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Toby with repairers Margaret Hersee and Sue Scott

Make do and mend

The old war time adage of make do and mend is making a comeback as people are becoming more conscious of saving money and reducing CO2 emissions and waste to landfill.
And locally, a ‘Repair Café’ in Chesterfield is bringing a local dimension to this growing trend.
Repair Cafes are set up by volunteers to fix broken belongings, increase mending skills and reduce waste and the Chesterfield Repair Café is currently set up at the Monkey Park where local MP Toby Perkins called in to view the repairers at work.
Volunteers in Chesterfield gather once a month to repair items such as furniture, appliances, toys and clothing. Toby said: “Very often the simplest ideas are the best and this is certainly the case with the Repair Café. We are fortunate here to have a group of willing and skilled volunteers who are can fix items that may otherwise have been thrown away. Sadly, many items are not built to last anymore, because the parts are poorer quality, or they’re designed to wear out and then be thrown away, so we spend more on new equipment. I think we have become so much better at recycling our waste and initiatives like this go one step further by helping prevent the waste and hopefully make us more conscious of buying better quality or re-developing the skill of mending things, if we can, in the first place.
I was very impressed with all the team here who also like to work with the community on how to fix items themselves. I am told that within the last year the team in Chesterfield have prevented 285 kg of waste and prevented 2,310 kg of CO2 emissions. I am happy to support this worthy cause and help the volunteers have what they need to continue to repair as many items as possible which means needing access to quality spare parts and appropriate documentation.”
Repair Cafes are held every second Saturday of the month in 2019 and the

Toby with repairers Margaret Hersee and Sue Scott

last repairs are accepted at 2pm. The team can be contacted at and please get in touch if you know how to fix things and would like to help.

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Toby being grilled on the environment by Hollingwood Primary pupils

Hollingwood pupils pledge to protect the environment

Environmentally-conscious pupils at Hollingwood Primary School have enlisted the help of Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, as part of their campaign to improve the environment locally and globally.

Toby said, “The pupils at Hollingwood Primary School wrote to me regarding concerns that affect the local environment, such as litter and dog mess, as well as their pledges for tackling the climate change emergency. I visited the school last week and was impressed by the children’s knowledge about environmental issues and I think they would all be great candidates to be Climate Change Ambassadors to the Borough Council.

Following the letters from Hollingwod pupils, Toby wrote to Cllr Jill Mannion-Brunt, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing at Chesterfield Borough Council, who has confirmed that the Council

Toby being grilled on the environment by Hollingwood Primary pupils

Toby being grilled on the environment by Hollingwood Primary pupils

recently passed a resolution to declare a Climate Change Emergency in Chesterfield. The Council will also be talking to young people in the Borough, to create young ambassadors for climate change who will work with the Council to help develop a local strategy to combat climate change and deal with local environmental issues. The Council will be contacting Hollingwood Primary with a view to them becoming an early adopter as an encouragement for other schools.

Toby added, “I am very proud of the schools in Chesterfield, who are teaching students about what they can do to improve the environment so that hopefully when they get to my age, a long time from now, the planet is not ruined by pollution and waste.”

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BLOG: Concerns about Hasland Hall Community School

BLOG: Concerns about Hasland Hall Community School

There has been considerable concern recently following the news that staff at Hasland Hall School had gone on strike in protest at behaviour and disciplinary standards at the school.

I was already pursuing and responding to complaints from parents and staff concerning the school’s approach to Special Needs education and behaviour.

I am a strong believer that every single school day is important to our children’s education and want to resolve these issues to ensure there are no further strikes and to ensure that the evidence base around any issues is as wide ranging as possible.

I also want to ensure that everyone interested in the future of the school and with knowledge of matters there gets an opportunity to have their voice heard.

I have been attempting to meet with the school in recent days and have now been able to secure an urgent meeting with the Headteacher, Miss Ruth Moore, and Ms Kathryn Boulton, Service Director for Schools and Learning at Derbyshire County Council, that I will be attending on Friday 19th July.

The main issues that have been raised to me as concerns by staff and parents are:

• Discipline
• Class Disruption
• Bullying
• Governance
• Record keeping and transparency
• Over reliance on supply teachers
• Violence & aggression towards staff
• Lack of support for children with Special Educational Needs

I am keen to make progress on these issues as quickly as possible so that hopefully many of these issues can be addressed before the start of the new academic year.

I am collecting evidence, both positive and negative, about the school so that we can identify what is and isn’t working well and provide support to the school and the County Council to make the necessary improvements.

To this end, I have booked a room in the Hasland Methodist Church for a series of confidential meetings with anyone that would like to discuss their recent experiences of Hasland Hall School.
If any parents, staff or governors would like to speak to me, they should call my office on 01246 386 286 to arrange an appointment.

