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North East Somerset Constituency Labour Party covers parts of Bath & North East Somerset Local Authority that are not part of the Bath Constituency. We represent the towns and villages of 21 wards. From the former Somerset Coalfield towns and villages across to the rural parishes of the Chew Valley and Bathford. Our aim is to build stronger, more equal communities in North East Somerset, that enhance the lives and capabilities of the many, not the few.
PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION AGAINST CHILDRENS CENTRE CUTS IN B&NES (If you have already added to our 1200 signatures, many thanks, you need not sign again: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-our-children-s-centres
NEWS FROM LABOUR: Todd Foreman welcomes Jacob Rees-Mogg's support for Labour campaign
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, and the NE Somerset Conservative Association have claimed that North East Somerset Labour Party support proposed cuts to local children’s centres, branding them ‘Labour’s local cuts’ in their latest leaflet. This claim is completely untrue.
Labour councillors and activists have been campaigning hard with the local community over recent months to protect our children’s centres, collecting the signatures of over 1200 local people, speaking against the proposed cuts at council meetings, and successfully securing further scrutiny of the proposed cuts.
Todd Foreman, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North East Somerset, has written to Mr Rees-Mogg in response to his claims.
The full text of the letter, sent on Monday 18th November, is below.
* * *
Dear Mr Rees-Mogg
Re: Children’s Centre cuts
Following receipt of your recent campaign leaflet ‘The Somerset Star,’ I am writing to express my delight that you are joining the campaign I and the local Labour Party have been running with parents and families across your constituency to stand up against B&NES Council’s proposed 40% cut to children’s centres.
You claim in your leaflet that Labour councillors backed these proposed cuts to children’s centres. This is completely untrue. At the February budget meeting you refer to, Labour councillors actually tabled and secured an amendment that prevented cuts to children’s centres this year. The Labour Group of councillors made clear that they did not support the cuts proposed for the following two years, and that this year’s budget could not commit the Council to implementing those future cuts.
I note, in contrast, that you and the Conservative councillors who sit on Bath and North East Somerset Council have until now been silent on the matter; both when the Labour Group tabled and secured the amendment preventing cuts this year; and over the last few months while Labour has been campaigning hard to prevent the proposed 40% cut over the following two years, and while over one thousand of your constituents have joined this campaign to protect our children’s centres.
However, later is better than never and I am confident the 1200 signatories will be pleased to receive the support of their current Member of Parliament and will look forward to your vocal representation of the impact these cuts would have to your colleague the Prime Minister.
Under this Government parents are facing a childcare crunch with costs up by thirty per cent, five times faster than pay, and over five hundred Sure Start centres closing across the country. The offer made by your Government to provide childcare for disadvantaged two year olds is failing with one in three councils not having enough places.
This is why Labour MPs are tomorrow (Tuesday 19th November) holding an Opposition Debate in Parliament on Childcare provision; a debate I take it we can now assume you will take part in given your strong opposition to the cuts proposed in your constituency?
I and local parents will look forward to seeing the results of your contribution. In the meantime you can find the link to our petition on our website: http://www.northeastsomersetlabour.org/
Given recent local press interest in this issue and indeed in our campaign, I am releasing this letter to the media.
With kind regards,
Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North East Somerset
* * *
1. Please find attached an image of the article in question in ‘The Somerset Star.’
2. Nettie Williams, the lead parent on the Save our Children’s Centres campaign, responded to the recent Conservative Party leaflet:
"Labour have worked tirelessly in the last few months to campaign fully against any cuts to Children's Centres, They have supported and worked for parents like myself to achieve 1000 signatures on petitions to force a serious debate on this issue. If Jacob Rees-Mogg were to have picked up his local newspaper he would have seen the coverage of this with local labour councillors arguing against these cuts. I was very disappointed to receive a copy of his 'Somerset Star' and read this.”
3. Cllr John Bull, Labour Group leader on Bath & NE Somerset Council clarified the steps taken by the Labour group on this issue:
“At the February Budget meeting Labour Councillors were successful in preventing a cut this year of £273,000 to the Children's Services budget, instead ensuring a scrutiny panel would look at the effect this and bigger cuts planned for the next two years would have on Children's Centres. The panel has now made recommendations, proposing to implement the proposed cuts, but Cllr Liz Hardman, the Labour representative on the panel, disagreed and produced a minority report. However, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet has so far not made a response to the scrutiny panel’s recommendations or to the minority report. Conservatives on the panel did not criticise the cuts and supported the model of a reduced service. Labour is now 'calling-in’ the Cabinet decision and demanding a response to the Scrutiny panel recommendations and the minority report."
4. Below is the amendment proposed by the Labour Group at the Council budget meeting in February, and agreed by the Council – Labour’s amendment is in bold and italics:
The General Fund net revenue budget for 2013/14 of £123.632m with no increase in Council Tax, and the savings proposals in Annex 2, Appendix 5, with the exception of the proposed savings in Early Years and Children’s centres of £273k and the substitution to balance the budget of funds received in the final settlement as a result of the redistribution of unallocated funding from the New Homes Bonus (£174k) and by drawing an additional £99k from the Council’s Financial Planning Reserve and with the additional sum of £25,000 to establish a hardship fund for residents of Bath & North East Somerset Council to meet their Council tax costs on their main residence in the Council area for up to 6 months in the event that it becomes uninhabitable as a result of flood or fire. Funding of £25k to be made available for this purpose for 2013/14 with this amount being drawn from the Council’s Financial Planning Reserve.
