provides the clarity that fans sought, I will answer any questions that I can without breaching confidences, but I believe that the pertinent facts that I am aware of are all included in this blog.

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Toby Perkins responds to proposals to establish two new permanent pitches for Gypsies and Travellers in Chesterfield

Toby Perkins responds to proposals to establish two new permanent pitches for Gypsies and Travellers in Chesterfield

Many thanks to all the constituents who have contacted me regarding the proposals to establish one or two new permanent pitches for Gypsies and Travellers in the Chesterfield borough. I will be writing back to everyone.

People are understandably angry and concerned by the proposals and, whilst it is important not to generalise, there are historic problems linked to traveller sites that will make communities uneasy about having a site in their back yard.

Whilst I suspect that the reality of a permanent site would not be as bad as people anticipate, I always ask myself the question: “How would I feel if this were my street?”
And the answer to that question in this case, is that I would entirely share the concerns that have been expressed to me.

You will probably be aware that the Government have placed a legal duty on all councils to identify what the need is for Gypsy and Traveller pitches in every area and establish sites to meet that need. There has been an ongoing problem with temporary traveller encampments across the country, and we have experienced that a good deal here in Chesterfield recently. These sites have caused disruption to local communities and it is hoped that establishing more permanent sites will alleviate these problems.

Last summer, we had a significant number of temporary illegal sites set up that left the Council with emergency work and significant costs, both to clean up and to get the legal authority to move them. In the future, the Council has a legal duty to have attempted to find permanent provision.

However, I will be stressing to the Council the need to recognise the concerns of local people and consider which site will have the lowest impact on the community. It is important to remember that there will be a six week public consultation, which is still only the first step in a long planning and public enquiry process, and everyone will get the chance to have their say.

The Government legislation also means councils are expected to “very strictly limit” new traveller sites in open countryside. The Council have asked private landowners and other authorities such as Derbyshire County Council if they have any suitable land, but none has been suggested which means that the sites suggested will be on pieces of land owned by the Council.

There will be many factors that the Council must consider; such as size, access, road safety and impact on the local area and services. These factors should provide the basis of the representations against the sites proposed. I understand entirely that people will have reservations about issues like impact on house prices or perceived increased risk of crime, but these are unlikely to be accepted under planning law as a legitimate objection. The Council have already considered 40 different sites based on these factors and shortlisted it to the final six for consultation.

I am also aware that many people have noticed that the sites shortlisted by the Council are all in what might be considered to be more deprived communities. It is not true, as some have suggested, that these are all a long way from Councillor’s homes, indeed, in several case Councillors live near to the sites suggested. But it is the fact that the majority of Council Garage sites are on Council estates and for that reason they are the sites that have been identified.

A permanent site does mean there is an initial capital cost to council budgets but as well as being a legal requirement on the Council, the proposal is likely to be cost neutral as people inhabiting permanent traveller sites would be forced to pay Council tax. It would also mean the costs associated with breaking up, moving on and clearing up illegal encampments in the area would shrink. As these sites also have toilets, showers and weekly refuse collection, the expectation is that the environmental concerns associated with many temporary camps would diminish.

Following the consultation the Council may identify one or two sites to put forward as proposed Gypsy and Traveller pitches in their Local Plan. I don’t anticipate that any site will enjoy the support of local residents, and I will make representations on behalf of any residents who contact me about a specific site. It is important that these representations are fully considered. I can also assure you that local Councillors will also be making representations on behalf of their Constituents too.

The consultation is expected to begin on 12.02.18 and a series of drop-in dates will be announced by the Council to enable residents to discuss their concerns with council staff. Consultation forms and information will be available at the Town Hall and Chesterfield Library.

Residents can also send their comments or objections to the Council by emailing them at local.plan@chesterfield.gov.uk or writing to Strategic Planning and Key Sites, Town Hall, Rose Hill, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S40 1LP.

Please take the time to attend the drop-in sessions and send your feedback to the Council. Please also be assured of my attention on this matter, I don’t underestimate the strength of feeling on this and will keep you updated on any further developments.

Toby

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

GUEST BLOG: Evelina Griniute, sixth form student at St Mary’s Catholic High School, gives her views on the impact of automation on the workforce for the next generation

In a world of astounding technological advances, where only a few years are required for previous technology to become viewed as outdated, automation and the development of AI are leading to questions: am I at risk of being replaced by a robot? Will my next taxi be a self-driving car? Should I start campaigning for a universal base income to guard against an ‘automation apocalypse’?

