Pendle Labour Party - Archived items: 2009
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Last updated: Sunday 30 December, 2012

Tuesday 29 December 2009
Challenge to County Highway Boss to face the public
Labour County Councillor George Adam and Nelson Councillor Nadeem Younis have challenged Lancashire County Council Highways Boss, Cllr Keith Young to attend the Nelson Area Committee meeting on Monday 4th January 2010 at Nelson Town Hall and face the public of Nelson over the gritting fiasco which has resulted in many people including elderly residents falling and breaking limbs.

Councillor Adam said “ Despite Cllr Young and his Tory colleagues here in Pendle promising to tackle the gritting issue, many residents have contacted me with details of injury to limbs and it is a sad indictment of how out of touch Cllr Young is that he is still sending out press releases praising his tactics. He should do the decent thing and resign over this fiasco”

Vice-Chairman of Nelson Area Committee, Cllr Nadeem Younis added “I would challenge Cllr Young to attend the Nelson Area meeting next week and listen to how wrong his tactics have been over the last 2 weeks. He needs to come out of his power tower and work with us to stop any further injuries being caused to Nelson residents”
Wednesday 23 December 2009
MP Says Foxhunting Ban Must Stay
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is adding his voice to those who say the foxhunting ban should stay, despite acknowledged difficulties in enforcement. He says he will be supporting the "Back the Ban" campaign which is to be launched on Boxing Day when the hunts traditionally gather.

The Pendle MP was a pivotal figure in forcing the Government to bring in its own Bill to outlaw hunting with dogs. Previous attempts to bring in a ban via the Private Members Bill route were regularly derailed.

The MP said: "I have always believed it quite wrong to kill animals for fun. I am appalled the Conservatives have promised to give time for a Commons vote to repeal the Hunting Act if they win the election."

"We should instead be closing the loopholes in the Hunting Act. We shouldn't allow people who take pleasure from killing wild animals to cock a snook at the law."

Tuesday 22 December 2009
Failing to deliver
Cllr Iqbal has been inundated from furious residents unable to get through to the County Council’s Contact Centre to report problems with a lack of grit.
Cllr Iqbal said “I have had calls from people who have been ringing and waiting for 30 minutes to report problems to the County Council. Despite, their promises of tackling the problem, the Tories have failed and the people in my area are angry and demanding action now.

Elderly residents in Regent Street, Nelson which is a main bus route have not seen any gritters since Thursday!

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal
Leader of the Labour Group

Monday 21 December 2009
Christmas Cheer
Pendle Labour Party held its annual fund raising Christmas fund raising ‘coffee morning’ last Saturday. The traditional ‘coffee and biscuits’ has in recent years turned into a good quality lunch provided by the treasurer, Sheila Wicks. As always a good number of Labour Party stalwarts turn out to catch up with colleagues and discuss all manner of developments both local and national. The photograph shows the group at the end of the lunch period when the raffle had been drawn and prizes distributed.
Friday 18 December 2009
Where are the extra gritters?
Despite promises of additional gritting vehicles for Pendle this winter, Labour County Councillors George Adam and Mohammed Iqbal are writing to Highway bosses demanding to know where the gritters have been in Nelson and Brierfield today.

County Councillor Adam said “I am disappointed that hardly any of the routes adjacent to primary schools were gritted. In addition, I have seen at first hand some of the chaos in parts of Nelson where residents have been stuck at home all day”

County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal added “despite the promise of additional gritters and grit, today is the first day of snow in Pendle and the Tory run County Council has fallen flat on its face by not delivering what they promised months ago. I have had calls from residents who are still waiting for their street to be gritted despite being on the gritting route. One question, people want an answer to is, where are the extra gritters today?
Thursday 17 December 2009
Pendle Jobless
The number of unemployed Pendle people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose marginally in November to 2,126.

This represents a rate of 5.3% of the economically active population, the 307th highest of the 646 UK constituencies. The number of people claiming JSA is 37 higher than in October 2009.

Local MP, Gordon Prentice, commented: "Unemployment in Pendle has risen but the increase has not been as sharp as many people predicted. The increase has been much lower than in previous recessions."

The MP added: "The Government is doing everything it can to keep people in work."

"We do not believe unemployment is a price worth paying."
Wednesday 16 December 2009
Boiler scheme will add to Pendle’s energy efficiency drive, says MP
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has congratulated Chancellor Alistair Darling on his innovative scrappage scheme that will pay people £400 to replace old heating boilers with new ones.

Speaking from his constituency office in Nelson, the MP said: “In the week the Climate Change Conference started in Copenhagen, it was great news that Alistair Darling had found an additional £200 million to help cut carbon emissions from homes.”

“A quarter of all the country’s emissions currently come from households. Each inefficient boiler adds a tonne of carbon to the atmosphere and over £200 to household bills.”

“The boiler scrappage scheme will help up to 125,000 homes replace the most inefficient boilers with new models.”

The MP added: “I have been pressing for an improvement in ‘feed-in tariffs’ for home energy production and I am pleased that the Pre-Budget Report also included the news that, from next April, people with a home wind turbine or solar panels who plug their excess power into the national grid will receive on average £900 a year tax free.”

“The latest measures will further extend the Warm Front scheme, which has already helped over 9,000 people in Pendle insulate their houses and heat them more efficiently.”

