Wyre Forest Labour Blog

Labour Democracy

Conference improved democracy in the Party. The National Executive Committee (NEC) will increase from 24 to 28 members with 3 new constituency party representatives and one trade union member. For leadership elections, it’s now a 10% support threshold in the Parliamentary Party not 15%. 

NHS & Social Care

Labour pledges an extra £45billion for NHS & Social Care and will end marketisation and private companies involvement in the NHS. Scrapping the Tory Health & Social Care Act. More Health Visitors, School Nurses, improved Child Mental Health Services.

Education

Labour pledges £500million for SureStart, a new Early Years programme, initiatives for tackling child poverty in schools, £8billion for new school buildings, £13billion to repair existing buildings, £1billion for Further Education, a new National Education Service to provide free education and scrap University tuition fees.

Economy

The big news is renationalisation of water, energy, rail and Royal Nail. A National Transformation Fund, Regional Development Banks, support for transport infrastructure projects, more worker and trade union rights, end the pay cap, supporting co-operatives, an end to PFI projects – all designed to boost the economy and give workers and voters a bigger say. WASPI women to get pensions 2 years earlier with maximum pension age at 66.

Housing

Labour will introduce rent controls, stop the cuts to social security, regenerate housing for residents returning democratic control, build more social housing.

Councils

Labour will rebuild local services, end privatisation, bring services back under democratic control.

Brexit

Labour pledges a transition period with access to single market and customs union, thereafter a progressive partnership with EU including single market. Guaranteed rights for EU citizens to live and work in UK.


Floor speakers from the constituencies and trade unions dominated the early part of conference, speaking on topics ranging from transport issues through housing to local government.  Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Local Government Minister, followed this up by pledging that we will rebuild local services, ending private provision and bringing all services back into full democratic control by elected Councils who will pay fair wages to all employees.

Speeches by Carwyn Jones, Ian McNichol and Ian Lavery all highlighted the successes at the last election with Carwyn highlighting the abolition of the Trade Union Act in Wales and the return of free collective bargaining.

Conference moved into full throttle with a speech by Emily Thornberry who began by describing Theresa May’s relationship with Trump as “supine, sycophantic and spineless”. She then went on to say that Labour will reform arms export decisions by removing the current secrecy and replacing it with transparency and full parliamentary scrutiny. Emily is a powerful speaker and commands respect from all quarters.

Keir Starmer then grasped the Brexit nettle by firstly spelling out Labour’s guiding values of internationalism, co-operation and equality with social justice. There will be a transition period with full access to customs union and single market followed by a progressive partnership with the EU. Keir stressed that failure in the negotiations is not in the interests of working people and also stressed the need for a pragmatic approach rather than the “post imperial delusions” of the Tories.

The pace quickened with speeches on the economy from Len McCluskey (Unite), Dave Ward (CWU) and Dave Prentis (Unison) but the floor was stolen by a floor speaker from Bolsover CLP. Dennis Skinner brought the house down by stressing that investment should be funded by borrowing. As a warm-up act for John McDonnel it was perfect!

John wants us to “set the agenda for the next generation” with a programme of changes. Investment in transport in the North, Midlands Connect, HS2 to Scotland, rail electrification to Cornwall, de-carbonise the economy with publicly owned suppliers using eco-friendly generation, Swansea tidal barrier, expansion of worker control and the co-operative sector, nationalisation of water, energy, rail and mail, restoration of free collective bargaining, the scrapping of tuition fees as education is a “gift from one generation to the next, not a commodity to be bought and sold”, and finally the ending of all PFI contracts, existing and new.

Wow, follow that! Well, Debbie Abrahams(Work and Pensions) did so saying that WASPI women will get their pensions 2 years earlier and that the top pension age for all will be 66. Then Sadiq Kahn spoke with great dignity about events in London which have so shocked us all, Grenfell Tower and terrorist incidents.

Voting is an important part of the delegates job. Some votes are declared from the Chair by a simple show of hands. Closer decisions are made by seeing votes from CLP delegates first and then union delegates second. When this fails to produce a clear decision a card vote is held. All three methods were used and card votes for constitutional changes are mandatory.

It was agreed to increase the size of NEC from 24 to 28 members with 3 new CLP members and 1 additional union member. Leadership vacancy nominations must receive 10% support of PLP and EPLP(down from 15%). Members should behave with integrity. There was strong support for tightening up rules on discriminatory behaviour which especially gained the approval of Jewish sections of the party.  This section of conference dealing with rule changes was lengthy and time slipped away. However, two major contributions came from Rebecca Long Bailey and Angela Rayner who are rising stars in our party.

Rebecca told us that 60% of energy will come from low carbon and renewables by 2030 and that Labour has commissioned a report on Alternative Models of Ownership. Angela stated that £437m has been snatched from the SureStart programme since 2012. We will invest £500m in SureStart and there will be a new Early Years Programme. Angela then launched a whole series of initiatives to include £10m to end “period poverty” in schools, £8 billion for  new school building, £13 billion for repair of existing schools, £1 billion into F.E., a National Education Service offering free education for all from cradle to grave and finally, at last, full democratic control of schools and colleges!

Could conference get any better? Yes!

Jonathan Ashworth spoke with great passion about health and social care. He pledged an extra £45 billion for NHS and Social Care and £0.5 billion for emergency winter fuel payments. He told us how ambulance services in Sussex have been taken over by a company who own no ambulances! Instead, they sub-contract out to over 80 other companies to provide vehicles. This will end. Labour will end marketisation and private company involvement in the NHS. We will focus on child poverty and childrens’ health. There will be more Health Visitors, more School Nurses, more money for Child Mental health Services, and more support for children of alcoholic and drug abusing parents.

Conference has a great Fringe. I attended a reception for West Midland delegates, a seminar on Socialism and Hope, a discussion with Labour for a Republic, a book signing of Citizen Clem,a “fireside chat” between Keir Starmer and the Editor of Sky News and a discussion on West Midlands Future. All stimulating in different ways, and so to…..

Jeremy Corbyn’s Speech.

What an occasion. Atmosphere electric. Comradely. Expectant. Enter Jeremy to minutes of prolonged applause from delegates on their feet. Chanting of Jeremy’s name.  Labour has changed!

What did he tell us?

Jeremy began by cataloguing the failures of the Tories: falling pay, homelessness doubled, 20,000 less police officers, 11,000 fewer firefighters, growing poverty and disability rights reduced.

The election result prevented a range of nasty policies from being enacted: dementia tax scrapped, grammar schools stopped, threat to pension triple lock abandoned, cuts to winter fuel payments prevented.

JC-speech-conf2017-web.jpg

The nasty side of the Tories was highlighted, especially the “misogynistic and racist abuse” suffered by Diane Abbott.
Jeremy said that Labour has accepted the Brexit referendum result and he re-iterated our commitment to EU citizens living and working in UK. We will not allow a low-wage, low working conditions, low employment rights economy to result from Tory negotiations. Instead we will press for jobs first with unimpeded access to the single market and a co-operative relationship with EU.

Jeremy criticised the Thatcherite economic model of the Tories through the example of the water industry. Of 9 companies, 6 are owned by private equity or foreign wealth funds. Profits are shared out between shareholders and exported abroad. So, we will bring the utilities back into public ownership.

Labour will control rents. We will stop cuts to social security. Labour will regenerate housing for the benefit of the residents. Public sector pay cap will be scrapped. Organ transplant law will be changed to an opt-out system. We will bring in regional development banks, National Transformation Fund and a National Education Service for lifelong learning.

The speech emphasised the need for a change in the way we all think. An end to the “me, now” society and the development of a new, kinder, community-based way of life in which everyone is valued and where everyone has a stake. Jeremy is a gracious man who respects all and does not accept the unpleasant, slanderous ways of our political opponents.