A report released by Citibank collaborating with the university of Oxford in February 2016 found it probable that computer capital would replace 35% of jobs in the UK, and we are lucky when the prodigious proportion of 77% of jobs in China are considered. The most vulnerable have been labelled across many industries and surprisingly, they are not the low-skilled workers in manual jobs as opposed to the highly-qualified white-collar employees, but those with the most routinely work. An example is offered in the field of radiology, where Enlitic’s computer system is 50% better at classifying malignant tumours from CT scans than the most specialised radiologists and has a false-negative rate of zero compared to a human’s 7%. In light of this, Andrew Ng – a highly trained radiologist – has claimed he is at a greater risk of replacement than his executive assistant due to the extensive variety in her role. Alongside radiologists, the most susceptible to ‘technological unemployment’ have been identified as loan officers, information clerks, receptionists, taxi drivers, legal assistants, security guards and fast food cooks, all due to the fact their jobs are routine enough to be completed by AI. Alternatively, employment requiring creativity, social perception and manipulation are deemed the most secure, involving choreographers, make-up artists, mental health workers, surgeons, lawyers and primary school teachers.

Initially, this information seems alarming, socially destructive and immoral. We may accept that progress is inevitable and the pursuit of higher productivity will force humanity to further develop technologies that are infinitely more capable of tasks than humans, but that does not constitute the moral arguments against AI. What does employing a robot over a human being signal about a person’s worth? Is a world of extensive unemployment and minimal salaries due to an oversupply of labour worth the increased economic growth? Should we really have the right to tell a person they cannot strive for a certain vocation, despite obvious talent, because a robot is more efficient?

However, before panicking over mass redundancy and becoming incensed over the imminent reduction of employment opportunities, it is important to consider the opposing side of the argument.

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

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

Most people, especially the younger generation, welcome and embrace technology into their everyday lives. Generally, we consider it to be fascinating, helpful and enhancing of productivity and quality of life. Some direct attention to the fact that the same threat appeared during the industrial revolution and worries mirroring those we have today never became realised. AI is also more likely to increase the amount of available jobs instead of deplete options, especially in the field of technology, and one could even consider Amazon: they use machines to maintain low prices, meaning the company can continue to grow which in turn creates more jobs.

Ultimately, while the rapid development of technology can be overwhelming and make the future appear uncertain, preparation for a time when job advertisements have the label ‘Humans need not apply’ is somewhat excessive and unwarranted. All evidence suggests technology complements our work, making it easier and more efficient to the point where some jobs are unimaginable without it. As a student with the prospects of university hanging heavily over my head, I would not base my decisions of a possible career on how likely it is to become automated. Instead, embracing technology and its benefits as supplements to employment appears the most sensible course of action.

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Ravenside Retail Park

Chesterfield MP warns motorists about risk of parking tickets at town retail parks

Motorists visiting the Markham Retail Park and Ravenside Retail Park in Chesterfield are receiving unnecessary parking tickets and the town’s MP, Toby Perkins, is trying to raise awareness to prevent further charges to his constituents.

The Markham Retail car park is run by Vehicle Control Services Ltd and serves the three stores on site, JYSK, SCS and Benson for Beds. The Ravenside Retail car park is operated by Euro Car Parks and is only for customers of Debenhams, HobbyCraft, Asda Living, Maplins, Currys, PC World, Next, Pets at Home, Carphone Warehouse and Pizza Hut. The rules of both car parks prohibit motorists from leaving their vehicle and walking off the site.

Toby said, “I have been contacted by a number of my constituents who have been stung by parking tickets at these two car parks. Due to the proximity of the retail parks people quite naturally assume that they can shop in stores at both sites without the need to move their car. Whilst I can appreciate the need to stop people parking here for free and then going into town, it seems ridiculous that customers who are using these shops, and providing vital income for the businesses there, are penalised.”

Ravenside Retail Park

Ravenside Retail Park

Toby has written to Vehicle Control Services Ltd and Euro Car Parks urging the companies to work together and come to an arrangement that allows customers to use either car park whilst shopping at the two sites.

Toby added, “these are private car parks and they can set their own terms and conditions. Shoppers need to be aware of the rules or risk receiving a ticket. However, I call on the companies to work together and do what is in the best interest of customers and businesses at the retail parks.

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Toby - Deaf Children Campaign 3

New Campaign to Help Deaf Children

A new campaign by the National Deaf Childrens Society to increase the provision of radio aids to pre-school deaf children has received the backing of Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins.

The ‘Right from the Start’ campaign is aimed at ensuring deaf children get the help and support they need during early years, when learning and communication are crucial, and trying to reduce barriers that can delay development.

Toby said, “At a time when local authority budget cuts are impacting on services available to families, we need the Government to step in and help ensure deaf children have the equipment and support they need to develop at the same pace as other children.”

Radio aids help deaf children hear speech by transmitting what people are saying direct to the child’s hearing aid or cochlear implant. Research undertaken by the National Deaf Childrens Society has found that the use of radio aids hearing technology can make a big difference in the early years, helping deaf children hear their parents above any background noise. At the moment less than half of local authorities across country have any provision of radio aids.

Toby added, “I have now written to the Secretary of State for Education urging the Government to make funding available to local authorities to increase provision of radio aids. It is my understanding that Derbyshire is one of the authorities who provide aids to pre-school deaf children in the home and I am contacting them to see how we can increase awareness of the benefits of radio aids and ensure every deaf child has the opportunity to access this technology.”

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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.

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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