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Toby challenging the Prime Minister to make changes to the SEN funding formula

Chesterfield MP challenges Prime Minister over funding for special educational needs

Chesterfield’s Brampton Primary School was praised in Parliament for their “exemplary record in special educational needs” by Toby Perkins MP as he also challenged Theresa May to change the funding formula to ensure every child with special educational needs receives the support they need.

Toby said, “I have met with the head teachers and school governors at several schools, as well as dozens of concerned parents, regarding the difficulties they are experiencing securing funding for children with special educational needs. The impact this is having on the education and development of these children, and the knock-on impact it can have for other children in their class, cannot be underestimated.

Under the current funding formula, the first £6,000 per year of funding the school receives for the education of a child with special needs is not actually funded by the Government. And to make matters even more difficult, the County Council are often refusing to acknowledge when a child should qualify for special educational needs funding, or the assessment process takes so long that schools are left for months on end without the support they need.”

In addition to raising this in Prime Minister’s Questions, Toby has created an opportunity to support the case by submitting an Early Day Motion on funding for children with special educational needs that has been signed by 41 MPs.

The EDM reads:

“That this House notes that the Government’s current formula for allocating financial resources to schools includes a requirement that schools themselves have to fund the first £6,000 of the support for the most disadvantaged Special Educational Needs pupils (SEND), those with Education Health and Care plans (EHCP), and that this provides a disincentive for schools to support EHCP applications or to accept pupils with EHCPs in the first place; further notes that these pupils are those who have the greatest need of support and that schools who develop a good reputation for supporting disadvantaged students face a financial penalty for doing so; and calls on the Government to ensure that in the forthcoming Spending Review the Government fully funds the provision for SEND pupils to ensure that schools and local authorities receive the finances to give SEND pupils the investment in their education that those pupils need and deserve”.

Toby is hoping to secure a Westminster Hall debate on this issue to press the Government to make changes to the formula.

Toby added, “Brampton Primary School has one of the best reputations for providing a comprehensive and individualised package of support for children with special educational needs. This has led to more parents wanting to send their children there, so they have a far higher number of SEN children on their roll. They have become a victim of their own success due to the Government’s funding formula and it is placing in jeopardy the fantastic work they do. The formula has to change.”

Toby challenging the Prime Minister to make changes to the SEN funding formula

Toby challenging the Prime Minister to make changes to the SEN funding formula

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Toby at the site of the new centre, which is expected to be completed by Summer 2020

Local MP calls for more donations as landmark project to rebuild the RSPCA Chesterfield Animal Centre continues

The Chesterfield and North Derbyshire RSPCA are rebuilding Chesterfield Animal Centre in a £2m project and local MP, Toby Perkins, went along to see the progress that is being made.

Toby at the site of the new centre, which is expected to be completed by Summer 2020

Toby at the site of the new centre, which is expected to be completed by Summer 2020

Toby said, “I visited the centre before work had even started and saw the ambitious plans for rebuilding the centre. It is amazing to see how much progress has already been made and I can’t wait to come back for the grand opening when the development is completed.”

Due to open in summer next year, the new centre will include 26 replacement dog kennels, a 22-pen cattery and a dedicated unit for puppies. There will also be an isolation unit, which will include three dog kennels and four cat pens, as well as an outdoor exercise area.  The new pens will provide a dedicated space to care for cats and dogs that require additional medical attention when injured or poorly.

Toby added, “This is a £2 million project and the staff at the centre have made a truly Herculean effort to raise the vast majority of the funds needed. But they still need donations to complete the project and keep the new centre going. They receive no money from public funds and are independent from the national RSPCA so I would encourage local animal lovers to dig deep and donate.

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BLOG: Delivering on Brexit- my approach

The issue of Brexit is undeniably the most divisive that I have been involved in during my political career. Sadly, this highly nuanced set of questions is being boiled down into simplistic slogans that the two sides chant at each other with increasing intransigence on both sides.

