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Toby’s speech on a great victory for pubs

Today, in parliament we did a good thing.

After much wrangling and disagreement, the Government was (to their credit) persuaded to back Labour Lord Roy Kennedy’s amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill meaning that from July developers will always have to seek planning permission before demolishing or changing the use class of a pub.

This will give communities and local authorities the right to have a say about their local pubs and ensure the needs of local communities are a consideration not to be overlooked when major conglomerates want to make investment decisions.

The campaign for the new legislation, which was backed by CAMRA, the All Party Parliamentary Pub Group and the British Pubs Confederation has forced the Government to back down from its opposition and agree that developers will now need specific planning permission before demolishing or converting pubs giving local Communities and Councillors a real say in what is happening in their community.

Speaking after the debate, Toby said : “ Pubs are a crucial part of our local Community and whilst not every pub will stay open, this new legislation at least ensures proper consultation before decisions are made. I am glad that the Government have accepted the huge body of opinion that existing protections were inadequate. This now means that the rules are the same in every part of the country, and puts communities back in charge of what happens to their local pubs. This is a victory that we can all raise a glass to, can I suggest that we all show our support for our local pubs by enjoying a glass down there to celebrate this important step?”

The full text of the speech (check against delivery) is below:

I am delighted to speak in support of the Government’s amendment a) and b) in lieu of Lords Amendment 22 which will make a material difference to the fortunes of many of  Britain’s 48,000 pubs, give certainty to investors in the pub trade and crucially put communities back in control of decision that have a real bearing on their community.

 

I speak as the Chair of the renamed All Party Parliamentary Pub Group, and also as a real pub enthusiast.

 

There are many people and groups that I would like to record my appreciation towards on securing this important victory. Lord Kennedy who brought the amendment in the House of Lords, and was very successful in ensuring such overwhelming cross party support that the Government were persuaded to adopt the amendment.

 

To the pub supporting campaign groups CAMRA, British Pub Confederation, to my fellow members of the APPG on Pubs who held a really informative roundtable last week on the many different approaches to using the Planning system to save pubs that are being used across the country.

 

I’d also like to acknowledge the important work done in this area by my predecessor as Chair of the APPG the HM for Leeds NW who originally proposed the motion at Committee stage in the Commons which was subsequently moved by my Hon Friend from Oldham W.  

 

It is also right to acknowledge that in some ways the HM for Bristol NW was the originator of this with her amendment back in 2015 to a different bill, but the case she made then has been important in bringing about this change.

 

I would also like to acknowledge that the Government have taken the step of broadly adopting this motion that they were originally hostile towards, it takes courage to change your mind. The HM for Brigg and Goole said at the CAMRA reception that he was listening, and the actions of the Government on this occasion suggest that he was good to his word, and he deserves credit for that too.

 

Mr Speaker, There is nothing quite like your first visit to any British pub. I know I am not alone. In feeling that little frisson of excitement the first time you step through the door of a new pub. Pushing open the door and wondering what will be behind it. An adult version of a real life advent calendar if you will. Behind every door, a different surprise.

As the door creaks open, what will I see?

 

How will the pub be laid out?

Will we be able to get a table?  

Who will be there?

How many people will be in there?

What will be on the walls?

What’s the bar going to look like?

Will the bar steward’s face be a picture of welcoming joy,or maybe not?

Will they have a log fire (in the winter!)

Will they have a garden (in the summer!)

Is there a dart board, a pool table, a pub dog or cat,

a loud mouth propping up the bar commenting on topics of which he has assumed a level of expertise from a programme he saw on television?

Or when it’s a local commenting on the performance of their MP and asking, inevitably, whether I’ll be claiming my pint back on expenses (it never grows old)

And of course finally, what will they be serving?

 

Because Mr Speaker there is so much more to visiting a pub than having a drink. That is of course the magic of it, I know my own favourite beers, and I can pop down to Morrisons at the end of my street and buy as much of it as I like- a lot cheaper than I can buy it in any pub. But the drinks are just a fraction of the experience, the magic comes from the entire ensemble.

