Pendle Labour Party - Archived items: 2008
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Last updated: Sunday 30 December, 2012

31 December 2008
New mobile library service for rural Pendle
A new and improved mobile library has been launched in Pendle, taking the county council's library and information service to local residents living in rural areas.

The new replacement mobile vehicle offers an improved service and better customer access to people living in some of the most remote parts of the county and for those who find it difficult to get out and about.

The service operates daily on a two week rota visiting areas in Pendle, including:

Nelson, Colne, Briercliffe, Barnoldswick, Barrowford, Earby, Gisburn, Sawley, Middop…. and many more

As part of the replacement service Lancashire County Council has provided each van with £10,000 for new books. The new mobile vans also have improved access for people with mobility problems and disabilities, fitted with low rise stairs and a passenger lift for easy access so that customers can board to select their own books, and an induction loop system has been fitted for people with hearing impairments.

Each vehicle has been designed to feel as bright and spacious as possible in keeping with the newly refurbished libraries in Lancashire as part of the Regenerate scheme to transform and modernise library services and to ensure customers enjoy a comfortable and relaxing library experience.

In addition, partner agencies and other organisations such as the Police and Fire and Rescue will be able to use the mobile library to deliver important information and advice to people in hard to reach areas.

County Councillor Anne Brown, cabinet member for adult and community services said:

"I am delighted that we have been able to provide these new mobile libraries to provide a much improved standard of service to some of the most rural parts of Lancashire. Mobile Libraries always receive very positive feedback from their customers and I know that the service is much appreciated by its current users. I’m sure that everyone who uses these vans will find them as attractive and welcoming as I do."

New customers are always welcome and full details of the times and locations of mobile library stops in the Pendle area can be obtained by contacting Burnley Central Library on 01282 437115 or by visiting online at
Monday 15 December 2008
Equitable Life Policyholders should be compensated says Prentice
Thousands of people, including many in Pendle, who entrusted the world’s oldest mutually owned insurance company, Equitable Life, with their savings and whose pensions have, in many cases, been savagely reduced as a result of maladministration, should receive an apology from the Government says Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice. They should also get appropriate compensation.

The MP serves on the Public Administration Select Committee whose report on the Equitable Life saga is published today. The report unequivocally supports the Parliamentary Ombudsman who wants to see a compensation scheme established to pay for the loss that has been suffered by Equitable Life’s members.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "Like every other MP, I have constituents who were the innocent victims of a decade of regulatory failure. They thought they were putting their money into a safe and secure mutual and they relied on the regulators to alert them if anything was untoward."

"The report makes it clear that the central story of the Ombudsman’s investigations is the failure of the regulators to exercise the powers they had to ensure that a company with a sound reputation was in fact observing minimum standards."

The MP added: "This saga stretches way back into the 1990s, even before the current Government was first elected, and policyholders have had to wait far too long for justice. The Ombudsman’s report paints a damning picture of the prudential regulation of Equitable Life for over a decade."

The Government is expected to respond early in the New Year to the Ombudsman’s report which was published in July 2008.

The Public Administration Committee’s report can be read on the net at
Thursday 11 December 2008
MP backs move to ban Point of Sale Tobacco Products
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing plans by the Government to prohibit the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products at the point of sale.

He is signed up to a Commons Motion tabled by David Taylor, the MP for North West Leicestershire and a longstanding Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) campaigner.

Speaking from Westminster, Prentice said: "ASH reminds us that smoking is associated with more than 50 different diseases and disorders – many fatal. We have known for over half a century that smoking causes cancer yet we still allow tobacco to be promoted and displayed. People who continue to smoke lose an average of 16 years of life."

The Commons motion reads:

That this House welcomes the Government's announcement of legislation to prohibit point of sale display of tobacco products in the 2008 Queen's Speech; notes that the Department of Health estimates that this will lead to up to 2,800 fewer young people taking up smoking each year, saving many thousands of lives in the longer-term; and calls upon the Government to commit itself to open, full and genuine consultation with all affected and interested parties on the most effective means of implementation of this legislation, in line with its obligations under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which requires it to protect its public health policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.
Tuesday 2 December 2008
Nelson Youth Centre wins 'myplace' funding
Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, Bradley ward councillor, said: "This is fantastic news for residents in Nelson, but more so for the people of Bradley ward.

“It has been a long time coming but I would like to thank the county council for doing the leg work on this.”

More than 450 young people, aged 11 to 25, are expected to benefit from the new facility, which will feature a multi-use games area, internet cafe and computer room,.

Basic literacy and numeracy skills courses, careers, training and employment information are among the first services to be offered from the hub.

Residential courses are planned and classes for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme are set to be based there.

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, was also delighted to learn of the success of Nelson’s Leeds Road Youth Centre bid for government funding.

The MP said "£1.3 million has been awarded for a new youth and community centre on the Leeds Road site. This is excellent news and a great achievement for all involved. The money comes from the "myplace" pot, worth over £200 million, to provide safe places for all young people to go to and take part in a wide range of activities.

“You can do a lot with this huge sum of money. I’m sure young people in the area will be over the moon.”

The centre will benefit 11-25 year olds with a focus on 13-19 year olds Its design will be led by local young people and offer arts, music and drama workshops. There will be a cafe with internet access, an IT suite music studio and an indoor sports area
Tuesday 2 December 2008
Books for Africa
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has joined over 50 fellow MPs to pledge support for Book Aid International, a charity working in twelve countries of Sub Saharan Africa to increase access to books and promote literacy, education and development.

The charity was celebrating the success of its “Reverse Book Club” which encourages people here in the UK to buy vouchers or donate monthly for books to be sent to schools and libraries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The MP commented: “Over 500,000 carefully selected books go to some of the poorest countries in the world. It is something that really makes a difference.”

