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Campaigning in Bromyard

Campaigning in Bromyard

Leominster News

Members from Leominster and Ledbury Branches met shoppers in Corn Square on Friday 1st November

Leomunster Corn Square

HEREFORDSHIRE Council responds to MP Bill Wiggin’s criticism of their response following the recent flooding.

Following MP Bill Wiggin’s criticism of their response following the recent flooding and how it “gave up” defending a 625-home planning appeal in Ledbury, Council leader David Hitchiner and infrastructure and transport cabinet member John Harrington have released a joint statement. In it they say:

“The decision of the council not to defend the Bloor Homes planning appeal in Ledbury was made by the monitoring officer of the council, not any councillors – i.e. an employee not a politician.”

“This is in accordance with the council’s constitution, which requires that it is an officer decision as to whether the council engages in costly legal action which presents a high risk to public finances. We believe in following the constitution.”

“The planning inquiry will still go ahead and it remains possible that the people of Ledbury will have the upper hand as they continue to argue their case at the appeal hearing. I wish them well. Mr Wiggin may also choose to respond to his constituents’ letters and wishes and lobby for the Secretary of State, as the ultimate elected representative, to make the final decision. That, however, is a matter for him to decide.”

“Council officers gave up their own time to go out and help residents who had been flooded and our refuse collection partners agreed to send vehicles around every week to collect water damaged goods in order to save householders extra expense and additional work at this difficult time.”

“I am proud of the county’s response to this unprecedented event, and our MP should be encouraging and supportive of his constituents in these testing times. They all deserve and should receive our public thanks. Council leaders and senior officers were on-hand throughout.”

“However, we did not see or hear from Mr Wiggin during the flooding emergency – in marked contrast to his colleague in the city and south, Jesse Norman.”

“Mr Wiggin’s BBC Hereford and Worcester radio interview on March 2, in which he ridiculed the council for its response to the flooding, contained further inaccuracies. He asserts that Bellwin (a grant from central hovernment to help local authorities deal with the immediate aftermath of a flooding event) can be used for rebuilding our roads, and that we have been granted an extension to the grant period by the minister, Robert Jenrick.”

“However, what he says is contradicted by the professional civil servants at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. It would be great if what Mr Wiggin said were true. But it’s not – at least not yet.”

“Neither can we use the money from the sale of the council-owned farms, as Mr Wiggin suggests we should, because financial rules prevent us from using capital receipts (property sales) on revenue projects (maintenance and repair). It is unfortunate that Bill does not seem to understand this distinction.”

“Herefordshire has only two representatives in Parliament. It is important that they lobby effectively and work closely together and with the county council in the interests of the people we all represent.”

Car Boot

The Leominster Labour Party Branch were making themselves visible, and raising much needed funds at Brightwells car boot sale on Sunday, (July 21st). If ever you see us, or our banner about, please come up and say hello.

National News

Jeremy Corbyn’s Letter to Johnson

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the Prime Minister to take effective action to protect people in all communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing to Boris Johnson, Corbyn said that Labour recognises the need for urgent government intervention to stop the spread of coronavirus and mitigate its economic impact, but that it must be reviewed regularly by Parliament.

The Labour Leader said “generations to come will look back on this moment and judge us on the actions we take”, outlining conditions that need to be met to secure public support.

These include:

1. The legislation must be renewed every six months by a fresh vote in parliament.

2. Jobs and incomes need to be underpinned with a comprehensive income protection scheme; European-level statutory sick pay for all workers from day one; and increased Universal Credit, with a suspension of sanctions and an end to the 5-week wait.

3. Rent suspension and a ban on evictions for six months.

Full text of letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for our meeting on Monday evening and for sharing with me the draft emergency legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Labour Party recognises the need for urgent government intervention to arrest the spread of this virus and offset the economic impact it is already having on the country. I write to make clear again the essential areas where there needs to be common ground for Labour support.

We must ensure the most effective action is taken to protect people in every community, for reasons of public health as well as social justice, and that is why we believe the following conditions need to be met to secure public support.