Well, that is Conference! Vibrant, comradely, positive, co-operative, forward-looking. Last year, we were a party finding its feet and developing some rising stars. Now, we are a party ready for government with a talented and forceful Shadow Cabinet who are itching to get on with the job.

Can I thank Wyre Forest CLP for allowing me the honour to be their delegate and I trust that I voted as you would wish. It has been a privilege to attend such a stimulating event. The cause of Labour continues to be the hope of the world and the salvation of our people.

Conference ended with a rousing rendition of the Red Flag. Let us keep the Red Flag flying here in Wyre Forest.

Tony Clay - Wyre Forest Labour

Labour Party Conference 2017

Labour Democracy Conference improved democracy in the Party. The National Executive Committee (NEC) will increase from 24 to 28 members with 3 new constituency party representatives and one trade union...

My first conference

What a conference! My first - and a pretty good choice. It was great to be there and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity. I attended the Women's Conference too, a much smaller affair but equally impressive. One slightly twitchy moment was when I was introduced to Yvette Cooper at a reception as someone who only joined the party two years ago. I was relieved not to have to explain further.
Some of my highlights:

  • the 16 year old delegate from Manchester who spoke passionately and movingly about the impact of the new GCSEs on her and her classmates. She's called Lauren Stokes and apparently her speech has gone viral. It reflected so much that’s wrong -  top-down, untested reforms with no regard for those at the sharp end, and an obsession with targets at the expense of human beings. View Lauren's speech here
  • a 79 year old man from Sheffield who spoke to the audience in the overflow room after we'd listened to the Leader's Speech. He said that he'd been a party member all his life, that this was the best Leader's Speech he'd heard, and that it had given him renewed hope for the future. I had a word with him afterwards and he said that he had four children and although he'd tried to persuade them to join the party, they'd never been interested. But now, he said, they'd joined. Renewed hope indeed.
  • Jeremy Corbyn's speech - by common consent his best yet. It was great to hear it in real time rather than just the excerpts on news bulletins. I was in the overflow room and after he'd extricated himself from the ecstatic crowds, he came over and spoke to us for another ten minutes.
  • Continuing the education theme - Angela Rayner.  Her conference speech was excellent and I also went to a fringe meeting on the impact of education cuts. She was hugely impressive, and highly respected by the senior and experienced professionals also on the panel. View Angela's speech below:

There were frustrations, mostly to do with timetabling, time-keeping and fringe events in tiny, airless rooms with massive queues to get in. I missed loads that I’d hoped to go to but having said that, I caught some interesting and thought-provoking fringes, one very useful training event and probably the majority of the main speakers as well as a fair proportion of delegates' speeches. The intricacies of party democracy continue to elude me, although I think I've just about grasped what a composite motion is.  But as for the discussion about the official definition of a contemporary motion......
Helen Coll – Wyre Forest Labour

ben_dennis-skinner-conf2017-web.jpgMy first conference too

It was my first time at conference, I was taken aback at the levels of enthusiasm and high spirits. The fringe events organised were engaging and thoroughly interesting, with speakers coming from the party, journalists, world figures, and the deputy and Leader's main hall speeches were particularly enticing. To be amongst such excitement, surrounded by MPs that I admire (my personal highlight was chatting to Dennis Skinner about our ever more distant MP for Wyre Forest!) was such a beneficial experience and I would recommend any who hasn't been to think about attending next year.
Ben Davies - Wyre Forest Labour

 

My first Labour conference

My first conference What a conference! My first - and a pretty good choice. It was great to be there and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity. I...

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour, commenting on Garnier’s weekly column:

stephen_brown_10-2017.JPG"Seriously Mark, you’re blaming the demise of the carpet industry on the EU and cheap Belgian carpets? Cheap shot especially when carpet imports have remained more or less, recession aside, within an inflationary margin of similar value since 2004 only peaking back to 2004 levels since 2014. And what about child labour in carpet factories in Asia exporting here? What has the Govt done to combat that and challenge child exploitation to stop it for moral reasons, let alone what it’s doing to jobs here?

Cheap carpets maybe but not just from the EU. That free trade you champion, it’s caused cheap imports from all manner of countries outside of the EU (Asia, Turkey, China, India, Middle East) that have also hit us. The carpet industry has been in decline since the 70’s and accelerated under Tories in the 80’s as they decimated traditional manufacturing. Tastes have also changed towards hard flooring for instance, and since 2010 the current Govt of which you are part, have caused people’s wages to stagnate and wider economy to falter exacerbated by Brexit. People can’t buy what they can’t afford can they? But do carry on indulging in whataboutery and finger pointing to distract from the real issues as you conversely argue for such ‘trade’ on coffee.

And the coffee, yes, we should be doing what we can to support coffee growing economies through fair trade and other such initiatives. However, if it wasn’t processed here for instance, and it does provide UK jobs, what do you think would happen to those UK jobs in that sector? You seem to be preaching for free trade at the expense of UK jobs? I note you’ve been touring South America,(which actually does have processing plants - try Brazil) funny plugging coincidence that eh?

I think those in Wyre Forest who voted for you would sooner you champion jobs and trade for Wyre Forest, after all, it’s they who pay your wages as an MP.

And if you think ‘free trade’ really exists and our exit from the EU is suddenly going to mean other countries are going to open their doors to us, and risk damage to their own economy (eg USA) only to serve a Tory Brexit illusion, think on.

What we need is a proper industrial, financial, infrastructure, and jobs first strategy. And all we get is Tory chaos and egos vying for top Tory jobs. And from you.......misinformation about carpet industry, and ramblings about the coffee trade. Keep up the good work."

Mark Garnier blames EU for the demise of the carpet industry in Kidderminster

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour, commenting on Garnier’s weekly column: "Seriously Mark, you’re blaming the demise of the carpet industry on the EU and cheap Belgian carpets? Cheap shot especially...

In today's Shuttle (28/9/17), our Tory MP Mark Garnier, takes the opportunity to once again ignore the issues of his constituents, instead focusing on London matters and Uber's licence.

http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15555668.MPs_View_September_28/?action=success#comments-feedback-anchor

Stephen Brown said "It is quite a remarkable column in support of a tax dodging multi-national found to have breached safeguarding rules and operator licensing regulations, not to mention one that has lost a court case for abusing worker rights. Indeed, Mark passes off serious sexual assaults it would seem, by its drivers, as mere 'infringements'. Mark is basically demeaning women and their right not to be assaulted in their daily life. But then he's one who doesn't think marriage in all forms should be equal either. Let us not underestimate the significance of this dereliction of duty in office of a publicly elected representative in safeguarding the public, all done so he can take a political pop at the Labour Mayor of London, who incidentally did not actually make this decision, TfL did"

"This is all done by Mark in aid of serving the bidding of his Tory masters, and political point scoring. One might ask the question of Mark, where's his support for those multitude of small taxi businesses and properly trained self-employed taxi drivers in London who follow the rules and pay tax without resorting to a race to the bottom? A recent business survey of Uber found 51% of its drivers worldwide work part time, less than 15 hours per week, and earn less than £300 per month, although there are no equivalent stats for London as these figures include London. The point is they undercut the competition, so drivers earn less than competitors, probably pay less or no tax, and Uber squirrels away it's 25% commission profit offshore to avoid tax. It's an international shark operation designed to kill competition, it is not simply a tech platform. That Mark doesn't understand that as he swans around the world talking about Shrimp exports in Ecuador is revealing in itself. You can't compare CD to digital sales and artist rights to what Uber is up to. Is Mark 'really' that stupid? What the Tories want is a low wage, low regulation economy and we know where that ends up - just ask anyone who lived in Grenfell".


Stephen's full response in The Shuttle comments and to The Shuttle is below.

