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Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

New Taskforce for Lung Health launched with help of Chesterfield MP

A new Taskforce to help raise awareness of lung health and maintaining healthy lungs has received the backing of Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins.

The ‘Taskforce for Lung Health’ brings together 25 representatives from across the lung health sector including patients, voluntary sector, professional associations, primary and secondary healthcare. The aim of the Taskforce is to develop a single five-year plan for improving lung health in England, endorsed by the whole respiratory community.

Toby said, “People often don’t realise how many people are affected by lung conditions. In Chesterfield, there are over 7,000 people living with asthma and over 2,500 with COPD. These conditions can have a debilitating effect on people’s ability to lead an active life and contribute towards other health complications. We need a better understanding of how to maintain healthy lungs, and greater awareness of what treatments are available if we do have a lung condition.”

Respiratory disease is one of the top three killers in the UK with 1 in 5 people diagnosed with a lung condition at some point in their lives and 115,000 people dying each year as a result of lung disease. It is estimated that the NHS spends £9.9billion each year on lung disease, including lung cancer and respiratory infections, making it the fourth most costly disease area.

Toby added, “We have seen huge strides made in the past by reducing smoking and related diseases, but the British Lung Foundation (BFL) have highlighted that there has been very little improvement in the number of people dying from lung disease over the last ten years. This is of particular concern to me as figures from the BFL show that compared to the national average, people living in the Chesterfield are 8% more likely to die from asthma, 11% more likely to die from COPD, and 7% more likely to die from lung cancer.  I fully support the new Taskforce which will hopefully identify what needs to change in how we prevent, diagnose and treat lung disease and prevent early deaths.”

Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

Toby at the launch of the new Taskforce for Lung Health

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Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

Westminster Commission calls for better protections for people with autism

A new report by the Westminster Commission on Autism has highlighted an increase in potentially harmful interventions and treatments for people with Autism. Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, attended the launch of the new report and is calling for greater regulation to combat the problem.

Toby said, “The Commission has been doing important work for many years with one of Chesterfield’s own residents, Craig Kennady, being a member and helping produce this report. The report has shown that autistic people and their carers have had a range of dangerous and unsubstantiated products and therapies offered to them, often presented as a ‘cure’. People have reported being offered homeopathy, crystal therapy, spiritual intervention, aromatherapy, diets and many other interventions that are not only of no use, but can be harmful. There is no cure to autism, people just need the right support and understanding to manage it.”

The Commission has called on the Government to convene all agencies with regulatory responsibility to identify the current gaps in regulation and ensure that potentially harmful treatments and  interventions are covered by legislation.

Toby added, “There are clearly a lot of fraudsters out there looking to exploit people on the autism spectrum and our regulatory bodies need the powers to clamp down on it. We also need a better understanding and awareness of autism to make society a safer space for all autistic people”.

Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

Toby with Chesterfield resident, Craig Kennady

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Toby, who became an Arthritis Champion in July 2017, at the launch of Arthritis UK's 'Ask Us' campaign

MP supports people living with arthritis in Chesterfield

Thousands of people in Chesterfield are living with arthritis and the town’s MP, Toby Perkins, is calling for a greater awareness of the impact it has on people’s lives.

Toby attended the launch of Arthritis Research UK’s new ‘Ask Us’ campaign, which encourages those living with arthritis to reach out to the charity and ask questions about their condition. The campaign directs people to information and advice provided by the charity, and which will hopefully lead people to getting the support they need.

Mr Perkins said, “I was shocked to learn that in Chesterfield, 7,325 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the knee, 4,368 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the hip, and 15,160 live with back pain. Too many people locally are living with daily pain, fatigue, and isolation. This is unacceptable. I encourage anyone who suffers with this to contact Arthritis UK and speak to the ‘Ask Us’ advisors.

Toby, who became an Arthritis Champion in July 2017, at the launch of Arthritis UK's 'Ask Us' campaign

Toby, who became an Arthritis Champion in July 2017, at the launch of Arthritis UK’s ‘Ask Us’ campaign

Toby met with people living with arthritis, who explained how the condition can affect their lives in different ways – from going to work, to coping with the daily tasks such as cooking or driving that many of us take for granted. Arthritis UK states that there are now over 17.8 million people in the UK suffering from the condition.

The ‘Ask Us’ advisers will provide information and advice via Arthritis UK’s helpline, and online ‘Virtual Assistant’.

Toby, “I have been an ‘Arthritis Champion’ for some time now, and I am doing all I can to improve access to advice and services. Arthritis is affecting people’s ability to work and lead independent lives, and the Government needs to provide the funds to the NHS and local authority to ensure everyone has access to support’.

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Toby with representatives from The Chesterfield Canal Trust

MP calls for more support for Chesterfield Canal Project

Ongoing progression of the impressive Chesterfield Canal Project was the subject of discussion on a visit to the Staveley basin site by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

The Chesterfield Canal currently runs for 46 miles and links Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. Since 1989, 12 miles have been restored with 37 locks, 11 bridges and 2 marinas. There are less than 9 miles left to restore with plans already in place by the Trust.  The Chesterfield Canal Trust is a charitable company run entirely by volunteers.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has been a long term supporter of the project, and he visited the basin site at Staveley again to see how work is progressing and to learn about the future plans.

Toby with representatives from The Chesterfield Canal Trust

Toby with representatives from The Chesterfield Canal Trust

“The Chesterfield Canal is a fantastic project that has really brought life to the canal. In order to realise the full potential of the project, there are issues that need resolving first, such as certainty about the impact of HS2 and a need to set up a development company to take forward future plans. It requires more than extra money, it also needs better engagement from organisations such as Derbyshire County Council. I will be working with the Trust to try and help ensure that these obstacles can be overcome. The possibilities for leisure, business and wildlife are hugely beneficial and achievable goals worth working towards.”

To learn more about the Chesterfield Canal project visit their website at www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk/

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Toby Perkins MP visited the Chesterfield museum for their very first LGBTQ+ exhibition called “Other Stories”

Toby Perkins MP visited the Chesterfield museum for their very first LGBTQ+ exhibition called “Other Stories”

On the 16th of February Toby Perkins MP visited the Chesterfield museum for their very first LGBTQ+ exhibition called “Other Stories”, which gave people the chance to see the story the of the LGBTQ+ community in chesterfield.

The exhibition which was opened on the 2nd Feb 2018 and will remain open until the 7th Apr 2018 explores the personal stories and social history of the LGBT+ community in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire.

The experiences of North East Derbyshire LGBT+ community reveal devastating cases of discrimination and prejudice but also examples of self-determination, resilience and creativity. 50 years on from the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the exhibition offers a reflection on the significant advances that have been made and recognises that there is still work to be done for full equality. The exhibit also showed the views of those in the LGBTQ+ community in the present day, with reference to legislative and public attitude changes.

On his visit Mr Perkins said “It was a pleasure to be invited as one of the first people to experience this exhibition. Throughout my time as the Member of Parliament for Chesterfield I have always championed LGBTQ+ rights and ‘Other Stories’ is a reflection on how the people of Chesterfield have been vocal in their support for a community that have previously been marginalised. It also shows the sacrifices and injustices done to many members of the LGBTQ+ community and it is important that we remember that intolerance”

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

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

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

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

The causes

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

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

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

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

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

The solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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police cuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Chesterfield?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what are we doing locally?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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