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Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation report prove that Cameron’s fingerprints are all over the crisis in A&E departments

reedNuffield Trust and Health Foundation report proof that Cameron’s fingerprints are all over the crisis in A&E departments – Jamie Reed

Jamie Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation report on causes of the A&E crisis and a warning of ‘inevitable’ longer waits in future, said:

“This report is proof that David Cameron’s fingerprints are all over the crisis in A&E departments. Patients will be worried to hear things are set to get even worse.

“It is right to warn that older patients are forced to turn to A&E because they simply can no longer get a GP appointment. David Cameron made it harder to see your GP and this scandal is why the next Labour Government will guarantee appointments within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need them.

“This report is another reminder for David Cameron that his decimation of England’s social care system is leaving older patients trapped in hospital without the support to go home – A&E departments are struggling to cope.

“The Government must tackle plummeting satisfaction with GPs and the collapse of social care on its watch. It is more proof you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.”

Posted on July 24, 2014 9:27 am by Paul Gleeson

We believe Boston needs a siren

sirenEver since the floods on 5th December, people have been asking Boston Labour councillors why we didn’t have any sirens in Boston. The same question came up again recently when Radio Lincolnshire did a review on what has happened in the six months since the floods. Interestingly a major report has been done by the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum called “The East Coast Tidal Surge 5th December 2013”. Within that report it states that an area for improvement is – support offered to vulnerable people/older people who needed help to evacuate. This is just one of several recommendations. Time after time people have told us they did not know what was happening on the night. When you look at the evidence of the night, people had come home from work, put on their tea and were just about to start watching early evening television. Others just come home from work and put their pyjamas on. Scores of people who were at work all day until the early evening were totally oblivious to what was going to happen.

We now know that other towns like Grimsby and Cleethorpes have sirens which were used to good effect on that evening. We have also become aware that in East Yorkshire, they have asked for a new flood siren to be installed for future flooding events. Following a letter to the chair of the environment agency, he stated that “they would discuss the costs and benefits of installing and maintaining additional sirens with the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and the community”.

We recently asked the Conservative Cabinet if they would support the introduction of a new siren to warn people of imminent flooding in the future? The reply was that they weren’t convinced by the debates they had heard that a siren would have had anywhere near the same impact as Police Officers, Fire and Rescue colleagues and council staff knocking on every door in the areas they were told would be worst affected. We repeated asked if they would support the introduction of a new siren and the answer came back very clearly – NO.

We know that Boston only had twelve hours warning and door knocking did not start until the afternoon, while many residents were at work or out shopping, and in many cases they had no warning until the early evening when people knocked again, just before the flooding. We also know from the debate on Radio Lincolnshire that scores of people are in favour and loads of people have rung us or stopped us in the street, including councillors on Boston Borough Council who all feel that we need to be prepared for future flooding with a new siren that is in a prominent place. We know that only 16% of people have signed up for flood alert. We believe that through the multicultural nature of the town and the number of vulnerable and older people living in our communities, it is essential we have a siren. We will continue to campaign for one so our town has earlier warning and is better protected in the event of future flooding.

Posted on July 23, 2014 10:19 am by Paul Gleeson

Young people and families are struggling to get on the housing ladder because this Government has failed to tackle the housing shortage

emma reynoldsYoung people and families are struggling to get on the housing ladder because this Government has failed to tackle the housing shortage – Emma Reynolds

Emma Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, responding to the NAES Housing Market Report for June 2014, said:

“Young people and families are struggling to get on the housing ladder because this Government has failed to tackle the housing shortage which is central to the cost-of-living crisis.

“Under David Cameron, house building has fallen to its lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s.

“For home ownership to be a realistic aspiration for the next generation we need to build many more homes which is why Labour will get 200,000 homes a year built by 2020.”

Posted on July 22, 2014 10:20 am by Paul Gleeson

Government committee predicts that floods may hit towns like Boston again

flood risk social housingThe devastating floods of last winter could hit England again unless government funding cuts to flood defence budgets are reversed, MPs warned the environment secretary recently. “Overall funding does not reflect the increased flood risk” being driven by climate change, the MPs’ report found, while money for the maintenance of rivers and flood defences was at the “bare minimum”. The coalition imposed a 25% cut on flood defence spending on entering office in 2010.

MPs praised the governments “money is no object” relief efforts led by the Prime Minister, but said cost-cutting on defences was a false economy, leading to the misery of flooding and millions being spent on emergency action, rather than investment in flood prevention. The Environment Agency (EA) estimates every £1 invested in flood defences saves £8 in future damage.

But the EA, led by Lord Chris Smith and heavily attacked during the flooding, largely escaped criticism from the MPs saying that the EA does what its political masters tell it to. The Efra committee welcomed EA moves to ease the rules governing how landowners fulfil their legal duties in maintaining the rivers flowing over their land. The government’s own advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, said at least £500m more needed to be spent on flood defences, simply to keep up with the rising risks caused by global warming.