The Pendle MP is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries, Literacy and Information Management.

Friday 28 November 2008
MP relief at Colne Health Decision
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has expressed his relief at the news that the East Lancashire NHS is bidding to buy the ‘Kwik Save’ site on Craddock Street, Colne, for the long awaited new Colne Health Facility.

Speaking from Westminster, Mr Prentice said: “The decision to site the new facility next to Colne bus station and very close to the town centre must be the right one. This £10 million investment will be a significant boost to improving the health of the people of Colne and West Craven, and will be another major addition to the town following the SureStart Children’s Centre building opened last year. The new facility will need planning permission and I hope there will be no delays. I want Pendle Council to pull out all the stops.”

“The residents of Colne and West Craven will have a second opportunity to express their views on the services to be provided from the new health facility when the public consultation is repeated in early 2009. It is essential that the development is given top priority and the proposed launch date of early 2011 is achieved.”

Tuesday 25 November 2008
MP slams Liberata
Liberata, the back office functions company responsible for the administration of Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs), which recruited 100 employees in Nelson in September and sacked them in October was slammed today by Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice.

In a special adjournment debate called to highlight the fiasco, the MP told Education Minister, Jim Knight, that the company had failed to deliver on its contract and should face penalties.

Prentice told MPs: "EMAs are means-tested allowances of up to £30 per week which are paid to 16 to 19 year olds who stay in education. They are, in effect, an incentive to help persuade young people whose families don’t have a lot on money to stay in education. So, they are laudable. But the company couldn’t process the applications and huge backlogs built up."

Speaking afterwards, the MP said: "There has to be an inquiry into what went wrong. It is nothing short of scandalous that Liberata can walk away from this disaster of its own making without paying a penny in compensation."

Last week, the EMA contract from the Learning and Skills Council was transferred from Liberata back to Capita who had it from 2004 until last year.
Thursday 20 November 2008
MP gets debate on EMA fiasco
The Speaker has granted Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, a special adjournment debate on the Administration of the Education Maintenance Allowance on Tuesday 25 November 2008.

The Minister, Jim Knight, is expected to respond to the debate.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "Although Liberata has now lost the contract from the Learning ande Skills Council, there are lessons to learn."

"There are things that need to be said about the whole deplorable episode."

The MP raised the issue yesterday with the Prime Minister at PMQs.

Thursday 13 November 2008
Post Office Card Account
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, today welcomed the news that the Government is to keep the Post Office Card Account (POCA) whose future, for the past two years, has been uncertain.
In December 2006, Ministers announced there would be a successor to the POCA and the contract was put out to tender.

Today, the Work and Pensions Minister, James Purnell, told the Commons: "There is no doubt that the Post Office Card Account is central to maintaining a viable Post Office network. It not only generates a key part of the Post Office's income but also brings with it vital footfall to individual sub-postmasters."

Speaking from Westminster, the Pendle MP said: "This is absolutely the right decision. In Pendle 7,020 people have a Post Office Card Account and they don't need to be told how valuable and convenient it is."

"Given the huge financial turbulence over recent months, I want to see the trusted Post Office develop into a national bank."

The Post Office Card Account is a very straightforward account specifically designed to pay benefits administered by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency, Service Personnel and Veterans Agency and Inland Revenue tax credits.

Only benefits and pensions can be paid in and they are collected across a post office counter using a plastic card and PIN.

About four million people receive their benefits and pensions this way, including around two million pensioners.

The National Federation of Sub Postmasters had claimed that 3,000 post offices might close if post office did not receive the contract.

Monday 10 November 2008
Check up On your charity
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is encouraging local people to find out more about the charities they support by using a new online register. The independent regulator for charities, the Charity Commission, has launched a new Register which helps people to access information and thus increase the transparency and accountability of the sector.

Speaking from Westminster today, the MP said: "Eighty-five percent of the population give to charity, yet it has often been difficult to know how the money is being used. The new register makes it far easier for the public to see where their money has gone. At a time when the Third Sector is playing a bigger role than ever, and the Government is asking it to do more, the Charity Commission should be congratulated on this initiative."

"Pendle is home to many registered charities which are making a real difference to the community. Now it is possible virtually at the click of a mouse to find out more about both local and national charities. This can only be good for public trust and confidence in the charitable sector."

Further Information:
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator for charitable activity in England and Wales. The Register of Charities provides the definitive list of all charities in England and Wales registered with the Charity Commission.
See or for further information call their contact centre on 0845 300 0218

Wednesday 5 November 2008
MP hails Obama Victory
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States. The MP says Obama offers America a new and progressive future after eight years of foreign policy blunders and missed opportunities.

The MP said: “The disastrous war in Iraq alienated many of America’s friends around the world. And her unwillingness to address climate change issues caused despair.”

“This has been a watershed election. It is no longer business as usual. With global recession staring us in the face, the world is looking for great things from Barack Obama.”

The MP added: “What happens in the United States affects us all. The meltdown in global financial markets can be traced straight back to America’s sub prime mortgage crisis.”

Friday 31 October 2008
Brierfield to get NHS dentist
The long fight to have an NHS dentist based in the town looks has moved up a gear.The town's two Labour councillors, Naeem Ashraf and Nawaz Ahmed, have been campaigning for several months, along with Pendle MP Gordon Prentice, to have a dentist based in the Arthur Street health centre.
Writing to the MP this week, local NHS Chief Mr David Peat said: "The redevelopment of Brierfield Health Centre has provided the PCT with an opportunity to re-configure services and 1 can confirm that there are plans to include a dental suite with two surgeries as part of the development."
The announcement has delighted both councillors. Councillor Naeem Ashraf said: "This is clearly excellent news for the people of Brierfield and demonstrates that, with hard work and perseverance, local residents can and will benefit from this provision of two dental suites".

