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Chesterfield MP celebrates Parliament Week with Inkersall Beaver Scouts

The Inkersall Beaver Scouts welcomed Toby Perkins MP to their November meeting to learn about politics and his life as an MP as part of UK Parliament Week.

UK Parliament Week is a UK-wide festival that takes place from 12-18 November, which aims to engage people, especially young people, from different backgrounds and communities, with the UK Parliament and empower them to get involved. This year’s UK Parliament Week is part of the UK Parliament’s Vote 100 programme, celebrating equal voting rights and other milestones in the UK’s democratic history.

Toby said, “Parliament Week is all about connecting the public with Parliament and MPs getting out into schools and community groups to speak to children helps them engage with politics from an early age. The variety of questions I took from the beaver Scouts shows that even at just 6 and 7 years old, children are ready to start learning about what MPs do and how our country works.”

 

 

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Toby and Ruth George MP recently met with Derbyshire PCC, Hardyal Dhindsa, to discuss the campaign to tackle synthetic cannabinoids

BLOG: Why we need to reclassify synthetic cannabinoids as Class A drugs

Just over four years ago, I led a Westminster Hall debate on government policy on legal highs following a number of problems in our town centre. I worked with a number of organisations and with MPs across the House and legal highs were eventually banned completely in Early 2016.  I led a campaign with local shopkeepers against the Reefer shop on Knifesmithgate, which was accused of selling legal highs and was seen as a focal point for much of the trouble in town which contributed towards that closing. There was an immediate improvement and this part of the town became a less intimidating space for visitors.

Toby and Ruth George MP recently met with Derbyshire PCC, Hardyal Dhindsa, to discuss the campaign to tackle synthetic cannabinoids

Toby and Ruth George MP recently met with Derbyshire PCC, Hardyal Dhindsa, to discuss the campaign to tackle synthetic cannabinoids

Unfortunately, over the couple of years, we have seen a growing problem with the drugs ‘Spice’ and ‘Mamba’. Spice and Mamba are known as ‘synthetic cannabinoid’ substances that are supposed to mimic the effects of cannabis. Spice has been dubbed the “zombie drug” due to the debilitating effect it has on people. If you have been unfortunate enough to witness someone on Spice, it can be very alarming as they do look like they have just stepped out of an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. Users will often be seen in a slumped, semi-conscious state often with their bodies posed in alarming and contorted shapes and their behaviour can be very unpredictable.

The short term effects of Spice are known and can include paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, kidney problems and breathing difficulties. The long term effects simply aren’t known yet but could lead to significant mental and physical health problems. This is not just an issue of crime and antisocial behaviour, but a public health issue that has serious implications for the individual users, and a knock-on effect for families, communities and emergency services. We have seen a six-fold increase in the past year in the number of ambulance call-outs to people who are on synthetic cannabinoids. The East Midlands Ambulance Service is already under a great deal of pressure and I have been contacted by several people who have had to wait several hours for an ambulance following serious accidents. This added pressure due to Spice users is the last thing needed by our ambulance service and over-stretched A&E department.

Toby speaking at the Westminster Hall debate the on Reclassification of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Toby speaking at the Westminster Hall debate on Reclassification of Synthetic Cannabinoids

And this is the crux of why people feel so passionately about this issue – Spice, and similar substances, are having a massive impact on users and people right across Chesterfield. Users quickly become psychologically (not chemically) dependent on Spice and seeking out the drug becomes the sole purpose in their life. These people are victims and vulnerable people, with many of them being rough sleepers or having mental health issues, but their actions impact on a huge number of other people. Many people are frightened to go into the centre of our towns because of the impact of Spice users and the alarming state that people get themselves into on these drugs.

Over the last few years we have seen a growing homeless community in Chesterfield, with Spice becoming the main drug of choice amongst this group. Spice is very cheap compared to other drugs and, partly due to the low cost and its Class B status, very easy to get hold of. I recently met with Sian Jones, manager of homelessness prevention charity Pathways, who told me that many users do not realise just how dangerous and potent the drug is when they first start using, and they become dependent on the drug before they realise the damage it is doing.

