Wyre Forest Labour Blog

Labour Responds to this story in The Shuttle about gender Pay at WFDC calling it “hardly a women’s world”:

http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15997528.Pay_figures_show_it___s_a_woman___s_world_at_Wyre_Forest_District_Council/

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “The Shuttle story about WFDC & women’s pay being more than men fails to factor in the number of outsourced jobs the council funds. It’s hardly a women’s world for female cleaners, catering & leisure workers, etc - these are now agency staff and on minimum and low wage. So, of course the council figures look good, they’ve removed a number of bottom rungs of mostly female staff who would otherwise sit below those lower paid manual and mostly male workers eg refuse collectors. Equal pay claims have centred around parity for cleaners verses refuse collectors as Work of same value. Eg Birmingham. Plus, the rates for the actual council staff left are determined by union collective pay bargaining that the Tories would prefer to ditch. It’s actually really great there are more women in good paid top jobs but the pay figures are actually skewed. Nathan Desmond & Co have gotten away with more or less gloating about their ‘policy’ without being challenged on the reality of throwing those really low paid women workers from council employment rights to now being at the mercy of agency contractors. Those contractors don’t have much by the way of gender or pay parity versus their male dominated management. Outsourcing is the real story here, and the lack of employment rights and pay parity for those female workers now ‘employed’ by such council funded contractors. If the Tories, including our Tory MP who has claimed for 8 years he wants to address Wyre Forest’s low pay, can start putting that house in order, then overall things might improve. So, how about the council looking at ensuring a proper living wage in its dealings with contractors? That, and returning services in-house so workers come under collective pay bargaining by the unions. Only then will they be able to properly address the gender pay issue in a fair way.”

Council figures look good after they outsource mostly female staff on minimum and low wages

Labour Responds to this story in The Shuttle about gender Pay at WFDC calling it “hardly a women’s world”: http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15997528.Pay_figures_show_it___s_a_woman___s_world_at_Wyre_Forest_District_Council/ Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “The Shuttle story about...

Lobbying_Council_Ludlow_Road-web.jpg‘Save Ludlow Road’ Campaigners today (15th February 2018) took their message to full council at Worcestershire. A collective statement from parents and the 8,000 signature petition was delivered. 

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “Parent Amanda Danby today passionately delivered a tearful appeal to save Ludlow Road at a full meeting of Worcestershire County Council. Her own words, her own emotions, explaining the stress the consultation and possible closure has caused her and her family. No one could fail to be moved by what Amanda said as she tried in vain to hold back her tears and had to stop several times to gather her thoughts. Fellow parent Tracey Rochelle read out another letter from a parent pleading to keep Ludlow Road open. All as councillors listened intently. They both received prolonged applause from councillors when they’d finished, such was the powerful impact. If Ludlow Road is closed after this, you can only conclude that the ruling Tory Cabinet really don’t care.”

Amanda’s message can be seen in the screenshot picture.

The fight goes on......

Amanda_Danby_statement-Ludlow_road.jpg

Save Ludlow Road Campaigners lobby full council

‘Save Ludlow Road’ Campaigners today (15th February 2018) took their message to full council at Worcestershire. A collective statement from parents and the 8,000 signature petition was delivered.  Stephen Brown,...

The collapse of Carillion in January shows the terrible, human effects of business failure. It threatened the jobs and pensions of more than 43,000 employees. Just today 377 Carillion employees were made redundant and sadly many of those affected are from the West Midlands.

There is a small glimmer of hope that a significant proportion of workers maybe taken on by the companies taking over the Carillion contracts. However, it’s vital that the 669-bed Midland Metropolitan Hospital Carillion was responsible for constructing is not delayed. I spoke about Carillion workers in plenary in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I hope that this crisis acts as a wake up call for the Conservative government. Public contracts should not be exploited by private companies for private profit, at the expense of workers' security and pensions.

Brexit impact

We are only one month into the New Year and already the government has been plunged into deeper crisis over Brexit. The leaked impact reports, compiled by the government's own economists, confirmed what we already knew about the effects of Brexit. However, the government's complete dismissal of its own civil servants' work is newly worrying.

The West Midlands region (Comprising: Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire) is expected to suffer the most from Brexit, due to its impact on our huge manufacturing and export sector. The Department for Exiting the EU predicts a soft Brexit would cost the West Midlands 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next 15 years. A hard Brexit, with a Canada-style free trade deal would shrink our region's GDP by eight per cent. While a no-deal scenario, with the UK left to trade on WTO terms, would slash 13 per cent from the West Midlands’s GDP. What about trade deals with countries outside of the EU? The report expects that a future trade deal with the US would add just 0.2% to GDP, and treaties with other non-EU countries would add a somewhere between 0.1 and 0.4%.

The government's reaction to these shocking statistics has so far been to ignore them. This is really concerning. Brexit is the single most consequential policy any government has pursued since the second world war. We therefore need a government that takes a fact-based approach, rather than one which acts on bluster. The Labour Party has been clear that it will not sacrifice jobs for Brexit and I agree that maintaining opportunity and employment always has to be the priority.

Neena Gill CBE
Labour MEP - West Midlands Region
Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs at the European Parliament
www.westmidlandslabour.org.uk/meps

West Midlands Regions including Worcestershire expected to suffer the most from Brexit

The collapse of Carillion in January shows the terrible, human effects of business failure. It threatened the jobs and pensions of more than 43,000 employees. Just today 377 Carillion employees...

“Save Ludlow Road” campaigners, Ben Davies (Wyre Forest Labour), Amanda Danby (lead parent), and Stephen Brown (Wyre Forest Labour) {photo left to right} met Ms Debbie Herbert, Head Of Commissioning at Worcestershire County, on Friday (9th February) to discuss the Ludlow Road potential closure.Meeting_Council_Pic_Ludlow_Road.jpg

The meeting did not go smoothly, and can be described as “frosty” at best. It did not start well when Ms Herbert advised campaigners that the purpose of the meeting was to go through the consultation document relaying what their plans were. Essentially, this was a way of telling campaigners about the ‘alternatives’ for Ludlow Road. Campaigners were told that if they wished to say anything about their views on the closure of Ludlow Road, they had to be submitted through the normal WCC consultation portal on this matter.

Campaigners raised objections to this and stated they will speak about the parents and public’s views, and will submit to the meeting the documents they had come to submit. Namely, the collective parents letter outlining their views and fears over this closure, and the public’s comments arising from the campaigner’s petition (attached).

Eventually, Ms Herbert accepted this position but under duress, and got quite flustered at points. Equally, in the opinion of campaigners, it raised questions about how genuine this consultation process is, if this is the way officers of the council were running it. It was clear that council officers wish to control both the information flow and agenda.

Amanda Danby complained in the meeting that her one-to-one consultation meeting was essentially about the council officer wanting to ascertain whether she would accept the alternatives on offer, “yes” or “no” and not about discussing the impact of closure on her son or her family. Amanda did also express the views of parents about this potential closure, speaking about the collective letter drafted by several parents, and the difficulties with the alternatives on offer.