However, it remains to be seen whether the media pick this up and treat it with the seriousness and significance it deserves given it affirms what we know about Mark, his Party, and no doubt the CCHQ message being circulated to all of its lapdog, uncaring, unthinking MP's who don't think women deserve protection from assault. Business as usual for the Tories then post the election, especially now that they have their unsavoury DUP guard dogs watching their backs in Parliament:

Stephen Brown comments in The Shuttle on Garnier's Uber comments:

"What a shocking column, and you may ask, again, what's this got to do with Wyre Forest? Mark's certainly well and truly sitting comfortably in that London elitist bubble ain't he.

So, again, Mark uses his regular column to preach yet more CCHQ propaganda as fact, this time taking a pop at Sadiq Khan, Labour London Mayor, and in the process defend the interests and practices of a huge tax dodging multinational business. This is Mark showing his true colours, he really should think harder before spouting this nonsense, but maybe he doesn't care, after all he's safe as MP for a couple more years isn't he.

Let's get a few things straight here Mark. 40,000 workers have not lost their jobs, Uber has appeal time, all it has to do is comply with every regulation every other taxi business has to abide by. They could also work for a different law abiding firm because if the business is there other cab firms have said they will take such people on. Indeed, there exists an alternative app too, and being improved, that has more regularised rules of compliance.

Uber is a tax dodging Goliath on the international stage, it is not just a tech app company. It is an employer, and it abuses the law to avoid its worker obligations by practising false self employment, and in case you hadn't been keeping up, it lost a court case about it. It also uses its global power to subsidise fares charging a whopping 25% commission to its drivers making them dependent on them in a form of financial usery. That's why, with its subsidy on fares, it can undercut other business. It's model is to seek and destroy competition. If it cared for its 'workers' it would not be advocating for driverless cabs in London either.

You may also want to look up the incidents of sexual assault committed by Uber drivers in London and importantly how Uber tried to hide that fact to stop it affecting its business. Are you seriously suggesting Mark that these are mere 'infringements' notwithstanding the employment law cases that because of technology are deserving of less serious status? And of course, there's the the tax dodging on an industrial scale.

I told you weeks ago that Uber also manages to circumvent local licensing rules outside of London that safeguard passengers. That could happen here in Wyre Forest. It can use drivers of cabs who may have been denied a licence in one town, and for very good reasons, who then get a licence because of system failures elsewhere in another town, and come back to ply their trade in the town they had their licence revoked in. Uber knows this but uses it to undercut local drivers and takes no responsibility because of their business model of self employment to flout the rules. No other business does this or is allowed to. A loophole in the law that needs fixing.

That our MP chooses this topic in the middle if it's own Brexit shambles and concerns by ordinary people about their future is staggering but sadly not surprising. Mark once again sides with corporate interests in a way that is an insult not only to the safety of Londoners, but to the concerns of his own constituents. So what if Londoners have raised a petition to save their own access to cheap fares? It says more about how they are struggling to make ends meet, like many of us, and the media has cynically tapped into this to attack the Mayor, aided and abetted by uncritical thinkers like Mark, to their own ends. I'd say people should be more interested in public safety, workers rights, and earning a decent living. This race to the bottom has to stop, as does support for it. Only then will we see wages and living standards improve. The gig economy is not something the UK should be proud of but it is what the Tories have made, and they'll do their utmost to protect it, including putting safety at risk and cosying up to tax dodging, safety flouting, workers rights abusing multinationals. Take that as a warning about post Brexit Tory Britain. This is not about technology changes it's about good old fashioned capitalism and abuse of people to earn a profit. At least we know where Mark stands on this, and it's not on your side".

Mark Garnier passes off serious sexual assaults as mere 'infringements' of the regulations by Uber.

In today's Shuttle (28/9/17), our Tory MP Mark Garnier, takes the opportunity to once again ignore the issues of his constituents, instead focusing on London matters and Uber's licence. http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15555668.MPs_View_September_28/?action=success#comments-feedback-anchor...

Wyre Forest Labour is very concerned about the threat to our Parliamentary Democracy, and the fact that Brexit it being used as a pretext to implement a Bill that effectively bypasses Parliament's voice in our lawmaking and hands over that power to a Ministerial cabal.

Stephen Brown said "whether you voted Brexit or Remain, there are elements of this Bill that should seriously worry you. It threatens the foundation of our Parliamentary democracy and it's why Labour opposed it. Brexiteers' promised Parliament 'would take back control' from the EU, yet the first act of this minority Tory Government is a power grab to give Ministers absolute authority over changes in the law without Parliament getting a say. It's brutally ironic as it's the very thing Brexiteers complained about the EU having. These changes could erode your rights as a citizen or a worker without any proper scrutiny or Parliamentary challenge".

"The lack of any critical thinking on this from many Tory MP's, who voted like loyal lapdogs, is astounding. Exponents of the Bill will try and dress it up as an innocuous change to implement Brexit, and will do so because they fail to understand the consequences. They essentially voted to surrender their role as an MP and one wonders why they bothered standing for Parliament at all if that's the case, because it appears they have no opinion on it of their own. They also seem unaware or unconcerned with other events linked to this that are handing control of Parliamentary committee processes to the Tories outside of accepted protocols. It's something Tory Brexit negotiators could seize on to do trade deals that are disadvantageous to our country and our citizens. People really need to wake up to what's going on here".

It seems many serious political commentators are drawing references to a Bill passed in the Reichstag in Germany in 1933, by supporters of the Nazis, which ultimately handed control to Hitler. That may appear a little over the top but let's not forget the Govt bribed the DUP with £1billion to prop them up, and that has now been used to break with Parliamentary consensus to put the Minority Tory Govt in control of what should be politically balanced committees. These committees also scrutinise Parliamentary process. As if to add to the feeling of an orchestrated Coup d'état, Crawford Falconer, the Government's chief Brexit trade negotiator, believes he should be free to negotiate new deals and have the power to change regulations at will if it seals a deal.

Stephen Brown summed up by saying "People should be joining all these dots, spotting the patterns, and objecting to their MP about what all of this means for our democracy. If taking back control really means what it says, let's see some evidence of this and our MP's respecting the will of the people, respecting Parliamentary democracy, and not turning the country into what potentially could be a banana republic when it comes to our law making. Labour will fight tooth and nail to protect your rights as both a citizen and worker, and I can't see the Tories doing that during Brexit or beyond. Basically, because the Tories serve the agenda of a rich elite intent on making Brexit work for them and stripping us of our rights in a deregulated economy as a European offshore tax haven".

Brexit: Parliament will be sidelined by Government for 40 years if Theresa May's withdrawal bill is passed.

Government's EU Withdrawal Bill threatens our Parliamentary Democracy

Wyre Forest Labour is very concerned about the threat to our Parliamentary Democracy, and the fact that Brexit it being used as a pretext to implement a Bill that effectively...

In the Shuttle of 7th Sept 2017, Mark Garnier responded to Labour's living wage claim in typically dismissive fashion quoting untruths. 

Calls for higher living wage to boost lowest earners in Wyre Forest

http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15521435.Calls_for_higher_living_wage_to_boost_lowest_earners_in_Wyre_Forest/

This is Wyre Forest Labour's response from press Officer Stephen Brown:

Mark Garnier is a lucky man. Lucky that he gets to represent this great constituency. And lucky because he always gets 2 bites of the political comment cherry in print. He has his propaganda channel in the form of his weekly Shuttle column which he uses to attack opponents and propagate Tory mantra as fact and without challenge; he also gets the right of reply in these articles, again without challenge. No such luxury in print is afforded to anyone else.