“On top of that, Pendle Borough Council’s Home Energy team manages a number of schemes to help households get the best advice and the maximum support to improve their energy efficiency. Grants are available to all households, including privately owned houses. Pendle Council also have a novel initiative to lend householders a Home Energy Monitor free of charge for a month. These devices show people how much energy they are using and what it costs. This in turn can lead to more efficient use of energy and cost savings.”

The Pendle Home Energy Services team can be contacted on 01282 661026 or email at

Wednesday 16 December 2009
Lib Dem call for By-Election to cost £10,000!
A further resignation last month by Lib Dem Nelson Town Councillor Lawrence Collett has now led to 10 known Lib Dem supporters calling for a by-election in Walverden ward. This will cost Pendle taxpayers’ up to £10,000 for the by-election.

Nelson Town Council Chairman, Cllr George Adam said “ The Lib Dems set up the Town Council and in the last 12 months we have seen 3 Lib Dem resignations, this clearly shows that they are not committed to Nelson. To make matters worse, a known group of Lib Dems have now got the cheek to call for a by-election on 11th February 2010, this will cost thousands of pounds”.

Nelson Labour Councillor Eileen Ansar added “it is disappointing that the Lib Dems can’t be bothered to attend meetings or work with other Councillors to help Nelson residents. Instead they are resorting to wasting Pendle residents’ money by calling this by-election. The Lib Dem leadership needs to realise that Pendle people do not want them wasting money on this by-election”
Tuesday 15 December 2009
Labour Councillors to start Brierfield Surgery
Lancashire County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal and Brierfield Labour Councillor Naeem Ashraf are to commence monthly surgeries from Brierfield Library commencing Saturday 19th December 2009 between 11am and 12pm.

Cllr Iqbal said “I am committed along with my colleague Cllr Ashraf to listen and work with Brierfield residents in relation to Pendle and Lancashire issues. Please come and visit us at the Library every 3rd Saturday in the month”.

Tuesday 15 December 2009
Resign or spend the money!
Bradley ward Labour Councillors are demanding the resignation of Lib Dem Housing boss Sonia Robinson over her poor management of £10.5 million pound Government Regeneration money designated for Pendle. With only 3 months left in the financial year, there is still £7,495,702 (71.2% of the total budget) to spend with a crisis management policy being adopted at the Housing Market Renewal Committee meeting on 14th December 2009.

Labour Leader and County Councillor for Bradley, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “I asked questions as to why one of the major landmarks in Bradley – Tall Buildings, Leeds Road was not in the plans for regeneration for the current financial year. I was told that there were some structural issues which need looking at and there is a strong possibility that these premises will never be done. This is a scandal as the Government has injected a huge amount of cash into Pendle yet Cllr Robinson has been guilty of not having her finger on the pulse. It’s no good rejecting good projects whilst sitting on such a huge amount of money – she needs to go!”

Cllr Nadeem Younis also attacked the lack of progress “For months now, residents have demanded that urgent action is taken to address the back streets in Bradley. I am disappointed that Pendle Council has still not persuaded Elevate to use the £300,000 designated for one street to be reallocated to improve a number of streets such as Rear Charles/Rook Street, Bankhouse Road to name a few”

Cllr Mohammad Sakib added “There is severe deprivation across many parts of Pendle, yet Cllr Robinson and her Liberal colleagues seem totally oblivious to the issues. Maybe they are short on ideas and need to move aside for people who will spend the money allocated by the Government”.

Monday 14 December 2009
Ashcroft: decision next month
Details of the secret undertaking Michael Ashcroft gave nine years ago to the now defunct Political Honours Scrutiny Committee as he was being considered for a life peerage could be released next month, says the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

In a letter to Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, dated 11 December, Graham says a Decision Notice "looks likely sometime in the New Year".

He goes on: "I hope this can be achieved before the end of January but the new case officer has to seek further information from the Cabinet Office in order to complete his investigation."

When Michael Ashcroft was considered for a life peerage in 2000, on the recommendation of the Member for Richmond, the then Leader of the Conservative Opposition, William Hague, Number 10 Downing street issued a statement in March 2000. It said that Michael Ashcroft had given a clear and unequivocal assurance that he would take up permanent residence in the UK by the end of the year. That he would become, in effect, a UK resident for tax purposes. The statement also said his undertaking had been endorsed by Hague.

The MP has an adjournment debate this evening (14 December) which will address these issues.

He first raised the Ashcroft issue with the Cabinet Secretary over two years ago. It was rejected on the grounds that material given in confidence should not be released. The MP's Freedom of Information request has been with the Information Commissioner since 4 April 2008.

Speaking from Westminster, the Pendle MP said: "Nine years down the line we still do not know if Lord Ashcroft is a UK resident for tax purposes. Tonight, I shall be pressing the Government to amend the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill, which is currently before the House, to make it impossible for non doms to serve in the UK Parliament, Commons or Lords."

"There is an overriding public interest in seeing the terms of the undertaking which took Michael Ashcroft into the legislature for life. It is not a private matter."

The MP added: "The matter goes not have to wait until after the election. It can be done now. And, given what he said yesterday, David Cameron will have to vote for the amendment."

Wednesday 09 December 2009
Barrowford Labour Party calls for grot spot action
Barrowford Labour Party is calling on the village’s Borough Councillors to do more to deal with grot spots in the village. The latest eyesore they have brought to the Councillors’ attention is the area beside the electricity sub-station at the bottom of John Street.