Spice users are having a big impact on our town centre businesses and retailers. Retailers trying to run their businesses in tough times have contacted me, saying they have people under the influence of these drugs in contorted positions in their shop doorways, forcing customers away and impacting on sales.

Hardyal Dhindsa, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, together with our hard working local police, have put a huge amount of effort into trying to clamp down on these drugs.

Toby on a visit to New Beetwell Street Bus Station with the Derbyshire PCC and local councillors to discuss the homeless situation in Chesterfield

Toby on a visit to New Beetwell Street Bus Station with the Derbyshire PCC and local councillors to discuss the homeless situation in Chesterfield

Hardyal introduced Operation Chesnee, which led to 70 arrests and a spate of convictions. At least 40 people have now been charged, and convictions are ongoing. Derbyshire police have put significant resource into cracking down on Spice and Mamba, but while they are class B drugs, there is a limit to the resources they can put in and the returns they can get. Hardyal also chairs regular town centre summits, which are attended by police, probation, Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, substance misuse services and local businesses, to discuss how we can work together to address the issues affecting our town centre. Public Space Protection Orders are already in place and being used to combat Spice users in town and the police and drug support services are working closely together to ensure people are being offered the help they need.

Now I have responded to the call from Hardyal and other Police chiefs to get these substances re-classified as class A drugs and spoke in a recent Parliamentary debate to that effect.

I am not seeking to criminalise the users of these drugs, many of whom need help and support for a variety of issues, but the reclassification will help the police to target the dealers higher up the supply chain who are making a lot of money and who are  responsible for the devastating impact these drugs are having on users and communities. Reclassification will mean tougher sentences for dealing, which will hopefully disincentivise people from selling the drug.

Reclassification will not be a silver bullet in resolving this new threat to our communities and we will need the Government to provide more resources for policing, increase the provision of drug treatment services and tackle the growing homelessness crisis which is leaving so many people in a vulnerable state where the use of drugs is the only way of coping with life on the street, but it can play a part.

You can watch my speech on this issue from last week’s Westminster Hall debate the on Reclassification of Synthetic Cannabinoids at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgL1XD5-FIs

Regular 'Town Centre Summits' are held to discuss the issues affecting Chesterfield Town Centre

Regular ‘Town Centre Summits’ are held to discuss the issues affecting Chesterfield’s town centre 

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The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

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

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

The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

The handmade poppies cascade at Chesterfield Town Hall

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

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

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

Toby in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit Kenya

Toby in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit

This is the main reason that I signed up to Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which I proudly ‘graduated’ from last month. I and several colleagues volunteered to spend a minimum of 15 days in a year witnessing our Armed Forces in action. The scheme is designed to increase the knowledge base of MPs about Service life and give serving soldiers, sailors and Airmen the opportunity to question MPs too. Over the last couple of years I have spent time in Kenya with the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) taking part in battle ready exercises and seeing what it is like setting up camp out in the field. I also spent time with the Navy, sailing to Amsterdam on a Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland and on our new destroyers, as well as witnessing the new Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Though these trips could never replicate a long term life in the Forces, it did give me a good idea of the conditions our Armed Forces have to live in, how they feel about their roles and learning about why people join and leave our Armed Forces.

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

Toby at the Graduation ceremony for the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme

Toby at the Graduation ceremony for the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Toby with Marcus King and Jack Day from HS2 Ltd

HS2 Construction Expected to begin in Staveley in 2024

Chesterfield received a major boost last year when it was confirmed that High Speed rail would serve the Town and that a key maintenance depot would be built at Staveley to service the line. Local MP, Toby Perkins, recently met with representatives from HS2 Ltd who have confirmed that construction of the depot in Staveley is expected to begin in 2024, if their plans are given Parliamentary approval.

HS2 Ltd have published their Working Draft Environmental Statement for the consultation into the Staveley to Aston part of the route and an online tool will be available for people to look at and comment on the plans.

Toby said, “There is still a long way to go for these plans, which will be subject to consultation and parliamentary scrutiny before securing Royal Assent, but it was good to see HS2 Ltd are committed to the current plans that provide Chesterfield with the benefits of High Speed rail serving the Town, but will have a relatively low impact on my constituents. I have stressed the importance of reducing the impact on local residents and businesses and HS2 Ltd have detailed a number of steps they will be taking to mitigate any visual or noise impacts on the area and address environmental concerns. The Staveley depot will become the first part of building the route from Staveley to Aston and will mean that Chesterfield is the first to benefit from the new jobs the project will create.”