The special appointment-based surgery will be at Hasland Methodist Church on Friday 19th July from 11am to 2pm. If you are unable to make it on Friday, I will be arranging further appointments at a later date.

You can also email your views and comments to me at


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Toby visited a IDP (Internally Displaced Peoples) camp

BLOG: My visit to Kurdistan

As the constituency Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, my primary daily responsibility will always be to represent Chesterfield.

Toby visited a IDP (Internally Displaced Peoples) camp

Toby visited an IDP (Internally Displaced Peoples) camp

Alongside this, the 650 MPs also have an opportunity to discuss and influence policy around both specialist areas of knowledge or around Britain’s global role in the world.

There are a great deal of Parliamentary delegations coming into and out of the UK from other countries and these not only further relationships between nations (something that will never be more crucial in the post- Brexit age) but also allow for learning from other cultures and parliaments.

Understanding more about global issues also enables MPs to influence and scrutinise Foreign Office policies and responses to developing situations.

One such opportunity recently presented itself when I was asked to join a cross party Parliamentary delegation to meet the recently elected government of the Kurdistan region in Iraq.

Kurdistan is a devolved region in the North of Iraq who have great warmth towards Britain both despite, and because of, the great hardship that they have suffered over many decades.

The Kurds are the world’s largest diaspora not to have a country of their own, and there are around 30 million Kurds split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Iraqi Kurds were brutally oppressed by Saddam Hussain whose genocides killed tens of thousands and used chemical weapons against them following an uprising after the first Gulf war.

Foreign Office advice is still against all travel to Iraq, but I was assured in advance that the Kurdistan region is very safe and it was clear both in Government circles and out in the wider community that there is a great deal of affection for Britain in the region. Iraqi Kurds describe the 2003 Gulf War as ‘the liberation’ and whilst the oppression of the Kurds and Shia Muslims by Saddam has been replaced by unsatisfactory replacement Iraqi Governments, they clearly believe that their future prospects are brighter than their past.

It was a visit of contrasts. In meetings with the Foreign Office Minister, the Governor of two different Kurdish regions, the Speaker and their respective Chambers of Commerce, the possibilities and hunger for British investment in the region was palpable. They were at pains to assure us that there were huge opportunities for British services and products as well as investment in industries other than the Oil industry that has been their staple for years.

For example, there is no such thing as car insurance there (which hasn’t seemed to reduce the risk appetite of local drivers!). There is also a historic distrust of banking and financial services meaning that there is basically no lending or mortgages. Major US Hoteliers have got in there and there are lavish ‘International’ 5 star hotels but their tourism industry has huge further potential.

But alongside these great opportunities we also visited an IDP (Internally Displaced Peoples) camp and met with Yazidi and Sunni refugees who have fled for their lives and live in utter squalor. We met families who have lived for FIVE YEARS in a single breeze blocked room with a canvass sheet over their heads in 40 degree heat. Despite their deprivation they told us that at least they are safe there and would rather be there than at home where they face further attacks. Many of the Yazidi families were lacking their matriarch as many of the women were stolen by ISIS and taken to be ‘wives’ of the conquering soldiers.

The Sunnis (previously favoured by Saddam) are now mistreated by Shia militia with the Iraqi Government unable or unwilling to protect them. These people do not have refugee status in International eyes because they are still within their own country, and the Kurds, who have a historic knowledge of what it is like to flee persecution are largely carrying the burden of attempting to house, clothe and feed tens of thousands of these people alone. There were around 8,000 people at the single camp we visited.

These visits bring home the reality of life and the complexity of some of these global situations that receive a five-minute slot on our news. They need more than charity and despite what you might often hear, they welcome the involvement of the UK and the West. They clearly trust our institutions more than their own.

As citizens of the world we should never complacently believe we have all the answers to complex situations overseas, but nor does that mean that we should offer nothing more than occasional guilt relieving charity either.

My visit to Kurdistan will live forever in my memory and I hope that I can encourage the UK Government and companies to consider anew what more we can do for this beautiful region with huge potential as well as challenges.

Toby with Steve Reed MP and other members of the Parliamentary Delegation meeting with officials in Kurdistan

Toby with Steve Reed MP and other members of the Parliamentary Delegation meeting with officials in Kurdistan

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Toby taking part in a speed-stacking challenge

MP bowled over by school’s approach to sport

Sporty students at Brockwell Junior School marked the Youth Sport Trust’s 2019 National School Sport Week by inviting local MP, Toby Perkins, to watch them and compete against them in

Toby hits one for six!

a range of sporting activities.

