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Posted on September 23, 2014 7:10 am by Paul Gleeson

Supermarket tax could boost free car parking in town centre

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 chosen as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Boston & Skegness

IMG_20140921_145122Paul 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

Bill de Blasio to be International Speaker at the Labour Party Conference

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.”

edMr Miliband said:

“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

Employment Tribunal

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

Damning report rightly exposes David Cameron’s Government’s complacency and incompetence in allowing the passport crisis to spiral out of control

Damning report rightly exposes David Cameron’s Government’s complacency and incompetence in allowing the passport crisis to spiral out of controlhanson

David Hanson MP, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, responding to a Home Affairs Select Committee report on the passport crisis, said:

“This damning report rightly exposes David Cameron’s Government’s complacency and incompetence in allowing the passport crisis to spiral out of control this summer. Ultimately Ministers have to take responsibility and admit it was their mistakes that led to the crisis, and that their response simply wasn’t good enough.

“It was Theresa May who closed overseas passport offices without putting in place any plans for thousands more passport applications to be dealt with here in the UK. This totally flawed decision came into effect at the start of peak season after she had removed hundreds of staff who could have helped deal with the influx, and despite sitting on a passport office surplus of £124 million from the past two years. It’s a clear case of total mismanagement from the Home Secretary.

“The Select Committee backs calls Labour has made for a rethink about the resourcing and management of the passport office, and for compensation for people who were unfairly charged for a fast track passport service. The live tracking of current work in progress would be an important step forward for the future. But these changes will come too late for the thousands of people who suffered heartache, stress and ruined summer holidays because of Theresa May’s inability to manage her department properly. Those people deserve a full apology from the Home Secretary and a proper response to the problems raised in this report.”

Posted on September 16, 2014 8:41 am by Paul Gleeson

Tory cuts having major effects on pregnant women and new mothers

The NHS has been criticised for failing women who suffer from postnatal depression by denying many of them potentially life-saving services to help them cope. Freedom of Information (FoI) Act responses from 193 NHS trusts across England reveal that only 50 provide a specialist perinatal mental health service to women around the time they give birth and five others offer some sort of provision. More than half of the trusts disclosed that they do not offer any formal help, even though one in 10 mothers experiences postnatal depression. Even among the 50 trusts operating such a service, 26 employ only one dedicated perinatal mental health midwife or doctor and many of those work part-time.

 

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), which submitted the FoI requests, said it was absolutely disgraceful that so few parts of the health service provided specialist help to women, some of whom end up taking their own life because they cannot cope. “The Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] recommendations have been in place for seven years, so it appalling that they are still not being properly implemented,” said the NCT’s chief executive. “It is the same old thing of the NHS recognising physical needs of mothers but failing to recognise their mental health needs. It is absolutely disgraceful, when we know that one in 10 mothers suffer some form of postnatal depression, that there are huge areas of the country with no provision for their care. That is a lot of women being let down by the NHS every year, especially when we know that maternal suicide is a leading cause of death in the first year after childbirth.”

 

The position is even worse among GP-led clinical commissioning groups, which distribute £66bn a year of the NHS’s £110bn budget and play a key role in influencing what services are available locally because they pay for patients’ care. Only five of 194 clinical commissioning groups already have a strategy for providing perinatal mental health services, although another 34 are developing or planning to develop one, according to responses to FoI requests. In 2007, Nice issued guidance saying that any woman depressed after giving birth should get such help.

 

Boston Labour Councillors believe that specialist mental health doctors and midwives are crucial in helping women at risk of suffering from depression. We also know that while some areas do offer good care, too often situations have been found where there is no care or very little. If there are whole areas where GPs, midwives and health visitors have no training or time to dedicate to this vital service, women will not get the help and support they need to cope. For many parents this will result in months of misery, damaging both family relations and children’s wellbeing. In the most extreme circumstances it will result in tragedy and loss of life. In Lincolnshire where we are doing a review of health services, we don’t want our new mothers to be without these crucial services

Posted on September 15, 2014 8:36 am by Paul Gleeson

Let’s stay together to protect the NHS

edEd Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking today in Glasgow City Centre, said:

“I am proud to stand here today with colleagues from the labour movement from across the United Kingdom.

“In solidarity because we know we are better together.

“There is no better place than by the statue of Donald Dewar who 17 years ago helped win the devolution referendum.

“It is now clear what the choice is in this referendum.

“Change with no or huge risks with yes

“With no, more powers for a stronger Scotland.

“With yes, risks to jobs, the economy and the NHS.