Throughout the process, I have had 3 simple rules which have helped me to attempt to navigate the many choices that we as MPs have faced. My very first consideration is always what is in the interests of Chesterfield and my country.

Secondly, which decision will be consistent with the approach that I laid out in advance of the 2017 General Election and the manifesto that I stood on.

And thirdly, in practical terms which options will help Parliament to move things forward and allow the UK to deliver on the Brexit referendum in a way that is compatible with minimising any negative economic consequences of leaving the EU.

On the first question of the ‘national interest’, I do think that whatever the economic and social benefits of Remaining, which I unsuccessfully argued for during the Referendum, the cost to confidence in our democratic institutions of not seriously attempting to implement the verdict of the British people could be very serious indeed.

I agree with those who say that having offered the Referendum, it is Parliament’s job to deliver on the promises made, so whilst some have sought to overturn the result from the outset, I voted to trigger Article 50 and stood on a manifesto which said that Labour would respect the result, and that Britain would leave the EU whilst maintaining a customs union, but ending freedom of movement. My commitment to the democratic process means I will support this in spite of ultimately believing that the benefits of Brexit will prove to have been over-promised and will weaken our economy.

Acepting that we are leaving the EU, does not answer the question of what will our future relationship look like- the position the Labour party articulated at the election largely mirrored a speech that I had made in parliament and was featured on my election leaflets in the 2017 General Election.

But it wasn’t just me who recognised that choosing to leave was only the start of complicated considerations about how the decision would be invoked- the Vote Leave campaign said during the Referendum campaign that : ”Taking back control is a careful change, not a sudden step. We will negotiate the terms of a new deal before we start any legal process to leave.”

So if Vote Leave understood that leaving without confirming our future relationship was imperative before the vote, why is this entirely reasonable and sensible approach now being decried as treacherous and undemocratic by those very same voices who once called for it? And as there is widespread evidence that leaving without a deal would have immediate and serious economic consequences, I reject the idea that because it would also be damaging for the EU, it would be likely to bully them into giving us a better deal. I think it is far more likely that it would be the British negotiating position that would be weakened by what is clearly an act of self harm.

But it is true that the EU need a relationship with us, just as we need one with them. There are no winners from a No Deal Brexit, which is why they have been willing to negotiate a unique deal with us, it is Britain that has rejected continued membership of the customs union, not the EU.

So, I make no apology for being steadfast in my view that Britain must remain in a customs arrangement with the EU and the negotiations have left us to either remain in the customs union or leave and lose the freedom to trade tariff free. Theresa May’s deal attempts to retain many of the benefits on a short term basis but ultimately accepts leaving it in 2 years. This is useless as it leaves many of the key questions unanswered and will simply act as a two year window for manufacturing companies to make plans to make goods elsewhere.

Critics of the customs union point out that we will still have the EU negotiating trade policy that we will have no say in. They are right, but leaving the customs union would mean a hard border in Ireland, which breaks the Good Friday Agreement and threatens the future of the union and would make Britain a very unattractive place to manufacture goods for export.

My strong sense is that control of immigration whilst still being able to trade was key to Leave voters in Chesterfield. And when faced with this balance between sovereignty and economy, I am firmly on the side of staying in the Customs union.

On immigration, though I believe that Britain has predominantly benefited from immigration economically and culturally, it is very hard to see how an outcome that left UK immigration policy unchanged could be seen as delivering on the Referendum, and so democratically, I felt unable to support the amendment that would have seen us remain in the single market, known as Common Market 2.0.

I also rejected the amendment that would have seen Article 50 revoked in the event of No Deal being agreed. At this stage, it would be seen as very bad faith to be supporting an amendment to call Brexit off before we have even exhausted the ways in which it can be delivered. The fact that it was presented by people who had made it clear that they wanted the UK to overturn the verdict of the referendum in the first place, made it all the less attractive.

