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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 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."
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.
WFCLP PRESS OFFICER
Being part of Wyre Forest Labour is a great way to get involved in politics and meet likeminded people who share your values.
Wyre Forest Constituency Labour Party is comprised of four branches across Kidderminster, Stourport-on-Severn, and Bewdley which hold monthly meetings, organise local campaigns, select and support candidates for local, regional and national elections. All branches are involved in campaigning on issues both local and national. We also have regular social events where members get together on a more informal basis.
There has been a very encouraging growth in membership over the past 18 months. We currently have over 1,500 members, affiliates and registered supporters.
We have fought several campaigns to improve services – and often to oppose cuts proposed by Tory-led Worcestershire County Council and Wyre Forest District Council.
Our political activity takes many forms;
Our members attend local council meetings, from parish level upwards. We try to be part of any and every meeting or consultation involving issues such as the NHS, Social Care, Schools, Children's Centres, Housing and Transport. We run street stalls to raise awareness of many local and national issues.
Our members lobby local politicians and write to local newspapers on a wide variety of subjects.
We send a delegation to the Labour Party conference every year to ensure our voice is heard. In addition we have been an active part of several Labour Party policy initiatives in line with the "bottom up" approach of the current leadership.
The Labour party is for every member and we welcome input, comments, thoughts and direction from everyone.
The Tory Government is imposing real terms funding cuts by freezing per-pupil funding while inflation and costs increase. The most deprived areas will be hit hardest.
The Education Policy Institute research found that under the proposed new formula even those schools which the government has said would benefit, would be worse off. This was because of inflation, reductions in local authority funding, and the £3billion worth of education savings that schools must make by 2019-20.
Using Government statistics, it is clear that even after the new Formula has been introduced, all schools in the Wyre Forest area will be worse off in real terms by 2020. The average real terms budget cut will be 9.5% in primary schools and 8.7% in secondaries.
For example, in Kidderminster, Birchen Coppice Primary will lose £250,000 or the equivalent of 7 teachers, whilst Baxter College will be £331,000 worse off equivalent to 8 teachers; and schools in Stourport and Bewdley will not fare any better with Bewdley School set to lose £303,000 meaning 8 teachers, with Stourport High School losing a whopping £741,000 which is 17 teachers.
Schools are already struggling with their finances. Budgets have been cut to the bone, class sizes have increased, subjects have been dropped from the curriculum and materials and resources are scarce. All this comes at a time of soaring pupil numbers and a developing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. Not to mention the loss of arts subjects like dance, drama and music in many schools.
The current Government was elected on a manifesto that promised to protect school funding. It seems we are about to witness another broken Tory manifesto pledge.
Stephen Brown said "Schools in Wyre Forest are set to be hit hard by yet more Government cuts. Cuts that ironically Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier campaigned for in 2015/2016 under the guise of a fairer funding formula after getting local schools and parents to support him. Our MP is a fraud, he claims to stand up for Wyre Forest but the growing evidence is quite the opposite, he clearly has no idea what he's doing and I think those local schools and parents now have a right to be very angry. He's even boasting about this nonsense on his website. He continually supports policies detrimental to our communities. We'd like Mark Garnier to explain how education cuts totalling some £4.3million in Wyre Forest and thanks to his campaign, are going to improve our children's life chances? It is a fact that 28% of our residents already have no qualifications. We should be championing education to improve our children's prospects not destroying them. Worcestershire is already 123rd out of 151 councils in the school funding tables and this will make things worse. This is how a Tory Government rewards its own MP's and constituencies, by robbing kids of their education for daring to speak up. Meanwhile, the Government has got money to throw at pet ideological projects like divisive new Grammar and Free schools to the tune of £320million, now we know where that money is coming from. They should be supporting what we already have. It's a disgrace".
You can see the exact funding cuts to each school where you live here:
How will your local school be affected by funding cuts?