As part of the mitigation steps planned for the area HS2 Ltd plans to reduce the visual and noise impact on the area through landscaping, hedgerow creation and noise-reduction barriers. There could also be work completed on a number of road bridges along the line which will need to be raised to allow for overhead electrical lines. HS2 Ltd would initially build two compounds at Staveley to store the construction materials for the line. These compounds would then become the maintenance depot, which will be a permanent site.

Toby added, “I also raised issues on behalf of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, as they need clarity from HS2 Ltd regarding the plans and how it may impact on their own developments and ability to secure funding. There are ongoing talks between HS2 and the Trust but HS2 need to do more to ensure that their plans cease to blight future funding applications made by the Canal trust. The Trust need certainty about the plans and a letter that showed HS2’s intended plans might be helpful as they make future bids. There is also an argument that the Trust should be compensated for funding that they have already been denied due to the uncertainty caused.

A major project of this sort will always bring upheaval and uncertainty but it is important this exciting regeneration project is not at the expense of the Canal which is another one. ”

You can view more information and give your views as part of the consultation by visiting https://www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/have-your-say/

Toby with Marcus King and Jack Day from HS2 Ltd

Toby with Marcus King and Jack Day from HS2 Ltd

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Toby with Anne Wright, Managing Director from Workpays Ltd and gold medal winning boxer, Frazer Clarke

New Chesterfield firm aim to ensure that ‘Workpays’

A local Training and Skills firm have launched a new office in Chesterfield to help people into work.

Workpays Ltd, welcomed local MP Toby Perkins to the launch of their new Chesterfield office which aims to support young people, adults and employers, to develop the skills needed to progress into an apprenticeship or gain and sustain employment.

Toby said, “It is good to see Workpays expanding into Chesterfield. Anything that provides a supportive and non-judgemental approach to supporting people back into the world of work is to be welcomed, and in Chesterfield we have too many people who have found it difficult to make their working lives pay, so improving skills and ensuring that we have people available to take advantage of any opportunities that arise is important.

The Borough Council has put a lot of work into attracting growth and new businesses to the town and we’re hoping for a significant number of skilled jobs to be brought to Chesterfield over the coming years. I want as many of these jobs as possible going to local people so it is vital that unemployed people or those battling illness get all the support they can get.

Workpays also works directly with large national and local employers to help them recruit and train new staff and upskill their existing employees through the Apprenticeship Levy, delivering nationally recognised qualifications across various sectors.

Anne Wright, Managing Director from Workpays Ltd said, “Workpays has had a presence in Chesterfield for over 2 years, working from remote locations to support local people to improve their confidence and skills to gain employment with local businesses. We are delighted to solidify our commitment to the area through the opening of our new Employability and Skills centre on the Newbold Road, which enables us to help more people.  We look forward to welcoming young people and adults in need of support, to gain the skills to get the job or an apprenticeship. Workpays is equally delighted to be working with local employers to fill job and apprenticeship vacancies as the area continues to attract growth. ”

Toby was joined by Frazer Clarke, the winner of the Super Heavy Weight Gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, who is the Ambassador for Workpays Ltd.

Toby said, “Frazer is an example of someone who has overcome a tough situation to achieve, and I hope he provides some inspiration to others who are facing other difficulties. When a super heavyweight champion tells you that he believes in you and the programme you are on, it might well give you a boost!”

Toby with Anne Wright, Managing Director from Workpays Ltd and gold medal winning boxer, Frazer Clarke

Toby with Anne Wright, Managing Director from Workpays Ltd and gold medal winning boxer, Frazer Clarke

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Rutland 1

Chesterfield firm calls on MP to help get Firedoor supply moving again

Rutland UK, a global manufacturer of designer door closers with their Head office and Distribution hub based in Chesterfield, has asked for the help of local MP, Toby Perkins, to help get the composite fire safety door industry moving again.

