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Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

THIRD CROSSING LEAFLET - JAN 2015

Read Bob's leaflet on the third crossing. Find out more about the campaign for a third crossing here.

Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, has called for a freeze on plans to close acute adult beds at Carlton Court, in the light of a damning report on the operation of the mental health hospital situated in Lowestoft. He has written to the Chief Executive of the health watchdog, Monitor, which now has to decide whether to put the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust into special measures, following a failed inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Bob, who has been campaigning for over two years against damaging cuts to mental health services in Waveney, especially at Carlton Court, said,

"The CQC has found that many services are inadequate and in some cases are unsafe. It has specifically identified the problem of a lack of availability of beds. This confirms what many patients and staff have been saying for some time. In these circumstances I feel it would be wrong to proceed with closure of the acute adult ward at Carlton Court, when the FOI request I made last year revealed that the ward had been full or overfull every week since the closure plans first became known in October 2013.

"The CQC report also shows that cuts in staff that have already taken place have been too much to bear. Remaining staff are demoralised and patients have suffered. I have therefore written to Dr David Bennett, the Chief Executive of Monitor, to ask that the bed reduction be put on hold. It cannot be safe and sensible for a failing trust providing inadequate services to proceed with cuts and complex reorganisation that are not supported by staff. Carlton Court needs stability if the Trust is to regain the confidence of patients and their families."

 

BLIZZARD CALLS FOR FREEZE ON BED CLOSURES

Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, has called for a freeze on plans to close acute adult beds at Carlton Court, in the light of a damning report on...

New figures have emerged regarding the numbers and quality of the government's apprenticeships scheme in Waveney.

Official figures from the House of Commons Library show a substantial fall in the number of new local apprenticeships. The total number of apprenticeships in Waveney last year was 830, down 18.6% from the year before. The fall in apprenticeships for over 25s was even worse at 36.9%, down from 410 to 260. Apprenticeships for 19-24 year olds were down 11.1%. 

Meanwhile, figures from the government's own Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills show that:

  • Nearly 4 in 10 firms are unaware that the in-work training they are providing is being branded as an apprenticeship by the government and they don't consider it qualifies to be an apprenticeship at all.
  • 93% of 'apprentices' over 25 already worked for their employer before starting the 'apprenticeship'. 

The government's own Apprenticeship Pay Survey has revealed that 21% of apprentices receive no formal training and 15% do not receive the relevant minimum wage. 

Bob Blizzard said,

"These figures show a worrying misuse of the concept of apprenticeship and quality training. They chime with local complaints I have received - of young people not receiving training; not receiving the minimum wage; and not being kept on when the 'apprenticeship' is completed. This approach won't take our workforce and the  local economy forward.

"It's important that apprenticeships last at least 2 years, involve proper training and level 3 qualifications."

 

OFFICIAL FIGURES SHOW WORRYING PICTURE ON APPRENTICESHIPS IN WAVENEY

New figures have emerged regarding the numbers and quality of the government's apprenticeships scheme in Waveney. Official figures from the House of Commons Library show a substantial fall in the...

  • The Family and Childcare Trust have published a report today (Thursday), which has found that over the last Parliament the cost of childcare has soared by 23% in the East of England. Families are now spending £1,533 more this year than they did in 2010, while wages have remained largely static.

  • Labour Party analysis of this report can reveal for the first time regional differences, which show that in some areas the cost of childcare has rocketed by up to 53 per cent over the Parliament.

  • In the East of England, the cost of a part-time nursery place for a child aged 2 or over has risen by 22 per cent since 2010 – almost three times faster than wages have risen over a similar period.

Alison McGovern MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children, said:

“These figures lay bare the extent of David Cameron’s failure – he is badly letting down working families. Since 2010 the failing Tory plan has seen the costs of childcare soar. On top of this, there are over 40,000 fewer childcare places and wages are down £1,600 a year on average.