“One of the proudest achievements of our movement and our solidarity is our National Health Service.

“The NHS is stronger if we stay together.

“Stronger because of the resources of the whole UK.

“Stronger because we share world class services.

“Stronger because people travel from Scotland to England and England to Scotland for life saving treatment.

“Because we are better together.

“It is separation that is the risk to our NHS.

“Including because of the cuts in public spending which Mark Carney warns about today.

“Because of the devolution that Donald Dewar made possible, the NHS in Scotland is run in Scotland.

“So don’t believes the lies and scaremongering of the SNP.

“There is only one person that can privatise the NHS and that’s Alex Salmond

“Labour founded the NHS

“Labour cherishes the NHS.

“Vote no for a stronger NHS.

“We’re proud to say No.

“We’re proud of our solidarity.

“We’re proud to stand here together and stand up for the NHS, jobs and our country.”

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont said:

“If we were to separate, we know now that billions of pounds worth of cuts would be inevitable and this would threaten the future of services like our NHS.

“We believe that if people want to protect our hospitals and health centres, then we should vote No and continue to enjoy the backing of resources from the whole of the UK.

“The Labour family is coming together to protect Scotland from the risks that Alex Salmond wants people to take with our jobs and our NHS. Today, we have heard Mark Carney warn that an independent Scotland would need to raise taxes or cut spending by £21 billion to continue using the Pound without a currency union. This is also twice Scotland’s annual £12 NHS budget, and lays bare the price of Alex Salmond’s unanswered questions on currency.

“While the Yes campaign is creating uncertainty in our economy and risking deep cuts to our NHS, we are offering a stronger Scottish Parliament and faster, fairer and safer change that the people of Scotland can unite behind.”

Robert Winston said:

“The NHS is the best example of how we share across the United Kingdom.

“Whether that is the specialised services that 43,000 Scots travel to England to use each year, often for lifesaving treatment. Or the one thousand Scots who receive blood donated by people in other parts of the UK.

“The NHS is one of our country’s greatest achievements, and it’s stronger if we stay together.”

Posted on September 12, 2014 8:33 am by Paul Gleeson

David Cameron should be dealing with the cost-of-living crisis by tackling fares not on trying to hand East Coast over to the private sector

creaghMary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, responding to East Coast’s latest accounts showing they have paid £220m to DfT over the last year in premium payments, said:

“When he should be dealing with the cost-of-living crisis by tackling fares David Cameron is instead focussed on trying to hand East Coast over to the private sector, even though it is working well and will have returned over £1billion to the taxpayer by April 2015.

“The Tories have no plan to help commuters. They promised to tackle fares but under David Cameron we have seen stealth fare rises in Northern cities and passengers have been hit with rises of over 21 per cent since 2010.

“Labour’s plan for the railways would tackle the cost-of-living crisis and drive the biggest reform of the railways since privatisation. We will cap rail fares, legislate for a public sector operator, devolve the running of regional and local services and deliver a railway for passengers, not profit.”

Posted on September 11, 2014 8:38 am by Paul Gleeson

Other Tory authorities support sandbags

Boston Labour councillors have read lots of articles about sandbags and their effects and have also read the Pitt report. We would like to remind Boston Borough Conservative group and personnel who keep writing articles regarding sandbags and how ineffectual they are during flooding, that their buildings were mainly the only ones that had sandbags and the shop next to them got flooded. We would also like to remind them that most of the Conservative councils within the local districts within Lincolnshire have sandbags and policies to assist the local communities.

During the countrywide floods in the New Year, their conservative government ordered out military personnel to assist in moving thousands of sandbags across the whole of the country. We even had our Royal Princes helping move sandbags as well. You only have to go on the government website to see that when they are talking about developing local floods plans, they also talk about the use of sandbags. It seems to us that Boston Borough Council and their spokespersons are trying to convince you that the rest of the country and local authorities do not use sandbags. This is not correct.

Boston Borough conservative Councillors do not support sandbags and sirens and it is they who should apologise for being out of step with other authorities. Is it because they’re not prepared to spend money and resources on protecting Boston or is it that they think they know best? We can tell you that scores of people tell us they would like sandbags and sirens to be used within any future flooding as we know other councils will continue to use sandbags and sirens. We will continue to campaign for the use of sandbags and sirens in our town. Why should Boston not use the same resources as other authorities like Grimsby who recently tested their sirens ready for any flooding this winter?

Posted on September 10, 2014 8:39 am by Paul Gleeson