 

And just as there is a magic to visiting a pub for the first time, so there is a joy to having a local at which you feel really at home. Where you find the characters, and the beers, the landlord or landlady and the décor, almost as familiar as if it was in your own home.

 

We live in different times, and let’s be candid difficult times for the pub trade. The days when a single publican, running a single pub, for decades at a time, was a staple of every high street are long gone. The long standing publican are now becoming a rarity and our communities are the poorer for it.

 

But those communities often do still have that longstanding relationship with their pubs. Whether they be regular attenders or occasional visitors, that pub is a part of their community, one that too often we all take for granted, and a feature that is only really missed when it is under threat or gone.

 

Before I go on, Mr Speaker, let me assure you that none of us are advocating that unpopular or poorly run pubs have a right to exist. Communities that don’t back their local pub cannot assume it will always be there. When I bought my house, back in 1998, the Terminus was my local but a string of landlords within a few years later and it is gone. The only reminders of it are a plaque on the wall that reminds us that it was once there and the local Bowling Green still called the ‘Terminus Bowling Club’ even though the pub they took their name from is long gone.

 

In a small town like Chesterfield I have to walk a mile to reach what you would call my local. And that is a comment on the times we live in, if we don’t get out and support our pubs, it is no good complaining when they are gone. Similarly the industry knows that they live in an ever more competitive world. The competition for the leisure pound has never been fiercer, from satellite television and a bottle at home to an array of takeaways and restaurants to suit every palette, the alternatives to a pint in the local are multitudinous.

 

And pubs will continue to close. But what I think really sticks in the craw of my constituents is when popular and well used pubs, or even pubs that serve a central role in a community, that may well be under poor management at one particular time, are lost for good without the community having any say about it.

 

Because I think it is important to recognise that the tenant in a pub is not just a business owner but the guardian of something precious in that community and the responsibility on the Pub owning business to ensure that the guardian they appoint has the wherewithal to protect the precious asset that they are responsible for running is a very significant one.

 

In Chesterfield we had a huge public campaign to save the Crispin when EI Group (previously known as Enterprise Inns) wanted to sell it to Tesco’s. The campaign was won, and Tesco’s pulled out only for a new developer to come along and demolish the pub and then put in plans for housing on the land where it stood.

 

And in my previous role as Shadow Pubs Minister I met so many groups fighting so hard to save the pubs they loved and the communities depended on.

 

It was wrong that a developer could turn a pub into a supermarket without planning permission but couldn’t do it the other way round. It was wrong that a building (potentially a precious community asset) could be knocked down before the community even got to have a say.

 

Now the Coalition government did attempt to take steps to reinforce the right of communities to have a say, but whilst well intentioned they were a little like trying to catch a flood in a cup.

 

The great attribute of the amendment proposed by Lord Kennedy was that it gives certainty to everyone involved in the industry. And we never forget that Britain’s pubs are a business, an industry with investors, who need certainty. The danger of going too much down the localism route is that when a business is considering an investment decision it was faced with potentially dozens of different legislative approaches and hurdles across its portfolio of businesses.

 

These approaches also left Councils at the mercy of aggressive legislation and expected them to go the legal expense of defending the steps they had introduced to protect their pubs.

 

The ACV approach has given some communities a precious opportunity to fight for the pub they loved, but it did mean that oftentimes the only way you could save a pub was by becoming its owner. There is some value in that sort of community activism, but you shouldn’t have to buy a pub in order to have a view on it.

 

The APPG heard from the community team that successfully bought the Antwerp Arms in Tottenham who had used this the ACV legislation to save their pub.

 

We also heard from Wandsworth Council who put a requirement for Article 4 directions on 220 of their locals. They deserve credit for their efforts, but the danger of using Article 4 directions is that it means the landscape is different in each local authority. It led to the situation where some pubs face having to get planning permission just to paint or decorate their pub- a positive disincentive to improving or investing in the pub estate. The approach being advocated by Lord Kennedy, and adopted by the Government today does bring that certainty and clarity that everyone connected to the industry needs. And it doesn’t prevent building owners adopting the needs of their building to maximise new opportunities, pubs will open and pubs will close, and all this will do is ensure that all the evidence is considered before these decisions are made.