The facts

So - let's clear some things up here with 10 facts about wages, austerity, debt, unemployment and the economy to bust the rubbish Mark continually spouts:

  1. Income Inequality fell under Labour between 2000 and 2005 and rose after the financial crisis and has not improved since. Working households are worse off especially the bottom 10% but the richest 10% have gained and the difference is set to be the highest on record.
  2. Labour's crisis, as he refers to it, was, in fact, a WORLDWIDE banking crisis caused by Mark's mates (he was a banker before being our MP so he'll obviously deflect from that) which lead to a bank bailout and bankers being jailed (e.g. In Iceland whereas in UK they get a bonus and taxpayers handout) because they over-lent in an inflated price market to people who could not afford it.
  3. The Banks were under-regulated and abused that fact see 2.
  4. Before the financial crisis the Tories wanted LESS banking regulation.
  5. Govt debt as % of GDP in: 2007 was 36% £527billion; 2010 was 60% £902billion; 2016 was 89% £1.8trillion. The Tories have doubled the debt even though our debt levels were less than France and Germany up to 2010 and were historically very low (fact). What have we got to show for this increase in Tory debt? A transfer of wealth from poor to rich, see 8.
  6. Every Tory Govt in history has borrowed more and repaid less back than Labour. A little nugget most people are oblivious to thanks to press bias dominated by Tory supporting Daily Mail, Sun etc.
  7. Tories inherited an economy on the mend in 2010. Tory Austerity broke that leading to years of debt growth, poor wages, and since 2010 the richest 1,000 families are now £400billion better off at £658billion; which is up 14% in the last year alone because Brexit is as good for them as the Tories are. The rest of us are not so lucky. Did you get a 14% rise last year?
  8. This shows that Tory austerity is a political choice not a necessity. It is designed to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich and it is working just as the Tories planned.
  9. Due to Tory austerity our wages have stagnated at 2008 levels, something Mark is quoted as being ok about. His party opposed the minimum wage originally and Tory policy falls well short of Labour's living wage policy of £10 per hour so we won't be taking any lectures from Mark. Austerity means we're more likely to have zero hour contracts, insecure and seasonal work, and under-employment in a weak economy. If unemployment was really as low as Mark claims, wages would rise because of supply and demand in a strong economy. He knows this but masks it and instead offers up platitudes about tackling low pay.
  10. Unemployment is so 'low' because the figures are now excluding thousands in Wyre Forest e.g. Sick & disabled. The actual unemployment figure is more like 7,000 not 758, so it's really more like 16% not the 1.8% unemployment level claimed.

Be under no illusions, Mark is a wolf in sheeps clothing who wants you to believe he cares and is doing something. He holds a Ministers job with Minster pay, he employs his wife, he is privately educated and was a banker; he does not share yours or the low pay pain of Wyre Forest, nor does he understand it. He is on to a good crack.

Wyre Forest deserves much better

Labour's living wage plan seeks to restore some equality to the wages of ordinary people. True equality won't happen until the Tories and Mark are given the boot, and we have a Labour Govt, with investment in our economy, and better protection for workers. Wyre Forest made a choice in 2017 to stick with Mark, he may not be so lucky at the next election when he runs out of excuses and runs out of time. I for one hope the good people of Wyre Forest see him for what he is and and finally send him packing. Wyre Forest deserves much better.


 

Can Labour be blamed for the economic crisis?

http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/14006/economics/can-labour-be-blamed-for-the-economic-crisis/

Every Tory Govt in history has borrowed more and repaid less back than Labour. A little nugget most people are oblivious to thanks to press bias dominated by Tory supporting Daily Mail, Sun etc.

Mark Garnier trots out the ususal debunked rhetoric in response to calls for a higher living wage for Wyre Forest workers

In the Shuttle of 7th Sept 2017, Mark Garnier responded to Labour's living wage claim in typically dismissive fashion quoting untruths.  Calls for higher living wage to boost lowest earners...

Wyre Forest Labour today made a call for more social housing to be built in the District to address the urgent crisis in social housing.

As a result of Tory Govt policy, and District Council inaction on affordable housing, many local people are struggling to afford their rent, buy a house, or even make it on to the housing waiting list. We even have 1400 homes in the private rented sector in need of repair. Why should people be forced to live like this? It's nothing short of a scandal in 21st Century Britain, one of the so-called richest countries in the world.

Wyre Forest has some 6,000 households in urgent need of an affordable home and little is being done about it. You can read the headlines and report provided by Jamie Shaw, Labour Councillor, at the foot if this article following Labour's comments on the crisis.

Stephen Brown, Labour spokesperson said: "I am grateful to Jamie Shaw, Labour District Councillor, for highlighting the scale of this issue here in Wyre Forest in his report. Jamie has long been a champion of social housing and standing up for local people when it comes to housing needs. Unfortunately, What we see in Wyre Forest is the sheer inadequacy of both Tory Govt policy and District Council willingness to address the urgent crisis in affordable rented social housing in Wyre Forest.

"We need 500 new truly affordable homes built every year, and will get 100 if we're lucky. The District has a median yearly income level of £18,000, with at least 8,000 earning low wages, and a waiting list of 3,000 households in need of affordable homes and which in reality is double that. The Local Plan that will go nowhere near to resolving this issue. The maths don't stack up and no wonder we've got a local housing crisis if this is the kind of thing on offer.

"This crisis has originated in Downing Street thanks to Theresa May and our MP Mark Garnier, and is exacerbated by the Tory council. Why so you may ask? Tory Govt housing policy has deliberately created a situation forcing people into an improperly regulated housing market at rents they can't really afford.

"Worse still, is that rogue landlords are being subsidised by taxpayers. Landlords are making a tidy profit at our expense and you can include Tory landlord MP's in that. Tory MP landlords who voted against a Labour Parliamentary motion for better protection for tenants. It's a local and national disgrace.

"Govt could better use the £2.6billion a year it hands to those private rouge landlords by giving it to councils to build truly affordable rented housing, including here in Wyre Forest. In addition to that, scrapping the ridiculous formula it uses to judge what's affordable, and which is based on private landlords greed rather than real wages, it should be a no brainer. After all, Govt has capped housing benefit yet in contradiction to that is driving up rents.

"Who is benefiting? Landlords of course and it's also why homelessness is rising. In any case, £2.6billion would build 500,000 homes in 5 years nationally and we'd get our fair share. That's what Labour would do if in Government. If we ran the council you can be sure we'd make building such affordable homes more of a priority issue too, starting with those brownfield sites. We should be building homes fit for local people to live in".

Report Headlines include:

  1. Just how many new households need affordable housing every year - some 470.
  2. The massaging of the figures for people 'In need' of housing, which currently stands at 3,000 households but more realistically stands at 6,000. Households were deleted because there was simply 'no chance' of ever getting an affordable rented home rather than them not being in need.
  3. That 6,000 homes are rented social housing, mainly from Community Housing, out of a total of 46,000 properties in Wyre Forest; and this is clearly insufficient and needs to double to 12,000 (see below*) to address the clear need.
  4. Substandard properties in the private rented sector total 1400. How much taxpayers money is being sent providing an income for rogue landlords? The national figure is £2.6billion per year of public subsidy to such rogue landlords. Enough to build 500,00 affordable homes over 5 years (5 x £2.6billion).
  5. Tory Govt policy which sets 'affordable' rent at 80% of private sector renders it unaffordable in an area with a median income of £18,000 per year. We have over 8,000 on minimum wage so how are they supposed to afford rent if £130 per week is set as 'affordable' level? A third can't - total employed in Wyre Forest is 42,000 making 14,000* potentially in need of affordable homes.  Govt policy forces Housing Assoc to charge this so-called 'affordable' rent. It's a tool to drive people into the private sector and unsuitable accommodation. No surprise Tories voted against a Labour motion in Parliament to force landlords to make homes safe. Many Tory MP's are such landlords.
  6. Shared ownership is not working. There's little demand despite Govt pressure to build it. It can also tie in people to a property they may need to move on from preventing movement in the market. Evidence dictates that people much prefer more affordable rented social housing accommodation.
  7. The 'Local Plan' on social housing will fail, it will be woefully inadequate in numbers. Not only that but not enough social housing of even those built may be truly affordable.
  8. Case studies included.

Housing Need in Wyre Forest - Report by Jamie Shaw, Labour Councillor:

Rate of Household Formation

Every year in Wyre Forest, 940 new households seek accommodation in the district. 50% of them cannot afford to buy a house priced at £130,000.

