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Labour would reform the water industry to support those struggling to pay their water bills

maria eagleMaria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, responding to Ofwat’s draft publication of the amount the water companies can charge from 2015-2020, said:

“The water industry needs to be reformed if we are to tackle the real problems for consumers facing a cost-of-living crisis. But on David Cameron’s watch water companies have made huge profits while people have been struggling to pay their water bills.

“Rather than making water companies help customers with unaffordable bills, David Cameron has allowed them to pay huge profits back to their shareholders.

“David Cameron’s failure to act means that only six companies currently offer social tariffs for people who struggle to pay their water bills. Labour will introduce a package of measures to require far greater social responsibility from the water companies, including requiring all water companies to sign up to a new national affordability scheme ending the current postcode lottery.”

Posted on September 2, 2014 8:34 am by Paul Gleeson

Are we putting in the right resources for school places in Boston?

The number of pupils in England’s schools is expected to reach its highest level in almost half a century by 2023, figures show. The government estimates the number of schoolchildren will top eight million in the next nine years. There will be an estimated 4.6 million pupils in state primary schools, 9% higher than in 2014. Secondary pupil numbers are expected to start rising from 2016 – from 2.7 million to 3.2 million in 2023.

The hike in numbers had been fuelled by the birth rate broadly rising since 2002, government statisticians said. The data suggests there will also be a further 106,000 pupils in special schools and 14,000 in alternative education provision by 2023. The Department for Education projections suggest there will be just over eight million youngsters in England’s state schools by 2023, up almost a million from 7.1 million this year.It is thought that the last time pupil numbers reached these levels was in the mid-1970s.

The new data comes amid a continuing concern about a squeeze on school places, particularly for primary-age children. Last year, a study by the National Audit Office (NAO) warned an estimated extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places would be needed by September 2014.

Boston Labour Councillors believe that the Tory government and Tory local council will be judged on whether parents could get their children into a school of their choice and whether there were enough high quality teachers in those schools. We all know there is a squeeze on school places.

Posted on September 1, 2014 8:37 am by Paul Gleeson

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, responding to the Government announcement on hospital food

Luciana_BergerLuciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, responding to the Government announcement on hospital food, said:

“Everyone wants to see the quality of hospital food improved, but without proper enforcement there is a risk that these new standards will simply be ignored.

“It is regrettable that Jeremy Hunt has published these standards without consulting with patients and it is worrying that some experts have described the standards as ‘weak’ and ‘woefully inadequate’.

“If Jeremy Hunt is serious about improving patients’ experience of the NHS then he must also address the crisis in A&E and the growing waiting lists for operations.”

Posted on August 29, 2014 7:20 am by Paul Gleeson

Appalling that these culls are going ahead

maria eagleAppalling that these culls are going ahead when they have been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England- Maria Eagle

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, responding to the announcement of the second year of the Government’s badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, said:

“It is appalling that these culls are going ahead when they have already been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England.

“Bovine TB is a serious problem that needs addressing but these culls have been shown to be ineffective, inhumane and they may have made the problem worse.

“Elizabeth Truss missed a clear opportunity when she became Secretary of State to leave prejudice-based policy in the past and place science firmly at the centre of her department’s policy.

“To add insult to injury these culls are proceeding without any independent scientific oversight.

“The Government must explain why it is refusing to work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.”

Posted on August 28, 2014 8:24 am by Paul Gleeson

26,000 less car parking tickets sold last year due to high charges.

car parking chargesWe now know that over the last two years Boston Borough Council’s parking strategy is flawed. We telling that they should develop a policy which encourages people into their town. From a recent report the Council’s own figures are now telling us that they sold 26,000 tickets this year compared to last year with and 50,000 fewer than in 2011/12. This just shows that our Conservative councillors have no control of our parking strategy. We keep telling them that people are using other towns to shop. You only have to compare Skegness, Spalding or Peterborough with large numbers also going to Lincoln, to realise that people that people do a U-turn and not come to Boston for their shopping.

On 3 September at the environment and performance scrutiny committee the Council will be discussing the parking charges issue. Do we have a Council with vision? We suspect they are more interested in raising money from car parking charges than to encourage more people to come to our town. Even their own Tory government are critical of local authorities who use car parking as a way of raising money. Their existing policy just drives people from shopping in Boston and it is made worse in the chaotic marketplace where people are unsure where they are able to park without getting a parking fine, so they tend to avoid it.It’s time that we put people at the top of our agenda when developing a parking strategy. We don’t want Boston to end up as a ghost town.

This is without talking about toilets. We are constantly being asked for better signage to direct people to existing toilets and we are now using shops to fill the gap of no toilets in our market place. We wish our councillors would talk to people who come to the market place either for tourism or for shopping to realise the problems we have.

 

Posted on August 27, 2014 8:39 am by Paul Gleeson

Tories want to buy the election, Labour fighting to win it – Harriet Harman

harmanTories want to buy the election, Labour fighting to win it – Harriet Harman

During a speech in London today (Tuesday) Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP will reveal new figures showing the amount of money donated to the Conservative Party by secretive unincorporated associations – at the same time as their membership is plummeting in their most marginal seats.

She will set out new figures showing the amount of money donated to the Conservative Party by unincorporated associations – organisations which do not have to declare where their money comes from. And she will reveal new analysis of Conservative Party accounts which shows that membership is falling in three quarters of their most marginal seats.