Ms Herbert went to great lengths to explain about the 4 ‘new’ beds at Providence Road & Osborne Court and how they would make up for any Ludlow Road closure. Never mind the difficulty with travel to locations further away or the impact on families in the view of campaigners. Indeed, two of these ‘new’ beds were not new at all, they had been introduced a few years back but not used because there was no funding available – a stark warning if any was needed about the impact of further cuts going forward. Additionally, Ms Herbert believed their plans were about providing the same level of care as now, even when “in the community”. Although Ms Herbert also confessed under questioning that the proposals to close Ludlow Road were being caused by more recent Government cuts, and consequently in the view of campaigners, it could never therefore be about better or equal care plans.

Campaigners could not reconcile how the cuts equalled providing the same care, nor how it would not place extra burdens on the health and care system down the line. Campaigners argued this is more about saving money and not maintaining or improving services as being claimed by the council. The council doesn’t really wish to consider the overall picture, only their own finances. A lot of Ms Herbert’s presentation focused on money, savings, facilities and beds, but little in the way of impact on the disabled children and their families. Campaigners made the point strongly that this decision is all about impact on the families, and when challenged Ms Herbert did say she will put parents views in the consultation report she drafts to Cabinet member Cllr Roberts. Parents collectively will also get the chance to meet Cllr Roberts, after the report is finalised and before he makes the final decision.

Ms Herbert stated that 7 of the parents had indicated their acceptance of alternative provision. Of course, what campaigners did not know at that time was how other parents consultations had gone. At that time, campaigners only had Amanda’s experiences to refer to. Campaigners now know, this particular consultation is, yet again, a WCC fix. Other parents have since reported to us that Amanda’s experiences in her one-to-one consultation were not unique. Evidence of this is also attached in the parents Faceboook users group, albeit only those parents prepared to go on record. You can imagine that parents are very nervous about this and saying in public what happened publicly in their private meetings. It is clear parents felt under pressure, and are worried about such disclosure on their own vulnerable situations.

parents_consultation_views_1.jpeg

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Ludlow Road Parents Consultaion Letter

Ludlow Road Public quotes

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest labour & Save Ludlow Road Campaigner said

“What is becoming clear is that this Council consultation is a sham. It’s about pressurising vulnerable families and by default, their disabled children, into accepting the alternatives the Council prefer to present so they can save money. At the same time, the council is dressing it up as something the parents are happy to accept and as being appropriate care plans. Well parents are not happy about it and neither are campaigners. Let me make it quite clear to the council that if they continue down this path and do end up closing Ludlow Road, and on the false premise that it’s what parents want, it won’t be the end of the matter. We are prepared to take this fight as far as it needs to go. Councillors and Officers need to ask themselves is this what they signed up for when standing for election, or becoming involved in the caring profession? What kind of society do they want for our most vulnerable children? The parents collective letter is heart wrenching and says everything that needs to be said about why Ludlow Road should stay open. Any decision to close Ludlow Road will be borne of callous indifference to the plight of the disabled children and their families. A civilised society, the 5th richest country in the world, would not allow such a closure to happen. The council should pull out all the stops to keep Ludlow Road open”

DEMONSTRATION Thursday 15th February at County Hall:

Campaigners will be taking their message to full council Thursday 15th February. There will be a demonstration at County Hall at 9:00am before the council meets at 10:00am. Amanda will be delivering the heart wrenching parents letter and petition containing over 8,000 signatures against this closure.

Ludlow Road Respite consultation sham

“Save Ludlow Road” campaigners, Ben Davies (Wyre Forest Labour), Amanda Danby (lead parent), and Stephen Brown (Wyre Forest Labour) {photo left to right} met Ms Debbie Herbert, Head Of Commissioning...

Wyre Forest Labour today claimed eight hundred (800) children in the poorest families in Wyre Forest will lose their free school meals under Tory Government Plans.

The Tories are set to attack free school meals despite claiming that they both want an “economy that works for everyone”, and that they’d dropped their manifesto proposal to cut free school meals. Where Tory promises and lies collide is getting harder and harder to work out.

We already know Wyre Forest has 3 of the most deprived wards in Worcestershire and child poverty across the District stands at 20%. However, it seems the Tory Government is now targeting the parents of these children’s families and are about to make life much harder for them. Under new Tory Universal Credit plans, it will mean any family earning more than £7,400 net, will see their children’s eligibility for free school meals removed. On current terms that could mean a 36% cut in eligibility, or 800 children losing out in Wyre Forest.

free-shcool-meals.jpgNationally, this is part of a Government plan to save £600million per year in response to them realising they’d got their sums wrong in their much criticised Universal Credit rollout. A rollout that could have seen an expansion in free school meals from 1.1 million to 1.7million children. Under this new plan only 700,000 children will be eligible, which means not only have they reduced the number of children who currently qualify, but also those who might have qualified. It is effectively saying they’ll take one million children who would have qualified under UC rollout off free school meals, and 400,000 children currently eligible for free school meals will have them removed. The plan has been heavily criticised by both the children’s charity ‘The Children’s Society’, and the Head Teachers Association.  

For families, it means they’ll need to earn an extra £1,100 per child per year, to make up for it. Universal Credit is due for full rollout in Wyre Forest in July of this year, and it will likely impact local families almost immediately when the new school year starts in September.

There are many families in Wyre Forest already struggling. There are over 3,000 on the official Housing waiting list unable to afford a house, and fuel poverty affects 13,500 people (13.5% of households) with some 8,500 of them in the lowest paid jobs earning less than £10 per hour. There is just not an abundance of well paid jobs in what is a low pay, zero hour, minimum wage, seasonal and temporary job market in the local economy, to make up for this devastating loss of financial support which helps their children get a decent hot meal.

Stephen Brown, of Wyre Forest Labour, said “There are around 12,000 children of school age in Wyre Forest, and 3,400 of them will already be living in households deemed to be in poverty. The average eligibility in the Midlands for free school meals is 14.9% and in Wyre Forest it’s higher at 18.9%. It means we currently have a potential for 2,200 children to benefit from school meals in the District, which is less than the 3,400 deemed to be officially classed as living ‘in poverty’. If this Tory plan happens, I calculate that we could see free school meals eligibility cut by 36% and 800 children in some of the already poorest families losing out. Low pay is currently a huge problem in Wyre Forest with 8,500 affected. Just how they'll cope when many of them find out from their upcoming Universal Credit assessment it will mean the loss of free school meals for their children is anyone’s guess. I can’t see their employer readily agreeing to pay them £1,000 extra a year to feed each of their children just because the Tories think it’s a good idea to remove their free school meals. Can you? Whilst Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier trumpets falling unemployment in the District, the reality is, it’s based on false statistics and a low wage, low employment rights, job market; and under this Government, and with a Tory Brexit, there seems little chance of an economic boom to increase workers’ wages. In 8 years he’s done nothing about low pay which has stagnated at 2008 levels. In 8 years he’s also voted for every welfare cut and every austerity measure that detrimentally affects the most vulnerable. This will be another example of that. So, my question to Mark Garnier is, ‘given the reality of low pay here, how many families will be hit by this change, how many children will suffer, what’s he going to do about it, and does he even care?’ I suspect the answer will be, ‘don’t know, don’t know, nothing, and no’. The usual mealy mouth platitudes and a letter to the Minister aside of course. Wyre Forest needs a people’s champion as MP to address some of the serious economic, poverty, health, housing, and educational attainment issues we face. Mark Garnier is not that champion, he just sees us as ‘dog end voters’ who, when his cuts hit, are mere ‘statistical anomalies’. He’s ill equipped to be our MP. Nevertheless, I’m urging him, if he really cares about his constituency, to resist this plan and vote against it. The question is, does he have the guts?”