Councillor Nawaz Ahmed, who also represents Brierfield on The County Council, added "I would like to praise the efforts of Gordon Prentice, who helped me and Councillor Naeem Ashraf succeed where others previously have failed”. “I look forward to the new suites opening in early 2009.”

Tuesday, 28 October 2008
MP hails pension boost for women
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed news that women and carers are in line for a boost to their state pension. In an amendment to the Pensions Bill, likely to be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow, people without a full contributions record will be able to buy up to six “additional years” at a big discount.

It applies to men and women alike but is much more likely to benefit women who often have a broken contributions record as they take time out from work to look after others.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “Women in particular have been crying our for this change for years and I welcome the Government’s move. At the moment 90% of men but only 35% of women qualify for the full state pension and that is just not right.”

“The number of qualifying years for a full State pension is also being cut from 44 (for a man) and 39 (for a woman) to 30 for both men and women from April 2010.”

People will be able to buy up to six years of National Insurance contributions at £400 per year. For £2,400 they will be able to increase their pension by £960 per year.

The proposed change was described by pensions analysts in the Financial Times last Saturday as “an incredibly good deal”.

Further Information:
The Government announced that it intended to make such a change by way of an amendment to the Pensions Bill 2007-08. A Department of Work and Pensions Press release of 24 October said:

The government will today propose an amendment to the Pensions Bill to allow people to buy up to an additional six years of voluntary National Insurance contributions, over and above those permitted under the current time limits, in order to enjoy a higher state pension.

The measures are the latest part of a programme of reform that will see the state pension system offer a fairer deal to women and carers. They will benefit thousands of women who traditionally have incomplete National Insurance records and therefore often receive a low state pension. The proposals will apply to those who reach State Pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015 and who already have 20 qualifying years on their National Insurance record, taking account of Home Responsibilities Protection
Tuesday 28 October 2008
“Huit points”
Next June will give Pendleside residents the opportunity to vote in the European Parliament elections. Labour’s team for the eight North
West seats is headed up by consumer champion Arlene McCarthy.

As Chair of the European Parliament’s Consumer Protection Committee, Arlene has led successful campaigns for better rights for temporary
Agency workers, a crackdown on rogue timeshare traders and for a safer internet for children. Hardly surprising she’s been nominated for this year’s Woman of the Year Award!

Second on the list is veteran campaigner Brian Simpson who came to talk to Pendle Labour Party’s General Committee about his work in Europethis week. One of his key messages is that European Parliament elections are run on a proportional basis, so every vote counts.

The other six Labour Euro Candidates are: Theresa Griffin, Stephen Carter, Jane Clarke, Riaz Ahmad, Claire Johnston and Brian Boag.

Tuesday 28 October 2008
Robert Allen chosen for Pendleside's County Council Seat
Next year sees the election for seats on Lancashire County Council - the body responsible for roads, schools, social services and many other functions we take for granted. County elections only take place every four years, so it’s vitally important to get your vote in when the time comes.

Pendleside, together with Barrowford and Reedley, make up the County’s Pendle West division.

Labour has selected Reedley resident, Robert Allen, to stand for the County. Robert, who was born in Colne and has lived locally almost all his life, is the Constituency Labour Party Chair and works for a local environmental charity.

Robert says “There’s no doubt that if the Conservatives take over the County Council next year it will be cuts, cuts, cuts all the way. The Liberal democrats are a completely marginal party at County level, and their support in Pendle is plummeting, so I shall be fighting to take this seat for Labour.

Monday 27 October 2008
Pendleside Campaigning
Despite Saturday’s pouring rain a hardy band of Pendle Labour Party stalwarts delivered nearly 1,200 leaflets across Pendleside informing residents of the ‘double’ election due to take place on 4th June 2009. There are County Council elections for all 6 Pendle county divisions combined with the European elections for the 8 North West seats.

The leaflet delivery took in the villages of Higham, Fence, Wheatley Lane, Roughlee, Barley, Spenbrook and Newchurch.

The Pendleside villages form part of the Pendle West County Council Division which includes Barrowford and Reedley. The current incumbent is Shelagh Derwent for the Conservative Party but the local Barrowford and Pendleside Branch are determined to fight to win the seat with Robert Allen, from Reedley, as their chosen candidate.

The County Council election is the traditional ‘first past the post’ format where each division returns the candidate who polls the highest number of votes. Whereas, the European elections are a form of Proportional Representation where the total votes cast for a particular political party determines the number of representatives of that party, for the whole of the North West. There are concerns that holding the two elections on the same day using different voting systems will lead to confusion in the polling booth.

The Labour Party European candidates are led by Arlene McCarthy, the Consumer Rights champion; she is supported by Brian Simpson the European transport expert.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
MP calls for action to help Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing a call for better access to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. The MP spoke out after quizzing the Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Ailsa Bosworth, at Westminster on World Arthritis Day (15 October).

Commenting afterwards the MP said: “Four hundred thousand people in the UK live with this condition. It is an incredibly painful disease that can cause severe disability and, uncontrolled, can shorten life expectancy. In most cases it starts to affect people between 40 and 60 but there are as many as 12000 children under 16 living with the disease.”

“Many sufferers have to give up work early. Surveys have shown that people feel less depressed about their condition if they can stay in work but fewer than half say they have been offered support to stay in employment . Clearly more needs to be done to support people with this condition in the workplace effectively.”