“Labour gets that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed. Our plan offers a better future for families struggling against the soaring cost and lack of availability of childcare, extending free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours, guaranteeing access to childcare for parents with primary age children through their local school, and delivering at least 50,000 more childcare places by doubling the number available at Sure Start centres.”

Labour's better plan for working families

  • We will extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds paid for by an increase in the bank levy. This will benefit nearly half a million three and four-year-olds and their families and help parents overcome the barriers to getting back to work or working more hours.
  • We will introduce a primary childcare guarantee – a legal guarantee that parents of primary-aged children can access childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local school, helping families tackle the logistical nightmare that before- and after-school childcare can become.
  • We will double paid paternity leave for fathers from two to four weeks so they can spend time with their children, helping more than 400,000 families a year, and raise paternity pay by more than £100 a week to at least £260 a week – the equivalent of the minimum wage – so that working Dads can afford to take time off.
  • We will save Sure Start and tackle the shortage of childcare places by doubling the number available at Sure Start centres – at least 50,000 more places – and ensure Children's Centres are properly used rather than being mothballed.

CHILDCARE COSTS SOAR UNDER DAVID CAMERON

The Family and Childcare Trust have published a report today (Thursday), which has found that over the last Parliament the cost of childcare has soared by 23% in the East...

I have yet to meet anyone who thinks it's sensible to locate a new bridge next to the existing bascule bridge. The proposal put forward by the Conservative MP and Conservative Council Leaders would mean both bridges lifting at the same time for EVERY boat that wants to pass, thus maximising disruption to the town and solving nothing, with traffic still being funnelled to the same crossing place.

It's also obvious that if, as planned, such a bridge were to be in place in 20 years time, when the bascule bridge needed a major overhaul again (like we had six years ago), the old bridge would be taken away and deemed unnecessary. So we would be no better off than we are now. A replacement bridge is not a third crossing.

Cllr Bee says he would not remove the bascule bridge, but if it remains under the control of the Highwys Agency, it would not be his decision. And if he is proposing that responsibility for repair, maintenance and operation of the bascule bridge be passed to Suffolk CC, that is contrary to what SCC has said for decades, that it cannot afford to take on this major cost. That's why the bridge remained with the Highways Agency when the A12 between Lowestoft and Ipswich was detrunked. SCC has much less money now than it had back then.

The Conservatives have also got it wrong elsewhere in the town. I read in last week's Journal that £2.5m of public money is to be spent building new industrial units at Mobbs Way. Yet at the same time, perfectly sound industrial buildings on the former Sanyo site are being demolished! It is plainly profligate of WDC to spend another £2.4m of public money to buy the Sanyo site to knock down existing buildings, when Peter Colby was prepared to  buy the Sanyo site and develop some of those buildings into industrial units, at no cost to the taxpayer.

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Demolition of business units on the Sanyo site

And we are told the government has to make massive cuts, including a cut in council funding for Waveney of 6.3%! If money wasn't wasted we could have a real third crossing sooner, rather than a replacement bridge in 20 years time.

 

THE TORIES HAVE GOT IT WRONG

I have yet to meet anyone who thinks it's sensible to locate a new bridge next to the existing bascule bridge. The proposal put forward by the Conservative MP and...

The Tories bring their Northern Ireland Secretary to Lowestoft to back their plans for a 'new' crossing next to the existing bascule bridge.

TORY NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY VISITS LOWESTOFT - BACKS TORY PLAN FOR 'NEW' CROSSING NEXT TO BASCULE BRIDGE

The Tories bring their Northern Ireland Secretary to Lowestoft to back their plans for a 'new' crossing next to the existing bascule bridge.

  • Almost four in 10 firms are unaware the in-work training they provide is branded an apprenticeship by the government

  • The proportion of apprenticeship starts by young people down by almost a quarter under the Tory-led Government

  • Number of people in apprenticeships in Waveney has fallen by 18.6%

New concerns have emerged on the quality and status of the apprenticeships created under the Tory-led government as the Business Department’s own research has found almost four in 10 firms offering apprenticeships don’t even realise they are doing so.