However, if Parliament cannot resolve a Brexit deal, it may be that there will be no choice but to put the Prime Minister’s vote to the British people. I know that opinions are sharply divided about this, but it may be the only way to end the logjam, and would at least allow a debate about the specific terms on which we leave which was impossible last time, because the vote took place before those terms were known.

If we were to leave with control of immigration restored and a future trading arrangement secured, I don’t see that there would be a need for a 2nd referendum- that is the Brexit my constituents voted for, I believe.

But, I am clear that to leave without any future arrangements organised would not only fly in the face of what Vote Leave promised but leave us very vulnerable and with the Government facing the choice of imposing huge tariffs on EU imports to be paid by consumers of food and goods (ie all of us) or no tariffs, which would mean UK farmers and manufacturers at a huge disadvantage on the global stage. Either way, it is clear that UK firms would be paying exactly the same tariffs as every other non EU nation without a trade deal.

This would be hugely damaging for us and them, but put simply, as we would have this impediment to our relationship with 27 nations and they would have it for one, the impact on us would be much greater.

So, the approach I take will continue to be consistent with that which I have always espoused and on which I was re-elected in 2017. Backing Britain to make a success of Brexit whilst ensuring that we take a careful approach to the biggest economic change we have attempted since the 2nd world war.

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Endometriosis

Toby Perkins MP pledges support for Endometriosis Awareness Month

A common condition which can affect the fertility of women was highlighted by Toby Perkins MP in Parliament recently.

 

Toby pledged his support for Endometriosis Awareness Month, to highlight the debilitating condition that affects 1 in 10 women from puberty to menopause.

 

Endometriosis Awareness Month takes place throughout March, which this year aims to raise the importance of education in tackling alarming diagnosis times.

 

To mark the month, Endometriosis UK has launched new education material with the Royal College of GPs to support GPs to identify endometriosis. This, coupled with changes to the school curriculum from 2020 to include menstrual wellbeing, is “another step in the right direction to tackling diagnosis times”, according to the leading support charity Endometriosis UK.

Diagnosis time for endometriosis currently takes an average of 7.5 years, which MPs including Toby Perkins MP are campaigning to see reduced.

 

Toby Perkins MP said: “I’m proud to be supporting endometriosis awareness month which aims to raise awareness of this debilitating condition that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Despite endometriosis affecting 1.5 million women, a similar number of women affected by diabetes, diagnosis time takes an average of 7.5 years and the disease is still widely unheard of.

 

“Endometriosis costs the UK economy £8.2bn a year in treatment, loss of work, and healthcare costs. I’m therefore delighted to be working with Endometriosis UK to urge the Government to help improve awareness, diagnosis, and research of endometriosis”.

 

Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK added: “Endometriosis UK is delighted to be working with MPs from across all Parties to raise awareness of endometriosis during awareness month and beyond. We are grateful to MPs for recognising the critical role they play in ensuring women do not suffer in silence with conditions such as endometriosis; helping drive down diagnosis time which currently averages at an alarming 7.5 years”.

“Endometriosis UK has welcomed the news that menstrual wellbeing will be included in the new Relationship & Sex Education curriculum and will be compulsory to teach all children in both primary and secondary education. This change will help overcome the taboo and embarrassment around periods, as well as equipping girls with the knowledge of what is and isn’t normal for their menstrual cycle, and in turn the confidence to seek help when it is needed. Importantly, they will also know the correct language to communicate with their parents or medical practitioners.

 

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the shift in conversation around menstrual conditions in Parliament, and we look forward to continuing this work to help ensure every person suffering from endometriosis is given the right treatment at the right time”.

 

For more information on Endometriosis Awareness Month, please visit: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/

 

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Aaron in action during training

Home-grown World Champion needs celebrating and supporting, says Chesterfield MP

Many people in Chesterfield may not be aware that local lad Aaron Cobley from Staveley is a multiple World and European ITF Taekwondo Champion and multiple World Kickboxing Champion. Local MP Toby Perkins met with Aaron at one of his training sessions to see him in action and is hoping that more people will become interested in the sport and celebrate Aaron’s achievements.