The shadow environment secretary noted the MPs’ finding that emergency funding described by ministers as “additional” had in fact been re-allocated from other environment department budgets and that the Prime Ministers ‘money is no object’ promise had predictably proved totally false. The government had failed to prepare for the floods, they didn’t take the threat of climate change seriously and they don’t have a coherent strategy to deal with the problem in the future.

Boston Labour Councillors certainly want any government who is elected after 2015 to build a Boston Barrier, and in the run up to building it, make sure we have the right preventative measures in place. We want earlier warning than 12 hours and we know that people in Boston favour sandbags and sirens. We don’t want our council to hesitate about spending money. Even the Tory’s own national leader said that money was no object. It is just a pity our Tory councillors locally didn’t heed his advice and spend more money on prevention.

Posted on July 21, 2014 9:33 am by Paul Gleeson

Despite claiming to be freezing council tax, the government is balancing the books on the backs of the poorest

BennDespite claiming to be freezing council tax, the government is balancing the books on the backs of the poorest

Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Local Government Secretary, commenting on the Zacchaeus 2K report “A new poll tax?” that looks at the impact of the localisation of council tax benefit, said:

“This Poll Tax Mark II, as it was dubbed by Lord Jenkin – the architect of the original Poll Tax – is causing misery in London and throughout the country.

“Despite claiming to be freezing council tax, the government is balancing the books on the backs of the poorest.

“It is time David Cameron and Eric Pickles took responsibility for the problems they have caused by deciding to cut support given to councils.

“They should now order a full review into the impact of these changes, before coming to Parliament with a plan to put things right.”

Posted on July 17, 2014 9:03 am by Paul Gleeson

Risk management “speak”

buzz wordsWe thought the people of Boston would be interested to hear some of the new “buzz” words being used to describe the proposed actions required for identified risks at a recent council meeting – such as – Terminate; tolerate; transfer and treat. These are the words currently being used to describe risk control by the Cabinet in the Audit and Governance Committee on the Quarter 4 Risk Report. You would be forgiven for thinking that they had taken these words from a Monty Python script.

Can we give you a flavour of what they have said? As you are all aware we have some key issues in Boston which have been identified as very important risks in this report such as – the recent flooding; car parking charges; and our local economy. In the report they describe the way to control these risks as TREAT. We know the people of Boston don’t think these issues are a treat.

When it comes to other issues in Boston such as the impact of population change; issues from the welfare reform such as the bedroom tax; clean streets; litter and urinating; they then describe the way to deal with these risks as TOLERATE. We don’t think the people of Boston want to tolerate these issues any more.

All of this wording and the risk management controls have been agreed with the Cabinet at Boston. Maybe we need to give the Conservative group a clear message -

Stop Treating us all as fools, we won’t TOLERATE your out of touch policies. We will work hard to TERMINATE your office and encourage other people to TRANSFER their support to other councillors who will listen.

Let’s stop this crazy use of language which shows their contempt for the people of Boston! It doesn’t do the reputation of Boston Borough Council any good.

 

Posted on July 16, 2014 9:18 am by Paul Gleeson

NICE recommendations on hospital staffing levels response – Andy Burnham

burnhamAndy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the recommendations on hospital ward staffing levels from NICE, said:

“Hospitals across England are operating way beyond recommended capacity levels and, because of this, too many do not have enough staff to provide safe care. In the last year, inspectors failed one in six hospitals for not having adequate numbers of staff.

“Worryingly, this problem looks set to get worse as the NHS is planning to cut thousands more nurses in the coming years as financial problems deepen.

“The Government has trapped the NHS in a vicious circle. Huge cuts to nurse training have left the NHS relying on agency staff but that in turn has deepened financial problems. Last year, trusts spent £2.6 billion on agency staff – this short-sighted policy amounts to nothing less than gross mismanagement of the NHS.

“The NHS can’t carry on like this. Ministers must intervene to ensure safe staffing levels.”

Posted on July 15, 2014 9:09 am by Paul Gleeson

Labour supports Pickles on his attack on press exclusion

Labour supports Pickles on his attack on press exclusion

“The National Association of Local Councils’ (NALC) supports the ideas developed by Rory Stewart MP… that there is a disconnect between the public and politics.” This statement appears on the association’s website.

pickles and the pressSo what does the NALC, which represents some 9,000 community, parish and town councils in England, think should be done to bring the public and politicians together? It asks people to click through to more information, which turns out to be the latest edition of a guide for parish and town councils.

In that guide – keep in mind the “disconnect” – it offers advice that can be summed up in a sentence: don’t talk to journalists. They may be representatives of the public. They may be the eyes and ears of the public. But avoid them and frustrate at all costs.

