Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commenting on British Gas’s announcement that they will increase gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4% from 23 November 2013, said:
“These latest price rises show clearer than ever why Labour’s price freeze is needed. People are sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies.
“Britain’s energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses. Labour’s energy freeze will save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and our plans to reset the market will deliver fairer prices in the future.”
Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commenting on British Gas’s announcement that they will increase gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4% from 23...
Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills, responding to today’s apprenticeship statistics, said:
“Today’s damning figures show the apprenticeship programme has slammed into reverse under David Cameron, with 25,000 fewer apprentices starting than last year. Worse, we now have fewer young people starting an apprenticeship than at the time of the last election.
“At a time when there are nearly a million young people out of work, this just isn’t good enough. This is why the Government needs to use the money it already spends on public procurement to create thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities, as Ed Miliband called for earlier this year.
“And as today’s report from the Sutton Trust highlights, we need a radical overhaul of the system to ensure apprenticeships are a gold standard once again. Building on the work of our independent Skills Taskforce One Nation Labour will create a new universal standard apprenticeships so that they are qualifications that employers and young people can trust.”
Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills, responding to today’s apprenticeship statistics, said: “Today’s damning figures show the apprenticeship programme has slammed into reverse under David...
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, responding to Owen Paterson’s admission that the Gloucestershire badger cull has fallen well short of its target, said:
“The Government’s costly and unscientific cull of badgers has failed, with just a thirty per cent reduction in the badger population in Gloucestershire achieved against the seventy per cent a measure of success set by Ministers. Instead of rigging the results of the trials by extending their length, risking spreading TB and infecting cattle, Owen Paterson should abandon this misguided approach.
“Eradicating TB from cattle is vital for farmers, the wider rural economy, taxpayers and wildlife and it is now time for a genuinely science-based approach based on vaccination of cattle and badgers and proper restrictions on the movement of livestock.
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, responding to Owen Paterson’s admission that the Gloucestershire badger cull has fallen well short of its target, said:“The Government’s costly and unscientific cull...
Labour Tackles Cost of Living Labour announces policies to tackle the cost of living crisis. Click on 'Cost of Living' to see the full article and then click on the...
Tories Block Discussion of £225k Report
The Culture of Secrecy was again evident at Cheshire East Council’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting on Friday 27 September when Conservatives blocked further discussion on Lyme Green.
Labour Councillor Sam Corcoran proposed that the committee should review whether its recommendations from June 2012 on managing issues arising from the Lyme Green episode had been followed up properly. Particular concerns were over reviewing the planning function of Cheshire East Council when it was considering its own planning applications and whether the public had been misled.
The motion proposed was : “that the work plan should include an annual review of Lyme Green to include review of items 3 & 4 from the resolution of the Audit & Governance Committee of June 2012:
(3) it be noted that with regard to the Council’s planning functions, a further
review is recommended to consider whether the current organisational
structure compromises the delivery of the Council’s often conflicting
demands of planning enforcement, service delivery and development;
(4) the Council, in accordance with its staffing policies, instigate an immediate independent review of the conduct of staff mentioned in the report and consider whether there is a case for appropriate disciplinary or other action to be pursued, the review to include consideration of whether the public or any Members were misled.”
Councillor Corcoran’s motion was rejected on the casting vote of the chair.
Labour Group Finance Spokesman Cllr Sam Corcoran said, “How can it be right that a committee instigates a report which costs £225,000 to produce and then does not follow up that report or even check to see whether its recommendations have been carried out?
“The culture of fear, mistrust and secrecy still prevails at Cheshire East Council.”
Tories Block Discussion of £225k Report The Culture of Secrecy was again evident at Cheshire East Council’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting on Friday 27 September when Conservatives blocked further...
Would you want a large supermarket in Holmes Chapel?
Many people from Holmes Chapel travel to the supermarkets in nearby towns for their weekly shop. “Would you prefer there to be a supermarket in or near the village so that you could do your big shop locally?
