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Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“David Cameron made an almost identical announcement this time last year but, in the 12 months since, he has made it harder, not easier, to get a GP appointment.
“After the election, David Cameron scrapped Labour’s GP appointment guarantee and cut support for evening and weekend opening. His broken promises on the NHS have caught up with him.
“Labour has a plan for extra funding for the NHS and commitment to recruit 8000 more GPs.
“Under David Cameron, it has got harder and harder to get a GP appointment. People are left ringing the surgery early in the morning only to be told nothing is available for days. The next Labour Government will guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours or a same-day consultation with a doctor or nurse for those who need it.”
Posted on September 30, 2014 8:27 am by Paul Gleeson
The government’s flagship free school meals programme is in disarray as councils and schools did not receive enough cash in time for the new school year beginning this month, according to a study. The Local Government Association (LGA) said government funding to bring school kitchens up to scratch had fallen short in almost half of local authority areas in England. The shortfall among councils that responded to the survey totalled £25.8m, and the national total is likely to be significantly higher. The scheme aims to provide all pupils in the first years of primary education in England with free school meals. The programme has been dogged by scepticism from the start, with many doubting that the ambitious timetable could be met. The schools minister has admitted that some schools will have to provide only cold food initially until extra kitchens have been completed.
The government has committed an extra £150m to fund new kitchens and dining rooms. However, the LGA survey found that 47% of councils said they had not received enough money from the Department for Education to cover the full cost of work such as kitchen improvements. Those that were short of money said the balance would be found either by them, by schools or from general school funding intended for repairs and maintenance.
The chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board has said that it is clear that central government has not provided schools with enough money to do the essential work necessary to give 1.5 million children a free meal at lunchtime. It is councils and schools who are picking up the bill for this work, at a time when budgets are already squeezed and tough decisions are being taken. The LGA estimates that councils without enough money have had to find an average of £488,000 each to ensure all pupils will get the meals to which they will be entitled. It said there was concern that the government money would not be enough and costs had been underestimated – for example to strip asbestos from older schools.
Lack of funding is not the only problem. Some schools are in buildings where a new kitchen cannot be added on. Others face a lack of space, either for kitchens and storage, or for dining, or both. Earlier this year the former special adviser to the then education secretary denounced free school meals as a gimmick and said the plan had been drawn up “on the back of a fag packet”.
Boston Labour Councillors believe that this conservative government tell you one thing and then do another. The bankers are more important than delivering this so called flagship policy of free school meals. They tell us we are all in it together – as long as they get more!
Posted on September 29, 2014 8:27 am by Paul Gleeson
Conference, when I grew up in south London in the 1980s, the Tories were wreaking havoc on our country. Not caring about discrimination and injustice. A bit like now, you might say. People like me judged on whether we passed Norman Tebbit’s cricket test.
If I didn’t support England at cricket I was treated as an outsider. For a Muslim son of Pakistani immigrants it was a hostile time.
But things changed.
I saw that it didn’t have to be like this. Role models appeared that looked and sounded like me. Labour MPs – Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz – leading the way.
And because of Labour school governors and a Labour education authority, one of the country’s first Asian heads was appointed to my school. Naz Bokhari.
He transformed the school. He became my role model and mentor. Helping me realise your skin colour or background wasn’t a barrier to making something with your life.
Thanks to the Labour Party, I saw politics could make a difference. Change was possible if there was political will.
Conference, that is why I joined the Labour Party.
A wonderful local member called Bert Luthers, himself an immigrant from Guyana, and the first ethnic minority councillor in Tooting, took me under his wing.
Starting small, delivering leaflets, going to party meetings. You know how it works. Next thing I know, I’m standing for the local council.
And before you know it – and I’m fast forwarding a bit – I’m stood here today as your Shadow Justice Secretary.
Me, the son of Pakistani immigrants, from a council estate in south London. Because of Labour, anything is possible.
That same burning desire to fight for justice led me to be a human rights lawyer. Taking on tough cases. Bullying, deaths in custody, and standing up for workers’ rights. Lives turned upside down and families ripped apart because of injustice. Defending people’s dignity, and righting wrongs.
And, yes, transforming lives because of Labour’s Human Rights Act.
That’s why I’m so appalled by Tory plans to abolish the Human Rights Act and walk away from the European Convention of Human Rights.