Waiting List in Wyre Forest

The number of households seeking a rented property from a housing association in Wyre Forest has been as high as 6,000 within the last six years. Since then, Wyre Forest District Council has reduced the number on the Waiting List by 50% on two occasions. There was no sudden provision of houses; instead, the district council told half the households on the list that, for them, there was no hope of a property ever becoming available and their names were deleted. Currently there are just over 3,000 registered applications.

Low Wage Wyre Forest

Average work place remuneration in Wyre Forest is £18,000. This level of remuneration for those residents whose employment is actually located in the district places Wyre Forest in an official “low waged area” category. Also, there are areas of significant economic and social deprivation, most notably in the former Oldington & Foley Park ward, which consistently featured in the top twenty most deprived wards in the country. (“Country” not “county”)

Homes for Rent

There are 12,000 homes for rent, 26% of Wyre Forest’s 46,000 properties. However, only half of the 12,000 are owned by housing associations; the remainder are privately rented. The privately rented sector grew significantly in Wyre Forest under the policies of the Coalition and Cameron governments, despite this sector having the by far the worst record of disrepair,nationally and locally. Currently, in Wyre Forest, 1,400 privately rented properties are listed by the council as being in disrepair. Wyre Forest Community Housing, to which the council’s housing stock was transferred in 2000, is by far the biggest housing association provider in the district.

Social & Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership

The reference point for the calculation of both “social” and “affordable” rents is the average rental in the private sector in the relevant housing authority area. The figure for Wyre Forest is c£130 per week. In Wyre Forest a social rent could be 50% cheaper. However, the Coalition Government introduced the “affordable” rent, which sought to increase rents in the public rental sector to 80% of the private rate.  Unsurprisingly in a low wage area, significant numbers of Wyre Forest households cannot afford “affordable” rents. To return to the 940 new households per annum seeking accommodation, well over a third could not afford the “affordable rent” on a one or two-bedroomed apartment. The Coalition, Cameron and May governments have taken measures to force housing associations to charge “affordable”rents, such as making capital grants dependent on rent levels.

Shared ownership, ie, part-rent, part-buy occupancy, is also favoured by Government. Housing associations are required to transfer some previously wholly- rented properties to this tenure when they become vacant. Also, they are required to include the tenure in their new-build programmes. This government policy is the reason why properties lie vacant for months in low income Wyre Forest. A good example is the recently built properties on the former Reilloc Chain site on Stourport Road, Kidderminster. The houses in the new street to the rear of the development, Collier Close, are rent-only; they were filled immediately. The houses along Stourport Road are part-rent, part-buy; some stood empty for well over a year after completion.

A current example of the relative lack of demand for shared ownership comes from the report of the Strategic Housing Manager to the Planning committee on 15th August 2017. Referring to a specific area of Kidderminster, she identified a need for forty-four “affordable houses”,only one of was which recommended for shared ownership.

Current Demand and Supply

The decreasing size of households and “benefit reform” has had a significant effect on the sizes of property sought. Current advice is that 50% percent of new-build should be two-bedroomed, 33%, one-bedroomed and only 17% three-bedroomed. Houses can be built in two ways. A housing association may have the resources to fund a development by itself. Thus, in August 2017, Wyre Forest Community Housing gained planning approval the construction of fifteen homes at Comberton Place, Kidderminster. The alternative means is by exercise of the district council’s power to require a development of ten or more houses, (in Kidderminster and Stourport), to contain up to 30% as social housing, (to be purchased and managed by a housing association). Probably the least recognised socially rented houses within an otherwise private development in Wyre Forest are part of the Lichfield Basin former “brownfield” site in Stourport, a mixed-tenure, mixed social-class community.

The Local Plan 2016-34

6,000 homes are proposed to be constructed within this period, an average of 300 annually. Assessing real need, planning officers find that 149 properties in each 300 should be “affordable”. However, they do not consider that this target is realistic, given current national housing policies. Therefore the Plan’s current recommendation is for a target of 100 perannum. Moreover, again bowing to government policy, 35 in every 100 are identified as shared ownership properties. That leaves just 65 for rent, the proportion at “social” and “affordable” levels not being specified. 

Case Studies:

Case Study 1 – A woman with a school-age child and a three year-old was required to leave her privately-rented house after the landlord refused to renew the tenancy because part of her rent was funded by Housing Benefit after her partner left the household. The only offer of socially rented accommodation was a flat, which she turned down because there was no secure area for her children to play. With the aid of a district council housing officer, another privately-rented property, was found, but at the other end of town, and only for a temporary period, causing a problem in getting the child to school on time.

Case Study 2 – An elderly couple, both suffering from degenerative illnesses, sought a move from their mobile home on a Stourport site. After two years, they were still in their caravan. A Housing Needs officer suggested that they consider Community Housing’s new assisted living complex, Berrington Court. Unfortunately, the service charges required in addition to the rent were too expensive for the move to take place.

Case Study 3 – A couple with two children live in an upstairs, one-bedroomed, Community Housing flat. One adult and one child suffer from medical conditions which have been confirmed by doctors to have been exacerbated by the family’s current accommodation. However, the advice from Housing Needs is that there are so many other needy families ahead of them in the queue that they are likely only to be successful in moving to a ground floor flat in the foreseeable future.

Urgent Call For More Social Housing In Wyre Forest

Wyre Forest Labour today made a call for more social housing to be built in the District to address the urgent crisis in social housing. As a result of Tory...

The Labour Party have released an online calculator so that people can see how many workers in their area would be better off under Labour's plans for a £10 per hour living wage. In Wyre Forest, some 8,667 workers would be better off under Labour, or 24% of workers.

postcode-payrise.PNG

http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/living-wage-calculator

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour says "In Wyre Forest, it means 24%, or 8,667 of the 36,000 employed workers would benefit from a pay rise under Labour. Something that would make a huge difference to people's living standards in Wyre Forest. Labour believes Wyre Forest deserves a pay rise. Wyre Forest has struggled with poor wages thanks to Tory austerity since 2010 and it must stop".

Stephen Brown went on to say "Meanwhile, Wyre Forest Tory MP Mark Garnier again misses the point in his Shuttle column by declaring Theresa May's 'public register' on top bosses pay will somehow make a difference. It won't. Only regulation will. It's mere window dressing, another Tory u-turn which shows they're the mouthpiece of the Corporations, many of whom avoid tax and have been given a huge tax and wealth windfall since 2010 - the richest have seen their wealth rise by 112%.

“I think most people in Wyre Forest are more concerned about paying their own bills, putting food on the table, and their own poor pay levels. It's a fact that top bosses earn 400 times that of those workers at the bottom on minimum wage. It's disgraceful but this is the system he, his Party, and his votes has created.

“Whilst Mark's right about the struggles and due rewards for small business and small traders, the Tories are not creating an economy for them to thrive. The average pay for the self-employed in Wyre Forest is even less than that of employed workers. The whole economic model the Tories have adopted of low employment regulation, low pay, insecure work, and tax dodges for the wealthiest is unsustainable.

“Only Labour can create an economy that works for everyone, offering local businesses an economy and investment that helps them thrive; and workers the prospect of something better than low pay & no job security with a £10 p/h living wage and better employment protection".

"What we've also seen under the Tories is the prospect of a soundbite inspired 'no deal Brexit' that will cost the economy and businesses dear. None of us can afford that. Nobody voted Brexit to be poorer, for less employment rights, and for a U.K. tax haven to benefit the very rich corporates that Mark now condemns. He's a bit confused on his position it seems, probably deliberately so because he takes his voters for mugs and is a master of political duplicity.

“Labour is now the only Party with a coherent Brexit strategy that respects the referendum, but seeks to mitigate against a cliff edge Tory Brexit.  Labour's call to stay in the single market and customs union offers economic sanity. Something that as an option is possible despite Tory ignorance of the facts on it because they are a Party obsessed and possessed by extremist free marketeers. The Banking crash is an example of what these guys stand for. Ask Mark what he did for a living before becoming an MP. Don't be fooled again".