The MP added: “I am also concerned that guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence is limiting the range of drug treatments available. The costs to the UK associated with the condition, around £4 billion a year including work-related disability, must surely be taken into consideration.”
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
MP backs pensioners
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today told members of the Pensioners Convention that pensioners, after a lifetime of work or caring responsibilities, deserve a retirement, free of worries about making ends meet. The MP said the Government had done a huge amount since 1997 but much more still needs to be done.

Pensioners from all over the country arrived at Westminster today to press the case for higher pensions.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “I have long argued for the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings which was broken years ago by Margaret Thatcher. The Government is committed to up rating the basic state pension by earnings in 2012. I’d like to see this happen before then.”

The MP added: “A big change is happening this month. Claiming benefits is being made simpler – and about time too. Pensioners will be able to claim Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit entirely over the phone, in one call, without having to fill in or sign a claim form.”

In 1997 the poorest pensioners lived on £69 a week - today pension credit means no pensioner need live on less than £124 a week - £189 for couples.

Since 1997, average net pensioner incomes have increased by 29% – compared with earnings growth of 16%.

We now spend around £12 billion a year more on pensioners than we would have done if 1997 policies had continued. Around half of this is going to the poorest third of pensioners.

Other support provided to pensioners includes: free bus passes – benefits 11m pensioners; free TV licences (over75s) – benefits 3.5m pensioners and free eye tests

Winter Fuel Payments are worth £200 for households with a person aged 60 or over; £300 for households with a person aged 80 or over. This winter there is an additional £50 for households 60-79 and £100 for households 80 and over.

(Since 1997, 900,000 pensioners have been lifted out of relative poverty and 1.9m out of absolute poverty.)
Tuesday 21 October 2008
Brian Simpson MEP to be Guest Speaker
Labour European MP, Brian Simpson will be the guest speaker at the Labour Party's General Committee meeting. Brian is Number 2 on the North West Euro list for the elections next year.

Brian was re-elected Socialist Group spokesperson for Transport & Tourism in 2008. He is also a member of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee where he acts as the Labour Party spokesperson.

Brian has held other postions within the European Parliament including, the Presidency of the Pariamentary Delegation for relations with Norway, Iceland and Switzerland and Vice President for the delegation with the former Yugoslavia. He is presently an active member of the Parliaments delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand.

Before becoming a Member of the European Parliament, Brian was a Teacher.

He was also a County Councillor for Merseyside County Council, a Member of the Merseyside Police Authority and Deputy Chair of Liverpool Airport. Councillor at Warrington Borough Council, where he was Deputy Chair of Finance and Chair of Performance and Policy Review.

The meeting will take place at Primet Community Centre, Albert Road, Colne commencing 7.15pm on Friday 24th October 2008
Wednesday 15 October 2008
MP urges action on tax havens
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is pressing for international action to deal with offshore financial centres, or tax havens.

The MP claims offshore centres are routinely used by companies and individuals to escape proper scrutiny and regulation.

Speaking from Westminster earlier today, the MP said: "The Banking Bill, introduced yesterday, will tighten up regulation and that is good. But it does not touch these offshore centres whose attraction to the super wealthy is secrecy, no taxes or very low taxes and non existent regulation. Even familiar UK financial institutions have operations based in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands of this world. Clearly, this is something that is crying out for international action."

Yesterday, the Pendle MP quizzed the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the issue, saying that when Northern Rock was taken into public ownership there were doubts that its Channel Islands based arm, Granite, was covered.

The MP added: "Finance and banking is too important to be left to financiers and bankers. They need proper regulation and accountability."
Wednesday 15 October 2008
MP calls for action on unclaimed billions
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is demanding action to tackle unclaimed benefits. The MP says that billions of pounds remain unclaimed every year.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “We need fresh thinking to address the scandal of unclaimed benefits. People who are entitled to the money, for whatever reason, don’t claim.”

The MP added: “The money should either be paid out as a “dividend” or top-up to those already receiving the benefit or, perhaps, some other imaginative way can be found to use the cash. The sums involved are staggering.

The Department for Work and Pensions publishes regular estimates of benefit take-up for the principal means-tested benefits - Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. The latest figures cover 2006-07.

Estimates of benefit take-up are given as ranges.

The MP said: “Taking all five income-related benefits together, there was between £6,180 million and £9,990 million left unclaimed in 2006-07. This compares to £34,630 million that was claimed and represents take-up by expenditure of between about 78 per cent and 85 per cent.”

“We also have a huge amount of unclaimed tax credits. HMRC estimates that between £3,290 million and £5,010 million in tax credits was left unclaimed in 2005-06, with a ‘central estimate’ of £4,140 million.

Estimates of the take-up of the Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are published by HM Revenue and Customs, using a similar methodology to that used by the DWP. The most recent figures are for the 2005-06 tax year.

Wednesday 8 October 2008
MP welcomes moves to stabilise financial markets
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today welcomed moves by the Government to restore confidence in the banking sector by injecting at least £200 billion into the system.

Speaking at Westminster earlier today, the MP said: "This should provide sufficient liquidity to ensure banks can do what they are supposed to do - lend to customers and support the real economy, the businesses that we all rely on in our daily lives."

"All the big High Street banks are participating in the Government's re capitalisation to make sure they have the money they need: Abbey, Barclays, HBOS, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Charter."

This afternoon, the MP quizzed the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the position of those who had lost money with the earlier collapse of Equitable Life. The Pendle MP told the Commons the Government should look again at the question of compensating people hit by Equitable Life going under, especially as the Parliamentary Ombudsman had said this was a result of ten years of regulatory failure.

The MP said: "People who put money into an Icelandic bank that has gone under are being compensated by the British Government. What about the Equitable Life people?"