Labour activist Susan Nike said: “It is incredible that we in the Labour Party, or through the Parish Council, have to point out to Councillors the existence of piles of rubbish like this, when they have all the resources of the Council at their disposal.”

“The residents of John Street have put up with this mess for long enough. The site will just continue to attract rubbish the longer it is left.”

Tuesday 08 December 2009
Conservative Confusion over Child Tax Credit
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, is pressing the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, to clarify Conservative policy on Child Tax Credits.

At the Conservative Conference in October, Osborne pledged to get rid of Child Tax Credit for households on more than £50,000 a year in total, claiming this would raise £400 million.

However, analysis by the Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper, shows that cutting Child Tax Credit for families on more than £50,000 would only raise £45 million. To raise £400 million they would need to cut it from a couple earning as little as £16,000 each - less than average earnings.

Speaking from Westminster, Prentice said: "10,400 families in Pendle receive Child Tax Credit and they must be very worried about what might be round the corner."

"We already know the Conservatives are promising an "age of austerity" - for some. They will freeze the salaries of everyone employed in the public sector who is earning £18,000 a year or more."

"This would hit around 63% of Pendle people employed in the public sector."
Thursday 03 December 2009
Let the bankers resign says MP
News that the directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland have threatened to resign if they are not allowed to pay million pound bonuses to their investment banking staff has shocked Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice.

The MP has tabled a Commons motion urging the Government to accept "without hesitation" the resignations of the directors when they are offered.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Which planet do these bankers live on? When their resignations are accepted they can find another job in banking elsewhere. Perhaps in Dubai."

The City Minister, Lord Myners, today disclosed that at least 5,000 bankers will be paid more than £1 million this year.

The cost to the Government of bailing out the banks amounted to £74 billion - or £4,350 for every family in the UK.

Wednesday 2 December 2009
Pendle Labour Party hails schools cash bonanza

Four Secondary Schools in Colne and Barnoldswick to Get Millions Thanks to Labour’s 'Building Schools for the Future' Funding.

Labour Councillors in Pendle are over the moon at the news that four secondary schools in Colne and Barnoldswick are to receive millions of pounds worth of investment from the government’s Building Schools for the Future fund.

Labour group leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said: “Pendle is getting the lion’s share of the £85 million investment coming to East Lancashire schools, which is tremendous news.”

“The schools to benefit will be Park, Primet and Fisher More in Colne, together with West Craven in Barnoldswick, which means that all secondary schools in Pendle are now in receipt of BSF funding. Pendle Vale and Pendle Community High School in Nelson are already up and running, and Marsden Heights in Brierfield is scheduled to open next year.”

"Former Labour County Councillor Tim Ormrod, a governor at Primet, tells me that for some time now they have been discussing a proposal for co-locating Primet High, Primet Primary and Pendle View schools and that now the funding is confirmed things will firm up quickly."

Cllr Iqbal added: “The Conservative Cabinet Member for Education in Preston speaks of ‘finishing the job we have started in the East of the County’. But people in Pendle know that the Building Schools for the Future project is part of Labour’s record investment in schools since 1997, which was needed to make up for the years of neglect from the last Tory government.”

“All this investment would be put at risk by Tory plans to slash the schools building programme by £4.5 billion. It’s time for David Cameron to come clean to teachers, parents and pupils across the country on which new school buildings they would axe. Where are the 360 schools which will no longer be re-built and get the investment they have been waiting for?”

Tuesday 01 December 2009
Huge iInvestment in Pendle schools
Government cash will be pouring into Pendle secondary schools as a result of this week's announcement on the BSF Programme (Building Schools for the Future)

Four secondary schools in Pendle will share in the £100m being made available to nine East Lancashire schools.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "This is a real boost to Pendle and I am delighted the secondary school rebuilding programme is continuing. We already have a brand new school in Pendle Vale and another, Marsden Heights, opening next year."

"This new investment is very welcome indeed."

Monday 30 November 2009
Moves to prevent repossessions
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice has welcomed the new campaign being launched by the government to further publicise the advice and help available for householders worried they may come under threat of repossession.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said “Over 300,000 households have already received help and advice with their mortgage over the last year and 136,000 are now benefiting from lenders offering more tolerant terms. The programme is clearly working as the Council of Mortgage Lenders has revised its forecast for repossessions this year down by over a quarter.”

“Now John Healey, Minister for Housing and Planning, has told me he is expanding efforts through national and local advertising to include more areas where people are at a higher risk of losing their home.”

“This is in addition to changes to regulations designed to make sure consumers know what help they can expect from lenders if they get into difficulty, and thus to ensure repossession is a last resort.”

“The new rules will also mean lenders have to consider if borrowers can benefit from help such as the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme and the Mortgage Rescue Scheme.”

A new website can provide tailored information on help and protections available.

Friday 27 November 2009
Ambulance Service under the Spotlight
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice, is to meet the Chief Executive (Darren Hurrell) and Chair (Mary Whyham) of the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) at their Lancashire headquarters in Broughton, Preston, next Friday, 4 December.

The MP aims to learn, first-hand, about the impact on the ambulance service of the controversial changes to Accident and Emergency provision in East Lancashire two years ago - and what still needs to done.