Toby said, “Aaron is a real athlete with a determined and professional approach to taekwondo and kickboxing. To have a multiple world champion, who has won trophies, championship belts and medals in numerous international competitions, is something that Chesterfield people should be very proud of.”

Aaron first took up taekwondo aged just six years old and started to compete when he was only 8. Aaron’s achievements so far include:

Aaron in action during training

Aaron in action during training

  • numerous bronze and silver medals in World Taekwondo and Kickboxing matches from 2012 to present
  • 2015 UITF Open World Taekwondo Championships Gold Individual sparring, Gold Team Sparring
  • 2015 WKU European Champion Gold light contact Gold Kumate
  • 2015 WKU World Kickboxing Championships  Gold light contact, Gold Team light contact Gold Team Kumate
  • 2016 UITF European Taekwondo Championships Gold sparring Gold destruction
  • 2016 WKU World Championships Gold Team Sparring
  • 2017 UITF Taekwondo World Championships  Adult -71kg Gold sparring
  • 2017 WKU World Kickboxing Championships Gold sparring  Gold Team Sparring
  • 2018 ITF Open European Taekwondo Championships Adult -71kg Gold sparring
  • 2018 WKU World Championships -65kg Gold sparring Gold kumate, Gold  team sparring Gold Team Kumate, Gold Team kick lite.

Aaron now works full-time, as well as training almost every day and providing his own training sessions for people who want to learn from a world champion.

Aaron said, “I simply love to compete in both Taekwondo and Kickboxing. Being on the mats in second nature to me as soon as I step on the mat I know what I have to do. I dream of becoming a professional fighter. I am now preparing and training for my debut K1 match in Sheffield. I wish to thank all my family friends and coaches for their ongoing support as without them I would not have achieved this success. Special thanks to my Taekwondo instructor Mr Wagstaff from Outwood Taekwondo Academy in Chesterfield and Master Bradshaw”

Toby added, “It takes a lot of time and money to compete at this level. There are costs for travelling overseas, buying equipment, training venues and entering competitions. Unfortunately, there are not the grants and sponsorship available to Aaron that exist in many other sports and so he has to self-finance most of these things. If there are any local businesses or sports enthusiasts who would be interested in sponsoring Aaron, to help ensure he stays at the top of his field, I hope they will get in touch.”

This year he will travel to Austria for the WKU World Kickboxing Championships and Scotland for the world Taekwondo Team Championships. His debut K1  match is at Brammall Lane Sheffield on Sunday 7th April.

People can follow his achievements via his professional  Facebook page or Instagram @aaronthebarbariancobley. Any individuals or companies interested in sponsoring Aaron please contact him via email aaroncobley99@gmail.com or tel: 07429618995

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Chesterfield LGBT+

Derbyshire LGBT+ have branched out with a brand new centre in Chesterfield

Derbyshire LGBT+ have branched out with a brand new centre in Chesterfield. The launch was attended by MP Toby Perkins along with representatives of many local organisations showing their support for the centre. The centre was officially opened by the Mayor and Mayoress of Chesterfield.

Derbyshire LGBT+ has been a central presence in the local gay community in Derby since the organisation’s launch in 1983. Originally the organisation, set up and run by enthusiastic volunteers from the local gay community, aimed to help other lesbians, gay men and bisexuals come to terms with coming out and meeting others.

The organisation has grown and now also provides support to people who feel that they have difficulties relating to their gender identity. Derbyshire LGBT+ has also become a support organisation for many LGBT organisations and networks, such as schools, to whom they provide information and resources.

The group found there was a growing demand for support in places outside Derby, such as Chesterfield and Swadlincote. The centre will provide a drop-in service and group sessions for LGBT+ people and their family and friends.

Toby Perkins said “We have made huge progress as a society and it is fantastic that a facility like this is here. However, it is important to remember and recognise those campaigners in more difficult and less enlightened times. They were the pioneers who enabled us to get where we are today.