There are points both for and against such a plan. Certainly not having to travel to Sandbach, Congleton, Knutsford, Northwich or Crewe to do your shopping would save time and cut down on car journeys but it could also increase traffic coming into the village as people came to shop at a new store.
A store located on the edge of the village might ease parking problems in the village, but would it also threaten the continued existence of the local stores and could it even change the nature of the village centre itself. How many new jobs might a new store generate but how many existing jobs would it put at risk?
The viability of the centre of the village is already of concern. Some shops are empty, some have changed radically and others are facing uncertain times. A new store might attract more visitors to Holmes Chapel, but could the current shops and services take advantage of the increased footfall? Is it time to reassess the shape and use of the village centre?
Sainsburys have submitted plans for the site. New housing developments on the former Sanofi and Fine Arts sites, will lead to a substantially increased population, with consequent pressures on the infrastructure – the health centre, schools, roads and parking for instance – but could also open up opportunities for new businesses and community services.
We need to start thinking about this now. So please let us know your thoughts and ideas
Would you want a large supermarket in Holmes Chapel? Many people from Holmes Chapel travel to the supermarkets in nearby towns for their weekly shop. “Would you prefer there to...
The Bigger Picture
All change in the Village
In the last newsletter we commented on the possibility of the opening of a major supermarket on the old Fisons' site and a planning application for Morreys that would see a branch of Sainsburys Local occupying a large part of an expanded shop. The Knutsford Guardian had also reported that Tesco had claimed to be opening a branch on the Williams site, although in the same article Stephen Williams denied this. A planning application for a significant expansion of the Williams store was subsequently submitted but has now been withdrawn. Thank you to the many residents who sent in their comments.
These various development proposals being considered for Holmes Chapel, like Morreys and Sainsburys, like Williams and Tesco, are the tip of a much larger avalanche of change looming over the Village. On the retail front the signs are already there. Over the past few years long established shops have closed down or radically changed their business - Chethams for instance changed from an electrical store to a card shop. A thriving wine bar, providing some life in the Village centre in the evenings, became a carpet shop. A bank branch closed. We have a charity shop and an increasing number of take away outlets. The future of the few remaining independent traders, such as Morreys and Williams, remains uncertain. How many convenience stores can we support? How can we maintain a vibrant and varied retail sector? What other type of shops could the village support? Will the Christmas Fair kick start regeneration?
Major retailers claim that their presence would attract more shoppers to the village, but in Holmes Chapel more shoppers mean more traffic. We already have significant parking and traffic problems. Traffic calming measures will be introduced during the next twelve months and the changes at Junction 17 may offer further albeit longer term relief. Will this be enough? How can we provide more parking?
The housing profile of the village also continues to change. One end of the village is now dominated by retirement and care homes, meeting the needs of an ageing population. Over the next few years over 200 houses will be built on the old Fisons site. Work has already started. Planning permission on the same scale has been granted for the Fine Arts site. These two developments will add between 10 and 20 percent to the population of the Village; yet younger families are finding it harder to afford the high cost of buying or even renting a home. Do we need more social and affordable housing? What impact will the increased population have on the Village infrastructure - the schools, medical centre, library, green spaces, sporting facilities and public transport.
An increased population will need more employment options, if we are not to become a dormitory town. The Manor Lane industrial area has seen businesses go and new ones establish themselves. There are still opportunities for development there. New product launches at Sanofi hold out the prospect of increased employment. Fast broadband is available and could provide opportunities for smaller local based businesses. What more needs to be done?
Leisure activities and facilities are also subject to change. There are many thriving local organisations, associations and clubs in the village. The Youth Club, which had been struggling financially for some time, closed last year, but its premises now form the base for the local Scouts who are actively redeveloping them. They have provided facilities to the local branch of the U3A, two ends of the age range working together. The Parish Council and the Partnership are working on projects to improve the children's play areas and to open up the Village's first park, Dane Meadows. Cycling is being actively promoted.
