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

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.”

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.

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