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

A massive Easter Egg made by Le Mare Chocolate is being raffled by Gladleys Deli with all proceeds going to Greenside School in Shephall.  Liz Kettley of Gladleys Deli, Middle Row just off the High Street, has organised the raffle along with Mick Le Mare of Le Mare Chocolat, based in Walkern Road.

Stephen McPartland, Member of Parliament for Stevenage, said, "It is such a great cause and shows what a wonderful community spirit we have here in Stevenage. I am delighted to be drawing the winning ticket."

Tickets are £1 a go, and are available until Easter from Gladleys Deli when the winning ticket will be drawn by Stephen McPartland MP in time for the winner to enjoy the egg on Easter Sunday.

This is a fantastic budget for local people, which helps families and those who are trying to get on in life.

We are putting money back into people's pockets by cutting taxes and letting people keep more of their wages. Increasing the amount you can earn before you pay tax from £6,500 to £10,000 next year is worth around £700 extra a year in your pay packet. Travelling to work will be easier as fuel duty has been frozen again and it is now 13 pence a litre lower than Labour planned, council tax has been frozen again and we can all celebrate with a penny off a pint and the beer duty escalator has been scrapped.

Helping families with the costs of childcare and the massive opportunities available under Right to Buy and Help to Buy schemes will mean every family has a chance to own their own home.

I am proud that this budget helps families and builds on the massive £280 million infrastructure investment I have secured from the government for our local schools, hospital, housing and jobs. More people are in work than before the General Election in the UK and with over 95% of people employed in Stevenage our area continues to lead the way out of these difficult economic times.

Hertfordshire County Council marked the start of National Apprenticeships Week by introducing some of the apprentices working with the council’s Health and Community Services to MP Stephen McPartland who visited HCC’s Farnham House offices in Stevenage.

Stephen said: “I visited Hertfordshire County Council to learn about their long experience of employing apprentices and I was very impressed with the apprentices I met and the council’s commitment. It’s clear that apprentices are bedded into their teams and well supported. We have over 800 apprentices in Stevenage - it’s doubled in the last couple of years - and I’m trying to ensure our young people know there is another option to university, everything from apprentice rocket scientists to apprentice social care staff, that lead to great careers locally."

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet member for Health & Adult Care, said: “Since our adult social care apprenticeship scheme was launched in 2005 we’ve had 65 apprentices and 64 of them are still working in social care - many for the county council and others for providers around the county. The workforce is getting older and we want to future-proof our social care service and encourage people to consider social care as a career.”

The apprenticeship lasts for one year, with training provided by the Goldsmith Centre at HCC's Stevenage site, and includes studying for a Level 2 qualification credit framework diploma in social care.

Stephen McPartland also learned about HCC's Level 5 Higher Apprenticeships Programme. “We are one of the first employers in Hertfordshire to introduce the Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in care leadership and management for a broad spectrum of staff from services for older and physically disabled people, people with learning disabilities and supported living, explained Denise McMurray, head of HCS workforce development. “Unlike a traditional apprenticeship this programme is not restricted to an age group or employee category and it’s aimed at future-proofing our workforce to develop Hertfordshire leaders and managers of the future.”

Local MP Stephen McPartland visited the Stevenage BHF Shop to see first hand the support from local people who volunteer and donate stock, helping the British Heart Foundation, the nation’s heart charity, continue its lifesaving work.

Stephen, said "It was great to meet the team at our local BHF Shop and see them in action. They are doing a fantastic job raising money for such an important cause which affects so many people locally. The wide range of stock on offer also means there are plenty of bargains for our local community too."

Suzanne Halsey, BHF Area Manager, said, “I was delighted to welcome Stephen into our Shop today. Volunteers and donations are the lifeblood of our business so it’s great he’s here to highlight the importance of this and get the local community to support our Shop. BHF Shops raised £31 million last year in the fight against heart disease.”

The Stevenage BHF Shop is always looking for stock donations and is encouraging everyone in the local area to have a clear-out and donate any unwanted items. The BHF Shop is also looking for volunteers, if you have any time that you can spare please contact the BHF Shop and ask for further details.

Fujitsu, a major local employer, hosted key parliamentary figure, Stephen McPartland MP, to introduce him to apprentices within its Stevenage office, Fujitsu’s second biggest office in the UK. Stephen is an advocate of apprenticeships and investing in youth and the visit was held to signify Fujitsu’s continued commitment to apprentices and investment in the local community.

Stephen said, “I very much enjoyed meeting the apprentices and am proud Stevenage is home to one of Fujitsu’s largest sites in the UK. The apprentices were very enthusiastic about the opportunities Fujitsu has given them and it is clear that they have the potential to become future leaders in the company. Here in Stevenage we have more than doubled the number of apprentices working in local businesses and an apprenticeship is a great way of helping our young people into work. The IT skills that the Fujitsu apprentices are learning will give them a real competitive advantage as they become highly skilled and highly values members of the Fujitsu team. I also took the opportunity during my visit to learn more about the work Fujitsu are doing in the local community and I look forward to working with them to make this as effective as possible.”