However not everything is rosy on the recreation front. Sanofi wish to dispose of the AP Club. Although the past few years have seen a gradual decline in the facilities there, with the loss of the bowling green and tennis courts, the Club still provides a valuable sporting facility for the Village with a flourishing rugby club. Could we use the site to provide multi-sports and recreational facilities? How might this be funded and run?
As a consequence of the government's current austerity programme, Cheshire East is cutting many services and devolving others to towns and parishes. How long before they start to look at leisure centres? As the Jubilee proved, our Leisure Centre not only provides facilities for local sports clubs and cultural societies, but also offers an ideal location for major community activities. How can we ensure its future? What other activities could be accommodated there? Now that HCCS is an academy, how might the village and the school work more closely together in future.
Whether or not you think these changes are good or bad, change is going to happen. The question is do we sit back and let it happen or do we actively involve ourselves in shaping the change to make Holmes Chapel a place we are happy and proud to live in? Several years ago the village developed, through consultation, a Village Plan. That plan reflected more prosperous and optimistic times. Much has changed and will continue to change. The Parish Council has started the process of reviewing the Village Plan and would like your help.
The Bigger Picture All change in the Village In the last newsletter we commented on the possibility of the opening of a major supermarket on the old Fisons' site and...
Burnham writes to BBC over lack of coverage for NHS march and rally
There was a large march and rally in defence of the NHS in Manchester yesterday – yet the BBC’s coverage largely glossed over it, only including it in coverage of Tory conference. Andy Burnham, who was one of the speakers at yesterday’s rally, has written to Lord Patten at the BBC to ask why the BBC neglected to cover the event, when other news networks did in far more detail. Here’s the letter:
Dear Lord Patten
BBC coverage of NHS march and rally in Manchester
Yesterday, Manchester witnessed one of the largest demonstrations in its long political history as people from a range of backgrounds and from all over the UK converged to raise concern about this Government’s changes to the NHS.
According to official estimates from Greater Manchester Police, around 50,000 people took part. GMP said it was one of the largest protests they had ever policed and it was clearly one of the largest political demonstrations held outside London for many a year.
I attended the event and was proud to walk alongside doctors, nurses and other front-line NHS staff from all parts of the country who had given up their Sunday in the hope of making their voice heard. From my observation, NHS staff made up a significant proportion of the large crowd.
It was therefore a real surprise to me to return home to find what I consider only cursory coverage of the event on BBC news bulletins. As far I could see, there was no specific coverage and it was only mentioned in the wider context of Conservative Party Conference. There was no explanation as to why people were there in such large numbers nor direct interviews with participants to find out what had prompted them to travel so far on a Sunday.
By any reckoning, this was a major national protest and it seems to me that the BBC’s coverage did not reflect this. Indeed, other major news channels seemed to reach a different editorial judgement, covering the story in more depth and interviewing participants.
My purpose in writing to you is not, at this stage, to make a formal complaint but rather to request that the Trust conduct a review of the extent and quality of the BBC coverage and to provide me with a considered opinion as to whether you consider it to have been adequate given the scale and social significance of the event. In particular, I would be grateful to know how many journalists and cameras were sent by the BBC to provide direct coverage of the event.
Since yesterday, the concern that many people have expressed on social media outlets is that the perceived lack of adequate coverage of yesterday’s events follows a pattern. As I am sure you are aware, there have been many complaints of the BBC’s perceived failure adequately to cover the changes to the NHS – in particular, the privatisation of services – in both the run-up to, and aftermath of, the Health & Social Care Act 2012. I don’t know whether the Trust has received complaints about this matter, and had the opportunity to investigate it, but either way it would be helpful to hear your views on this wider context as part of your response.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and I look forward to your response.
RT HON ANDY BURNHAM MP
Burnham writes to BBC over lack of coverage for NHS march and rally There was a large march and rally in defence of the NHS in Manchester yesterday – yet...