I also know that although things are hugely better people are still attacked or discriminated against because of their sexuality and it is because of that, that centres like this are so crucial and to have this here in Chesterfield is a source of tremendous pride for us.

I know that the more people get to know about the centre, the more it will provide the crucial support that is still required for people at all ends of the journey, whether they are young people discovering about themselves or people at a more advanced stage of life struggling with loneliness and the other trials other older people face but with additional challenges too.

So I am absolutely thrilled that this centre is here to provide this hugely valuable service.”

More information can be found at https://www.derbyshirelgbt.org.uk/chesterfield-centre/

 

 

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Hunting ban event pic

Chesterfield MP calls for clampdown to prevent illegal foxhunting

Parliament marked 14 years since the introduction of the Hunting Act last week, and Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, has added his weight to the campaign for a strengthening of the rules to stop illegal fox hunting.

Toby said, “Animal welfare is something that I and my constituents care deeply about and fox hunting is one of the subjects that people contact me about every week. I am immensely proud of the previous Labour Government for introducing the ban on foxhunting but there are too many loopholes that mean foxes are still being chased and brutally killed. Trail hunting is clearly being used by some hunts as a cover for foxhunting. We need to strengthen the Hunting Act and ensure that illegal hunts result in prosecutions. I will be contacting Derbyshire Police to arrange a briefing on how the Act is policed in Derbyshire, and learn more about any attempts to get around the principles of the bill.”

A recent poll by Survation found that only 16% of those living in rural areas believe hunting with dogs is a reflection of countryside values, while 67% do not.  It also showed that a mere 4% of people living in the countryside ever take part in hunting with hounds.  In contrast, 91% said they thought observing nature was a greater reflection of countryside values.

Labour have proposed the following amendments to the Hunting Act 2004:

  1. Review sentencing to ensure effective deterrence includes the use of custodial sentences in line with other wildlife crimes.
  2. Strengthening the criteria on which research licenses are issued.
  3. The removal of the exemption “Use of dogs below ground to protect birds for shooting”, as it risks fights between dogs and wild mammals.
  4. The introduction of a ‘recklessness clause’ to prevent trail hunting from being used as a cover for the illegal hunting of live wild animals.

Toby added, “I appreciate that there is a sense of tradition and a number of jobs related to hunting, but local hunts can maintain this with drag hunting. There is no excuse for foxes to be killed. Trail hunting has been used as a screen for foxhunting and it is important that nobody should feel that they are above the law.”

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Toby with keen gardeners Brian Bailey and Eric Loe

Chesterfield has received trees to plant as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy

 

Toby with keen gardeners Brian Bailey and Eric Loe

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has joined over 500 other MPs to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation initiatives to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.

The trees – two silver birch, two rowan, and a hazel – were planted at the Ashgate Road allotment.

They were donated to Toby Perkins thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV, who screened a landmark documentary, The Queen’s Green Planet.

At the heart of the film was a conversation between the Queen and Sir David Attenborough talking informally about climate change and trees.

In support of the programme the Woodland Trust provided 50,000 trees for ITV viewers, and via the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, who conceived the QCC initiative, also offered a special commemorative pack to every MP in the UK.

Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speight said: “We are delighted so many MPs have decided to join us in our bid to plant trees. They are crucial in improving soil health and water quality, reducing carbon, trapping pollutants, slowing the flow of flood water, providing a home for wildlife or a space for us to breathe. I hope the residents of Chesterfield will enjoy watching them flourish as part of this wonderful legacy initiative.”

 

Toby said “I was very happy to receive the tree saplings as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy and Woodland Trust initiative and was delighted to present them to the Ashgate Road allotment, which has undergone some impressive improvements in recent times. The trees have been well placed by dedicated gardeners on ‘Brian’s bank’ and I will be returning with interest to see how well they have grown. We don’t always fully appreciate how important trees are to the environment, to biodiversity and the well-being of people, so this initiative goes a small way to increase awareness and tree population.”

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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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