The Labour Group also proposed, and it was agreed that:
…the Early Years and Children’s Centre savings in Years 2 and 3 are still subject to a detailed plan and would require a Budget vote in future years and that officers be instructed to provide a report to the Early Years, Children and Youth (EYCY) PDS Panel to allow further consideration of the implications of these savings and for potential alternative options to be reviewed.
Campaign team celebrates as our petitions on children's centres soar past the 1000 mark
Local Labour and parents took a break from campaigning to celebrate reaching 1000 plus signatures on our petitions. The magic thousand means the Lib Dem proposed £2.3 million cut to Children's Services in our region must now be debated at a full council meeting scheduled for January.
The team met at The Somer Centre in Midsomer Norton on Saturday for a bring and share 'Thankyou' party where our 1200 signatures were handed over to Labour Cllrs Liz Hardman, John Bull and Eleanor Jackson by parents Nettie Williams and Ailsa McKenzie.
Liz Hardman (Lab) Paulton will be presenting them to at the council meeting this Wednesday, 13th November where she will be giving her minority report on the intended 40% cuts to the youngest and most vulnerable in our region. Liz reports that despite an instruction by the full council to consider the impact of proposed cuts of £2.3m to children’s centres and to review alternative options, the panel focused on producing a plan which would allow the cuts to be delivered.
Mrs Hardman said “It is really regrettable that councillors failed to do what they were asked. Time and again they were reminded that their job was to investigate the impact of the proposed cuts to children’s centres. Instead, they took it for granted that the budget reductions would be made and set about producing a plan for children’s centres which would allow delivery of cuts of £2.3m, or 38 per cent of their overall budget."
She believes panel members were poorly informed and there was a failure to ask the right questions.
The report has been published as part of the papers for next week’s Cabinet meeting.
Parents, Labour and supporters will be holding a demo outside the Guildhall at 6pm this Wednesday to show once again that these 40% cuts will fail our children and will decimate our much needed and utilised childrens centre's. Please join us and show your support.
Jacob Rees-Mogg's answer to his constituents' rising energy bills? Blame the 'environmentalists'
Responding to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s denial of climate change and espousal of free markets as the way to tackle energy price hikes in today’s Telegraph, Todd Foreman, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in North East Somerset, said:
"Whilst many of his constituents are worrying about how to pay their latest energy bill in light of price hikes from the big energy companies this week, Jacob Rees-Mogg concludes the answer is not to speak with Ministers on their behalf; not to represent their concerns to the energy companies; not even to point them in the direction of switching schemes. No, this Tory MP’s answer is to call for greater reliance on free markets – the very markets that even his own leader admits require a review.
Turning to the markets to address the rising cost of living crisis that’s being bolstered by huge hikes in energy prices is precisely the wrong thing we should do. Free markets are failing here, small rises in costs to energy companies are being met with much larger price increases for consumers.
Furthermore, far from acknowledging the responsibility of the Government to take on the energy companies for their actions, Mr Rees-Mogg holds ‘environmentalists’ to blame for those who this winter will be facing agonising decisions over whether to heat their home or eat a meal that day. Denying climate change and pursuing unscientific theories as a means of shirking his Government’s responsible to take action for his constituents is beyond belief.
Hardworking people want action now to tackle the cost of living crisis. We need Ed Miliband's plan to freeze energy bills to save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and reset the market to deliver fairer prices in the future. All Jacob Rees-Mogg is offering to his constituents is a cost of living crisis and further proof of how out of touch he is."
1. Telegraph article by Jacob Rees Mogg MP;http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10398635/Climate-change-alarmism-caused-our-high-energy-prices.html
2. Bath and North East Somerset council reached cross-party consensus on a decision not to allow further fracking applications to be passed on the grounds of environmental concern and carbon emissions; http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Political-parties-unite-opposition-fracking-Bath/story-19507361-detail/story.html
Campaigners turn out in force to protect Children's Services in B&NES
North East Somerset Labour joined with our neighbours Bath and parents from the under threat Children's Centres to lobby the council meeting in Bath this week. On Monday 14th November the B&NES Early Years Scrutiny Panel met to make recommendations on the future of Children's Services faced with a 40% Lib Dem led cut to funding. A large crowd of supporters gathered outside at 4pm and paper chains and banners made by the children were used to great effect with passing commuters and press.
Eleven parents spoke at the Panel meeting with impassioned accounts of how Children's Centres and the staff have changed the lives of themselves and their children for the better. Without these Centres and the huge amount of support received, many said they would either simply not have functioned as a family through difficult times or their children would not have had the start in life they deserved. From these early years to school age, children and families are helped to reach their full potential avoiding problems further down the line.