Here are three specific injunctions included in its so-called media policy:

- All journalists must contact the council clerk and may not contact councillors directly.

- Any contact by councillors with journalists requires the council’s prior written consent.

- Councillors cannot, in their official capacity, provide verbal or written statements to the media without the council’s written consent.

Can the NALC be serious? Of course, it is. Its members may lament the disconnect, but they are reinforcing it with this kind of anti-media sentiment. The Boston Labour Councillors are in full agreement with the sentiments of Eric Pickles who believes it will have a “chilling effect on public life” and who wants the “completely inappropriate” advice withdrawn. Worryingly although it isn’t compulsory, some local authorities have begun adopting it into their constitutions. This is a shameful example of the lengths some councils will go to avoid accountability a bit like in Boston where only councillors in the Labour Group issue online annual reports of their activities.

We applaud Mr Pickles when he says that Councillors must be able to challenge waste and inefficiency, and should not have to get permission from state officials to speak to the press. We totally agree with him when he says that we should be championing the independent free press, not trying to suppress it.

Pickles is still in dispute with some councils like Boston over their continuing publication of newspapers in defiance of the law.

Posted on July 14, 2014 10:21 am by Paul Gleeson

Cameron should be ashamed that one in three patients aren’t satisfied with out-of-hours care

reedJamie Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to the National Audit Office report on out-of-hours GP services, said:

“In the fifth year of David Cameron’s Government, he should be ashamed that one in three patients aren’t satisfied with out-of-hours care – millions more than just two years ago. Earlier this year, official inspectors found patients being seen by unchecked GPs and in practices that failed to store drugs and equipment safely.

“The report is right to warn that uncertainty over these services drives patients towards hospital A&E departments that are already struggling with record numbers of patients this summer.

“Every day, yet more evidence emerges showing an NHS heading seriously downhill under David Cameron – it is proof of why you can’t trust him with it.”

Posted on July 11, 2014 9:00 am by Paul Gleeson

Why did the Tories take our sandbags away?

sandbags for floodingHave you been wondering why the council didn’t make sandbags available before the flooding of December. For the last few months Boston’s Labour Councillors have been asking that question on your behalf and finally we asked it at last Monday’s Full Council meeting. We were not surprised with the answer we got. The Conservative administration clarified their position by stating that they do not supply sandbags and that it was the responsibility of home owners, landlords, and businesses to safeguard their own properties by providing their own sandbags; and also that sandbags were ineffective during flooding.

We were surprised by this answer. When we looked on the internet last week for Advice on Flooding, we found that the policy produced by Lincolnshire Emergency Planning Unit on behalf of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, all of the seven district councils in Lincolnshire had a stock of sandbags for emergencies. Interestingly until February this year (when it was removed perhaps to save face for their Tory colleagues on Boston Borough Council) the County Council Sandbag policy for vulnerable people stated that:

“During a flooding event the Local Authority will attempt to deliver sandbags to properties occupied by vulnerable people within the flood warning zone directly e.g. the elderly, the infirm and those without their own transport etc.  Other groups will be asked to collect sandbags either from designated distribution points identified in public literature or radio broadcasts, from each local authority or from local builder’s merchants. No charge will be made for sandbags issued by the Local Authority during a flooding event but costs will be recorded for possible cost recovery by the Local Authority under the Bellwin Scheme.”

Sadly the county council and the Borough Council failed to deliver on this commitment to the vulnerable people who had signed up for this scheme. We find this a sorry state of affairs. If you had lived in Great Yarmouth, or Cleethorpes, or Grimsby – sandbags were deployed in all these towns on 5th December. We also thought it would be interesting to find out what other people thought about the deployment of sandbags. The Chairman of the Environment Agency has written to us and told us that “Boston Borough Council had taken an executive decision not to use sandbags”. We also know from a tweet by the Prime Minister that he told local councils “that they should not charge for sandbags in flood-hit areas – central government will pick up the cost”. Obviously they understood the merits of using sandbags during a flooding emergency.

What we find really disappointing is that Boston was the worst hit place in the country, and although other parts of the country had scores of armed services personnel including Princes from the Royal family all involved in filling sandbags and using them in flood hit areas, but Boston just ignored the use of sandbags to protect its town and its citizens.

The question we have got for the people of Boston – why do our conservative councillors feel that we should be treated differently when it comes to the deployment of sandbags? If these are as useless as the council would have us all believe, why were some of the few buildings to actually have sandbags at their doors on the 5th December – Boston Borough Council buildings? This strongly suggests it is one rule for us and one rule for them. They need to wake up and give the same kind of service as the other authorities in the country. Don’t treat us with contempt! All we wish to ensure is that our town is protected in times of emergencies and flooding.

Posted on July 9, 2014 9:20 am by Paul Gleeson