From his Constituency Office in Nelson the MP said “The recent Care Quality Commission performance ratings for 2008/09 show that the expected response times for emergency category A calls (8 minutes) and Category B calls (19 minutes) are not being achieved. It is now two years since the hospitals’ A&E services were
reconfigured with all emergency patients being shipped to Blackburn.”

“There still appear to be problems in getting emergency patients to Blackburn and then making sure they are treated within the 4 hour target.”

The MP added: “Recent press coverage of a paramedic’s concerns about ambulance service performance must be worrying many people. The number of ambulances is greater the closer you get to Blackburn.”
Friday 27 November 2009
Barrowford Councillors meet Gordon Brown
Local Labour Party activists and Barrowford Parish Councillors, Robert Oliver and John Pope were invited to a ‘get-together’ at 10 Downing Street this week. The invitation from the Prime Minister and Mrs Brown, was to meet the Prime Minister and other government ministers in an informal atmosphere.

Labour activists, MPs and Labour Party officials from across the country shared their prospects for the coming elections.
Mr Brown gave an amusing and encouraging address and then everybody was let loose to visit the cabinet room, the ‘moon rock’ gift from the USA and the stately rooms.

Robert Oliver commented that “it was good to have a short chat and a photograph with the PM. It was very useful meeting other supporters from across the country to share ideas and compare notes.

Wednesday 25 November 2009
English Heritage holding Whitefield residents to ranson again!
Labour Councillors in Nelson have reacted angrily following a meeting yesterday between Pendle Council, Lancashire County Council officers and a delegation from English Heritage to discuss the proposed site of a new primary school in Whitefield.

Whitefield Labour Councillor Asjad Mahmood who attended the important meeting said “I am extremely disappointed and angry that yet again English Heritage officials are putting the future of Whitefield residents and their children at risk by putting up hurdles at every opportunity. The school site which was approved a number of months ago is an integral part of kick-starting the regeneration of one of the most deprived areas in England but despite officers from both Pendle and Lancashire Councils making tremendous efforts to work with English Heritage, the effort seems to be a one way process. All the residents are sick and tired of English Heritage officials none of whom live and work in Whitefield sticking their oar in. I have one clear message to English Heritage on behalf of all the residents in Whitefield – either work with us or leave us alone!”

Labour County Councillor for Whitefield Mohammed Iqbal said “I intend to pursue this matter through other avenues to resolve this impasse caused by English Heritage; we will never forgive English Heritage if this multi million pound investment in education is lost due to their stubborn attitude”.
Tuesday 24 November 2009
MP calls for Afghan exit timetable
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is calling on the Government to set a timetable for the transfer of full responsibility over internal security to the Government of Afghanistan.

The MP is supporting a cross party amendment to the Queen’s Speech which urges the Government to present a report to the Commons before the end of January which will set out the Government’s Afghanistan strategy and a timetable for transfer of responsibility for security. The amendment, which appears on the Order Paper today, could be debated on Thursday at the end of the five day debate on the Queen’s Speech which sets out the Government’s programme for the new session.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "No-one wants an open ended commitment which sees our forces in Afghanistan for years to come. That is why an exit strategy is imperative."

"In the Commons yesterday, I told the Foreign Secretary that the Canadians have resolved to withdraw their combat forces from Kandahar in 2011. Their region is next door to ours in Helmand and they, like us, have lost many soldiers."

"There is a complete consensus in Canada that 2011 should be the end date for their military commitment in Afghanistan. If we asked people here, I am sure they would want an exit strategy too."

"Setting a date would focus the minds of the Afghans on what needs to be done to build a modern state out of a medieval one."

Saturday 21 November 2009
Guilty verdict welcomed by Labour Leader
The decision of the Standards Committee of Pendle Borough Council which found Lib Dem Cllr Tony Greaves guilty of breaching the Code of Conduct has been welcomed by Labour Leader, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal who was the subject of verbal abuse by the Lib Dem peer.

Cllr Iqbal said “I am pleased that despite his attempts to stall the process for over 8 months, Cllr Greaves has been found guilty of his swearing towards me. Clearly, I am somewhat disappointed that no sanction was imposed but would strongly urge Cllr Greaves to sign up for an anger management course as he has a very poor track record of 'losing his rag' and trying to bully other people. If he can’t bear any criticism, then maybe it’s time for him to consider retirement.”
he report prepared by the Monitoring Officer (PDF 51KB)

Wednesday 18 November 2009
Landfill Tax Is Good for Pendle
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed the report of the Lancashire Environmental Fund detailing the projects which have been supported through the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF).

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said “Over £100,000 has been allocated from the LCF to projects in Pendle over the last two years, including Linden Road Community Centre; Blacko Recreation Ground; Higherford Mill; and woodland planting in Earby.

“The LCF uses a proportion of the tax on landfill operators for environmental and community projects located near landfill sites. In Lancashire it has already supported over 600 projects with a total of nearly £17 million.”

The MP added: “Even though a wide range of not-for-profit organisations can receive money from the LCF, it is not a widely known source of funding. I am pressing Ministers to ensure the scheme continues in the long term."