Stephen Brown added this explanatory note to the Press Release: The decision by the Government to reduce the entitlement to Free School Meals using Universal Credit was laid down by Minister’s Statutory Instrument on February 7th in order to avoid a Parliamentary vote and any scrutiny by MP’s. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has lodged an Early Day Motion no.921 for a Parliamentary vote on it. It is essential that this vote takes place. Not least because Labour won a vote in October 2017 to halt the rollout of Universal Credit that would stop this proposal. Unfortunately, the Tories have consistently ignored that decision by Parliament. Whilst there are some interim protections for those who receive free school meals under the old rules, they will cease when a child transitions from primary to secondary education.

800 children in Wyre Forest set to lose free school meals

Wyre Forest Labour today claimed eight hundred (800) children in the poorest families in Wyre Forest will lose their free school meals under Tory Government Plans. The Tories are set...

The County Tories intend to make a Cabinet decision this week (8th February) on the future of The Grange in Kidderminster. Their recommendation is to close it.

The Grange serves older people as a rehabilitation facility and is residential, including for dementia sufferers. For many, it is an essential and important lifeline in the delivery of care services.

Not content with going after closing down Ludlow Road, which is a respite service for children with disabilities, the heartless Tories have now turned their guns on to our older people’s services.

Is nothing safe from their ruthless pursuit of crippling and closing our vital services?

The people of Wyre Forest, we hope, would support us in calling for an end to the austerity the Tories love so much. Enough is enough. Certainly, when it comes to Ludlow Road, the people have spoken with over 8,000 of you voicing opposition to the closure of Ludlow Road.

What’s more incredible about the Tory closure of The Grange, however, is the blatantly misleading information the Tories are putting out about it.

Tory PR StuntIf you look at the leaflet they are currently distributing to Wyre Forest households, it gives the distinct impression they care about saving The Grange. What’s more, it tries to put distance between what’s happening to The Grange and the Tory involvement in that process by deflecting the attention of voters on to the local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) making out they are responsible for it. Oddly, this is the exact opposite of the story they are trying to peddle about Ludlow Road, which is NHS owned and Council funded. On that issue they say, and despite Labour’s calls, that there can’t be any joined up thinking between the County Council, NHS or the CCG. It’s bizarre, unless that is you understand why they are doing this and what’s going on here.

For instance, one might wonder just how much Labour’s campaign to “Save Ludlow Road” and our work with parents and the public has stung them? A lot it would seem to generate this kind of response by pretending to care about your views and involve you in saving something THEY intend to close.

Let’s be clear here, the County Council own The Grange. The Tories run the council. So, they own this issue and are the ones recommending its closure. They cannot hide from that fact. The Tory campaign to save The Grange, such as it is, is a feeble attempt to court voter favour by hoodwinking you, and looks like being something of a pathetic effort anyway, a damp squib if you like because its primary purpose is to mislead you and hope you don’t notice. They are taking Wyre Forest voters for mugs.

The misleading leaflet has come from the highest echelons of the local Tory Party. Just look at the names on the leaflet. It has the Councillor whose patch it is on, Tracey Onslow, she who has been a Cabinet member and flitted about like a Tory intern working for both Mark Garnier MP and now John Campion Police & Crime Commissioner. Her involvement is inseparable from this decision. The other names on this leaflet include Marcus Hart’s (Local Tory Leader and County Council Cabinet member who will be helping make this decision) father, John Hart; plus Nathan Desmond, another senior local Tory; and even your Tory MP, Mark Garnier. They all have their grubby paws all over this. It would be great if the Tories were in open rebellion with each other like their national Party is as a reason for this bizarre leaflet, but no, this is a much more sinister effort to mislead you and steal your vote. Don’t fall for it.

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour Media Officer said “this Tory leaflet is a flagrant misrepresentation of the Tory position on The Grange being a deliberate and wilful attempt to sell a mistruth to the people in our community. What’s more, they are doing it to try and suppress older people’s inevitable worries over the further loss of local services that distinctly serve them. People need to realise just how far the Tories will sink to hide their actual policy intentions on health and care issues. That they are doing this ahead of local elections is totally shameful. By believing this leaflet, people may vote Tory thinking that by doing so, services like The Grange will be safe, and that Tories actually care about such services. Unfortunately, the good people of Wyre Forest will quickly discover the truth, and probably when it’s too late. It is a merciless exploitation of the electorate’s good will. This leaflet shows you can’t trust the Tories on anything. Only Labour is committed to ending austerity and investing in our health and care system to ensure we have the type of health and care services for the many not the few.”

** NEWSFLASH: Update 08/02/2018**

Stephen Brown reports the latest on this issue: “So, of the 2 Tory options on The Grange - close it or change of use - Tory Cabinet opted to keep it open and change its use to show how caring they are and how they too can run a successful “Save The Grange” campaign against and for their own recommendations. Duplicitous politics at its best.

We in Labour strongly believe this was a Tory PR stunt and they’ll be back to attack The Grange in the future as they place Dementia Care on the open market making it ripe for outsourcing or privatisation. After all, they’ve done such a great job on Children’s Services, they sold the old people’s homes off years ago as well as decimated Council Home Care Services. Don’t trust them. Wyre Forest should be very cautious about this apparent ‘good news’. Labour is watching the council and our local Tory Councillors very closely.”

Tories deliberately misleading voters on The Grange closure in Kidderminster

The County Tories intend to make a Cabinet decision this week (8th February) on the future of The Grange in Kidderminster. Their recommendation is to close it. The Grange serves...

Despite the cold and rainy weather on Saturday 3rd February, a good number of people turned up to support the “Fix Our NHS” Demo in Kidderminster.

Although organised by activists from Wyre Forest Labour, it was made clear that this was an open, and non politically partisan event, to highlight the problems in the NHS. The message was to keep it a public service, and restore funding levels to the universally accepted historical norms of 4% per year increases to keep pace with both inflation and demand. The cost of not meeting this historic funding level since 2010 has meant the NHS has seen a real terms cut of 3% per year, which has directly lead to the problems it faces. Worcestershire NHS has seen a loss of funding of over £30million since 2010, and any organisation would struggle under such financial restraint.

Fix our NHS protest in wyre forest

Ordinary people came along, as well as representatives of Health Concern, and the Green Party, who stood alongside Labour members. This level of solidarity on the NHS is testament to the fact that Wyre Forest cares very much about our NHS and will do all it can to save our NHS.