1. The legislation must be renewed every six months by a fresh vote in parliament.

People understand the need for temporary restrictions to our way of life. But given how far-reaching these are proposed to be, people’s elected representatives must be able to decide whether to renew the legislation at least every six months, up to its expiration after two years. We will carefully scrutinise the Bill in areas that affect our civil liberties.

2. Jobs and incomes need to be underpinned with a comprehensive income protection scheme; European-level statutory sick pay for all workers from day one; and increased Universal Credit, with a suspension of sanctions and an end to the 5-week wait.

The government must take action to ensure everyone has enough to live on so that those with symptoms are able to self-isolate without fear for their jobs, livelihoods and homes. The government’s current package of support for workers is clearly inadequate.

3. Rent suspension and a ban on evictions for six months.

Rent needs to be suspended for those adversely affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The government’s three-month ban on evictions should be extended to six months, in line with the renewal period we propose for the emergency legislation.

I’m sure you will agree we have to get the right balance of measures needed to protect people’s health, jobs, homes and incomes.

I look forward to your urgent response.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn

New environment bill leaves the UK woefully unprepared to tackle flooding

With many communities across the UK still underwater after heavy rainfall and flooding caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, Labour has said that the Environment bill, will leave the UK “woefully unprepared” to tackle flooding.

The new Office of Environmental Protection, created by the bill, is responsible for scrutinising government policies to safeguard the environment, but has no powers to improve measures to tackle flooding.

The Prime Minister has gone missing in action, failing to visit communities affected by flooding. The government has refused to give the Environment Agency the additional £1bn a year in funding it has asked for to take action to mitigate flood damage. This is alongside real terms cuts of £300 million to the Fire and Rescue Service over the last ten years.

The government has called this a landmark bill for the Environment, but it does not contain any targets for the government to stick to on tackling the climate crisis. It also does not have any legally binding targets for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions, even for the far off date off 2050 like the Conservatives promised during the General Election.

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, said:

“By failing to give the Office of Environmental Protection any powers to tackle flooding, this bill will leave the UK woefully unprepared to tackle the type of devastating floods we have seen over the past few weeks and won’t do anything to help us reach net zero carbon emissions.

“We need bold and swift action to cut carbon, safeguard vulnerable habitats and protect declining animal, bird and insect species. This bill again shows the Tories don’t care about the concerns of ordinary people.”

Tory spending plans will ‘fail to tackle the decade of decline’ – McDonnell

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the Resolution Foundation’s report that predicts a budget spending splurge and tax rises, said:

“This report confirms that even the most hyped prediction of what could be in the budget will not go anywhere near making up what the Tories have cut over the last decade.

“Even though the Tories at long last are following Labour’s policy of borrowing to invest in our infrastructure the scale of spending will fail to tackle the decade of decline caused by the Tories and will not tackle the increasingly serious existential threat of climate change.

Having raised expectations so high, inevitably people will be bitterly disappointed at this failure to deliver by Johnson and Cummings.”

Priti Patel ‘clearly clueless’, says Labour

The shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has mocked home secretary after she claimed eight million “economically-inactive” potential workers can help fill vacancies after the planned crackdown on low-skilled immigration.

“I means she’s clearly clueless, isn’t she? Not only are these proposal hugely damaging for our economy ’ they’re potentially devastating for our health and care sector.”

Ashworth added: “It seems there will be no exemptions whatsoever for social care staff. At the moment there’s around 250,000 staff working in our social care sector recruited internationally, and we also have vacancies for 122,000 in social care.”

Patel earlier told BBC Radio 5 Live suggested that around 20 per cent of working age people were inactive and could fill vacancies.

Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary added:

“This isn’t an ‘Australian points-based system’, which is a meaningless government soundbite. It’s a salary threshold system, which will need to have so many exemptions, for the NHS, for social care and many parts of the private sector, that it will be meaningless.

“Just as important is what rights will be attached to these visas. If families are split up because spouses and children are denied entry, this will be terrible for them and will deter many of the workers we need. If they are all short-term visas only the most desperate workers will come, and will have the effect of creating a two-tier workforce.

“Ultimately, it will also be very difficult to attract the workers we need at all skill levels while the Tories’ hostile environment is in place. It needs to go. Labour will be pressing hard on all these points as the legislation proceeds.”