In the past two years the Lancashire Environmental Fund has supported the following through the Landfill Communities Fund:
Phase 3 Higherford Mill, Barrowford £50,000
Blacko Recreation Ground refurbishment £25,000
Linden Road Community Centre environmental improvements £12,417
Matfield Farm, Earby, New Woodland for Lancashire £20,586

Friday 13 November 2009
Referendum - yes or no
(letter submitted to Nelson Leader/Colne Times)
Dear Sir,

Lisbon Treaty referendum – yes or no

Our self-styled Prospective Conservative MP for Pendle has some answering to do. When it suited him he wrote to your paper calling for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and saying he would be campaigning for a resounding no vote.

Two years ago, 46 Conservative MPs, including Ribble Valley MP, Nigel Evans, and former Conservative leader, Ian Duncan Smith, expressed their view that there should be a referendum on the Treaty – even if it had been ratified.

Well, all Member States have now ratified the Treaty which is anticipated to come into effect on 1 December.

David Cameron’s “cast-iron” guarantee to have a referendum has been shown up as worthless.

So where does Mr Stephenson stand?

Does he still want a referendum – yes or no?

Bob Allen

Wednesday 11 November 2009 
Pendle jobless down again
The number of people in Pendle claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in October 2009 was 2,089 - 60 lower than in September 2009. This represents a rate of 5.2% of the economically active population, the 323rd highest of the 646 UK constituencies.

Local MP, Gordon Prentice, said: "I am hopeful that the economy will soon be out of recession. Unemployment here in the UK is well below comparable developed countries. That is the simple fact."

The Office of National Statistics publish a range of labour market statistics along with the claimant count data. This is available at:

Tuesday 10 November 2009
£16,000 spent on improving popular ginnel
A muddy and overgrown footpath in Nelson has been transformed following a £16,000 makeover by Pendle Council.

The ginnel, which runs from Barkerhouse Road to Hallam Road, past St. John’s Church graveyard, has had a tarmac surface laid.It’s now suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs and pedestrians no longer need to wade through in their wellies! The work has been carried out as part of a programme of urban ginnel improvements throughout Pendle.

Pendle's Lancashire Local committee allocated £10,400 during 2009-10 to support the cost of improvements to urban ginnels across Pendle. Pendle Council's Nelson Committee has also supported the cost of this work.

Councillor George Adam, Chair of the Nelson Committee and a member of Lancashire Local Pendle, said: “I am delighted with the improvements to this footpath.

“It used to get very muddy so it was not much good for people using it to get to school or the shops. Now the footpath can be used throughout the year without getting dirty shoes. It will also be good for parents with pushchairs and elderly and disabled people.”

Peter Atkinson, whose team at Pendle Council organised the work, said: “Over the last few years we have carried out several projects to improve the footpaths in Nelson. This makes it much easier for people to get about on foot. Hopefully this will encourage more people to leave their car at home."

“After all, walking is good for your health and it’s good for the environment.”

For further information please contact: Rebecca Sutcliffe (formerly Heseltine), Communications Team, Chief Executive's Policy Unit, Pendle Council, Town Hall, Nelson, BB9 7LG
Monday 09 November 2009
Health Minister concedes internal review of Burnley Urgent Care
Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, today asked Mike Farrar, the Chief Executive of the North West Strategic Health Authority to undertake a special review of Burnley General’s Urgent Care Centre.

The move came during a 45 minute meeting at the Whitehall HQ of the Department of Health with Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, who has called for an independent review of accident and emergency provision in East Lancashire.

But Burnham told the Pendle MP that he could not give a commitment to an independent review – precisely what the MP has been demanding. Prentice says that what is on offer "is not enough".

Speaking after the meeting, Prentice said: "The Minister told me he did not want to raise any expectations, and his offer of an internal NHS review is in no danger of doing that. My position remains unchanged. We will only be able to move forward if we have an independent review by clinicians with no axe to grind. I told the Minister I would accept the findings of such a review, with agreed terms of reference, and be bound by them. But what is being offered falls very far short of what I want."

"I told the Minister I wanted A&E back at Burnley but with a protocol published setting out the medical and surgical conditions Burnley would or would not be able to treat."

"Burnley already offers far more than a nurse led Urgent Care Centre. It has a consultant in emergency medicine working from 9-5 and 24 hour Senior Registrar cover. Emergencies are already admitted in obstetrics and gynaecology. There is no reason whatsoever why A&E cannot be brought back. It is, overwhelmingly, what people want."

"Mike Farrar conceded that implementation of the original proposals have been very poor. This is the understatement of the year as Blackburn’s A&E waiting times were the worst in England."

"The Health Secretary pointed to mortality figures as evidence that the changes were working. But even there, I pointed out that these could be explained by changes other than the reconfiguration of A&E."

"When it examined the changes to NHS hospital provision, Lancashire County Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee took the view that: "The NHS must demonstrate that what was promised under MPN (Meeting Patients Needs) is being delivered. It should publicly prove that the reconfiguration is giving better outcomes for patients and has not been carried out for financial reasons. If this cannot be proven then the case must be made as to why a fully functioning round the clock Emergency Department cannot be provided at Burnley General Hospital as well as Royal Blackburn."

"The fact is that for two years, Blackburn has not been able to deliver on the maximum four hour wait in A&E."

"I wait to hear from the Secretary of State what the timetable is for this internal review and how it is to be progressed."
Thursday 05 November 2009
"One Stop Shop" Helpline for Workplace Rights
A new helpline for workers and employers has been set up to replace five separate lines for anyone looking for employment advice.