Stephen Brown, Labour Media Officer said “I’m grateful to everyone who turned out in the bad weather today to support the ‘Fix Our NHS’ Demo and to engage with the public about why saving our NHS is important. Having a mix of ordinary people and representatives from both Health Concern and the Green Party turn up shows it’s possible to put differences aside and put the NHS first. My thanks go to all for attending, and to the public for their obvious interest in listening to what we had to say to them. It’s clear the NHS is important to everyone and they want the NHS properly funded.”

 

Wyre Forest “Fix Our NHS” Demo attracts wide support

Despite the cold and rainy weather on Saturday 3rd February, a good number of people turned up to support the “Fix Our NHS” Demo in Kidderminster. Although organised by activists...

Wyre Forest Labour calls upon everyone who cares about the NHS to come and show their support for it on Saturday 3rd February at 11am in front of Kidderminster Town Hall.

It’s well documented that our NHS has a crisis coping with the level of demand being placed on it, and it is the view of Labour that this crisis is down to underfunding of the NHS and is exacerbated by the lack of capacity invested in our social care system.

It is a fact that by historic comparators dating back to 1950, funding of the NHS since 2010 has not kept pace and has fallen behind by 3% per year, meaning an overall shortfall of 21%. A sum of £2.5 billion in national terms, and which for Worcestershire represents an underfunding figure of over £30million. If that money had been provided, the situation for our local NHS would be vastly different.

Wyre Forest Labour’s NHS event on Saturday is part of a national day of action called ‘Fix Our NHS’ and which was originally called by the People’s Assembly. Similar events are happening across the country including Worcester organised by “Its Our NHS Worcestershire.

Labour will also use the “Fix Our NHS” event to promote the campaign in which they are working with the parents of disabled children to ‘Save Ludlow Road’ NHS Respite Centre. The Centre is threatened with closure, and the petition which has gained nearly 8,000 signatures, will be available for members of the public to sign to show that they too want it kept open.

‘Fix our NHS’ event directions and further details

Stephen Brown of Wyre Forest Labour said “the purpose of Saturday’s ‘Fix our NHS’ event in Kidderminster is for people to come and support our NHS. It is the people’s NHS and only the people can save it from the current crisis by demanding the Government provide the funding it needs. We call upon the people of Wyre Forest, whichever way you vote, to come at 11am to show you care about our NHS. Locally, we have seen the impact of NHS underfunding with the closure of Harvington Ward at Kidderminster Hospital. We’d also like to see more services at Kidderminster as we know wards and beds are unused and it would better serve the local community and reduce the problems at Worcester to open them up. This is not a partisan event because we support Dr Taylor’s calls for a doctor at Kidderminster Minor Injuries Unit to take the load off Worcester Royal’s A&E. Saturday also provides the opportunity for local people to come and find out more about Ludlow Road NHS Respite Centre and why it needs to be saved. Many services rely on the cooperation of the NHS with Councils like Worcestershire County, yet at a time of financial restraint, they seem to have their heads stuck in silos ignoring the consequence of closure on other services in the NHS and care system. It doesn’t make any sense, but we say by working together better, it is our view that local services like Ludlow Road, which serves the whole County and beyond can be saved. We know Wyre Forest people care about our NHS and Saturday is an opportunity to come and show it.”

Save Ludlow Road campaign

Come help ‘Fix our NHS’ this Saturday (3rd February)

Wyre Forest Labour calls upon everyone who cares about the NHS to come and show their support for it on Saturday 3rd February at 11am in front of Kidderminster Town...

It is with great sadness that Wyre Forest Labour Party reports the passing of our sister Patricia Palmer, quietly, in hospital, on 26 January 2018, approaching the age of 87.

Patricia was a stalwart of the Party. She served as a Bewdley Town Councillor for 16 years alongside her husband Frank. She was the first Mayor in Bewdley to be elected from the Labour Party, which was a remarkable feat at the time because Labour was a minority group on the Council. 

Whilst a Councillor, Patricia also served as an Officer of the National Association of Local Councils, which is an important body for councils as they work to support, promote and improve them.

Patricia was a great supporter of the Citizens Advice Bureau and she used her Mayoral position to establish a branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Bewdley. 

Patricia proudly received a National Merit Award in 2016, which was presented to her at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool by the Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The Party, her friends, and colleagues, have a lovely photograph of the occasion which will live long in our memories. What will also live long in the memory is the address she gave to Conference, because Patricia relished the opportunity to speak at such important events and rarely passed up such a chance.
Patricia receives her Merit Award in 2016
Writing leaflets can be a challenging task and Patricia used her language skills to compose, edit and proof-read Bewdley Branch leaflets over many years. A stickler for correct use of grammar, Patricia never let a leaflet or newsletter be printed if it did not meet her exacting standards. So they were always right, and always accurate.

Typically, Patricia would also challenge her fellow Town Councillors, of all parties, to correct their inappropriate use of the English language. Patricia was fluent in French, having spent several years, as a young woman, on her own in very different times, and so ‘bravely’ working in France you might say. When she returned home she went to work in Leeds as an Editor on the Yorkshire Post.

A great walker, Patricia covered thousands of miles, walking alongside her husband Frank. The Coast to Coast Path, The Pennine Way, long distance paths in Europe were all covered by them both, carrying backpacks and frequently doing what she liked to refer to as ‘wild camping’. 

Stephen Brown, Labour Media Officer said “I can speak for everyone in Wyre Forest Labour when I say her colleagues in the Party will all miss Patricia deeply. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends at this time of their loss. Patricia has made a massive contribution to the local Labour Party and community she served, and so we are very grateful to her for her contribution to both. However, we will also celebrate her life, a life she lived to the full. Patricia will be fondly remembered as the well respected hard working Comrade she was, an activist who had a big influence in our great family that we call the Labour Movement.”

Wyre Forest Labour National Merit Award winner, Patricia Palmer, passes away

It is with great sadness that Wyre Forest Labour Party reports the passing of our sister Patricia Palmer, quietly, in hospital, on 26 January 2018, approaching the age of 87....

Since 2010, the ConDem Govt and now Tory Govt, have force fed us austerity as an answer to resolving the Banker caused global meltdown of the financial world which lead to a multi billion pound (£) bailout of those same banks. The very same banks incidentally now calling for Govt to guarantee the bad loans they gave to the now collapsed and financially inept Carillon. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up, especially as this Government continued to offer contracts to Carillion despite the financial concerns over their business model.

But what’s it really all about? Be under no illusion, austerity is merely the latest convenient weapon for the Tories to further their neoliberal agenda that brought about the banking crash, and in turn has lead to the recent collapse of public services provider Carillon. Why else would the Tories pursue austerity with such vigour?

They want to shrink the state and privatise everything we value. The NHS is next on their hit list, just ask Virgin Care who sued the NHS, or Jeremy Hunt, Heslth Secretary, who co-authored a book on how to privatise the NHS. They’ve already done Housing, gas electric and water utilities, rail, and the bulk of public services including social care which is adding to the NHS crisis. They destroy local services yet get hard pressed local council tax payers to pick up a bigger bill because Govt chokes the council finances in order to give bigger tax handouts to the already rich. How many Care homes can you close, or Care workers can you sack, or nurses or doctors can you lose, or Police Officers go before enough is enough? Locally, we’ve seen mental health wards at Kidderminster Hospital close, and Respite Centres like Ludlow Road Kidderminster under real threat. It’s never enough for privateers when there’s a profit to be made. All ably assisted by Tory politicians.