Since 2010, unincorporated associations have donated £5,565,005.50 to the Conservative Party. New figures reveal that the Conservative Party has received £372,183.09 from unincorporated associations in the most recent quarter alone (Q2 2014). In fact, in 27 of their key seats, more than half of the money they have raised since 2010 has come from these unincorporated associations.

Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader, said:

“While the Tories can’t beat us on the number of activists campaigning on the ground in key seats –they have a steady stream of big donors willing to bankroll their campaign.

“The same people they handed a tax cut to. The people who go to David Cameron’s dinners.

“Hedge funds, bankers, millionaires – you can see who they are. But there’s one group of people bankrolling the Tories whose identity is completely secret.

“Since the last election, the Tories have been given over five and a half million pounds by unincorporated associations – organisations who don’t declare where their money comes from. They donated £372,000 in the last 3 months alone.

“And this money is being funnelled into the Tories’ key marginal seats. In 27 of their key seats, more than half the money raised since 2010 has come from these secretive clubs.

“It’s no wonder they need this shady money. In three quarters of their most marginal seats, their membership is falling.

“We may be outspent, but we won’t be out-organised or out-campaigned. They want to buy the election. We’re fighting to win it.”

Posted on August 26, 2014 10:11 am by Paul Gleeson

Mental health manifesto shows scale of challenge facing our mental health services – Luciana Berger

Luciana_BergerLuciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, responding to the ‘Manifesto for Better Mental Health’ published by mental health charities, said:

“Ed Miliband has committed to making mental health a priority for the next Labour Government. We are putting mental health at the heart of our vision for an integrated health and social care system to ensure that it gets the focus and attention it so desperately needs.

“David Cameron has well and truly broken his promise to value mental and physical health equally. Under the Tories, our mental health services have gone drastically downhill. Funding has been squeezed, the number of specialist doctors and nurses has dropped and more and more vulnerable people are not getting the help that they need.

“This manifesto shows the scale of the challenge facing our mental health services and the extent of the overhaul needed to put them right.”

Posted on August 22, 2014 8:28 am by Paul Gleeson

Even Tory MPs worry Osborne is out of touch with ordinary families’ concerns about the impact of an interest rate rise – Cathy Jamieson

jamiesonCathy Jamieson MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, responding to Tory MP Mark Garnier’s warning that rising interest rates could be a “social catastrophe”, said:

“George Osborne used to say that low interest rates were a sign his policies were working. Now he’s desperately trying to claim that if they go up they’re also a sign of success. Nobody will be fooled by him trying to have it both ways, with even Tory MPs worried he’s out of touch with ordinary families’ concerns about the impact of an interest rate rise.

“Interest rate decisions are rightly made by the Bank of England’s independent MPC.

“But the danger is that the government’s failure to get more homes built ends up forcing the Bank to raise interest rates prematurely to rein in an unbalanced housing market.‪

“This would hit millions of families and businesses across the country already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis”

Huffington Post: “Tory MP Warns George Osborne Rising Interest Rates Could Be A ‘Catastrophe’”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/20/mark-garnier-interest-rate-rise-crisis_n_5693841.html?1408534191

Posted on August 21, 2014 8:58 am by Paul Gleeson

Why do the Tories keep ignoring Boston

Boston bypass[2]We recently read with interest that the Secretary for Transport has turned down the latest bypass for Lincoln. This is a £100M scheme which has been rejected but it hasn’t considered pedestrians within its scheme. We also notice that Grantham has been given £16M towards a bypass and Boston has been awarded £4.75M towards the quadrant scheme. The big question we ask – Where is our bypass -Why have the conservative administration turned its back on Boston? It is a bit like being a member of a family but being sent to Coventry. You only have to consider the chaos caused by the recent road repairs/closures to realise that Boston’s roads very easily become gridlocked. We are aware that Boston Borough Council has seen a reduction of 26,000 tickets issued in its car parks in the last year. We keep telling the Tories in Boston that people go to other towns to shop. With the Market Place still having confusing parking arrangements, no wonder people do a U-turn out of Boston. When will our council and the County Council wake up and support Boston – the second largest community within the county? Most people who actually live in Boston, realise that having proper transport links to the A1, whether by the A16 or A52, is crucial to the success of Boston and Skegness as well as supporting our tourist economy and the survival of our food industry to supply the rest of the country. Let’s have a plan to take Boston forward now and not have to wait three decades for major road improvements. It can’t be that difficult – all around us are having bypasses approved and built – why not for Boston especially when we are about to get the new Quadrant development?

Posted on August 20, 2014 11:25 am by Paul Gleeson

Vernon Coaker on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq

vernon coakerVernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, commenting on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq, said:

“Britain’s role in providing assistance to support the humanitarian relief effort in Iraq has made a crucial difference, and I commend the work of our Armed Forces, working alongside our allies, to deliver that aid mission.

“ISIL pose a threat not only to innocent Iraqi civilians, but also to the stability and security of the Middle East and beyond. The government was right to take steps, along with allies, to avert humanitarian disaster and offer technical and logistical support to the Kurdish Forces on the front line.

“The role being played by UK Armed Forces in Iraq‎ ‎must be on the basis of a clear strategy and the Government needs to focus on setting that out, including a role for regional partners and the wider international community.”

Posted on August 19, 2014 10:44 am by Paul Gleeson