Our NES Labour Councillors backed the parents with Cllr Liz Hardman being the Labour representative panel member. Liz has been championing the Centres since the cuts were announced with the B&NES Labour Group having secured the funding for the service for one year. Cllr John Bull, Leader of the Labour Group spoke of the positive legacy of Labour's SureStart Centre's and how cuts this drastic were to be seen as totally unreasonable for any one sector to bear, most particularly when it will be the very youngest bearing the brunt. Cllr Eleanor Jackson opposed the idea of health workers taking over the centres on account of the medicalisation of the facilities, when often it's the emotional support and networks which prove the most positive experience for parents and children along with the other services provided.
Several committee members expressed that there had been a lack of financial information available to them to enable them to make such a recommendation on these cuts to Children's Services. The panel decided they would recommend acceptance of the council's proposal for retaining three main centres, they would recommend to keep all Children's Centre buildings and ask the council to reduce the cuts.
Labour will continue to fight along with the parents to ensure our children aren't made to pay for the cuts. More campaigning action is planned culminating in a large protest at the decision making meeting at The Guildhall on 13th November at 6.30pm.
FRACKING TAX BREAKS
NEWS FROM LABOUR: Todd Foreman,
Labour's parliamentary candidate in North East Somerset, condemns Osborne’s fracking tax giveaway and calls on MP Jacob Rees-Mogg to listen to and represent his constituents on this issue
Todd Foreman, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for North East
Somerset, today condemned Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to give tax breaks to the fracking industry and calls on local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a consistent supporter of fracking, to represent the views of his constituents on a policy decision that has direct consequence for the constituency he is supposed to stand up for.
The Coalition policy contrasts sharply with the views of Bath &
North East Somerset Council, which last week passed a motion opposing fracking in the local area with cross-party support. The motion was put forward on the basis of concerns about the impact fracking could have on levels of pollution to the local water supply, including at Chew Valley Lake and the Bath hot springs.
Todd Foreman, Labour's Parliamentary candidate in North East Somerset, said:
“I applaud Bath & North East Somerset Council for taking a clear cross party stance against fracking; a process that is recognised across the council as posing risks to the local community.
"The positive action by all parties on the Council is in in stark contrast to the local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose views are exactly the opposite, who has advocated this means of energy sourcing at the expense of representing the best interests of his constituency."
Commenting on the Coalition’s tax policy, Todd said:
“The Chancellor's plans for a tax giveaway to the fracking industry is the wrong gift, to the wrong industry at the wrong time.
"The risks posed to the environment in North East Somerset by fracking outweigh any short-term economic benefit that fracking would bring. And globally the fracking industry is booming, so why do they need a tax break, especially during times of austerity? If we are going to consider tax breaks to anyone who is exploring new fuel sources, they should be going to renewable and low carbon emission energy providers.”
“The Coalition's policy is not in the right direction for North East Somerset. If Jacob Rees-Mogg won't account for the views of his local Party, nor represent local concerns, I will be happy to take on that role for him in 2015."
1. Jacob Rees-Mogg's opinion on fracking - http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Jacob-Rees-Mogg-column-Benefits-fracking-bring/story-16895961-detail/story.html#axzz2Z7S8VG7Q
2. Motion put before North East Somerset Council - http://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=10112
Todd Foreman, Labour Candidate for NE Somerset, on the threat to Children's Centres:
The work that Children's Centres in B&NES do is of great value to children, families, schools and the wider community.
With a 40% cut in their budget, it is inevitable that the quality of services provided will take a drastic hit.
Councillor Liz Hardman is also quite right in saying that Children's Centres are a smart long-term investment in young people and that cutting them, especially by such a drastic amount, would be a false economy.
Meet at 11.00 a.m. -
Saturday 5th October Westfield - Meet at junction of Wells Road (A367) and Wesley Avenue BA3 3XA
Sunday 6th October Westfield - Meet at junction of Wells Road (A367) and Wesley Avenue BA3 3XA
Saturday 12th October Keynsham South ward - meet at Car Park to Queens Road shops (BS31 2NW)
Sunday 13th October Keynsham South ward - meet at Car Park to Queens Road shops (BS31 2NW).
Saturday 19th October Midsomer Norton North ward - meet Junction Station Road and Radstock Road (BA3 2AJ).
Sunday 20th October Midsomer Norton North ward - meet Junction Station Road and Radstock Road (BA3 2AJ).
Saturday 26th October Whitchurch ward - meet outside “Toby Carvery” – junction Bristol Road and Staunton Lane
Sunday 27th October Whitchurch ward - meet outside “Toby Carvery” – junction Bristol Road and Staunton Lane
For further information, contact Keith Burchell (01225 341129 or 07885 151396)
In addition, telephone canvassing is taking place every Tuesday evening at SW Regional Office in Emery Road, Brislington. Anyone interested in taking part should contact Ollie Haydon-Mulligan on 07921 046417 or by e-mail on oliver_haydon-mulligan @labour.org .uk
Our North East Somerset Labour Councillors:
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© North East Somerset Labour Party 2013
© North East Somerset Labour Party 2013