Background information:

Wyre Forest has a declining working age population, some 4,000 less workers here since 2010. Yet surprisingly, it has not lead to rising wages as employers seek to offset that shrinking supply with better wages to attract workers, as you'd normally expect. Why? One reason is the false Tory unemployment figures of 760 in Wyre Forest which mask the true figure of around 7,000. So, there is still actually over-supply. Another reason is the over reliance of jobs in the retail sector, which is noted for its minimum wage, insecure work (zero hour contracts, temporary and seasonal) and lack of trade unions.

Pay has stagnated in Wyre Forest at the pre banking crash levels of 2008, something our Tory MP seems happy about according to his recent comments, and pay is over £100 per week less here than elsewhere in the West Midlands. You can see the true economic picture in our town centre which has a number of empty shops. Even by the most generous calculation, workers in Wyre Forest earn less than £20,000 per year and you just can't live comfortably on that or buy a house. That's why we have over 3,500 on the social housing waiting list, a figure again which masks the real figure of over 5,000 thanks to massaging of how such data and housing need is now assessed.

Mark Garnier in the election hustings promised to do something about improving low pay in Wyre Forest. In reality, he's done nothing and will do nothing except run job fairs which do not address the underlying problem of poverty pay in Wyre Forest. He should focus his attention on improving low pay rather than spouting propaganda about publishing top pay and pretending it will make any real difference to ordinary workers pay packets.

Wyre Forest workers would be better off under Labour

The Labour Party have released an online calculator so that people can see how many workers in their area would be better off under Labour's plans for a £10 per...

The news today that an inspection of Worcs Acute NHS has revealed little sign of improvement  despite 2 years of being in special measures and endless Tory promises should surprise no one. 

"The truth is our NHS is underfunded"

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said "This news and the fact it still includes Kidderminster Hospital as showing no signs of improvement, is very damning. We were told endlessly by the likes of Mark Garnier, our Tory MP, that new management is sorting things out yet the reality of that is miles away. Maybe if Mark wasn't swanning all over the world as a junior Trade Minister tweeting with glee about it, and paid more attention to his own backyard, he might be able to spend more time focusing his energy on where it's needed - here in Wyre Forest and on our NHS.

"I'll expect we'll get the same guff from Mark about the capital investment in Worcester and Redditch, and how they'll meet NHS management to relay their concerns. However, it won't amount to a hill in of beans in real terms because we've heard it all before yet nothing changes.

"The truth is our NHS is underfunded, the local Trust is £37million in the red with another £123million cuts through STP due. Things will get worse and only a Labour Government can put this right because the Tories are in denial and wedded to austerity, which has failed, they are bereft of ideas.

"Labour will end austerity when elected and the sooner the better. None of these NHS problems are the fault of staff, who I note are again praised for their dedicated service and caring. We should all be grateful we have such wonderful NHS staff who get on with it never mind the difficulties they face making ends meet, both on the job and at home because their pay has been falling in real terms since Tory austerity started in 2010. Let's also remember Mark Garnier voted down a pay rise for NHS staff, so he's no friend of those in the NHS who make it work despite all the problems he and his Govt have caused it".

Sustained Tory underfunding of primary care services

In other NHS news, some alarming facts have emerged about patient access to GP's which show the NHS crisis is as wide as it is deep. It also helps explain why A&E is becoming the "go to" service for many, including the elderly who cannot access a doctor, nor access social care either thanks to Tory cuts. This puts extra strain on emergency care services and reveals why we need a different approach to our NHS to take the load off A&E. 

An analysis of the latest GP Patient Survey for England reveals a marked worsening of access to GP surgeries over the past five years, largely as a result of sustained Tory underfunding of primary care services.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, has slammed Theresa May’s record on General Practice and pledged to ensure GPs are given the resources they need under Labour.

Millions of patients are finding it significantly more difficult to contact their GP surgery over the phone compared with five years ago, including:

  • nine per cent increase in patients finding it ‘not very easy’ or ‘not at all easy’ to get through to their GP surgery by phone
  • ten per cent fall in patients finding it ‘very easy’ or ‘fairly easy’ to get through to their GP surgery by phone. Millions of patients are finding it increasing difficult and having to wait longer to see or speak to their preferred GP compared with five years ago, including:
  • fall of almost ten per cent in patients ‘always or almost always’ able to see or speak to their preferred GP
  • seven per cent increase in patients waiting ‘a week or more later’ until they actually saw or spoke to a GP/nurse Millions of patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get a timely appointment at their GP surgery.

Over the last five years this includes:

  • Increase in people unable to get an appointment to see or speak to someone
  • Increase in people finding the overall experience of making an appointment ‘Fairly Poor’ or ‘Very Poor’
  • Fall in people finding the overall experience of making an appointment ‘very good’
  • Increase in people saying they have to wait ‘far too long’ for an appointment

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said "what this GP survey shows is that the crisis in our NHS is as wide as it is deep. No part of the NHS is unaffected by Tory cuts. Until the Tories are out, we will not see any improvement. The Tories can make all the noises and promises they like but they cannot be trusted with our NHS. Britain needs a Labour Government to put right the damage that the Tory's ideological pursuit of austerity is causing. Austerity is a bust flush and Labour will end it. How can it be right that the Tories give tax giveaways to Corporations from their magic money tree and bribe the DUP whilst ordinary people struggle to access healthcare because of funding cuts?"

Tory underfunding of NHS revealed in end-of-year financial results

Underfunded, underdoctored, overstretched: The NHS in 2016

NHS getting worse everywhere despite Tory promises

The news today that an inspection of Worcs Acute NHS has revealed little sign of improvement  despite 2 years of being in special measures and endless Tory promises should surprise...

Wyre Forest Labour Party believes that there is a need in Wyre Forest for genuinely affordable housing and in particular a major increase in social housing. However, 'brownfield site' redevelopment must be prioritised and maximised to reduce any building on greenfield sites in order to protect our 'green belt' against unnecessary loss and environmental damage.

Wyre Forest Labour Party is also anxious to gain insight into the views of local residents through your participation in the consultation process and encourages you to submit your views to the consultation, or contact us for appropriate advice if needed.

For the best chance of success in this process, Labour would suggest residents focus any objections they have to the unwanted expansion of housing provision by submitting such objections based on planning issues alone e.g. potential environmental damage, lack of adequate road capacity, infrastructure and public transport, insufficient provision of affordable and social housing, and community facilities.

Stephen Brown, Labour spokesperson said "We want residents to have their say and undertake the consultation. We would also welcome local people getting in touch with us to give us their views, and we'd be happy to work with local groups on this to formulate their objections based on proper planning reasons where it is appropriate.

"Such housing expansion can be an emotional issue for many, and we understand that, especially when it's about the potential loss of 'green belt' and valued local amenities. However, the best chance of preventing unwanted and environmentally damaging expansion to our 'green belt' is by sticking to objective planning reasons, however difficult that might seem sometimes when passions are running high. Nevertheless, in the first instance, the council should be focusing its attention on brownfield sites for housing expansion, for both social and affordable housing needs".

The following joint statement has been agreed with "Spennells Against Further Expansion" Committee and will be signed off by leading elected Wyre Forest Labour Party Officers

  • BERNADETTE CONNOR – CHAIR, WYRE FOREST CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTY
  • GARETH WEBSTER - CHAIR, KIDDERMINSTER EAST LABOUR PARTY BRANCH
  • SARAH ROOK – LABOUR PARTY SPOKESPERSON FOR BROADWATERS

"We, the undersigned, are concerned with Wyre Forest District Council’s Draft Local Plan. Although it considers Brownfield sites, it does not consider higher urban densities in our town centres before pursuing a strategy of urban sprawl into our valuable countryside, affecting many communities around Wilden, Spennells, Offmore, Comberton, Lea Castle, Areley Kings, Lickhill, Wribbenhall and Highclere.