Education funding crisis as every secondary school faces losing six teachers due to Tory cuts
All state schools in England 'to face funding gap by 2020'
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39292344
Theresa May told her school cuts are forcing teachers to buy 'pens, pencils and paper' out of their own pockets
Wyre Forest Labour reacted angrily yesterday as Ministers rejected Labour's demand in Parliament for a full business rates review.
Wyre Forest Labour believes local businesses are already under enough strain because of rising inflation, the rising cost of raw materials post Brexit, and High Street shops facing mounting pressure from online competition which is free from the overheads of our more traditional retailers.
With even The Federation Of Small Businesses crying foul as it says 500,000 businesses could see up to a 300% rates rise: Why has the Government chosen now to hike business rates for 60% of businesses and claim any criticism from its own MP's is just "distortion and half truths"?
Stephen Brown of Wyre Forest Labour said "Whilst the Government is increasingly reacting in a hostile fashion to any criticism or expose of its failings in a Trumpesque manner, unfortunately today it went one step further by sticking two fingers up to hard pressed businesses. By rejecting a Labour demand for a proper review of business rates in the Local Government Finance Bill it demonstrated contempt for small businesses in our local towns".
Stephen Brown went on to say "we should be supporting our local businesses and not making things harder for them. Labour wants to see a fairer system for business rates so small business can compete with the big multi-nationals and put them in a strong position post-Brexit to be able to compete on the world stage. The Tories talk about business being strangled by EU red tape but it seems they instead want to strangle them with more financial burdens. With the local Tory council killing our High Streets with parking charges too, it seems no Tory will be content until we have no businesses left on the High Streets of Wyre Forest. It's all totally wrong and our local businesses which support our local economy deserves better".
Wyre Forest Labour is calling upon all of Worcestershire's MP's to seek an urgent meeting with the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to launch a proper Inquiry into what is going on inside Worcestershire NHS Trusts.
It is simply not enough that one MP, Worcester's Robin Walker, is seeking to meet the Health Secretary to discuss the recent deaths at Worcestershire Royal Hospital when all of the other Tory MP's remain silent on this crisis. They are putting votes before lives and have consistently underplayed the difficulties.
This is a crisis of the Tories making given our Tory MP's have supported every measure the Government has introduced since 2010, without question, including the catastrophic top down pro-privatisation reorganisation that's exacerbating this desperate situation.
The chronic Tory underfunding of the NHS, Worcestershire's NHS debt (£26 million and counting for Acute NHS with a questionable surplus in the Health Trust), the Acute Trust's farcical remodelling review; plus the inability of the Health Secretary and our MP's to hold our NHS Trusts to account is now killing people and runs the potential for a Stafford Hospital type scenario on our own doorstep.
What are they doing to solve this crisis? Are they calling for more NHS funding? More doctors and nurses? A top down clear out of clearly incompetent management? Just what is their plan? They need to do all of this and more to restore people's confidence in our local NHS.
Over the last year or so we've seen wards closed in our local hospitals, centralisation of important children's, maternity, and A&E services, loss of mental health services, whistleblowers hounded out (Ken Hall), unreported x-rays putting patients at risk, serious bullying claims, and the latest deaths allied to an inability to cope with demand and temporary shutting of local Kidderminster and Redditch services to bring staff cover into Worcester. All whilst NHS management may attempt to persuade us that everything is under control but a quick read of the latest CQC report reveals otherwise, yet nothing changes. Why?
What they are presenting to us by doing all of this is unfortunately the REAL picture once they have implemented their current (centralising) remodelling of Acute services. A remodelling using a consultation exercise that is meaningless to most of us in our communities because it is a cost saving plan that is only likely to lead to more problems. The recent demise of 'Save The Alex' demonstrates the level of frustration of our community activists in trying to save our NHS for local people in the face of intransigent NHS management and its political masters. Kidderminster suffered similar frustration many years ago but it seems the lessons have not been learned either by the NHS or elected politicians.