The new line will handle queries about pay, hours and deductions relating to:

  • The National Minimum Wage
  • The Agricultural Minimum Wage
  • Working Time
  • Employment Agency Standards
  • Gangmaster Licensing

Speaking from Westminster, Pendle MP Gordon Prentice said. “This single point of contact will be very welcome to all those who are unsure of their workplace rights.”

“A recent YouGov poll has shown that there are a number of vulnerable groups who are less aware of their rights than the general population. For example, nearly half of those surveyed wrongly thought that employment agencies can charge workers a fee for finding them a job.”

“Easy access to correct information is particularly important for people in low wage jobs in Pendle. The recession should not become an excuse to deny people their
basic rights at work.”

“Employers will benefit from a more level playing field if problems arising from the small minority of employers who do not comply with legislation can be tackled.”

The helpline number is 0800 917 2368. The textphone number is 0800 121 4042. Information is also available on and

The Helpline has been developed in cooperation with employers, trade unions and the different enforcement agencies across Government.
Thursday 05 November 2009
Change to Savings Rule for Over-60s
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice has welcomed an important change to benefit rules for older people which takes effect this week. The amount of savings that will be ignored in calculating Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit goes up by £4,000.

Speaking from Westminster the MP commented: “This year’s Budget announced plans to increase the capital threshold for these benefits for anyone aged 60 or over from £6,000 to £10,000. The higher threshold begins this week and will apply to both new and existing claims. Those already claiming Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit don’t need to do anything as their benefit will be updated automatically. The change will increase the income of around half a million pensioner households by an average of £4 per week.”

The MP added: “This will help to offset the current historically low interest rates which have particularly impacted on pensioners, as they are more likely than people of working age to draw income from savings.”

““For those unsure whether they are eligible for any of these benefits, Lancashire’s Welfare Rights Helpline on 0845 053 0013 will check their entitlement.”

Wednesday 04 November 2009
Barrowford Labour Members question Victoria Park decisions
At the October meeting of the Barrowford Labour Party concerns were raised about the handling of the creation and removal of the Sensory Garden in Victoria Park. A number of members were unhappy with the haste with which Pendle Borough Council had demolished the garden, with no reference to individuals or groups involved in setting it up.

Although the specialist garden was constructed in the Barrowford part of Victoria Park, it had originally been approved only by the Nelson Area Committee, without being referred by officers for consultation with Barrowford Parish Council or Barrowford & Western Parishes Area Committee Area Committee representing Carr Hall residents.

Robert Oliver, Barrowford Parish Councillor for Carr Hall and Labour Party member, was unhappy with the way the whole incident had been handled, saying “Both the decision to put the Garden up and the one to take it down were not handled well. Although the Garden had clearly fallen into disrepair and was dangerous, I am surprised that the original users were not informed what was to happen.

“Barrowford Labour Party has written to Ann Kerrigan, the Lib Dem Executive Member for Parks and Leisure, requesting an explanation of the whole process.”

“I think the important thing is that local people, through their representatives, need to be involved in any major changes, to ensure that all views are taken into account in decision making process”.

For further details contact John Pope, Secretary, on 07714 263 360.

Monday 26 October 2009
MP renews call for Mandatory Register of Lobbyists
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has renewed his call for a mandatory register of lobbyists which should be managed and enforced by a body independent both of government and the lobbying industry.

Responding last Friday to the Public Administration Select Committee’s inquiry into lobbying, the Government ruled out a statutory register, saying its preferred approach remains voluntary self regulation.

The Government also rejected calls to publish details of meetings between senior civil servants and outside interest groups saying this “would involve collating a huge amount of information and divert significant resources within departments”.

Speaking from Ottawa where he has been participating in a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference on the theme “Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy”, the MP said: “This is a hugely disappointing response. We need as much transparency as possible to show who is lobbying whom and to what purpose .”

The MP added: “Many countries, including Canada, have a mandatory register of lobbyists and, after a few moans and groans, they all get on with it and make it work. Canada also requires senior decision makers in the public service to disclose meetings with interest groups.”

“The Government’s decision to stick with voluntary self regulation is simply postponing the inevitable. A mandatory register of lobbyists will arrive, sooner or later.”

The Pendle MP is a member of the Public Administration Select Committee. He also chairs the All Party Canada Group at Westminster.

Monday 26 October 2009
33 Carr Road improvements
Pendle Labour Party offices at 33 Carr Road, Nelson, have had a much needed facelift. The offices, which are also the constituency base for Pendle Labour MP Gordon Prentice, were beginning to look in need of a lick of paint, as a number of new businesses have opened at the Every Street end of Carr Road and all have revamped the fronts of their premises.

At the September Executive Committee meeting of the local Labour Party, funds were allocated to the project and pretty soon the improvements were started.

The front has been repainted, with House of Commons green on the door, and the footpath and front area have been renovated and smartened up. The grand Nelson Weavers letter-box is still in place.

Replacement signs have been put up and the picture shows the much improved front.
Monday 19 October 2009
Prentice Supports Ramblers on Coastal Access
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is supporting the Ramblers campaign to push through the Marine and Coastal Access Bill which is entering its final stages in the House of Commons on 26th and 27th October.

Existing coastal access can be very limited. In some places, like the south west (where the coastal path generates over £300 million for the regional economy every year), access is great. But all too often it is fragmented and of poor quality. The Ramblers would like to see people given the opportunity – and the legal right – to enjoy all of the coast for generations to come.