The MP added: "What is happening here and around the globe will make people think afresh about the role of the State."

"It demonstrates in spades that Governments must actively intervene and regulate markets."

"The fabled light touch is, too often, a soft touch or, even worse, no touch at all. And look where that got us. A global financial meltdown of historic proportions where half of all mortgages in America are now the responsibility of the US Government."
Monday 6 October 2008
MP urges new Transport Minister to bring in new laws for learner Drivers
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has today written to the new Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, urging him to back proposals for a new graduated licence scheme as "a sure fire way of cutting road deaths".

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "The campaign, spearheaded by the Lancashire Telegraph, is targeted at young men who, behind the wheel, can be a menace to themselves and others."

"I want the new Transport Minister to look at the issue afresh. All my colleagues in East Lancashire, without exception, are signed up to the Telegraph's campaign."

The Government has so far ruled out a graduated licence and wants improved driver education and training. The Government's consultation on the proposed new drivers scheme ended last month.

Note to Editors: The Pendle MP had an adjournment debate on road safety in July. During the debate he said: "In East Lancashire, between 2000 and 2006, there were 22 male fatalities and three female fatalities resulting from accidents involving a young male driver—21 years old or under. However, where the car was driven by a young woman, there were no male fatalities and only one female fatality. That underlines the difference that gender makes. The problem is not with young women, but almost exclusively with young men.

A couple of months ago I had lunch with the editor of the Lancashire Telegraph, and I asked him how the wasted lives campaign began. He said that—these are my words, not his—he just got sickened and appalled, and dreaded going into the office on a Monday morning knowing that the paper would have to report some terrible carnage that had occurred on the roads in east Lancashire. It was his and his colleagues’ job to write them up. These are the kind of headlines that he was talking about: “Man, 24, dies in crash: garage worker battled to save trapped driver”, “Another Friday night, another senseless car crash”, “Not Again”, “It ruins lives”—so it goes on. It is an endless stream of horror stories.

The six MPs in east Lancashire are all signed up to the Lancashire Telegraph campaign, and have been reported and quoted in the paper as saying so. We, the Telegraph and the people of east Lancashire want graduated licences in two parts. Part one could be granted at age 17, but with restrictions, so that a 17-year-old could not drive on a motorway without an instructor, would have to adhere to a 50 mph maximum on all other roads, and could only drive cars limited to 80 bhp—brake horsepower—which I am told is something like a Ford Focus. Furthermore, crucially, these young people could not drive with passengers aged between 10 and 25 until they passed part two, which would be taken a year later at age 18. We think that the effective age at which a full driving licence can be held should be 18.

Under our proposals, drivers aged under 25 would not be able to drive between 10 pm and 6 am until they had passed the two parts of that test, unless they were supervised by a driver aged over 25. Furthermore, the probationary plates that I mentioned earlier would be mandatory. After passing part two, drivers would be restricted to a Ford Focus equivalent car and would not be allowed to carry passengers between 10 pm and 6 am for another two years. That might sound draconian, but tragedy has touched so many families in east Lancashire that we need such measures.
Tuesday 23 September 2008
MP urges Pakistanis to resolve their differances
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today warned that nuclear armed Pakistan was close to becoming a dysfunctional state, alternating between military and civilian Governments with neither addressing the real deep seated problems gripping the country.

The MP was speaking in Nelson after British Airways announced that it was suspending indefinitely all flights to Pakistan. BA flies into the capital, Islamabad, six times a week.

In a separate move, it was reported that the company that runs four visa application centres on behalf of the British High Commission had closed the sites for a security review.

The MP said: “When I was last in Pakistan, I stayed at the Marriott, the hotel that is now a burnt out shell. I have a vivid memory of the lobby and the restaurants and all the bustle that you get in a busy hotel. I am shocked by what happened, the deaths and the horrible mutilations of innocent people.”

The MP added: “For now, in the wake of the Marriott bombing, security is the headline issue. But, in the medium term, Pakistan has got to modernise and tackle widespread illiteracy. It has got to invest in education, transfer resources from its huge military budget, and root out the corruption that is endemic. There must be unity of purpose on these issues.”
“It is in everyone’s interest for Pakistan to become a stable, modern and democratic state. No comfort should be given to those with medieval ideologies who want to hold the country back.”

The Marriott bomb reportedly killed 53 people and injured 266, many seriously.

Tuesday 16 September 2008
Booths decision exposes Pendle Conservatives
"The decision of the Conservative dominated Barrowford & Western Parishes Area Committee to support the changes to the Booths planning application to build a new supermarket in Barrowford is undemocratic and pandering to 'business interests"', says Susan Nike, chair of the Barrowford Branch of the Pendle Labour Party.
The decision enables Booths to get started on the development of the new store despite the reduction in the number of car parking spaces from 125 to 88, where the 125 spaces was an essential condition for the granting of planning permission just a few months ago.

Barrowford Labour Party, at its monthly meeting, has expressed dismay that the Tory Councillors chose to ignore the advice by Philip Mousdale, an Executive Director of Pendle Borough Council, that a compromise approach was available. The Council's Development Control Committee could have been asked to consider the planning application and the Tory Councillors would have had the opportunity to present their case in a public forum.

The Tory Councillors voted unanimously to support the planning application amendment, despite concerted and sustained local opposition to the development. The local Labour Party is particularly concerned that residents' wishes are being completely ignored by the elected Conservative Councillors, with no explanation or open debate. Sue Nike comments "Are these the true colours of the 'new' Conservative Party, pushing business interests against the wishes of local people - is accountable democracy at stake here?"

Tuesday 16 September 2008
MP in Age Concern listening event
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is taking part tomorrow in Age Concern’s campaign to raise the issue of care for older people.

