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

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.”

Local Stevenage MP, Stephen McPartland, participated in a high-level parliamentary meeting on pneumonia for World Pneumonia Day 2010, on November 16th in Parliament. The event was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Global Action Against Childhood Pneumonia, of which Stephen McPartland is an officer and was looking at ways of tackling pneumonia, the world’s leading killer of children.

Stephen commented: “Pneumonia is the global leading killer of children, although people are often unaware of its prevalence. I am delighted that GSK is playing such a vital role in helping to supply this important vaccine to the world’s poorest countries. I support and will continue to work at Parliament to help efforts to tackle this devastating killer and I am monitoring with interest the progress of GSK’s vaccine in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

The event had an important local link for Stevenage as GlaxoSmithKline, which has a major facility there, is one of the leading manufacturers of a vaccine against the leading cause of pneumonia.

Dogwatch Mascot, Douglas (a rescue) makes fantastic use of all three legs as he joins Stevenage High Flyers flyball training session. The success of Stevenage High Flyers is down to a determined group of local people. There is a lot of hard work involved, with training week-in, week-out including through the winter. The group were struggling to find affordable indoor space, but thanks to help from Sarah Sheldrick of Stevenage DogWatch they have now found a suitable location.

Stephen McPartland MP was able to join a training session and help put some of the DogWatch participants through their paces. Stephen said, “It is great to see the different groups coming together and helping each other out. The High Flyers team are really impressive and I wish them all the luck in their bid to be champions again this year. Stevenage DogWatch is a fantastic initiative that helps improve safety in Stevenage and I would encourage any family with a pet dog to become a member.”

Sarah commented, “I was very glad to help High Flyers. DogWatch gained another 14 new members. All-in-all, what a great display of members of the community pulling together to help each other.”

Stevenage DogWatch has new members joining all the time. If you would like to know more please contact the coordinator Sarah Sheldrick on 07792 101893 or visit the website at http://www.stevenagedogwatch.org. Find more out about High Flyers at http://high-flyers-flyball.co.uk.

The Royal College of Midwives has launched a pledge to protect maternity services over fears that savings in the NHS may have an impact on the amount of money spent on midwives and maternity services.

Stephen McPartland MP for Stevenage said: "We are very lucky in Stevenage to have secured the development of a purpose-built maternity unit at the Lister Hospital, as part of the new Government's investment in our local health service. First class maternity services must be a priority, as we bring babies into this world safe and sound."

As well as supporting the pledge, Stephen will be a member of the Royal College of Midwives' Parliamentary Panel, a group of MPs who will work with the RCM to be advocates for mothers and babies, maternity services and midwives.

Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "I am delighted that Stephen has signed up to this pledge, and really welcome his support. I also look forward to working with him as a member of our Parliamentary Panel. We need people such as Stephen who are in positions of political influence to fight for maternity services from the inside, so his decision to join the panel is very much appreciated. It is imperative that spending on maternity does not fall and that it matches the demands placed on maternity services. Great strides have been made in maternity provision over recent years with increasing choice and more midwives. We need to be building on this welcome progress and protecting it for the future."

Stevenage Orthodontics, Stevenage’s only specialist orthodontic practice, has backed the joint campaign of our local Member of Parliament Stephen McPartland and The Comet newspaper for a satellite radiotherapy unit to be based at the Lister Hospital.

Stephen McPartland said “I want to thank Rhonda and Jonathan from Stevenage Orthodontics for supporting the campaign and helping us to move towards 2000 signatures. This is exactly the support we need, to demonstrate we have the support of local people and local businesses. I am currently talking to some of the major employers in the town and hope they will throw their support behind our campaign also”.

Jonathan Alexander-Abt, Practice Principal said “we are pleased to have taken a pro-active role in supporting the Radiotherapy Campaign and are encouraging our patients to sign The Comet petition.  We have also offered to post the petitions in for those who might not be able to sign up online”.

Staff and customers have been consulted at length over the design for the new branch with the emphasis placed on banking for everyone; making people feel more comfortable in the branch, keeping queues to a minimum and opening when customers want.

A new branch of Barclays was officially opened at The Forum in Stevenage by MP Stephen McPartland amongst a day of celebrations and street entertainment. Stephen said: “I am delighted to be opening the new Barclays Bank branch in Stevenage Town Centre and welcome the investment they are making in our local community.  The technology on display and available to customers is absolutely fantastic and really does fit in with our ambition for an improved town centre.”

Andrew Fletcher, Barclays Area Director for the A1 Corridor said: “This new branch demonstrates our significant investment in Stevenage and our branch network as a whole, opening modern cutting edge branches in the right locations. Whilst the staff have always provided first class customer service, they now have a fantastic new branch designed to elevate the customer experience to even greater heights.”


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