They want to strip people of their rights and make our justice system the preserve of the rich. Tories rubbing their hands at the prospect of governments free to ride roughshod over the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable.
Enlightened Tories who get this, like Dominic Grieve, have been sacked. Forgetting that without enlightened Tories like Winston Churchill, Europe wouldn’t have the human rights we have today.
If Churchill were a minister today, David Cameron would have sacked him for his views on human rights. Showing how you can’t trust the Tories to protect people’s rights.
So Conference, our first battle is stopping the Tories in their tracks.
Yes, let’s get the European Court working better.
But I say to you Mr Cameron, we’ll stop you stripping the British people of their rights.
We’ll block attempts to abolish the Human Rights Act – Labour’s Human Rights Act.
We won’t stand by while you block access to justice for the vulnerable. And we won’t walk away from the European Convention on Human Rights.
But we need to recognise the rights of people who’ve been neglected for too long – victims.
Rotherham and Rochdale are seared into the public’s conscience.
Hundreds of girls – some as young as 12 – abducted, raped and trafficked. Yet disbelieved or ignored by the police and the authorities.
This must never be repeated.
Labour will act.
We will bring in the country’s first ever victims’ law.
Transforming the culture in the police and in our courts. Giving a voice to the most vulnerable. And we’ll do all we can to stop people becoming victims in the first place. Punishing criminals but reforming them too.
But we’ll have to pick up the pieces of the Government’s almighty mess.
Prisons in crisis, courts in chaos and probation in meltdown. Dangerous offenders absconding on a weekly basis. Report after report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons painting a picture of a system on the edge of collapse.
And what does Chris Grayling, the man whose job I want think about all this?
The man who thinks the Magna Carta is a bottle of champagne? Chris Grayling thinks all is hunky dory. Ignoring the surging violence, deaths and overcrowding in prison. Turning his back on morale, hitting rock bottom in probation.
98 per cent of probation staff said they have no confidence in Chris Grayling. 98 per cent.
The real question is; who are the two per cent who do have confidence in him?
And conference, last week Scotland showed there is an appetite for politics.
Faced with a massive choice over their future, millions of Scottish people flocked to polling stations. Many voting for the very first time. I’ll never forget the first time I voted. The importance of voting instilled in me by my parents. Because they’d been denied the vote back in Pakistan.
The thrill of walking with my parents to the polling station for the first time, putting a cross against the Labour candidate’s name.
That thrill has never left me.
Queues at polling stations across Scotland showed it isn’t just me that gets the thrill.
So writing off the British people’s interest in politics is foolish. They are interested and engaged. But I get that they feel frustrated and powerless. Vested interests go unchallenged and nothing changes.
Westminster has become a dirty word.
We ignore this at our peril. That’s why Labour will overhaul our democracy. Making it as easy as possible for people to vote. Transforming elections so that voting is in tune with the busy lives people lead.
Holding elections at weekends to raise turnout. Polling opened a week in advance to allow early voting. Electronic voting, making sure it’s affordable and isn’t open to abuse.
Seeing 16 and 17 year olds vote last week in their thousands was inspiring. Fuelled by schools and colleges holding mock elections and debates. Conference, votes for 16 and 17 year olds is an idea whose time has come.
We’ve committed to lowering the voting age.
But I challenge the Government.
Why wait? We’ll work with you. Let’s legislate now. And let’s get 16 and 17 year olds voting in the next general election.
But democracy is more than just voting. People should play a part in the way the country is run at all times.
Civic society, community groups, charities and trade unions playing a genuine and vibrant role. Unlike this Government, we won’t gag them.
And we’ll repeal their wretched Lobby Act.
We’ll also extend Labour’s freedom of information law. Giving people a legal right to know how their money is being spent when private companies deliver public services.
G4S, Serco, Capita, ATOS and others subjected to the same openness we demand of the public sector.
Scotland’s vote made clear running the country in a centralised way is no longer tolerated in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
But nor is it in Cardiff, Cornwall or Coventry.
Our country is changing. The way our country is run needs to change too. Decisions made closer to the people. Every corner of this great nation represented fairly.
Politicians looking and sounding like the communities they represent.
Labour’s ambitions match this demand for change. Devolution in England. An elected senate of the nations and regions. Recall of MPs.
But this is not enough.
People want change, and that change must come from, and involve the people. Because change can’t be imposed by Westminster.
We need to bring together civic society, members of the public, community groups and faith communities. Looking at how people have more power to hold their politicians to account. How the nations and regions take on more responsibility.