As a symbol of what’s wrong with our country and our social and economic model, Carillon is it.

It was one of the ultimate private company public sector sharks, and is a creation of the neoliberalism that gave birth to austerity. It is a machine that craves privatisation to survive, and puts taxpayers money, as profit, into the hands of shareholders and part time executives in eye watering amounts of bonuses. Even when on the brink of collapse it prioritised and ringfenced bonuses to Execs and dividends to shareholders over its public sector contracts and duties.

The Carillion neoliberal model relies on Govt, Councils, speculators, ‘Front’ false Trading Companies, and weak regulation in a carnival of collusion to keep it alive. When did you last hear a local Tory councillor object to this model of public sector service delivery? No, every one of your local Tory Councillors supports this madness which threatens our social and economic fabric. They value private profit above public services, and put cuts before social investment. These are not the civic pride minded Tories of generations ago, who built our great libraries, Town Halls, and much infrastructure we still rely on.

Companies like Carillon, like the Tory ideology it feeds on, is reliant on a transfer of wealth from the many to the few, and from the public purse to the elite. This latest collapse may seem different to the financial crisis of 2008 but it’s born of the same mother and father as Thatcherism and neoliberalism. The elite that demand this business model also squirrel away its money in remote offshore tax havens, yet lecture us on the value of Brexit and patriotism through their mouthpieces like the Daily Mail. They know the EU was about to clamp down on the tax dodging elite they belong to and saw an opportunity. In fairness, they played a blinder and their smoke grenades to hide the truth were highly effective. They used NHS promises, and used elites pretending not to be elites to attack elites, elitism, and experts to amazing effect. Yet this elite are the same lot who now scream for taxpayer bailouts for Carillon as they rampantly avoid paying their own tax. Who picks up the bill? You do. The ordinary people and workers of Wyre Forest.

Unfortunately for us, such austerity leads to its own local brand of neoliberalism as cuts bite into Wyre Forest Council coffers, and they can no longer afford to pay for everything they need to do.

Whether it’s withdrawing the hub from the Town Hall leaving the Town council with a black hole of £50,000 and so making our Services more inaccessible, or forcing Stourport Town Council (and local council tax payers) to provide and pay for its toilets itself, this is an unrelenting unforgiving beast. A beast that now sees cash strapped Wyre Forest Council engaging in the same capitalist type speculation that has been the cause of all of our financial ills. Of course, all of this gets dressed up by local Tories as “saving you money”. It isn’t and never was and never will be it’s a continuation of shrinking services and the state. In the 80’s it was Thatcherism, now it’s austerity. It’s Engine remains neoliberalism and it’s driver the Tory Party. They’re borrowing (your) money to fund it all.

Locally, food safety inspection for Wyre Forest’s 957 businesses is now covered by only 2 full time equivalent Environmental Health Officers. Does that make the food you eat safer? Doubtful when there’s a backlog of 288 inspections due. There is only 1 planning Officer to deal with around 120 planning infringements. Does that add to our peace of mind that people are not flouting planning rules? Not likely. Similarly, our 6 Enforcement Officers are insufficient to deal with the glut of abandoned vehicles or unsafe or illegal parking infringements. It results in more public angst that for the council tax you pay, your services are getting more and more inadequate. None of this is the fault of those overstretched council workers as the right wing press would have you believe. The blame lies at the door of Tory austerity and speculative capitalism, or “casino capitalism” as it was nicknamed. And it’s coming to a council near you to pay for the above services. What could possibly go wrong?

By 2021, some 40% of all the council’s income and that provided by Government will have been removed. There is no Government plan to rectify this shortfall. Instead, Wyre Forest council is to engage in borrowing to the tune of £35million. Their plan is to try and replace this lost income with financial speculation both inside and outside of Wyre Forest to generate income of £225,000 over 3 years. Given it’s exactly this type of financial speculation that got us into the austerity mess in the first place, you have to ask yourself if this is a sensible model for a council to be tinkering with to pay for services, rather than national taxation and a fair Govt grant which had always been the political consensus of Governments since World War 2? It’s what our heroic veterans fought for - Housing, social welfare and the NHS. Their legacy to us is being dismantled before our very eyes.

The Tories are not patriots, they’ve sold most of what we had to foreign Govts. The French, Germans, Italians, Dutch and even the Chinese and Japanese own much of our utilities and rail. All the fault of OUR Govt and not the EU despite what the right wing press would tell you.

It is a fact that the current Tory Government, including the previous ConDems, have borrowed more money and have less to show for it than any other Government in history. They’ve used borrowing to both fund tax cuts for the wealthiest and to pay for their poor financial management meaning your wages are worth some 20% less now than 2008 in real terms and our national debt has near tripled to £1.7trillion. Professor Murphy of the LSE has demonstrated the fact Tories always borrow more, and pay back less debt when in Govt, in quite an articulate way in his many academic financial papers. Indeed, all Labour Governments combined have never borrowed as much as the current Tory Government. Yet, somehow, the myth of financial prudence by the Tories persists. Labour when in Govt did borrow to invest and this created more wealth for all and when they left office, despite the global crash, the economy was growing. The Tories trashed that growth however purely for an ideological goal masquerading as austerity.

Going forward, Labour plans for Government will be based on fair taxation, reversing the tax handouts to the most wealthy, and investment in our people and infrastructure. That’s how to get Britain’s economy growing so everyone can benefit. Equally, your local Labour Party is fighting the cuts, campaigning to save services, working with communities for the greater good and will bring these values to council if we are given the opportunity to run the council.

At this point in time, Wyre Forest voters have put their trust in a Tory council they thought were financially prudent. Labour will make the case that the local Tories are as wedded to austerity as their national Party and are as intent on destroying local services as their colleagues in Westminster like Mark Garnier, our MP. A man who came from a job in the financial sector, which let’s face it, are the source and ideology behind all of our current austerity woes. He has voted for every cut since being elected to make sure his banking chums never face the responsibility of their actions. Given his conduct of late, it shines a very bright light on him on a personal level too. We should all pay more attention to how what he says is rarely the way he acts, especially on votes in Parliament. He is a master of the political sleight of hand which up to this point has served him well in Wyre Forest. However, he represents everything that is wrong with the current Tory Party who take no responsibility for the misery they are causing for the millions of people who are suffering at the hands of Tory austerity. Just ask a disabled person, someone who has been hit by the bedroom tax, endured the savagery of Universal Credit, or young people in Wyre Forest who face a working life of insecure employment on minimum wage. They will tell you a completely different story.

What’s worse for local council tax payers, is your Tory council. They are now dabbling in financial speculation, as dabbled in by their elite friends, and which has cost every one of us dearly. All being done in a desperate attempt to raise money through borrowing so that they can carry on kidding you that cuts and neoliberalism are a sane thing to do. They are not, it is leading to the collapse of our most valued services. Labour will campaign to end this risk to the local public purse and your pockets. We are the Party for the many not the few.

