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

Stephen McPartland visited Woodlands View care home in Poplars this week and heard from residents and staff.  More than 75% of the places are funded by the NHS, with separate facilities provided for dementia and nursing care.

“The work of the staff here is vital in providing the residents with a home from home”, said Stephen, “Referral to care homes is often from hospital and the Conservatives at Herts County Council are leading the way in more joined up health care so that people are moved out of hospitals faster and into care homes.  This is much better for individuals who receive the specialisied care they need and more effective for the NHS, who can focus on treating medical conditions.”

A Conservative government would go further and spread the NHS tariff so that funding follows patients’ choices.  “We will strengthen the role of GPs by allowing them to hold patients’ budgets and to commission care on their behalf.  For those with a chronic illness or long-term condition we will combine the health and social care funding so individuals can have provision tailored to their needs.”

Astrium hosted a walk-about visit for Stephen McPartland at its Gunnels Wood Road site last week, following earlier visits to the company.  “I was delighted to be able to meet a number of the apprentices and hear what their work and training involves”, said Stephen, “as well as several more senior staff involved in a number of different on-going projects”.

Astrium is a major employer in Stevenage, focused primarily on satellite technology, with a presence in the town stretching back many years. The company is engaged with the development of broader application of satellite technology for commercial uses as well as military and security-related, and demonstrates through a variety of different programmes the benefit from building such a deep expertise”

“Some of these applications are really exciting”, said Stephen, “and there will no doubt be more to come in the future.  I feel the Forest Monitoring project is particularly important as it will provide a means of early warning of de-forestation and logging activity within the rain forests.  It is also an excellent example of the opportunity for exports, supplying the relevant foreign governments.  Targeted aid for forest monitoring systems may also be appropriate provided commitments are made for enforcement measures to tackle the de-forestation by acting on the data provided.”

Stephen McPartland visited a housing project in Stevenage that provides direct help to adults with mental health problems by offering one-bedroom flats on a tenancy basis, with staff available 24 hours a day to provide support as needed.  The team leader commented to Stephen, “No two days are the same.  Sometimes we help tenants deal with paperwork to access local services, at other times it can be a listening ear over a cup of tea.”

The flats are run by the Hightown Praetorian & Churches Housing Association, based in Hertfordshire, who provide a range of social housing and other accommodation, supporting aspiring tenants to own their homes as well as offering more specialist accommodation and care homes. As part of a wider group of housing associations, East 7, they are working to improve the provision of affordable housing and services for people in the region.
The CEO of the association, David Bogle, hosted the visit to the Oakley Road site, together with John Cross who is the current Chairman of East 7.  The primary aim of the scheme is to accommodate referred adults, help them gain independence and take back control of their lives, and finally assist them in finding permanent accommodation.

The cost of much of the provision of the affordable housing and services is met from a variety of different public sector sources. Under Labour the bureaucracy is out of control, leading to money being wasted, unnecessary staff time taken up in seeking funding and uncertainties arising about whether budgets will be available in the future.

Stephen said, “If the Conservatives are elected we will look to reduce this bureacratic waste so we can improve support for local people and provide them with first rate services.”

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage performed a turf-cutting ceremony to mark the commencement of a new care home for older people in Stevenage. The new home is a partnership project between Hertfordshire County Council and Quantum Care, and will replace the current Newhaven care home in Drakes Drive. It will be opening in the summer of 2012, and has been designed to care for older people with a variety of short and long term care needs. It will have specially designed living spaces for people with dementia, as well as for those with physical disabilities.

Stephen McPartland said, “I am delighted to see this very real result from the framework the new government is providing to encourage investment in our health services. Quantum Care has a track record of responding and I particularly welcome the additional facilities for dementia sufferers, whose cause I have taken up many times in Parliament as it is important we tackle both the social and medical effects of this disease.”

As part of the new era of transparency on public spending introduced by the Government, from January 2011 Stevenage Borough Council, along will all other local councils, will be required to publish on-line every item of spending over £500. Many local councils, including Luton, Welwyn Hatfield and Herts County, have already responded and information for these and around a third of all council can be reviewed by the general public already.

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said, “I very much welcome this change and look forward to the greater transparency of spending by Stevenage Borough Council, with greater accountability of any significant amounts from £500 upwards. It will also help make the decision-making more accountable. For instance, the pay-off of around £170,000 to the previous CEO of the council is a disgustingly high amount and a term of the employment contract that the council should never have agreed to. By making any and all payments readily available for members of the public to see, I expect the decisions taken in the future will improve and we will see money spent on front-line services and not wasted on layers of unnecessary monitoring and administration.”

Instead of bureaucratic accountability, the changes in the requirements for local authorities to make their spending available on-line aim to bring in a new system of democratic accountability to the people. Reform will in this way be driven by consistent and long-term views from local people of what they actually want and choose in public services.

New online flood forecasts and clearer warnings are part of improvements to the free flood warning service provided by the Environment Agency. Anyone at risk can sign up to Floodline Warning Direct, the free flood warning service, by calling 0845 988 1188 or visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said, “I welcome these improvements in the monitoring of flood risk and warning services to assist householders and businesses. In the Stevenage constituency we are fortunate that flooding is not such a major issue as in some other parts of the country. However, there is risk of fluvial flooding in some areas which could affect 284 properties. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the risk to contact the Floodline Warning Direct service and as needed register to receive flood warnings.”

Householders and businesses can obtain information and monitor rising water levels during a potential flood at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/riverlevels.

MP for Stevenage, Stephen McPartland, visited Fujitsu’s offices in Stevenage to meet four local students who have recently joined Fujitsu’s Apprenticeship pilot. The scheme is aimed at 16-18 year olds and lasts 18 months split into two part. The programme is accredited by city and Guilds and is funded jointly with the National Apprenticeship Service.

Stephen chatted to all the apprentices, asking them how they came to apply for Fujitsu’s Apprentice scheme, what the job entails, whether they enjoyed it, and heard positive views back from them about the opportunity they had been given. Stephen commented afterwards: “It’s vitally important that we invest in young people and I’m delighted to see Fujitsu helping these students to increase their IT literacy and other business skills through on-the-job training alongside their studies.”

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, is supporting Road Safety Week 2010 (22 – 28 November), organised by the charity Brake.

Stephen said, “I am appealing to drivers in the area to slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops. At 20mph, you have a good chance of stopping in time if a child runs out three car lengths in front of you. Any faster than this, you would hit the child and have a significant chance of killing or maiming them.So, if individual drivers think and make a commitment to slowing down we can all make our local community a safer place and save children’s lives.”

Julie Townsend, campaigns director for Brake, said: “We’re really pleased that Stephen McPartland MP is supporting Brake’s campaign to protect children in the community. It’s unacceptable that thousands of children are killed or maimed on UK roads each year. One of the best ways we can protect children is by slowing down, as it gives us more time to come to a stop in an emergency, such as if a child runs into the road. Driving at 20mph or less on roads around schools, homes and shops could be the difference between life and death for a child on foot or bike.”

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