A Listening Event is taking place at Primet Hill Community Centre to allow people to talk to their MP about concerns they have with the care system. The MP said “This will be a useful opportunity to hear the issues people want raised in the run-up to the publication of the Government’s Green Paper on the care system later this year.”

Date: 17 September 2008
Time: 3.15 pm
Location: Primet Hill Community Centre (opposite Colne Railway Station)
Contact: Linda MacSween, Age Concern (442522) or Gordon Prentice’s office

Tuesday 16 September 2008
Hundreds sign up to stop the bus in Brierfield
Following his success in the local elections in May 2008, Brierfield Labour Councillor Naeem Ashraf has been working with Labour Group Leader, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal to gather an 800 name petition to get the hospital shuttle bus to stop in Brierfield.

Cllr Ashraf said “Even though I am not happy at some hospital services being moved to Blackburn, people in Brierfield are faced with a huge problem of either catching a normal route bus to either Burnley General or Nelson and then getting on the free shuttle bus to Blackburn hospital. I have had many people approach me to do something over the last few weeks which is why I started the petition to lobby the necessary people in power to adopt a common sense approach to this issue”.

Cllr Iqbal added “We have been overwhelmed with the huge number of people signing the petition in such a short space of time. Clearly, this is a very important issue and all we are asking on behalf of the people of Brierfield is that the bus stops at the main bus stop to allow passengers to get on and/or off instead of the nightmare of going to Burnley or Nelson with additional costs and delays in time . We have asked Gordon Prentice MP to raise this with the Primary Care Trust/ East Lancashire Hospitals Trust for a quick decision in favour of local residents”.

Gordon Prentice MP for Pendle said upon being presented with the petition at his office “I want the local NHS to have another look at this. The Shuttle bus goes through Brierfield at the moment. Stopping to take people to hospital seems like common sense to me”

Thursday 11 September 2008
MP vows action on Whitefield fiasco
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is demanding answers to why the much trumpeted regeneration of the Whitefield area of Nelson has stalled.

Earlier this month it was reported that English Partnerships were no longer backing proposals by the Whitefield Regeneration Partnership’s preferred partner, R.gen, because of concerns about how the plans would be financed.

Speaking from his constituency office in Nelson, the MP said: “Local people have been marched up to the top of the hill and marched down yet again. I can well understand the despair that people must feel.”

“Some parts of the area have improved thanks largely to the work of Elevate, the housing renewal pathfinder. But large parts of Whitefield resemble a bomb site. Properties, boarded up for years, broken windows and a general air of dereliction have blighted this area for too long.”

The MP is in touch with Pendle Council, Elevate, English Partnerships and the Whitefield Regeneration Partnership.

Tuesday 9 September 08
A member of the public has put a petition for the Skipton to Colne railway re-opening on the Downing Street petitions website.
More information can be obtained by following this link
Tuesday 2 September 2008
Lottery award will jump start young driver safety training
A £10,000 lottery grant awarded to Brierfield Action in the Community for young drivers has been welcomed by Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice.

The MP said: “The money is being targeted at young people, who are most at risk of committing driving related offences. They will attend a series of workshops on safe driving, on how accidents happen, how to avoid collisions, and on the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The young people will hear from members of the police and ambulance services and see an accident scenario at a local fire station. They will also learn about car maintenance.

“Earlier this year I raised in a debate at Westminster the terrible accident statistics amongst young drivers. A fifth of all new drivers have an accident within six months of passing their test, and a staggering 70 per cent. report near misses in the same period. On average, there are six times as many young male drivers killed as young women.

“I firmly believe there should be conditional or graduated licences which would put restrictions on what a young driver can do until he or she passed the final test of competence. In the meantime courses such as the one being developed by Brierfield Action in the Community are doing a vital job."
Friday 22 August 2008
Liberal Democrat Councillor challenged
Cllr Mohammed Iqbal leader of the Pendle Labour Group has challenged the Liberal Democrat Councillor for Waterside ward - Philip Boyle to step down following his move to live in Bradford.

Cllr Iqbal said “I think Cllr Boyle will find it very difficult to represent the people of his ward living 30 miles away in Bradford. If a resident has a problem and they want to see Cllr Boyle, will they have to take a ride to Bradford or will he refer them to his colleagues whilst happily claiming his allowances?”

Labour Party campaigner, Tony Martin added “I challenge Cllr Boyle to resign and let the people of Waterside choose a Councillor who at the very least lives in Colne”.

n.b. The Pendle Council web site shows Cllr Boyle’s new address if anyone wishes to verify the facts.
Tuesday 19 August 2008
MP congratulates Colnes Olympic Medal Winner
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, is sending his congratulations to Colne cyclist, Steven Burke, on his success at the Olympic Games in Beijing on Saturday. Steven won a bronze medal in the individual cycling pursuit.
The MP said : “This is a tremendous achievement and another sign of how successful British cycling has become. I am sure we will be hearing more of Steven in the future.”
Friday 6 August 08
Free Swimming for over 60s
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice has welcomed the government’s announcement of a £140 million package of grants to local authorities to enable free swimming for the over-60s from next year.

The MP said: "Swimming is the most popular participation activity for the over-60s. It’s ideal for older people as it’s a painless way of keeping fit and flexible. I know that there are already price concessions for this age group at Pendle’s swimming pools, but I hope the Council and Pendle Leisure will take up this offer.

"Authorities who want to take part in the free swimming offer must confirm their participation by 15 September. At the same time they can express interest in an important extension of the scheme, to make swimming free for under 16s as well."

"The package also includes £60 million for capital projects designed to modernise pool provision, with Sport England assessing the bids."