Toby said, “An important review of fire safety door standards has been implemented since the Grenfell tragedy. It is very important that the Government ensures that the standardisation of fire safety doors ensures that safety standards are improved. However, delays in the standardisation process and conflicting advice from Government, has seen landlords, developers and landlords cancelling orders for fire doors, sending back deliveries or refusing payment.

This is not only bad for business but is delaying the replacement of potentially less safe fire doors and impacting on businesses in the supply chain. I have now written to the Government to urge them to complete the new standardisation as quickly as possible and provide an update as to their thinking around issues such as the length of time a firedoor should be fireproof for, to enable the construction industry to place orders with confidence.”

Rutland UK has been manufacturing door closers for over 20 years, but the original family engineering background dates to the 1930s. They have locations in the UK, USA and Canada, with distributors in several other countries around the globe. Their products are used in universities, schools, hospitals, care homes, social housing and a variety of other buildings.

A spokesperson for Rutland UK, said “Thankfully Rutland are in the fortunate position with our door closers being fire tested on timber and metal fire doors. However, housing associations and contractors need “low maintenance” firedoors and we hope the Government can help give end users confidence in composite type door manufacturers that have successfully had their doors tested from both sides”.

Toby added, “Rutland UK is another high-quality manufacturer that many people might not be aware is here in Chesterfield. People frequently say to me that “we don’t make anything in the UK anymore”, but here in Chesterfield we are still maintaining a solid manufacturing base with companies supplying customers all over the world.”

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Statement from Toby Perkins MP regarding plans to create a subsidiary company at Chesterfield Royal Hospital

There has been much comment about the fact that Chesterfield Royal Hospital appear to be continuing with plans to create a subsidiary company and transfer 800 staff into it despite a Government announcement that all new plans should be paused.

I have recently spoken to Lee Outhwaite, Finance Director at Chesterfield Royal Hospital regarding the recent guidance from NHS Improvements that says that Trusts should “…pause any current plans to create new subsidiaries…” Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s position is that they have gone further than planning and they are now at the implementation stage so they do not feel they have to pause the process.

It seems to me that if they have been asked to pause any current plans to create new subsidiaries then they should not implement any plans that they have made. I have contacted NHS Improvements and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to seek clarification on whether the guidance issued recognises any distinction between planning and implementation and I have been promised an imminent response.

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Toby with landlady, Emma Clarke

Chesterfield Arms nominated for ‘Parliamentary Pub of the Year’

A Chesterfield pub has been nominated for a prestigious national award to recognise its value to the local community.

Toby Perkins MP came up with the idea for the ‘Parliamentary Pub of the Year’ as part of his role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pub Group. The award was launched in July and gives 650

Toby with landlady, Emma Clarke

Toby with landlady, Emma Clarke

MPs the opportunity to nominate a pub from their constituency.

The award focuses on celebrating the important role pubs play in British life and promoting their value to the local economy and communities. The main criteria for nomination is a pub that is great at what they do, this can include the range of beer or food provided, the dedication to serving the local Community or a specialism in Music or Sports.

Toby Perkins said “Pubs are crucial to our communities as well as to our economy. Britain’s pubs employ over 1 million people and pay around £9 billion in taxes. It is so important that we support our much loved locals.

As the architect of this competition, I am one of the judges but wanted to nominate a local pub myself. It is so difficult to pick one pub, because I think Chesterfield is well served with great pubs and we have a cvery lively real ale scene here.

However, Chesterfield Arms boasts a great array of local ales, has a wide variety of specialist products (over 25 gins for example) and has always had a lively atmosphere when I have visited, so it has received my nomination to recognise the positive role it plays in Chesterfield.”

The 650 MP entrants will be whittled down to ten finalists, who will be invited down to the House of Commons later this year to see which pub will be crowned the Parliamentary Pub of the Year.

Emma Clarke, landlady of the Chesterfield Arms said, “We are really delighted to be nominated. We are proud of the pub and our regulars and always attempt to be welcoming for newcomers. It is great to hear that Toby has always enjoyed his visits, and we will keep our fingers crossed that the judges like what we have to offer too.”

Toby added, “We have had a great response from MPs across the UK and it is creating a real buzz in the pub industry. I hope the awards will become an annual fixture in the parliamentary calendar and help promote the importance of our pubs for years to come.”

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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

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Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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