Stephen met with a number of Fujitsu apprentices all from the local area. He shared his thoughts on the importance of apprenticeships within the local community and discussed, with senior members of the Fujitsu team, the community activities the company has been involved with over the last 12 months. As an officer of PICTFOR, the parliamentary IT and technology forum, Stephen was also able to articulate why an investment in youth in the technology industry is key for local community as a whole.

A NEW website set up to help council and social housing tenants find out how to buy their homes has been launched by Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland. The free online service, www.righttobuystevenage.com, has the support of Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP as it aims to raise awareness of the Government’s reinvigorated Right To Buy scheme.

Anyone signing up will be given advice on the support available to those looking to purchase their council property, with discounts of up to £75,000 available to eligible applicants.

Stephen said, "Housing is a big issue in Stevenage, especially as Stevenage Borough Council is raising rents faster than anyone else in Hertfordshire and providing a poor service. Many tenants are just fed up with a Council that does not care about them and want a way out. Well now they have a chance to own their home and help local people at the same time, because the money will be used to build more social and affordable housing, so it is a great deal for everyone."

Mark Prisk, MP and Minister for Housing, added, "We have learnt from the lessons of the 80s when this was first introduced.The campaign is important because local people can really benefit from the Right to Buy scheme and many just don’t know about it. People who have started on low income housing and would like the chance to buy their home can, and the money made goes back into building new houses. It’s a great scheme of growth."

For more information on the Right To Buy scheme, go to www.righttobuystevenage.com.

The scheme is open to tenants who have rented public sector-owned accommodation for at least five years and do not own any other properties. Anyone with outstanding possession orders against them or legal problems with debt are not eligible to apply.

Stephen McPartland, the Member of Parliament for Stevenage, has challenged the FTSE 100 to commit to tax transparency and is giving those companies who have not been bothered to respond a deadline. They will have until 21st March before he publicly contacts their largest shareholders to ask them to encourage some of the largest companies in Britain to take the issue seriously.

Stephen McPartland MP said, "I have written to the Chief Executives of all the FTSE 100 companies to ask them individually if they are willing to pledge their support for corporate tax transparency and if they will support a new international accountancy standard for country-by-country reporting.

"I am publishing all the company responses I receive and you can see them at www.taxchallenge.co.uk.  Some of the FTSE 100 companies have not replied and I will be publishing the names of those companies who have not responded by 21st March. I will then publicly contact their largest shareholders and ask them to encourage those companies to respond and take the issue of tax transparency seriously.

"They will only do that if their customers, the British public in many cases, drag them kicking and screaming towards tax transparency. Each of us can then decide individually whether the biggest companies in Britain really DO care about the poorest in our society at home and abroad."

Read the latest responses at www.taxchallenge.co.uk.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland met Paralympian double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE, who received her first sports wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz in 2007, as well as two of the charity’s young Ambassadors – both of whom aspire to compete in the Games in the future.  Stephen has backed Whizz Kidz from his first day as a Member of Parliament.

Stephen said, "It was fantastic to meet Hannah and the Whizz-Kidz Ambassadors and hear about the charity’s valuable work providing mobility equipment and opportunities for young disabled people.  They do fantastic work locally in providing disabled children and young people with wheelchairs and with life skills through their work placements programme and wheelchair skills training. It’s so important that the views of young disabled people shape plans for the Paralympic legacy and I am delighted to back Whizz-Kidz."

Hannah Cockroft MBE said: "The day I received my wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz changed my life. My hope for the legacy of the Paralympics is that more young disabled people will not just be inspired – but have the opportunities - to go for gold and succeed in whatever they want to do."

In 2012, the charity transformed the lives of 2025 disabled children and youngsters in the UK by providing life-changing mobility equipment such as powered and lightweight wheelchairs, specialist sports wheelchairs and specially adapted bikes and trikes.

Members of the Stevenage Conservative Association met earlier this evening and selected Stephen McPartland MP to fight the seat again in the 2015 General Election.

Stephen McPartland, Member of Parliament for Stevenage, said, "Winning Stevenage in the 2010 General Election was an amazing experience and I am honoured the local Conservative Party have asked me to fight the 2015 General Election. I look forward to continuing to fight for the best deal for Stevenage and am delighted that I have managed to secure over £280 million of infrastructure investment from the government for our local hospital, schools, housing and jobs. Unemployment locally continues to fall and our town is helping to lead the way towards economic recovery. It is a real privilege to be the Member of Parliament for Stevenage and I am grateful for all the support I have received from local people."

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