 

I think the Government are sensible to create the new A3/A4 mixed use class but we do need clarity that it is their intention that the mixed use class should enjoy the same protections as A3 or A4 classes

 

I would like the Minister to clarify when he comes to his summing up:      

What steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that there is no or limited risk of developers bringing forward conversion or demolitions of pubs before the regulations are in place?

So Mr Speaker, I am pleased to take a few moments to reflect on the value of the 48000 British pubs to our communities. I am pleased to welcome the Government’s adoption of this amendment. And I am pleased that this important step has been taken to help communities to save the preserve the Great British pub for many years to come.

 

ENDS

The full debate can be witnessed here https://goo.gl/ezTs6K with Toby’s contribution from 14.08

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Chesterfield MP would like to hear from constituents who may be affected by potential changes to the prescribing of gluten-free products

Chesterfield MP would like to hear from constituents who may be affected by potential changes to the prescribing of gluten-free products

North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (NDCCG) are currently undertaking a review of all services they commission, which could see them stop providing gluten free foods on prescription.

Toby said, “Underfunding of the NHS by the Government is forcing Clinical Commissioning Groups to make some unacceptable and agonising choices about what treatments they can fund or items they can offer on prescription. NDCCG has identified gluten-free prescribing as potentially not being value for money due to insufficient health benefits it provides and this could reduce what the NHS are willing to provide.”

“I am conscious that for many constituents with coeliac disease these prescriptions are crucial and I am keen that their needs should be considered.”

NDCCG are asking for views on the following options for those with a clinical diagnosis of coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis:

Option 1 – Stop providing gluten free foods on prescription altogether

Option 2 – Change the gluten free allowance to eight units per month for everyone eligible for gluten-free food on prescription and have much more limited products available on prescription (e.g. only loaves of bread, pasta and flour allowed on NHS Prescriptions) other products (e.g. breakfast cereals, pizza bases, bread rolls, crackers) would no longer be allowed.

Option 3 – Continue to follow the Coeliac Society’s recommendations for number of units (10 to 18 units depending on the age and sex of the patient) but have limited products available (e.g. only loaves of bread, pasta and flour allowed on NHS prescriptions) other products (e.g. breakfast cereals, pizza bases, bread rolls, crackers) would no longer be allowed, However, the total gluten free allowance would remain the same as it is currently

NDCCG’s consultation will run from 27th February 2017 until Saturday 27th May 2017. The online survey can be completed at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GlutenDerbys.

Further information about drop-in sessions at local surgeries and focus groups can be found on www.northderbyshireccg.nhs.uk

Toby said, “I am deeply concerned by the pressures facing the NHS and the impact that Government cuts will have on its sustainability. Alongside completing the survey, I hope that any constituents receiving gluten-free products will get in touch to let me know how these change may impact them”

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Joan Pons Laplana (2)

Toby Perkins MP calls for the government to guarantee EU citizens the right to remain in the UK post Brexit

On Monday the 20th February, Toby Perkins MP was delighted to show his support for a mass lobby of Parliament organised by the3million.org.uk, UNISON and New Europeans in support of EU citizens right to stay in the country after Brexit.

Toby Perkins MP signed a pledge to call on Theresa May to guarantee unilaterally the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. MPs from six different parties signed this pledge, representing the widespread concern of parliamentarians on this issue.

Toby Perkins MP believes workers from across Europe play a vital role in our public services, especially in the NHS and social care. There are currently around 55,000 EU nationals working in the NHS and 84,000 working in social care in England alone. These services would not be able to survive without these people.

Some of these people are long standing residents of the UK, they and their families deserve better than years of uncertainty and being reduced to bargaining chips in the upcoming negotiations.

Toby Perkins MP also met with a Chesterfield based Spanish migrant, Joan Pons Laplana who joined the ‘One Day Without Us’ lobby of Parliament. He had given 17 years of service to our NHS, had married and had a British child here, we should repay that.