So that every single person knows where they stand, and fully grasp their rights and responsibilities. Bringing people’s rights up to the standards taken for granted by people in other countries.
With the Magna Carta celebrating its 800th birthday next year, there is no better way to celebrate than a national conversation on the common principles binding us together as a nation.
What we don’t need is the Tories petty and rushed announcement.
Asking a failed Tory leader – William Hague – to rewrite our constitution, behind closed doors, in distant Westminster, all done in a matter of weeks.
That is a stitch up.
It won’t wash with the British public.
That’s why we need a radical new approach, and why a constitutional convention is such an exciting prospect. But that’s also why the Westminster vested interests hate it. Because it is putting power in the hands of the people.
We, Labour, should not be afraid.
This is something to champion and be proud of.
Conference, four years ago here in Manchester we saw Ed Miliband elected as leader of our party.
He told us that we are at our best when we are restless reformers. Ed stood on this stage and sent out a clear message that a new generation had taken charge of Labour. A generation optimistic about the power of politics to change the lives of millions.
And yesterday he told us of his bold and radical plan for Britain.
Showing why we were right to put our faith in him as the leader of our party.
And together we have shown the country this week that Labour has the plans for the future of our country. A vision of a better, fairer Britain that people can invest and believe in.
For the many, not the few.
Standing up for ordinary people.
Rooting out injustice.
That’s why I’m Labour, and Labour is the right choice for the country in May 2015.
Posted on September 26, 2014 9:05 am by Paul Gleeson
Posted on September 25, 2014 8:40 am by Paul Gleeson
Boston labour Councillors have been waiting in anticipation that Boston would be on the list for the government’s coastal communities fund. The ten towns named in the recent round were:
- Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall – £1.95m
- Historic arches, Old Portsmouth, Hampshire – £1.755m
- South West Coastal Path, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – £999,000
- Historic Fruit Market, Kingston upon Hull – £800,000
- Waldringfield Flood Defence, Suffolk – £633,000
- Maltings Building, Wells-next-the-Sea, near Cromer, Norfolk – £610,000
- Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Spurn Point – £498,000
- RSPB Nature Reserve, Bempton Cliffs, Humberside – £452,000
- Youth Hostels in Brighton, East Sussex, and Robin Hoods Bay, North Yorkshire – £401,000
- Park View 4 U, near Lytham St Annes, Lancashire – £395,000
The Coastal Communities minister said the money was set to make a “big difference” to towns affected by the winter storms. But we were surprised to learn from a recent radio interview that Lincolnshire county council and Boston Borough Council had not applied for any cash in this round of funding, and the county council were not going to apply for Boston even in the next round of funding as they were putting Chapel St Leonard and Gibralter Point visitors centre as their next round bids.
It does make us wonder, that when Boston was the worst hit town in the country for coastal flooding, and with the largest number of homes being flooded, why don’t out conservative councillors or MPs think that Boston should be worthy of money from the coastal communities fund. We are obviously not on their priority list.
Posted on September 24, 2014 8:28 am by Paul Gleeson
Posted on September 23, 2014 7:10 am by Paul Gleeson
Local councils have asked the government to give them new powers to tax large supermarkets under a system similar to that already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. A group of 20 local councils have backed what has been dubbed a “Tesco tax” in order to increase revenues which they say would be invested in the local community. Derby city council has called for the right to impose a levy on large supermarkets, which it says could earn the local authority an estimated £2m a year. The BBC reports that another 19 local authorities are in favour of the tax.
The council made the proposal based on the provisions of the Sustainable Communities Act, which allows communities and councils to suggest solutions to local problems. It has led to claims that food prices would be forced up as a result. In its submission, the council said 95% of money spent in large supermarkets leaves the local economy for good, compared with 50% from local independent retailers. The new tax would ensure that more money recirculates locally, it said. The Derby Council council leader said the local authority was going through “the worst cuts in history” and the additional money could be used to improve local parks that had fallen in popularity.
Under the proposal, large retail outlets with a rateable value in excess of £500,000 would have to pay an extra business levy of up to 8.5%. Similar schemes already exist in Northern Ireland and Scotland. If government agrees to Derby’s proposal, it would apply to all local authorities, not just those that have backed the idea.