The announcement is part of the Government’s national drive to get two million more people active by the time of the London Olympics, now exactly four years away.
Tuesday 5th August 2008
Whitefield delay will bring more misery!
Labour Councillor for Whitefield ward, Cllr Asjad Mahmood has been inundated by worried residents concerned at the further delay to regenerate homes in Phase 1 of the Whitefield area. Cllr Mahmood said "I am disappointed that the Lib Dems led by Lord Greaves promised so much when they took control over four years ago but the reality is that nothing has happened on the ground in Stanley/Albert/Mosley/Portland/Appleby/Macleod Streets. Now with RGen on the verge of pulling out, the Lib Dems have no Plan B for what what they are going to do to help residents.
Wednesday 30 July 08
A staggering £10 billion in benefits went unclaimed last year according to the Citizens Advice Bureau. And now Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is urging people to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.”

Speaking from his constituency office in Nelson today, the MP said: “The CAB estimate that as many as 6 million people are not claiming benefits they are qualified to get. They say Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Working Tax credit are all currently massively under claimed.”

“With rising energy and food prices things are not easy for many people on modest incomes. New rules are coming into effect in October which will allow people to make claims and backdate their entitlement to three months. At the moment backdating can go back a full 12 months.”

“I don’t want Pendle people to miss out when benefits are there to help.”

Note to Editors: The Department of Work and Pensions confirms that up to 1.8 million pensioners are estimated to be entitled to pension credit but are not receiving it – the average weekly amount unclaimed is £28.40.

Up to 2.9 million people are estimated to be missing out on Council Tax Benefit – the average weekly amount unclaimed is £12.90.

Almost a million people are missing out on £2,280 million of unclaimed housing benefit. The level of non-take up amongst those in work is 50%

One million working-age adults without children (78% of those eligible for extra help) are failing to claim money from the tax credit system. For an adult working 30 hours a week earning the minimum wage, tax credits could boost their income by almost £1,700 a year.
Wednesday 23 July 08
Election law secrets mystify MP
Local Labour MP, Gordon Prentice, says it is “beyond his comprehension” for the name of the person who signs an electoral registration form on behalf of others in a household to be regarded as top secret.

The MP formally requested the Chief Executive of Pendle Council, Stephen Barnes, to disclose who signed the electoral registration form on behalf of all the voters at 214-216 Manchester Road, Nelson, the home of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Pendle, Afzal Anwar.

27 voters are registered at the Manchester Road address.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “I was told the information is confidential and cannot be released. It is an Alice in Wonderland situation that the name of the person who certifies and vouches for the eligibility to vote of other members of the household is regarded as a state secret. Especially where that person can be fined £1,000 for knowingly giving wrong information.”

“To this day, I have no idea who signed the electoral registration form on behalf of the other 26 adults at the Manchester Road address. Why this should be regarded as secret in an age of increasing openness and transparency completely mystifies me."”

The MP quizzed Sam Younger, the Chair of the Electoral Commission, who told him: “You raise a very important point about the transparency of how electors are currently registered. It is, however, just one of a number of fundamental flaws in the current system of household registration. We believe that, rather than amending the current system, the Government must introduce individual elector registration in Great Britain – including the collection from each elector of individual identifiers such as signature and date of birth. We believe this is the essential first step towards ensuring a sufficiently secure and transparent registration process.”

The MP commented: “As a result of my efforts and others, Government has now promised to introduce individual voter registration. The sooner the better.”
Wednesday 23 July 08
Olympic Bid
Pendle Labour Party send their best wishes to Colne cycling sensation Steven Burke on the eve of his Olympic bid. Steven's competitive spirit is well known and we wish him every success and a great time at the games.
Friday 18 July 08
Bradley Ward Labour Councillors investigate residents concerns regarding possible environmental issue

The Nelson Leader reported today that elected Labour representatives for Bradley ward; Mohammed Iqbal and Mohammad Sakib had been inundated with complaints over recent weeks. Councillor Nadeem Younis has also met with local residents. The concerns involve possible emissions from the site of Integrated Aluminium Components in Edward Street, Nelson.

Councillor Iqbal explained that residents had complained about smells and spots appearing on vehicles. "Some people have had their cars resprayed, only for spots to reappear. It always seems to happen when the flues are in operation". "I am hoping to have the matter discussed at the next Nelson Committee meeting in August"
He added "While I am a supporter of local businesses, they must realise that they have a duty towards their neighbours, This area includes many elderly residents and young people whose health is at potential risk."

The matter is under investigation by both Integrated Aluminium Components and the Environment Agency.
Thursday 10 July 08
Incentives for voting
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed Government proposals to give councils the power to provide incentives for voting in local government elections.

The White Paper: “Communities in Control: real people, real power” published earlier this week suggests councils could enter voters into a prize draw.

The White Paper (statement of policy) says voting incentives should not be construed as ‘paying for votes’ or create a major new financial burden on councils. Instead they should be viewed as an eye catching method to increase awareness and engagement, especially with young people who have never voted and who might view the process with suspicion.”

The MP commented: “I have been pressing the Government for years to allow councils to reward people for voting. In some countries, such as Australia, there is compulsory voting and people can be fined for not voting. So why not turn that on its head and positively reward participation?”

“When I first proposed this it was regarded as mildly eccentric.”

Note to editor: The White Paper states: “Many people view voting in elections as one of the duties of citizenship, and carry out their responsibilities every polling day. Increasingly, though, voting is seen as an arcane and alien process, which deters many people from taking part. This is especially true of young people, who are turning their backs on voting in elections in record numbers.