Toby said, “The Government should reconsider their stance on this important issue and unilaterally grant the Right to Remain for EU citizens before the process of Brexit negotiations begins”.

“We all know that ultimately they will be allowed to stay, so to pretend that they are a ‘crucial bargaining chip’ is both misleading and a callous way to approach the lives of people who are making a big contribution here.”

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Arthritis Press Release Picture (2)

People with Arthritis need more support to work, says MP

Toby Perkins MP has called on the government to provide more support for workers with arthritis to help close the ‘arthritis employment gap’

Arthritis is the number one cause of pain, disability and working days lost, according to Arthritis Research UK, which highlighted the issue to Toby Perkins MP at a recent parliamentary briefing. Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions like back pain affect one in six of us.

Musculoskeletal conditions cause pain, stiffness and fatigue that can make every day work tasks such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and typing difficult. They are the leading cause of workplace absence in the UK, causing 32.4 million sick days each year.

Only 60% of working age people with a musculoskeletal condition are in work, compared to 80% among those without a health condition or a disability. This ‘arthritis work gap’ means that 600,000 people with arthritis are currently missing out on the opportunity to work.

Now, following the Government’s Improving Lives consultation on employment support for disabled people, Toby Perkins MP is calling on the Government to ensure that people with arthritis have the support to stay at work for longer:

“It’s clear how enormous the impact of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is on our local communities. 19,170 residents are living with back pain, a leading cause of sickness absence, in Chesterfield right now – 18.47% % of local people.

“The ability to work is something that we often take for granted, but I’ve learnt today that for those living with arthritis this can be difficult. But with the right support and flexibility many people are able to work.’

“That’s why I’m supporting Arthritis Research UK’s ‘Work Matters to Me’ campaign, putting this vital issue on the map. The Government must ensure that there is a level playing field so that people with arthritis who are able to work have the right support to remain and return to work.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer at Arthritis Research UK, said:

“I’m delighted that Toby Perkins MP is supporting our campaign to give people with arthritis the freedom from their condition in employment, enabling them to live their lives to the full.

“The current situation for people living with the daily pain of arthritis is untenable. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain are the number one cause for workplace sickness absence in the UK.”

“Our retirement age has increased and we’re an ageing working population, so even more people are going to be living with the pain and unpredictability of arthritis, and face an uncertain working future.”

“But with the right kind of support and job; work can benefit your mental and physical health as well as your financial position.”

“We need to see Government action to address the employment needs of people with long term conditions such as arthritis, so that they have the right support and opportunity to maintain their freedom and quality of life.”

To find out more about working when you are living with arthritis please visit our website at http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/arthritis-and-daily-life/work-and-arthritis.aspx

 

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Bereaved families

Scrap Bereaved Family support cuts, says Toby

Chesterfield Labour MP Toby Perkins has hit out at plans to cut social security support for bereaved families.

Three quarters of bereaved families will lose out under the Tory plans which will see three social security payments reduced to one.

The Government plans to cut both the amount that grieving families can claim, and the length of time they can claim for.

According to the Childhood Bereavement Network the reformed payment, known as the Bereavement Support Payment, will see 91% of families supported for a shorter time than under the current system. 75% of families will also be worse off in cash terms.

The most recent statistics show that there are 45,400 families relying on support for bereavement. Under the Tories plans this would mean more than 34,000 families would lose out.

Labour has called on the Government to scrap the reforms, and has promised a review into social security provision for bereaved families.

Toby said : “It is impossible to imagine how difficult it must be for a family to lose a parent.”

“Under these circumstances, it is only right that the social security system steps in to help families cope with the loss and get back on their feet.”

“That’s why Labour absolutely oppose the Government’s plans to slash support for bereaved children.”

“We urge the Government to scrap these callous reforms, and instead look at how we can improve bereavement support. I joined the Committee which debated this in parliament so that I could vote to stop these callous moves, which undermine the caring society Britain truly is.”

 

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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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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 in Chesterfield and Staveley 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

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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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