Boston Labour Councillors feel that this proposal has got some merit and believe such a kind of scheme that works in Scotland and Northern Ireland could also work in Boston. It would be helpful in trying to regenerate our town centre where the large supermarkets are on the periphery of our town centres and offer free parking. This new money could be used to as a way of reducing our car parking fees and create parking free days or zones to encourage more people to use our town centre.
Posted on September 22, 2014 11:09 am by Paul Gleeson
Paul Kenny is delighted to be chosen as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Boston & Skegness. Paul is committed to making sure that both Skegness and Boston are places where people are proud to live with a strong local voice in Parliament. He said “It is time that we elect an MP who lives locally, who will give one hundred per cent of his time to all the communities that he represents and who is not frightened of speaking up for the views of local people. We need to make sure that Boston & Skegness gets the services and the financial support from government that it deserves.”
Paul will work tirelessly to make sure that issues such as health and local hospitals, employment, education, housing and rural transport improvement schemes are key issues within his campaign making sure that hard working families, the elderly and the young are provided with excellent services. Paul also supports Ed Miliband’s call for the minimum wage to be raised to £8 as Boston & Skegness is an identified hotspot having a high percentage of people on minimum wages. People should get a fair days pay for a fair days work.
Posted on September 21, 2014 9:27 pm by Paul Gleeson
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be the International Speaker at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in Manchester, England on Wednesday, September 24th.
The Mayor will deliver a speech on the urgent need to develop and execute strategies to tackle income inequality on the final day of the conference – the last before Britain’s General Election in May 2015. Mayor de Blasio will also hold a private meeting with Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, in Manchester.
Mr de Blasio was elected Mayor of New York in November 2013 in a landslide victory. He is the first Democratic mayor of the city since 1993.
His role as International Speaker at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference will see him follow in the footsteps of other notable figures from around the world including Nelson Mandela and President Clinton.
Mayor de Blasio said:
“The fight against income inequality doesn’t stop at a city limit, a state line or an international border. It’s an issue that confronts us all, in every corner of the world, and it demands a unified response.
“To truly lift up more people, families and communities struggling to make it in tough economic conditions, we must truly have a shared vision, and a shared strategy.”
“There have always been close links between the Labour Party and leading Democrats. But I am particularly pleased that Bill de Blasio has agreed to speak at our pre-election conference this year.
“I followed his election campaign closely and I have been impressed by the work he has done since taking office in January for everyday New Yorkers so they can begin to share in, as well as create, a successful future for their great city.
“We both recognise we face a generational challenge to ensure that hard work is properly rewarded, that young people get a fair shot in life, and that the cost-of-living crisis for working families is tackled.
“It is an international challenge for progressive leaders in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and across the developed world. I look forward to meeting the Mayor and to hearing a speech that I know will be one of the highlights of our week in Manchester.”
Posted on September 18, 2014 8:44 am by Paul Gleeson
Boston Labour Councillors were interested to read recently that Bromley Council has been ordered to pay more than £64,000 in compensation to 18 of its staff, after an employment tribunal ruled it had offered employees cash incentives to sign new contracts that took them out of existing collective bargaining agreements. The Tribunal found that Bromley Council had written a series of letters to staff, with one letter offering £200 to workers if they signed new contracts of employment. The series of letters asked employees to agree to a localised pay award which replaced national and regional collective agreements. The UNISON General Secretary said: “The decision is a significant victory for our members at Bromley Council who were effectively coerced into signing away their employment rights. It should send a strong signal to other local authorities that they cannot simply withdraw from collective bargaining by going behind the union’s back and making these types of offers.” The case was brought by 18 UNISON members who did not sign the new contract, some of whom were ultimately dismissed and re-engaged on new terms of employment that included localised pay negotiations. The members are now set to receive £3,600 each. Employers are prohibited from making offers to union members that have the purpose of changing their contracts so that their terms and conditions of employment are no longer determined by collective agreement.
Sadly now at Boston we have staff who are highly demoralised because, like Bromley Council’s staff, their pay and conditions have been radically changed meaning our staff are now working more hours for less pay. It is not the way to improve employer/ worker relationships. Boston Borough Council has still not signed up to paying the living wage, despite putting on every email at the present time about the virtues of working for Boston Borough Council. We hope the staff at Boston Borough Council has not been subjected to the same inducements as the staff at Bromley council which might leave the council in the same position as Bromley council, having to pay out compensation.
Posted on September 17, 2014 8:53 am by Paul Gleeson