This represents the personal view of Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour Media Officer, with kind information assistance from Labour Cllr Jamie Shaw & Labour’s Carol Warren.

Stephen Brown
Wyre Forest Labour Party

Neoliberalism visits Wyre Forest District Council budget plans

Since 2010, the ConDem Govt and now Tory Govt, have force fed us austerity as an answer to resolving the Banker caused global meltdown of the financial world which lead...

Wyre Forest Labour who organised a stall to collect signatures for the petition to save Ludlow Road was hailed a “great success” today (Saturday 13th January).

Parents and their children from across Worcestershire, along with family and friends, community activists, Wyre Forest Labour members, and Labour colleagues from Bromsgrove Labour turned out in numbers to get their message across and to urge people to sign the petition. A remarkable show of support of over 60 in number managed to gather another 743 signatures for the petition to save Ludlow Road Short Break (Respite) Centre in Kidderminster.

A simultaneous stall was also held by Evesham Labour Party as part of a joint campaigning day on the NHS and other issues important to local people. Across the County, Labour branches have also pledged to do similar and collect signatures for Ludlow Road, to show this is a campaign with a growing momentum to protect vital NHS services like Ludlow Road. Labour believes our communities have had their fill of Tory austerity policies and their willing agents of delivery like Worcestershire County Council. The mood of the people has changed and vulnerable people should not be paying the price for the Bankers greed.

ludlow road campaign

For Wyre Forest Labour, Stephen Brown, said “What can you say? It’s an amazing turnout from everyone and today has been a great success. My thanks to Labour’s Ben Davies for organising it, and to Amanda Danby for coordinating the parents’ and their children’s presence. Labour across Worcestershire is supporting the parents in their campaign and I’ll be doing what I can to advise them and represent their interests.

"Today’s event shows the strength of feeling of people across our local community and beyond to save Ludlow Road. We’re talking about a unique NHS facility in Kidderminster that does an incredible job for the disabled children in their care and for their families. It’s a home from home for the children with the strongest bond of trust and confidence imaginable that should never be broken. It can take the parents and children considerable time to settle, establish the levels of trust required so that both feel comfortable, and those bonds seem completely irrelevant to the bean counters and Tory politicians at County Hall.

"Over the next few weeks, we’ll be collecting more signatures, engaging in more events, lobbying politicians, and delivering our message wide and far. Our aim is to deliver the petition to the Council and look those decision makers in the eye and ask them to recognise the consequences of their actions. Consequences which are real, and affect some of the most vulnerable children and families in our community. Our elected politicians must do their best to protect them as part of their duty of care, and keep Ludlow Road open, working with their partners in the NHS to achieve that. If they fail to protect our most vulnerable people then they really need to ask themselves what it is they think they’re achieving as politicians. We are at a crossroads and they can still do the right thing by these parents and children by saving Ludlow Road.”

Impressive Kidderminster turnout in campaign to save Ludlow Road

Wyre Forest Labour who organised a stall to collect signatures for the petition to save Ludlow Road was hailed a “great success” today (Saturday 13th January). Parents and their children...

Ben Davies & Vincent O’Callaghan, prospective Labour District Council candidates issued a joint statement: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the parents of children at Ludlow Road. We will fight tooth and nail with them in our efforts to keep this wonderful home open. Please join us on Saturday between 10am and 12midday outside Kidderminster Town Hall to express your support for the parents and sign our petition.”

Stephen Brown Wyre Forest Labour added “It’s quite clear from what the parents are saying just how important Ludlow Road is to them, their  children, and families. Amanda Danby has been amazing, organising the parents and liaising with Labour activists in order to get parents voices heard, as they don’t want to lose Ludlow Road. So, Worcestershire County Council need to listen to the parents and respect their wishes and keep it open. Twenty Three families rely on this home to give them respite. It seems apparent that the cost to them, our communities, and extra burdens on the health and care system down the line, if it is closed, will far outweigh the simple financial cost of keeping it open. Closing this home, which is exactly what it is, ‘an extension of their family Home’ and their family lives, would be a grave mistake and is totally unacceptable. The Council needs to realise that it has a duty to keep it open and work with partner organisations like the NHS & CCG to find the money to provide a long term solution. 

What are our elected Tory Councillors and Tory MP’s doing? It’s about time they started standing up for their constituents. It’s time to end their collusion with austerity which is causing so much damage to our most vulnerable people, their families, and wider community.”

Collective parents’ statement: 

“We’re calling on Worcestershire County Council to maintain funding for Ludlow Road, Kidderminster, NHS Short Breaks Service.
Ludlow Road provides essential respite and medical care to the most vulnerable, disabled children in the county. To close the unit will have a detrimental impact on the children and their families.”

The Parents Voice their individual opinions:

Amanda_Danby_and_son_MasonAmanda Danby, who’s son Mason attends Ludlow Road, and is the main organiser for parents and liaising with Wyre Forest Labour activists said “If we lose Ludlow Road I do not have confidence in their alternative provision for our children. There will never be another place like it I'm afraid. Not once have I felt that Ludlow Rd isn't the best place for my son Mason. All the staff are professional with their care to all of our children but also make it a home from home, which makes it a very special place indeed.”

Kelly Higgot said “Taking away Ludlow Road from my daughter Madison will break her heart. It has taken some years for her to establish the trust and comfort of being away from home. The staff go above and beyond for each and every child there.”

Emma Grantham says “To take away Ludlow Road now from my daughter Millie would be devastating. It has taken her 2 years to build up the trust she needed, to go and spend time away from home. I know that moving her now would mean she would never cope. Her needs have changed so much in the past 18 months and the girls at Ludlow Road have done everythink they could to make life better for her. We need Ludlow Road, our children need Ludlow Road.”

Clare Neal “Ludlow Road is a lifeline to our family! My son Sam receives 24 hour medical care from qualified staff when he stays. Knowing he is safe enables us to recharge our batteries and continue caring.”

Carol & Kevin Paddock whose son Joshua goes to Ludlow Road said “We are devastated Worcestershire County Council are even considering the closure of Ludlow Road which provides essential respite for families with disabled children. Ludlow road is a residential setting providing a comforting home from home feel for vulnerable children, rather than the other facilities on offer which are more institutionalised. Our son has formed strong friendships here and the setting is perfect for the nature of these children. The closure of Ludlow Road will have disastrous consequences for us as a family, together with all other current families and future families that will be in need of such a wonderful facility”.

Wyre Forest Labour stand shoulder to shoulder with Ludlow Road parents

Ben Davies & Vincent O’Callaghan, prospective Labour District Council candidates issued a joint statement: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the parents of children at Ludlow Road. We will fight...

As the crisis in our underfunded NHS deepens, Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, claims the NHS is better prepared than ever for winter. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. People’s lives are in danger and across the country people are already dying as a result.

We even have our local scandal hit Tory MP Mark Garnier, retweeting the Prime Minister’s remarks and seemingly oblivious or purposefully ignorant of what is going on in our 3 Local hospitals. Remember, this is an NHS Trust which is £60million in deficit, in special measures, and having to cut another £123million from its budget under Tory “STP” plans, a euphemism for more austerity. 

