Stephen McPartland
Working hard for you
in Stevenage, Knebworth, Codicote, Datchworth and Aston

Last week Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland dropped in to see leading advocacy charity, POhWER and update them on the progress of their feedback to a governmental white paper.

POhWER sent a survey to members, held workshops and drew up a response called ‘We will if you will’ - which they handed to their MP last October. The charity’s response provided a unique perspective on the Government’s proposals and Stephen personally handed it to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley. POhWER was particularly concerned that the independent complaints advocacy service (ICAS), which POhWER delivers in many parts of the country, including Hertfordshire, may be replaced by a more limited and less independent service.

Stephen said “I am delighted that we have managed to secure the ICAS contract for another two years and safeguard local jobs. I know Andrew was pleased to receive such a positive contribution to the consultation from many of the most vulnerable people in our community. This was the perfect example of the wonderful work POhWER does in speaking up for those who often find it difficult to communicate their views. ”

 

Stephen McPartland, Member of Parliament for Stevenage has been selected to serve on the Education Bill Committee. This is a small committee of MP's whose job is to scrutinise the government's flagship education reforms.

Stephen said "This is a fantastic opportunity to get to the heart of legislation and make a real impact. I work closely with the Education team in Parliament and after I spoke in the Education debate, I was asked to take part. The bill offers us the opportunity to improve educational standards for all pupils, especially those from poorer backgrounds".

The Education Bill covers everything from extending free education for fifteen hours a week to two year olds from disadvanated backgrounds, restoring discipline in the classroom, reforming OFSTED inspections, to Academies and Free Schools.

Stephen McPartland MP was very pleased to be a judge of a couple of the many competitions at the Stevenage Dog Watch Carnival Day. Stephen said, "I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am pleased to be associated with this great organisation. I think it is a fantastic initiative that helps tackle crime by providing a great partnership between the police and the local community."

The Stevenage Dog Watch scheme is in its second year and was the first of its kind in Hertfordshire. It aims to encourage dog walkers to report suspicious incidents to police and also to report environmental issues to the council. It has been developed with the help of Neighbourhood Watch and members get regular updates on incidents of note as well as crime prevention advice.

Stephen added, "I would encourage anyone with a dog to have a look at the website www.stevenagedogwatch.org and begin to take part."

Sarah Shelrick, who is the Dog Watch Co-Ordinator, said "I was very pleased with the turnout and how the event went. Dog Watch is growing and I am so pleased with the interest which people are showing; we now have over 900 members.  I would like to thank Stephen McPartland for judging some classes and also Assistant Chief Constable Steve Divine and Detective Superintendent Jane Swinburne who also did some judging.  And everyone else who made it the best event ever."

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland toured the affordable homes and accommodation available to medical staff, police, the fire service and other key local professions at Lister Hospital.

Stephen said, "This is a fantastic facility for Stevenage and provides real flexibility for people starting training and jobs locally. It is very important that such accommodation is both affordable and high quality.  I can testify to the fact that the properties I saw were to a very high specification and believe these types of initiatives are a real asset to Stevenage."

Commenting on the Spending Review 2010, Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “Nobody wants to make cuts, but it is important to protect the most vulnerable in our society by driving waste out of Government. We are paying £121 million a day in interest, most of which leaves this country, and prevents local people having the housing, jobs, health and education that they should be given.”

“I am pleased with some of the measures outlined”, Stephen explained, “such as the people premium and the increase in child tax credit, as these should help lead to improved educational attainment for some of the poorest children in our society.”

“I also like that we are protecting winter fuel payments, free bus passes, free prescriptions, free eye tests and free TV licences for the over 75s.”, Stephen continued, “I am also pleased that the licence fee for the BBC has been frozen for the next 6 years, and the Coalition Government is investing heavily in health and education in Stevenage. We have secured over £250 million since May and I will continue to stand up for Stevenage.”

Cancer patients in Stevenage will get access to drugs that they are currently denied under Labour if the Conservatives win the general election, Stephen McPartland announced this week.

Under the bold new plans, the NHS would save £200 million because Conservatives will stop Labour’s jobs tax on employers. This NHS saving would be used to pay for drugs which have been blocked by the Government’s quango, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). In East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust which employs 5843 staff, the cost of Labour’s increase in Employers’ National Insurance contributions – the jobs tax – is estimated to be £876,450.