Toby said, “At a time when there is huge pressure on school budgets and more of a focus on league tables and exams, sports and P.E. can often not receive the time or consideration that it deserves. At Brockwell Juniors, they have taken a very proactive approach to sports, thinking of more diverse activities to ensure all children can participate, and this has led to happier, healthier children as well as the school securing a number of trophies and high-profile sporting wins”

Toby had the chance to try speed stacking and archery, as well as demonstrating the cricket skills he had previously put to good use playing for Holmewood MWCC many years ago!

The theme for the 2019 YST National School Sport Week was Journey to Wellbeing and encouraged schools to organise activity which align with the following five steps to wellbeing:

  • Being active
  • Connecting
  • Giving back
  • Taking notice
  • Learning


The Youth Sport Trust is the leading national charity working in partnership with over 20,000 schools, government and leading sporting organisations to improve PE and school sport. We harness the power physical activity to improve young people’s life chances with a focus on building life skills and resilience, as well as supporting physical and mental wellbeing.

Toby added, “As a former Derbyshire rugby player, who enthusiastically follows many sports, I am a huge believer in the value of competitive sports in schools. It not only promotes activity and fitness, but improves children’s confidence, social skills and ability to work as a team. We need the Government to provide more funding to schools to ensure that P.E. remains a central part to the school week.”

Toby taking part in a speed-stacking challenge

Toby taking part in a speed-stacking challenge

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Toby at the monthly social meeting of the YNA group

Derbyshire mental health group lets people know that support is always available

A peer-to-peer support group for people with mental health issues, ‘You’re Never Alone – Mental Health Awareness (YNA)’, invited local MP Toby Perkins to attend their monthly meeting to learn more about the group and the issues facing mental health sufferers.

The group was co-created by Chesterfield resident, Mark Sims, and provides advice, support and friendship through a Facebook group and regular meetings.

Toby said, “With the cuts to health services it has become increasingly difficult for people to access the support they need. Waiting lists for counselling services can see patients waiting for over two years before they are seen and so there are hundreds of people across Derbyshire not receiving support and feeling like they are alone with their mental health issues. Peer-to-peer support groups such as the YNA group can be a significant help to people who are falling through the cracks in the system”

The YNA Facebook page is a private group that allows people to interact with others with mental health issues and build up their support network. The groups admins are also available for one-to-one support via messenger and email.

Toby added, “Whilst these groups are important, they can never replace NHS mental health services and we need the Government to ensure that mental health is receiving parity of esteem for funding, to protect patients who are vulnerable and unwell.”

You can join the group at

Toby at the monthly social meeting of the YNA group

Toby at the monthly social meeting of the YNA group

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Toby Perkins following his meeting with local Police in Inkersall

BLOG: ‘Both carrot and stick are needed to tackle rising antisocial behaviour amongst young people’

Feeling safe and happy in our homes and communities is essential to us leading happy lives. Antisocial behaviour, even less serious kinds such as noise nuisance or graffiti, can have a massive impact on people’s daily lives and make them feel unsafe. But when it spills over into vandalism and violence it is time for the authorities to step in.

There are of course people of all ages that are involved in antisocial behaviour (ASB), but I have recently been aware of a renewed antisocial behaviour problem

In response, I recently held a meeting with police, business owners and council officers to discuss bad behaviour, intimidation and vandalism from groups of young people in the Inkersall area of Chesterfield.

The police are increasing their patrols in the area, but there are limits on what actions they can take. The previous Labour Government introduced Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), which despite some silly press around them becoming a ‘badge of honour’ in some communities were actually a pretty effective tool to prevent individuals from acting in ways that whilst not unlawful in their own right ruined the quiet enjoyment of their neighbours.

The Tory Government abolished them, and there is a widespread view that the replacement powers brought in are less effective. Nonetheless, there is a role for more robust policing alongside measures like improved lighting and CCTV.

Alongside preventative and policing measures there is also a responsibility for the authorities to provide diversionary activities to engage young people in more constructive ways.

Our young people need somewhere to go, something positive to do and people to speak to. Local youth clubs, run by trained and experienced youth workers, used to provide the safe, supportive

spaces that young people needed. The cuts to local government over the last 9 years have effectively wiped out youth services, and I have no doubt that this has led to an increase in ASB in our communities. According to YMCA research, funding for youth services in England fell by £737m (62%) between 2010 and 2018, with over 600 youth centres closing and 3,500 youth workers losing their jobs. These cuts may have created short term savings, but they are having a long-term impact on our communities.

Toby Perkins following his meeting with local Police in Inkersall

Toby Perkins following his meeting with local Police in Inkersall

I want to see the bad behaviour stopped so that people can feel safe, but I recognise that criminalising young people is not always the answer. The Labour Party believes that new legislation is needed to place a duty on every local authority across England to provide a minimum level of support for young people and to establish a local youth service partnership with young people, parents, professionals and councillors, to ensure local needs are being met. This will require additional public funds from Government, but will improve our communities, increase the opportunities for young people and reduce the pressure placed on police.

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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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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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