Our NHS staff are at breaking point thanks to Tory cuts

The NHS is at breaking point, leaving hard-working doctors and nurses struggling to properly care for their patients.

Our local MP’s are ignoring it, and the winter crisis, which has lead to thousands of operations being cancelled and our local NHS being “overwhelmed”. As if in complicit support of this political conspiracy, local NHS bosses are blaming the fact they are unable to cope on Worcester Royal being “too small” rather than money and cuts. Given they also can’t recruit enough staff and are in deficit, you have to wonder what alternative reality these NHS bosses live in, as they serve their Tory masters voice. Our NHS staff do a wonderful job in spite of, not because of, our politicians and now it seems in spite of their NHS bosses too, who are equally in denial.

From the Worcester News reports this week we know all 3 of our hospitals were indeed “overwhelmed” over Christmas and unable to cope with patients having to wait in ambulances.

'Overwhelmed' hospitals in Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster face ambulance delays

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “The fact there is a crisis in our NHS can no longer be denied. The conspiracy of silence from our Tory MP’s including Garnier is frankly shocking. However, he’d rather the truth is suppressed because he knows this is down to him, his votes, and his Government. He’s desperate that local people don’t find out what’s going on because of the further damage it will do to his already tarnished image. He knows full well that given the history of Kidderminster and what happened in 2001, that any local MP not standing up for our NHS could be in electoral trouble. I’m calling him out on this and telling him on behalf of the people of Wyre Forest, he’s been busted.”

“What is really shocking, is what’s going on at Worcester Royal. I am reliably informed that on the night of Friday 5th January, things got very desperate. A&E was full and they were treating patients in the Ambulances, not in A&E. Two teams of doctors were sent out to ambulances because patients were very poorly and there was no room in A&E. A patient, shocked at what was happening, then started filming in the corridor, and was told they'd be arrested by police if they do not stop filming. Worse still, they were told to delete the footage or have treatment withheld, as well as be arrested. Is this where we have got to in Tory Britain? A Police state? And threats by NHS against patients shocked at an overwhelmed NHS trying to record what’s going on? Clearly, those patients in corridors being filmed deserve their rights to be respected, but threats of arrest or withholding treatment is simply unacceptable. Is this a sign of how desperate the authorities are to cover the truth up? At one point, 15 ambulances were stacked up, waiting outside of A&E, to deliver patients. Rather than deal with the crisis, there are now just threats and cover ups. This problem is a Tory made one, and until funding is improved things are not going to get better. Mark Garnier has this on his hands, but typically he’s gone into hiding unable to face the consequences of his actions. I’d call that spineless wouldn’t you? He prefers to use his weekly newspaper column to attack what he calls ‘armchair warriors’ on social media highlighting things like the NHS crisis. A classic case of Tory diversionary whataboutery. Labour has pledged to deal with the NHS issues, underfunding, and the social care problem causing many of the NHS demands, and we will. A general election can’t come soon enough.”

NHS beds crisis: sick patients can sit in A&E, says health minister

Why are our local Tory MPs silent on the crisis enveloping Worcestershire NHS

As the crisis in our underfunded NHS deepens, Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, claims the NHS is better prepared than ever for winter. It would be laughable if it wasn’t...

Quietly, in the run up to Christmas, the Tory County Council set about the proposed closure of one of the most important NHS short breaks respite centres in the County for young disabled people with specialist needs.

The NHS Ludlow Road facility in Kidderminster, allows disabled children’s carer parents the opportunity to take a break from providing care. Such breaks are critical when you’re a parent with a disabled young person, it allows you to recharge your batteries. Their value cannot be understated, yet the Tories want to close it.

Sign the Petition to save Ludlow Road

Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour said “Do the Tories care about this closure? Of course not. Once again we see the heartless, ruthless side of Tory Councillors. I’ll bet that not a single Tory Councillor in Wyre Forest stands up for this facility, they only know how to asset strip. Our local Tories have been and are more interested in holding multiple jobs at District, County, in the MP’s Office, and even in the Police Commissioners Office prolonging their own gravy train than protecting services. They are politically wedded to cuts as a form of self preservation and I’m naming Hart, Rogers, Desmond, Onslow, Campion, et al, as complicit in this continuing destruction of Wyre Forest services. I’m sure Mark Garnier MP will also play to form and disown it saying it is either a council or NHS issue. The man is a serial avoider of responsibility for what happens on his watch and continually lets down his constituents, so why should this issue be any different?”

The Council claim there will be a consultation with the client users of the service. Labour’s view is that in reality, it will be another meaningless exercise full of platitudes and false hope. The Cabinet Report itself states demand for such services is already outstripping supply, yet the Council in its reckless pursuit of savings will plough ahead regardless to save some £500,000. They probably see it as an easier service to cut because it is a council funded NHS facility rather than one of their own. It is a specialist service not easily replaced but that matters little to Tory wreckers.

Stephen Brown further commented “This is another example of our NHS being stripped away by Tory stealth. Our NHS is not safe in Tory hands, never has been, never will be. It’s death by a thousand cuts. The Tories, and as if to excuse what they are up, say in the Council Report that they’ve already spoken to users of the service, who apparently want more tailored solutions. No doubt the council will spin this and say they’ll look at it. I don’t think those carers who use this service should be so easily taken in by this though because such specialist services are not so easily replaced or replicated. The Tories have form in promising improvements from such cuts although the reality is quite the opposite. We’ve seen the same Tory lies with Mental Health Services. The truth is the Tories have been enthusiastically ripping the heart out of our Services, especially for the vulnerable and disabled, yet selling it as improvements since 2010 and can anyone honestly say that since then things have got better? No, of course not. Austerity is a political choice not a necessity. It’s why Labour will end austerity if elected to Government. Enough is enough.”

Leading the campaign, Ben Davies, Labour prospective candidate for the Aggborough & Spennells council ward in the May 2018 council elections, working alongside Vincent O'Callaghan, prospective candidate for the neighbouring Foley Park & Hoobrook ward, covering Ludlow Road, have pledged to work with local people, staff, and those using the services to campaign to see if it can be saved.

Ben recognises it is going to be an uphill struggle given the size of the current Tory majority but says “The news of a consultation for the Ludlow Road NHS with a view to closing it just to satisfy yet more Conservative cuts is, regrettably, a major threat to children and young people who require such services. The centre houses children between the ages of 3-18 years, children with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and complex health needs. Closing this would put young, vulnerable people in immediate danger as the centre gives important short break services, which, sadly, doesn't seem too high up in the list of Tory priorities as they seek to further lacerate our local NHS. I will campaign on behalf of Labour with Vincent to try and ensure this local service remains open to those who need it and ask anyone wanting to join us in this campaign to contact us via the Wyre Forest Labour website or our Facebook page.”

Sign the Petition to save Ludlow Road

Labour oppose closure of Ludlow Road Kidderminster NHS Short Breaks Service

Quietly, in the run up to Christmas, the Tory County Council set about the proposed closure of one of the most important NHS short breaks respite centres in the County...