The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, when implemented, will make this a reality with the creation of a national trail around the whole of the English Coast.

The MP said today, “I agree wholeheartedly with the aims of Bill and the opening up of the coastal paths to walkers and visitors. There are currently far too many restrictions on where the general public can walk to enjoy our magnificent coastline.

“This Bill follows the Right to Roam legislation that I was instrumental in getting through Parliament in 2000. This latest Bill is an essential addition to that 2000 foundation.”

Mr Prentice is the newly elected President of the East Lancashire Area of the Ramblers and has recently been visiting local schools encouraging young people to explore the local countryside and enjoy the varied network of footpaths across Pendle.

Monday 19 October 2009
Ann Cryer, MP for Keighley, supports Pendle Labour
Keighley MP, Ann Cryer, gave an entertaining and insightful speech at a fund-raising dinner for Pendle Labour Party on Sunday 18 October. The get-together was held at the White Swan in Fence and was attended by local Labour Party activists and supporters.

Mrs Cryer has been MP for Keighley and Ilkley since 1997 and represents back-bench MPs at the weekly influential discussions with Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and members of his cabinet. She regaled the audience with tales of influence and intrigue.

Sue Nike, chair of the Barrowford Labour Party branch, was able to discuss a photograph of Mrs Cryer’s late husband, Bob, which sits on the mantelpiece of the Clarion House at Newchurch-in-Pendle. The photo records a visit around 1992 when Bob Cryer, himself MP for Keighley, re-opened the Clarion House after a refurbishment. Bob’s sheaf of notes caused much amusement!

Saturday 17 October 2009
Labour Leader recovers from Surgery
Leader of the Labour Group on Pendle Council and Lancashire County Councillor for Brierfield and Nelson North, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal is today back home after a kidney operation at Blackburn Royal Infirmary earlier this week.

Cllr Iqbal speaking from home said “I want to thank those people who have sent me messages and visited me in hospital over the last few days. I would like to praise the excellent care I received from nursing staff at Blackburn, they really are angels and I respect the work they do”.

Cllr Iqbal is expected to be out of action for a few weeks recuperating.

Wednesday 14 October 2009
Minister to look again at Burnley A&E
Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, today held out the possibility of a re-think on the controversial downgrading of Burnley General’s A&E two years ago.

A top level meeting between Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, and Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, is to look at the controversy that won’t go away – the transfer of blue light A&E from Burnley to Blackburn in November 2007.

And the Prime Minister promised to look at the matter again if the meeting with Burnham gets nowhere.

Prentice told the Prime Minister; “Two years ago, we lost blue light accident and emergency services in Burnley and everything went to Blackburn, 25 miles away from where I live, at the furthest edge of the patch. People in Burnley and Pendle, members of all political parties and none, want accident and emergency back in Burnley. As a first step, will my friend commission an independent review by clinicians from outside the area with no axe to grind, which is what people want?”

The Prime Minister replied: “Of course I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns and those of his constituents, and I will ask the Health Secretary to meet him to talk about these issues—but as he knows, the reconfiguration of national health services is a matter for the NHS locally. I understand that the review concluded in July and that it has been accepted by both primary care trusts and by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. I understand that a programme implementation board is in place, and that the board is confident that this will not undermine services locally. However, he will want to have that meeting with the Health Secretary and he can come back to me afterwards.”

Speaking after the exchange, Prentice said: “Everyone knows that a single Accident and Emergency Department for half a million people was always going to be a challenge. Well, we have had two years to see how things are going and I believe it is time for an independent review which will, I hope, pave the way for the reinstatement of blue light A&E at Burnley.”

“Clearly, there would have to be some kind of A&E protocol explaining to patients and public what could and could not be treated at Burnley. Serious head injuries would continue to go to Preston. Burns to Manchester and so on.”

The MP added: “Official Department of Health statistics show that Burnley is not too small to have its own A&E. This was a myth propagated by some influential people in the NHS establishment.”
Tuesday 06 October 2009
Tips must go to staff - not the boss
People in Pendle working in the hospitality and leisure services industry will benefit from new rules which come into force this month regulating the practice of tipping.

In future, tips must go directly to the worker concerned and not be creamed off by the employer.

Speaking from Nelson today, the MP said; “Employers are no longer allowed to count service charges, cover charges, tips and gratuities paid to their staff through the payroll as part of the minimum wage.”

“And tips given directly to an employee by a customer should never be used as part of the minimum wage.”

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) said the changes could mean restaurants losing £130 million and cost 5,000 jobs.

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, commented: “Tips are for the staff, not for employers. Of course, it is quite in order for tips to be shared out between those at the back and front of the house, so to speak, but for employers to pocket the money is simply not on.”

A leading employment research organisation reported recently that as many as a fifth of the UK’s 30,000 restaurants do not pass on tips to their staff, despite a survey this year that showed 94% of customers wanted them to.

Many employers instead used tips to top up wages which allowed them to pay less than the minimum wage.

Monday 05 October 2009
Love Music Hate Racism
Pendle Labour Party was the only political party supporting the "Love Music Hate Racism" event held yesterday (4 October) at Nelson's Ace Centre.

