Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Mr Osborne must think again

Today the Office for National Statistics announced that Great Britain had slipped back into recession. The dreaded 'Double Dip' which many of us had feared but predicted.

You may think as a Labour politician I would be gloating at this news, but I am not. Of course I disagree with many things that this Tory-lead coalition has done but I truly want the best for our country and it is deeply sad that we are in this position.

Of course recession is a technical term meaning that the economy has contracted for two successive quarters. To most of us technical terms mean nothing, it's more about the money in our pocket and for most of us that means we feel and are significantly worse off.

This government told us continually that severe austerity measures were the only option. But whilst the Conservatives pushed ahead with a program of swinging cuts and tax rises (in many cases disproportionately aimed at the worst off in our society) comparative countries who took more gradual steps in eradicating the structural deficit have seen growth.

Whilst the economies of Germany and the United States are now back to pre-recession levels we continue to struggle. Since Mr Osborne's spending review 18 months ago our economy has contracted 0.2%.

Of course the draconian cuts are not working and we are now spending billions more to pay for the failure.

The disturbing thing is that Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, is predicting that contraction will continue into next quarter as well.

Mr Osborne must think again - it is not too late. If he doesn't we will continue to go on hurting for much longer whilst other countries plough on ahead.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

St George's Day in Coalville

Yesterday (Saturday) saw Coalville turning out to celebrate St George's day, and what a day it was.

Local people were entertained by the Coop Brass Band, face painting, mask making, farm animals and fire engine.

Young people had a fairground and mobile BMX park.

Businesses got involved by dressing up and offering special discounts.

...and not least you got the chance to meet St George, his Damsel in Distress and the terrifying Dragon!

Cooperative Brass Band

The Terrifying Dragon!

Mask Making

So many people came up to me to say how good it was to see such a vibrant Coalville, it's perhaps best encapsulated  by the twitter user who sent me this tweet:

'was very good to walk through town today and see a bizy happy vibe going on, It's been a while since I last saw that...'

Sunday, 15 April 2012

BMI job losses - a response

When the news of 1,200 potential job losses at BMI, including around 400 at Castle Donington, broke last Thursday I was deeply upset at the potential impact on many families and directly on the economy of North West Leicestershire.

400 local people will lose their livelihoods. Many will have highly desirable transferable skills and will find alternative employment in the aviation industry. Others, such as cleaners and maintenance staff, will find themselves embroiled in an exceptionally tough employment market where many many people are now classed as suffering from long-term worklessness.

The loss of 400 jobs will have a significant knock on effect to the local economy in and around Castle Donington. Shops, pubs and restaurants will all suffer and in some cases may well find themselves untenable.

Let us make no mistake that these job losses are a tragedy for the district.

Of course with annual losses in 2010 of around £150 million BMI (and their new owners) must take action and at this point the onus must be on minimising and mitigating the impact of these job losses.

I appreciate that the district council can have limited influence on outcomes but I do believe that we must do all that we reasonably can to assist. For this reason I have contacted Richard Blunt, Leader of the Council, to assure him of my support in any initiatives that the district take to assist.

Similarly I truly hope that our MP, Andrew Bridgen, can have a positive impact in his meetings with British Airways and potential investors.

I have also contacted the main unions for the employees of BMI, Unite and GMB, to assure them of my support should the district council be able to help moving forward.

Right now hundreds of families around our district and in the immediate neighbouring  areas are fearful for their future. I truly believe that this isn't a time for party politics but a time when we all should stand side by side to achieve the best possible outcome.

Of course as terrible as these potential losses are there are many other hard working people around the area who are worried for their jobs also. We must do all we can to assist them in these troubled economic times.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ed Miliband on regenerating struggling town centres

This morning I had the opportunity to meet with Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, after he gave a speech in Derby.

During our short conversation I took the opportunity to ask Ed about Labour's position on regenerating our town centres that have continued to struggle over recent years, obviously being particularly mindful of Coalville.

Ed agreed with my own view that schemes such as the Portas Pilots were great initiatives but of course we must go further.

In order to make our town centres more vibrant and desirable places to shop, trade and spend leisure time Ed spoke powerfully about empowering local people and businesses in shaping the future direction. I couldn't agree more.

As I have said before Coalville is a great place to live. It's great to know that a future Labour Government would be commited to enabling local people to make it even better.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Faith School e-petition update

For some time now on this blog I have been discussing the introduction of a 'faith tax' for those parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools around the county.

For those who aren't up to speed Leicestershire County Council have been planning on removing all funding for school transport to faith schools thereby costing those parents £240 a year more (a total charge of £490) per child than parents who choose to send their children to catchment area schools.

Around 6 weeks ago I started an e-petition on the Leicestershire County Council website against their discriminatory plans. That e-petition closed yesterday and the results are amazing.

Four times more people signed our e-petition than any other e-petition EVER on the County Council website.

Our e-petition falls only 4 signatures short of containing DOUBLE the number of signatures of the combined total for every e-petition ever hosted on the Leicestershire County Council website (since 1 January 2004).

In total the e-petition received 328 signatures. Whilst in the scale of things this isn't huge compared to some paper petitions IT IS HUGE compared to other e-petitions.

328 people have taken the time to complete a somewhat cumbersome signature process because faith school transport is so important to them.

Faith school parents are not asking for preferential treatment but only the same access to funding as an average catchment area school. Making such vast changes to faith school transport WILL mean that some Catholic parents have to take their children out of their preferred schools.

I must sincerely thank all of those Leicestershire Catholic Headteachers who have supported this petition.

It is now time to say to County Council that people are angry, people are suffering and people will remember.

To the County Council, we have used your own system and have shown on a comparatively vast scale the strength of feeling there is on this matter.

If ever an e-petition has made use of your own system it is this. It is now time to give real consideration to your own scheme or highlight it as an expensive waste of money.