"We urge all residents and visitors to Wyre Forest to inform themselves about these plans and send your comments to the District Council whilst this consultation is open. We hope that the weight of opinion will give the Planning Team and the Planning Inspector reason to think again."

Local Plan Map

 

 

Wyre Forest District Council’s Draft Local Plan

Wyre Forest Labour Party believes that there is a need in Wyre Forest for genuinely affordable housing and in particular a major increase in social housing. However, 'brownfield site' redevelopment... Read more

Personally, and for some time, I've questioned why Mark Garnier regularly fails in his Shuttle opinion page to discuss more of the pressing issues happening in Wyre Forest. It seems most of the time he prefers to talk about things going on elsewhere, or his Ministerial travels. Local people, I would think, might prefer our MP pays a bit more attention to what's going on in his own backyard with issues caused by him and his Party's Governmental failings and austerity; things like the Worcs NHS crisis, the social care crisis spilling over into the NHS, workers falling pay levels, insecure work, income inequality, inflation, and foodbanks.

To raise such policy matters and constructively criticise, as Labour does, is legitimate. Personal abuse is not acceptable, and no one in Wyre Forest Labour, so far as I know, has engaged in abuse. So, whilst Mark is correct to say the election in Wyre Forest was free from abuse, many might wonder why he's now talking about such abuse issues happening elsewhere? Especially, when in the same article, he's targeting Labour supporters as the source of abuse and not criticising some of the frankly disgusting articles appearing in the national right wing press about Corbyn and other Labour politicians during the election.

Let's not forget, that murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, who he mentions, had a killer who in part was emboldened by the same national right wing media and its frenzied coverage against foreigners, especially during the referendum debate, but he says absolutely nothing about that frenzied coverage.

Further, it's also relevant to ask Mark why he's peddling outright lies about Labour's General Election Manifesto saying we promised to write off student debt when we said no such thing. In my view, telling lies merely for political opportunistic reasons, which is what he regularly does in his own Shuttle column, is a form of abuse. It's abusing his position as an MP and the trust the electorate put in their MP to tell the truth.

I might also ask why, if he is so keen to stamp out personal abuse, he's retweeting stuff from a person (Guido Fawkes) who has been personally abusive towards Diane Abbott and other Labour MP's. My advice to Mark is that people who live in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones, and that he should be more careful about the company he keeps, even if it is on twitter.

It would be helpful to our local political discourse if he apologised for his remarks, otherwise, he's guilty of being part of the same abuse problem he claims to object to. The problem then might be for him, if others then choose to revisit abuse on him in consequence of his remarks, his objections might sound rather hollow.

Let's not forget, historically, he expressed a view of some of the Wyre Forest electorate as being 'dog-end voters'. Is that not a form of abuse too? He really ought to be more careful what he says. I think Wyre Forest really deserves much better from its MP who claims on his twitter account he's 'working for all Wyre Forest on every issue' because sometimes it appears he prefers to work for only some of his electorate, the wealthiest, or only those who agree with him.

Labour: We never pledged to write off tuition fee debts

Tory MP: we have no need to attract ‘dog-end voters in the outlying regions’

Mark Garnier fails again to discuss the pressing issues happening in Wyre Forest in his Shuttle opinion page

Personally, and for some time, I've questioned why Mark Garnier regularly fails in his Shuttle opinion page to discuss more of the pressing issues happening in Wyre Forest. It seems...

Thursday 13th July 2017 saw the publication of the Tories 'Great Repeal Bill' which they claim will provide our Parliamentary exit from the EU to incorporate EU law into U.K. law.

Whilst that sounds simple enough, and on the face of it people might not disagree with it following the EU referendum of 23rd June 2016, the Great Repeal Bill does contain some seriously worrying elements. Elements which acutely highlight the difference between Labour's approach to Brexit and the Tories.

A Labour Brexit is better than a Tory Brexit because we seek to protect our trading arrangements for the sake of our economy, our employment rights, our environment, our human rights, and our Parliamentary sovereignty. All things diametrically the opposite of what is provided for in the Tories Great Repeal Bill. Our approach is one of inclusion and working with our trading partners for our prosperity and for the 'many not the few'. The Tories aim to work for the few and not the many. The few being themselves.

A Tory Brexit is bad for our country and this is why:

The Tory thinking has been muddled in its approach towards the EU negotiations because they are both trying to keep a lid on their own warring factions, and mask what they really want to achieve which is a cliff edge, low tax, low rights, low wage economy of an EU exit with no intention of any deal. It is clear to Labour that any Tory deal with the EU would frustrate such Tory ambition. It's why Theresa May has repeatedly said "no deal is better than a bad deal", which should serve as a warning because no deal means WTO rules and they are indeed worse than the deal we have now. Tory plans will result in everyone except the rich getting poorer, the Tories see it as an ideological extension of austerity, and Labour vehemently opposes austerity. The Tory cliff edge Brexit will have a devastating impact on our economy and trading arrangements, and it seems the Tories believe this can be countered by a bargain basement, low corporation tax offshore haven off the coast of Europe, propped up by a U.K. USA trade deal that could asset strip our NHS similar to the proposals in the defeated EU-USA TTIP deal that caused such outrage. The Tory vision of Brexit is ideological folly, bereft of real vision or hope for our people, and risks wrecking our economy.

What the publication of the Tories Great Repeal Bill revealed is that buried deep within it, and its memorandum, are the fundamental building blocks of the Tory vision for Brexit. It's actually based on human rights erosions, employment rights attacks, and environmental vandalism. What's more, it even seeks to strip EU citizens of their rights post Brexit making them second class citizens if 'no deal' is achieved; something which even the most ardent Brexiteer, UKIP's Nigel Farage, actually disagrees with, and an erosion of rights, which for Labour is a red line. You can only get a 'good deal' if you enter negotiations meaningfully and with honest intent. There is nothing honest about the Tory approach to Brexit because from the start it's been about power and their own internal squabbling over Europe.

Labour has therefore rightly condemned the Tory approach and will do its best to stop its progress through Parliament. This is because Labour does not want to give, on our departure day from the EU, the Tory Govt a blank cheque to do as it wishes without reference to Parliament. It is of course even possible that resistance to the Bill is so fierce because there is opposition not only from Labour on it, but the LibDems and from within Tory ranks too, that it might bring down Theresa May, her Government, and halt Brexit. What then? Another General Election? Another Referendum? This is how high the stakes are and the Tories are playing politics with people's lives.

The Great Repeal Bill has things within it that threaten our hard-fought Parliamentary democracy and despite the public being told that Brexit will allow us to "take back control". The Great Repeal Bill should not allow the Tories to be dictators in Government to achieve their own ends to usurp Parliament and sell our country to the highest corporate bidder on the backs of our people and an erosion of our fundamental human rights. The Bill is the greatest con-trick and Tory power grab in modern history.

If you doubt the Tories intentions, the following 3 elements of the Great Repeal Bill are contained within it and clearly illustrate their direction of travel post Brexit and highlight why Labour will oppose it:

  1. A clause permitting ministers to alter employment & environmental protections without reference to Parliament if Ministers deem it it appropriate.
  2. Memo from Ministers confirming EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to be dumped on the day the UK leaves the EU (Note: This Charter protects your citizens rights such as entitlement to dignity, equality, freedom, solidarity, justice, family life, assets etc).
  3. The power to modify, limit, or remove the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. if no deal is reached.

Make no mistake, on many levels this is an important Bill, but the Tories cannot and should not be allowed to use Brexit to further their own ideological ambition of yet more austerity in order to serve their corporate paymasters. Paymasters who want to see us as an EU offshore corporate tax haven with fewer citizens rights, poorer environmental legislation, less regulated employment market with low wages to 'compete' with the likes of China, and all to serve the greed of the 1% richest to continue tax dodging and wrecking our most valued asset - our planet and our people's lives.