Since 2010, in-work training schemes for existing employees have been rebadged as apprenticeships by the government, to fix their struggling figures. This has shifted their focus away from new entrants to the workforce and raised concerns that the apprenticeship ‘gold standard’ has been undermined.

The new research comes as the proportion of apprenticeship starts made up by 16 to 24 year olds has fallen significantly from 82.3 per cent when the last Labour government left office, to 63.2 per cent last year.

BIS research also finds that two-thirds of employers recruiting apprentices from existing staff don’t consider their qualifications to be apprenticeships at all, and this number is increasing.

The proportion of apprenticeships made up by over 25s have more than doubled, from 17.4 per cent in 2009/10 to 36.7 per cent in 2013/14.

Among apprentices over 25 years old, 93 per cent already worked for their employer before starting their apprenticeship, raising concerns that existing training programmes for those already in work are simply being rebadged as apprenticeships.

The government’s Apprenticeship Pay Survey has found that 21 per cent of apprentices receive no formal training, rising to 24 per cent for the 19-24 age group, while 15 per cent of apprentices are not receiving the relevant National Minimum Wage.

Under Labour’s plans, all apprenticeships would last a minimum of two years and be quality Level Three qualifications and involve proper training.

Commenting, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP said:

“Under the Tory-led government, we’ve seen the historic and trusted apprenticeship brand tarnished. In-work training schemes have simply been rebranded as apprenticeships so that ministers can boast of increased numbers, when the true picture is far less rosy.

“Where this government has failed, the next Labour government will act to safeguard apprenticeship quality, and we’d use the money which government already spends on procurement to create thousands of new top class apprenticeships.

“Our rigorous new standards would ensure that apprenticeships are a trusted gold standard once more and address the way they have been downgraded under this government.”

NEW FIGURES SHOW GOVERNMENT UNDERMINING APPRENTICESHIP QUALITY

Almost four in 10 firms are unaware the in-work training they provide is branded an apprenticeship by the government The proportion of apprenticeship starts by young people down by almost...

Bob Blizzard, who has campaigned for over two years against damaging cuts to mental health services in Waveney, especially at Carlton Court in Lowestoft, has reacted to today’s Care Quality Commission inspection report on the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.

He said,

“This report proves what staff, patients and I have been saying – that the cuts have made services inadequate and in some cases unsafe. It’s unacceptable that the government has let this situation continue for so long, when we have provided so many examples of failing services. It would be a further disaster to continue down the road of bed closures proposed by the Trust.

“The CQC has identified the problem of lack of availability of beds, yet faced with the government’s demand for budget reductions, they are intending to reduce bed numbers even more.

“The report shows that these cuts have been too much to bear. Staff are demoralised and patients are suffering.

“It’s no good the government just pointing the finger at the Trust. They must now step in, scrap the closure plans and fund services properly so that the local community can be properly served. Mental health services are as vital as any other part of the NHS.”

BLIZZARD RESPONDS TO DAMNING REPORT ON MENTAL HEALTH TRUST

Bob Blizzard, who has campaigned for over two years against damaging cuts to mental health services in Waveney, especially at Carlton Court in Lowestoft, has reacted to today’s Care Quality...

Bob Blizzard on BBC Radio Suffolk, explaining why bridge proposed by the Tories in the 'eastern' location is just a replacement for the existing bridge. Bob also makes the case for the 'central' location.

BOB ON RADIO SUFFOLK - COLBY/BLIZZARD PUBLIC MEETING

Bob Blizzard on BBC Radio Suffolk, explaining why bridge proposed by the Tories in the 'eastern' location is just a replacement for the existing bridge. Bob also makes the case...

Watch a summary of the key arguments made in favour of a 'central' third crossing at the public meeting held at the Hotel Victoria on 28th January.

WATCH: COLBY/BLIZZARD THIRD CROSSING PUBLIC MEETING

Watch a summary of the key arguments made in favour of a 'central' third crossing at the public meeting held at the Hotel Victoria on 28th January.

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