NHS managers are clearly prepared to go to any lengths, including unlawful employment practices, to cover up the extent of this crisis, and the following information is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Sources inside the Acute Trust who wish to remain anonymous for fear of management reprisal, told Wyre Forest Labour:
"ED nurses have been instructed that they are not allowed to have proper breaks, and those working in triage or minors have been told that they are to eat their dinner and have their drinks "on the go" whilst they are in their rooms working. They are not to go and have their breaks in the staff room. They do 12 hour shifts".
Given the 3 deaths in Worcester, expecting nurses to work without breaks will lead to more mistakes, maybe even deaths, and personal and professional consequences for nurses too (they'll get the blame for errors before the true culprits - managers and the Govt). Only recently in Ayr, and not the first case either, a nurse crashed her car because she was so tired after working a shift where she had no breaks. Is this what our Trust bosses want by working their staff to death?
The time has come for a full inquiry into Worcestershire NHS Trusts.
Wyre Forest Labour Party
Labour remains concerned at some outstanding issues:
The original consultation document stated the Service's target response times for life risk incidents in Wyre Forest were at 61% and so lower than the target 75%. Further, that this 10 minute response time target which is what is being referred to, was on average 10 minutes 55 seconds in Wyre Forest, and goes on to say they accept there will longer times for some responses but don't say how long (an admittance in fact the service will deteriorate). The document also has a number of callouts from Stourport to cover Kidderminster quoted so there is a clear further need for additional resource as full timers rather than retained in my view if they are to offset slower response times, and especially those incidents needing back-up or for concurrent incidents.
Bewdley on the face of it would seem most at risk here, but the document had a cavalier attitude in general in describing all risk by more or less saying most of it is in Kidderminster in terms of incidents (well it would because it's bigger isn't it with more dense population) and so thereby seemingly dismissing the importance of servicing the towns and rural areas and the risk to life in these areas. No mention of how this will be addressed!
Will there be further consultation I wonder given the consultation report itself, and most importantly, specifically highlighted the point that any location decision should be followed by additional consultation as requested by residents?
What is not clear is what amendments, if any from any public concerns, have been made following the 'consultation'? Some risk factors in order to save money in a Government cuts, which is the real issue here, appear not to have been addressed? For example: Have/how they addressed the additional response time risk for outlying areas in any way? Have they increased the full-timers numbers to offset cover issues and/or additional concurrent incidents? Or to offset potential loss of retained firefighters who seem totally demotivated by this who have a strong sense of 'community' which they feel is no longer valued by decision and policy makers?
The response from the public was low at 192 replying with only just over half agreeing (52%) to the change and no doubt driven by the so called 'open' questionnaire and it all ignored the community of Stourport's response where over 2,350 people objected via petition. How has that been addressed in these plans because they look not too dissimilar to the original plan?
If none of this has been done, then Derek Prodger MBE is making false statements when he says "I believe (the Hub) will have a positive impact on the communities of Bewdley, Kidderminster and Stourport and result in a more resilient prevention, protection and emergency response function." The key being the response function because that is clearly at odds with the above, their own document, and what is happening in reality. Prevention will not improve simply because it's centralised and clearly the local service has already done a good job with fires down over 30% in recent years, that, and better household and home equipment safety in general borne of (European standards) legislation. When we leave the EU, the Government's desire to "cut red tape" and attacks on health and safety which have already been reported on, may reverse this trend. Indeed, the consultation report did say that just because incident trends are down, this cannot be assumed to be a continuous trend.
This is about money - our communities are not daft and they are rightly concerned and can see it too. I believe the public are more likely to believe the FBU when they say lives are at risk and response times will increase (from an existing not meeting target time anyway) due to cost cutting. And on the subject of cost - are West Mercia's 25 local policing community safety officer teams (not Police! So an odd version of 'hub' and joined up blue light working) still going in there because that seems to have been forgotten too?
I think HWFRS still has a lot of questions to answer and in the event this change results in increased risk, or worse still - a loss of life - then those in charge and responsible for it should be held to account. Labour will work to ensure that happens if such tragedy sadly comes to pass.
Wyre Forest Labour Party
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