There is a better way, it is Labour's way, which is for the many not the few, for equality and prosperity for all, and for the protection of our hard earned rights over centuries, and the environment on which we all depend. Labour seeks a good deal on Brexit to protect jobs, our economy, and our rights - and is based on negotiations undertaken in good faith, not a xenophobic shouting match. As a trade union negotiator myself, I know that to get a good deal you need to do things in good faith, be honest, direct, considered, conciliatory, and empathetic to be able to understand how to cut the deal. That is real strength, it is not arms length shouty posturing which is the only tactic evident in the Tory approach to Brexit, and it worries me deeply. It should worry us all.

Stephen Brown
Wyre Forest Labour Party

The Tories 'Great Repeal Bill' swindle

Thursday 13th July 2017 saw the publication of the Tories 'Great Repeal Bill' which they claim will provide our Parliamentary exit from the EU to incorporate EU law into U.K....

Wyre Forest Labour on withdrawal of 2nd cycle IVF & some medications by Wyre Forest & Worccestershire's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG):

Mari Gray, CEO of CCG in Worcestershire for NHS says in The Kidderminster Shuttle, in what Labour considers the shameful and cruel restrictions to IVF and other prescriptions and medications, "However, given the financial challenge that we face in Worcestershire we need to take action now so that we can continue to protect other NHS services in the future.”

So, there you have it, and in a line, the truth about NHS finances in Worccestershire. Mari Gray is confirming what we all know about the state of finances in NHS, thereby exposing Tory MP Mark Garnier's lies that it's management to blame for the crisis.

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour believes there are some supplementary questions about this situation and asks:"when is Garnier going to be revealed for the fraud he is in saying NHS has more money, which is proven to be untrue by the Health Parliamentary Select Committe, at least to the level claimed? Does he need someone to explain the meaning of the words 'inflation' and 'rising demand' when also allied to his Party's devastating social care cuts detrimentally impacting NHS budgets? Yet, he STILL continues to peddle the more money and management blame myth to hide his own culpability for NHS problems.

"So, how much longer are we going to be fed his nonsense, his lies, and total lack of responsibility for his and his Party's actions for the state of our NHS? The CCG running sham consultations asking the public what services to cut is utterly disgraceful, and conveniently for them, helps avoid and deflect from the elephant in the room caused by Tory cuts.

"It's cold comfort for people in need of such treatment or medications and who are desperately affected and who may not have the means to be able to go private".

Labour is committed to increasing, in real terms, NHS funding to avoid this postcode lottery of health care the Tories have created.

Wyre Forest NHS postcode lottery continues under the Tories

Wyre Forest Labour on withdrawal of 2nd cycle IVF & some medications by Wyre Forest & Worccestershire's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG):Mari Gray, CEO of CCG in Worcestershire for NHS says...

The manner of Clare Marchant's Chief Executive exit from Worcestershire County Council (WCC) on Friday was an unedifying spectacle. The council posting on social media their 'fond farewell' to her from inside their little shindig at County Hall.

It seems they have lost control of their collective senses, or whoever was responsible for this has, and forgotten the impact that the council's callous regime has had on the vulnerable with Social Care in crisis, Children's Services rated inadequate, 1500 jobs slashed, the Babcock fiasco, payroll cock-up, endless loaded consultations designed to spin the truth of cuts, and a PFI Hartlebury Incinerator white elephant that will saddle local taxpayers with decades of debt topping £1billion.

Stephen Brown Wyre Forest Labour Press Officer said "for those detrimentally affected by Clare's regime, 'good riddance' might be more appropriate because I doubt any of those who've suffered at the hands of this Tory 'agent of austerity' will think a 'fond farewell' is appropriate.

"Since joining the council in 2010 as 'head of change' (euphemism for cuts department) Clare has overseen £129 million cuts in services which has impacted those same services and taken money and jobs out of the local economy thus deflating it.

"Average pay here is already well below the national average by £100 per week for in some places and Worcestershire is near bottom of the Govt funding league.

"When she became Chief Executive in 2014 she was getting paid £155k per year plus £19k pension top up, not bad considering how she's slashed, trashed, and privatised a lot of what the council do.

"Council workers have seen a real reduction in pay of some 20% (source: UNISON NJC claim 2017) since 2009 and fare worse off than the average as many are part-time women who are doubly affected by austerity.

"Clare has been earning ten times what many of these women earn. So, frankly, it's obscene the council were tweeting this information and their 'fond farewell', especially when she's about to leave for UCAS to earn considerably more at £237k per year".

Labour believes this level of pay for top management in local authorities has to stop. Indeed, in the recent council elections, Labour called for the WCC Chief Executive post to be scrapped and a more co-operative model be adopted to share responsibilities. Further, services be brought back in-house to save money and put an end to the privateers gravy train that is lining the pockets of big business at the expense of service users, and all funded by taxpayers.

Local taxpayers deserve better and a council demanding appropriate funding from Govt to address the real issues our County faces, not parties dedicated to celebrating the Tory 'agents of austerity' decimation of our public services.

Clare Marchant's £129 million cuts legacy - decimation of our public services

The manner of Clare Marchant's Chief Executive exit from Worcestershire County Council (WCC) on Friday was an unedifying spectacle. The council posting on social media their 'fond farewell' to her...

Despite Wyre Forest Tory MP Mark Garnier's bluster in the press about how new management will sort out Worcs NHS difficulties, it seems the Care Quality Commission (CQC) see things differently.

The CQC has kept Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in special measures with a damning indictment of all our local hospitals.

Stephen Brown Labour Press Officer said "The only praise is for hard pressed frontline staff pushed to the limit to cope, yet cope they do, and continue to do their best under a failing regime underpinned by a serious lack of resources".

New management has clearly failed to change things or make significant improvements. That is because there is insufficient funding and nothing short of proper resourcing will change that.

Stephen Brown went on to say "This is part of a wider picture of Tory NHS neglect and makes Kidderminster vulnerable if the Tory Naylor Report is actioned and they sell off premises to prop up revenue streams to keep services afloat. Tory quick fix schemes designed to hand over NHS estates to their privateer mates is not good enough. This would have destroyed Garnier's hopes of re-election if the public knew the true scale of the crisis in our local NHS. A crisis he and his party have overseen. That's why we need another election and soon. The Tories have no answers to any of the big issues facing our country".

The Trust is presented as having a reactive and not pro-active approach and it demonstrates a fundamental underlying dysfunction that simply changing management won't address. It needs more money and a proper strategy to deliver NHS services across the piece that only Labour can provide.

Resourcing issues do play a major part and it is noted that waiting times, radiography, referral times (cancer) and mental health provision all have major failings. These are all things Wyre Forest Labour and its activists have been concerned about and raised at various times. Members by the coach load went to demonstrate in London in March about it. Who's listening because Garnier and his Health Secretary Hunt are most certainly not?

It is most concerning for the whole county and disappointing for Wyre Forest residents that Kidderminster is rated inadequate too. It puts Kidderminster under severe scrutiny that may impact its long term survival if the Trust focuses all its efforts on one site (Worcester) to gain the improvements needed by raising funds on asset sales to pay for wider clinical improvements.

Worcestershire NHS is facing further funding problems too. Tory STP cuts of £123 million must be found for a Worcs NHS already £37million in the red. What's happening is simply unsustainable.

Labour will carry on the fight to save our NHS and hold Garnier and the Tories to account. The clock is already ticking down on their time in Government just days after the election, and the sooner they're out the better - for the many - as the few have had it all their own way for far too long.

Stephen Brown
WFCLP PRESS OFFICER

Worcestershire NHS not safe in Tory hands

Despite Wyre Forest Tory MP Mark Garnier's bluster in the press about how new management will sort out Worcs NHS difficulties, it seems the Care Quality Commission (CQC) see things...

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