•    The Labour Government has failed to provide patients with the cancer drugs they need – drugs which are widely available in Europe. Britain has more cancer deaths per head than Buglaria. The current system lets Ministers off the hook. They blame bad decisions on unaccountable bureaucrats in NICE, the agency which approves drugs for the NHS.
•    Under the Conservative blueprint, the money that would have been eaten up by Labour’s jobs tax would go straight to a new Cancer Drugs Fund. No cancer patient will be refused access to drugs that have been licensed since 2005 if their doctors say they need them.
•    Conservatives will also change the way that drug companies are paid for NHS medicines. Effective treatments for all conditions, not just cancer, would become available on the NHS, with drug providers paid according to the value of their new treatments.

Stephen said:
“There is a clear choice at this election: Labour and their jobs tax that will take £200 million out of the NHS budget; or the Conservatives who will stop the jobs tax and use the savings in the NHS budget to create a Cancer Drugs Fund.

“The NHS is our number one priority. We are committed to helping our NHS become truly world-class. Giving Stevenage’s patients access to cancer drugs widely available in Europe is a key part of our plan for change and making the NHS even better.”

Stephen McPartland was priviledged earlier this week to have a full tour of the testing laboratories of FIRA, the Furniture Indsustry Research Association, as well as meeting a range of the staff on site.  “The work of FIRA is impressive and worthy of its leading international reputation”, said Stephen, “It is particularly good to see the number of local people employed, in a wide range of different and interesting roles.”

FIRA carries out essential work such as testing the fire safety of furnishing to ensure compliance with standards  and also assists with specific topics of relevance to the furniture industry.  “I am encouraged that the level of activity has been steady recently”, commented Stephen, “and feel that a greaterfocus on supporting UK manufacturers to export their goods, as well as increasing efficiencies in the supply chain will be beneficial to growth.”

FIRA is investing in their facilities on Maxwell Road to enable a continued provision of leading-edge advice and services, to clients, members and the general public.  As well as testing products, FIRA’s activities also include certification of products, an international consultancy business, an after-sales service via a national network of technicians and they host therole of the Furntiture Ombudsman.  “It is a good example of self-regulation of an industry working well” noted Stephen.

Stephen McPartland visited a local Sure Start Centre recently and saw first-hand the hard work of Sure Start staff and management in supporting families in the Stevenage community.  Stephen commented “I can assure you that Sure Start Children’s Centres play a critical role in our vision.  As David Cameron said recently, the Conservatives are absolutely committed to Sure Start and helping its staff to do more for families.”

The Conservatives will strengthen Sure Start by recruiting thousands of additional health visitors and introducing a universal Sure Start Health Visitor service - improving the support Sure Start is able to provide to families. This will cost £200 million per year and will be paid for using money the Government has set aside for more Sure Start outreach workers and from the Department of Health, the budget of which the Conservatives have promised to increase in real terms every year. Labour on the other hand revealed in the recent Budget plans to make up to £150m of “efficiencies” in the Sure Start budget.

Currently, fewer than one in five Sure Start Children's Centres has a formal agreement with their local Primary Care trust to join together to provide the services families need. Conservative plans will change that, and put health back at the heart of Sure Start as it was when the programme was originally launched. Sure Start Health Visitors, working with outreach and other workers, will also help improve the effectiveness of support given to the most vulnerable families.

False rumours from Labour about Conservative plans have caused real anxiety and concern amongst parents, and risked distracting attention from the important task of improving Sure Start.  The Conservatives are quite clear: there are no plans to close any Children’s Centres. Rather, a stronger Sure Start is at the heart of delivering the Conservative’s vision of Britain as the most family friendly country in Europe.

Stephen McPartland was delighted to visit the MBDA site in Gunnels Wood Road. “I was pleased to be able to meet a number of the young people on the Business Trainee and Engineering Apprenticeship schemes some of whom were previously at school in Stevenage”,

Stephen added, “MBDA is an excellent example of the benefits of an apprentice scheme, but places on such schemes are very few in number.  Labour have failed on skills. There are too many young people that are not in any kind of education, employment or training (NEET), and the number of people starting apprenticeships is falling fast. A Conservative government will provide a massive expansion in the provision of apprenticeships and training places and make it easier for companies to run apprenticeships.  Complementary to this will be more college places and  better careers advice including a trained careers adviser in every secondary school and college.”

MBDA is an important employer, with a long history in Stevenage, with much of the design and development work being undertaken here.  It has a long-term partnering arrangement with the UK MoD for the development and supply of new complex weapons to the UK Armed Forces. MBDA’s position as a global player is a testament to the innovative approach and enthusiasm of its staff, and through the training, apprenticeship and mentoring schemes, these values are being passed on to the next generation of young people.

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