*UPDATE 6/12/2017* Parliament has been misled by David Davis, Tory Brexit Minster, over the impact assessments, or ‘qualitative quantitative sectoral analysis’ documents (if you prefer to now call them that like the Tories do to deny responsibility) about what Brexit means for the economy.

First he said the 58 assessments existed, then Parliament demanded to see them, now he says they don’t exist despite telling Parliament they did when they voted to see them.

How on Earth he can do his job properly without knowing the risks of Brexit to sectors of our economy is baffling? Is it blind faith, arrogance, incompetence or contempt?

David Lammy, Labour MP, has today accordingly written to the Speaker of Parliament, as per protocol, to raise contempt of Parliament proceedings against David Davis.

In any other job, David Davis would have been sacked for gross misconduct born of negligence and dereliction of duty. Tory MP’s, it seems, think they are Teflon coated, such is their arrogance and contempt not only for their jobs and Parliament, but for the electorate too who put them there. Has there ever been such a self serving lot of fools running the country?


Tories, Brexit, & The Grubby DUP Deal - the end is in sight

Make a note in your diaries of this date: Monday 4th December 2017. Then remember it well. It will most likely turn out to be a significant date for British politics and the demise of Brexit in its hardest form, if not in its entirety. And the end of the Tory Government, ultimately.

We all know Wyre Forest voted ‘leave’ and like many areas damaged by austerity, it is my belief that austerity was a significant causal factor here. Immigration and bashing the EU was merely a convenient Tory/UKIP scapegoat. Those on the left who voted leave argued it would free us up to nationalise and pursue a socialist agenda to reform our economy. I never swallowed this line because it’s hamper was to ignore the reality of public ownership across the EU, including EU Governments’ owning our privatised rail & utilities, and the fact a Tory Government hellbent on privatisation and starving our public services will be responsible for delivering Brexit. When was the last time the Tories did something to ‘sincerely’ benefit working people?

Their handling of the EU Withdrawal Bill and sensible motions to protect employment, environmental, safety, and animal rights, well and truly busts any myth their version of Brexit will enrich the poor, the vulnerable, or workers. The Tory right and UKIP Leave agenda has always been about enriching the rich further, tax dodging (check what EU anti-tax dodging rules will come into play in March 2019, the month we leave the EU) and a low regulation economy, all stuff they hid from plain sight under a banner of sovereignty. When, in fact, we never lost our sovereignty, just pooled 15% of it to enrich our economic and cultural lives. Sure, the EU has its faults, but from what happened on 4th December, quite apart from the whacking bill of £50billion (magic money tree anyone?) being talked about, we see the prospect of some if not all of the UK now remaining in the single market, and the customs union, whilst paying for the privilege yet having no say over any of the rules like we currently do. Take a look at Norway.

So, in my view, this day marks the beginning of the end of the Tory Government, their grubby DUP Deal to stay ‘in office’ but not in power, and a signalling that even the Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit is finally unravelling under the vacuous soundbite strains of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ as the load on it increases. Especially, as the looney right of Theresa May’s own Party ratchet up their barmy undeliverable demands for Brexit. Demands that were encapsulated in the Leave lies of the referendum. You’ll recall what they said, “they need us more than we need them” and “we’ll get a better deal than we have now”, along with “absolutely no one is threatening our place in the single market”. None of it true to this point and all said to get your vote and to promise something they never had the capacity or imagination to deliver on, because they were so focused on getting a leave vote, the reality of understanding the single market, customs union, and WTO rules passed them by, deliberately so, if they ever really understood it in the first place. And to be frank, it’s quite clear from some of the things said by the likes of David Davies, Brexit Secretary, (who himself is now looking for an easy way out by supporting his scandal hit mate Damian Green) that he didn’t have the basic grasp of international trade, WTO, the EU, or the implications of a leave vote for the integrity of the UK remaining as the UK as it is now. All of which has been put into sharp focus, and not before time, by the Irish border question. The ‘grown ups’ debate has now started in earnest it seems.

The fact that Theresa May finally recognised that to ensure economic prosperity and peace in the North of Ireland, and to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, requires no hard border with Ireland and hence staying in the single market and customs union, is an admission no deal is a better Brexit as described by her upon her coronation as Tory leader, is dead in the water. It is untenable however that North Ireland gets a deal denied to everyone else, as much as it is untenable Theresa May abandons her plans to allow a bunch of political misfits to run policy in number 10. What’s driving the DUP though? I’d say it’s about the money, their grubby deal to empower themselves, getting the upper hand in North Irish politics, and bad old fashioned power play. They are overplaying their flimsy hand as they don’t even represent the majority referendum decision in North Ireland. Just 10 MPs holding everyone else to ransom with their stubborn, out of touch, and backward looking views. Is this the state of UK politics? Really? I think not. We are better than this as a proud nation. The DUP just broke what they thought they had and the deal with the Tories is about to wither into the ether. The clock just stopped on the DUP Deal, Hard Brexit, and the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. If an exemption is good enough for North Ireland, what about Scotland? London? Those industries like auto, fishing, agriculture, retail, etc now demanding an exemption too and ironically many also in the largest leave areas signal a seismic shift here in the Brexit debate. Something bigger is happening.

Some may ask why is Labour playing its cards close to its chest? Well, when the Tories, our natural enemy, Bevan had a few things to say about that, is making such huge mistakes, why should we interrupt them? They own Brexit, it is their bad, they will fall into the political wilderness because of it. Labour has said all along we want a Brexit that works for jobs and the environment. That can only happen if we stay in the single market and customs union in my view. It is also my view that it is only a matter of time, as this mess plays itself out as it sadly must, and as Labour prepares for Government, that the right timing for the people to decide what type of Brexit, or no Brexit, will be back on the table. I predicted that in June 2016. My own view on Brexit has been clear from day one, I’ve not changed it, it’s bad economically for the country and its bad for our global influence. On the 4th December 2017, it seems that even elements of the Tory Party grasped that plain fact too. How many Tories will show some guts and come out and say it remains to be seen.

My view remains staunch, I haven’t shifted with the wind for expediency like our MP Mark Garnier does, the yes man of Tory HQ, who sucks it up so he can carry on enjoying the privilege of representing Wyre Forest. I’d prefer to hope that Wyre Forest, ultimately, might prefer an MP with their own mind who acts in the national interest, rather than their own, for the benefit of their constituents, even when there is a disagreement with those constituents on something as fundamental as this. That’s the foundation upon which our democracy is based, and it’s about time our MP recognised it and acted accordingly. If you happen to come across Mark’s own mind, do let me know and return it to him. He might need it at some point to see what damage him and his support for Tory policies and the Grubby DUP Deal is doing. He has, unwittingly however, unleashed the end of Brexit with his support for the Grubby DUP Deal, and with his road to Damascus Support for Brexit, just so he and his lot could put Party above Country and stay in power, and keep their seats. That is about to change, watch this space.

Stephen Brown
Wyre Forest Labour Party

Tories, Brexit, & The Grubby DUP Deal

*UPDATE 6/12/2017* Parliament has been misled by David Davis, Tory Brexit Minster, over the impact assessments, or ‘qualitative quantitative sectoral analysis’ documents (if you prefer to now call them that...

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