“As part of the new duty to promote democracy that we will place on local authorities, they should run information campaigns to explain the processes and implications of voting, especially to young people…
Tuesday 8 July 2008
Pendle Labour Party celebrates 60 years of the NHS
60 years ago, Labour created the NHS. It was born in a society where healthcare was exclusive, expensive and unavailable for many ordinary people. To most citizens, illness meant desperation, suffering and even destitution. Thousands died from diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and polio because they could not afford treatment. Britain needed a system that provided healthcare to everyone, free at the point of delivery, based on need and not the ability to pay.

It was the Beveridge Report that demonstrated the need for universal healthcare and it was the Labour Government that made it a reality. Despite opposition from the Tories, who voted against its creation, the NHS was launched in 1948. Through its early years, times were tough but the NHS helped the British people cope with post-war society. For the first time ever hospital services, family practitioner services (doctors, pharmacists, opticians and dentists) and community-based services were available to the public for free under one organisation.

April 2008
Why you should vote for Labour on 1st May
On 1st May voters in Pendle have a chance to make some changes. The current administration has failed the people of Pendle with the highest Council Tax increase in East Lancashire; it’s a sorry state of affairs.

Part of this increase is because people living in Nelson and Colne are being forced by the Lib Dems to vote for a new Town Council. How much extra will we all have to pay for “jobs for the boys (and girls)”?

New Labour Councillors are needed who will work with residents.

Labour candidates are standing on a platform of:

  • Cleaning up the rubbish blight that has got worse and worse since 2005. We will look at ways of re-introducing weekly refuse collections with recycling every fortnight.
  • Faster progress on housing regeneration. The government has given Pendle over £29 million in the last four years but very little change has taken place on the ground under the Lib Dems.
  • Continuing to work with our MP in a positive manner to bring back A&E to Burnley, unlike the other parties who are happy to make cheap political points at the expense of the NHS.
  • Keeping in touch - Labour candidates will keep residents informed about what they’re doing through regular surgeries.

    Please vote for your Labour candidate on Thursday to make a fresh start for a better Pendle.

March 2008
Gibb Hill not for sale!
At the March Nelson Area Committee Meeting, Azhar Ali (former Marsden Councillor ) and member of R.A.G.E. (the environmental pressure group) challenged Committee Chair, Cllr Foster to discuss the future of Gib Hill as an urgent item on the agenda and to resolve that Pendle Council write to Lancashire Care Trust informing them that 'Gib Hill is not for Sale'.
However, Cllr Foster refused to discuss the matter and said it was a decision for the executive.

After the meeting Azhar said: “The arrogant manner in which Cllr Foster refused to even discuss this matter proves that Pendle is heading towards what can only be described as Corporate Vandalism and the blatant rape of the green lung between Nelson and Colne. “If this land had been in Barnoldswick the Liberals would never use these tactics. If Nelson councillors do not have the power to stop the development of a mental health unit on Gib Hill then clearly the area committee run by Cllr Foster is a white elephant.”

March 2008
Walverden Labour councillor and former Mayor of Pendle, George Adam, has spoken out against a leaflet being circulated in Nelson and Colne purporting to blame Muslims for the heroin trade.

Cllr Adam said: "The leaflet is designed to incite religious and racial hatred and should be condemned by all right-minded people. That was why I challenged BNP Councillor Parker at the March Nelson Area Committee to publicly dissociate himself from it. To his shame he refused to do so.

"What is particularly upsetting is that the leaflet has been produced by a group calling itself the 'Preston Pals'. This name refers to a First World War Preston battalion most of whom gave their lives for this country in World War One. As Chairman of the Nelson branch of the Royal British Legion I take deep offence at seeing the name of this battalion being besmirched in this way. I have reported the leaflet to the Legion's senior officers.

"I hope the police and the Standards Committee for Pendle Council will take the matter further, though I appreciate that more publicity is probably just what this unpleasant party wants."
Political Rats
Labour activist Sheila Wicks has complained to Nelson Area Committee this month about the increasing amount of rubbish on the streets of Southfield ward. Acting chair of the committee, Lib Dem Gary Bird, did not refer the question to officers as he should have done, but allowed his party's ward councillor Sonia Robinson to speak. Instead of dealing with the issue, she tried to dismiss it by claiming that the question was political. To compound his mistakes, the chair then did not allow Sheila to respond.

"If there's one thing that has come back from our recent survey in Southfield ward," said Sheila afterwards, "it's the mess that the ward is in.

“You can hardly call rats political, yet I just had a complaint about them from a mother of young children when I was out canvassing in the ward last Saturday.

“If councillors can’t be bothered to refer problems to officers, they need to stand aside for people who want to get things done."
22 January 2008
Labour Leader calls for proper consultations over merger with Burnley
At an extraordinary meeting of the full Pendle Council, Labour Group Leader Councillor Mohammed Iqbal called for proper consultation with the people of Pendle over the proposed bid to merge into a new local authority with Burnley.

After the meeting, where the proposal was carried by 30 votes to 9, Cllr Iqbal said "This could be the biggest change to local authority structures in East Lancashire for years. The implications of moving out of Lancashire County Council control would be enormous. Yet there has been no proper discussion outside of the political groups.The economic case looks convincing - but the people should decide."
January 2008
Eileen Ansar leads fight against dangerous care home development
Local Labour activist, Eileen Ansar, took the fight against a new care home on Lowthwaite Drive in Clover Hill to Nelson Area Committee on 8 January. Together with neighbours she led the massive opposition to the proposal for a home for 60 residents.

Eileen said: “The Committee Chair, Councillor Foster, had a rebellion from members of his own party who supported Labour Leader Councillor Iqbal’s motion to refuse the plan. The application was denied and will go before the Development Control Committee on 23 January. We will be there again - watch this space!”

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