Party representatives joined a wide variety of other organisations next to the Dance Stage with their stall packed with "Hope not Hate" materials and Trades Union handouts for young workers,

Gordon Prentice dropped by to talk to young supporters at the Party stall and discuss issues with other groups

Friday 2 October 2009
Two great results for Labour in the North West
Congratulations to Labour County Councillor Jennifer Mein on her resounding win in the by-election for the Preston City Council ward of Fishwick yesterday. On a low turnout, Jennifer won 60% of the vote, more than double that of either the Tories or the Lib Dems! For the full result follow this hyperlink
Down in Bolton there was another convincing win for Labour in the Crompton ward, with Guy Harkin polling nearly 600 more votes than the Tory candidate. The Lib Dems were pushed into fourth place by an independent candidate Full results
Wednesday 30 September 2009
Contact your County Councillor
Labour County Councillors Mohammed Iqbal and George Adam want to hear what Pendle people feel about the expansion of Laneshawbridge School, on the outskirts of Colne. Over half of the school's pupils already come from outside the village.
Do you feel that the £2.8 million allocated to expand the school from 140 to 210 pupils will be money well spent?
If not, where would you like to see the funding go?

To email Iqbal or George click on one of the links."

Tuesday 29 September 2009
Pendle MP tells Health Chiefs: "Bring in outside experts to review A&E changes"
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, this afternoon told Hazel Harding, the new Chair of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Diane Whittingham, the Acting Chief Executive, that there should be an independent review of Accident and Emergency provision – and it should be set up without delay.

The MP said the highly respected health analysis and research charity, the King’s Fund, had given early indications that it would be prepared to look at the issues, if invited.

Former Burnley MP, Peter Pike, and former Health Authority Chair, Ian Woolley, called earlier this month for the King’s Fund to be brought in.

The MP said: “I asked Hazel if she would report my views to the Annual General Meeting of the Trust which meets tomorrow morning at 9:00am at the Blackburn Royal Hospital Learning Centre.”

“I want the Trust to invite the King’s Fund to carry out an urgent review.”

“I have read the review written by Professor Sir George Alberti, the author of the original proposals, which went to the National Clinical Advisory Team in March this year and it does not inspire coinfidence. It is highly critical of the process.”

“I have only recently seen Alberti’s Review. It deserves a wide readership.”

“Now even the Conservatives’ health spokesman, Andrew Lansley, has told the Lancashire Telegraph there is no reason why Burnley cannot have its A&E back.”

“If the King’s Fund concludes that a single A&E covering the whole of East Lancashire with a population of 500,000, can deliver top quality health care that, alone, will still the voice of many critics.”

“But to carry on regardless, defying public sentiment, will stoke up further resentment that our local NHS is not listening to local people.” ends

Monday 28 September 2009
Labour County Councillor secures parking for businesses in Nelson
At the Lancashire Local meeting on 16th September 2009, there was a proposal to introduce a No Waiting At any time on Albert Street, Nelson. This proposal was opposed by Nelson County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal who was successful in the idea being scrapped.

Cllr Iqbal said “there are a number of local businesses whose customers use this corner to park their cars; this proposal would have effectively dealt a severe blow to the shop owners who approached me to help them. I am pleased that this proposal has been scrapped and put to bed for good”.

Monday 28 September 2009
County Councillor to commence surgeries in Nelson
Labour County Councillor is to hold regular surgeries at Nelson Library on the First Saturday in the month commencing 3rd October 2009. The timing of the surgery is between 11a.m. and 12 noon and is open to any residents in Bradley and Whitefield.

Cllr Iqbal said “I promised during my campaign to hold regular surgeries and the Library is a central place for people in Nelson. I would encourage anyone with a Lancashire County Council issue to attend. I am also hoping to start regular surgeries for my constituents in Brierfield over the next few weeks.”
Dates of future surgeries will be: 7th November 2009, 5th December 2009, 9th January 2010, 6th February 2010

Friday 25 September 2009
MP tells Health Chiefs: get moving on Colne Health Centre
A new state-of-the-art Health Centre in Colne should be a top priority for the NHS in East Lancashire and a decision to press ahead with the project should be taken within the next three months.
That was the blunt message delivered by Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, to local health chiefs when he met them earlier today at the Trust’s Regent Street offices in Nelson.
The meeting with Steve Spoerry, the Chief Executive of the primary care trust – now rebadged as NHS East Lancashire, and Vice Chair, David Joyce, ranged over a number of current issues including how best to give patients a voice in the NHS.
Speaking after the meeting, the MP said: “I do not want to see the Colne Health Centre become a long term aspiration. People want it now.”
“Endless talking by Pendle Council and consultations about consultations about where the new Health Centre should be located clearly delayed things – so much so that other NHS building projects elsewhere in East Lancashire which were behind us in the queue have now overtaken us.”
“This is unacceptable.”
“I want a firm decision by the turn of the year to press ahead with the new Health Centre that Colne so badly needs.”

Wednesday 23 September 2009
Pendle MP Backs Call for Reinstatement of A&E at Burnley
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has renewed his call for the reinstatement of blue light A&E at Burnley General.

The MP is supporting former Burnley MP, Peter Pike, and former health authority chair, Ian Woolley, who are pressing for an independent body such as the highly respected King’s Fund to be brought in to assess whether East Lancashire, with a population of 500,000, can deliver top quality health care with only one A&E at Blackburn.

Speaking from his constituency office in Nelson earlier today, the MP said: “From the very outset, I called for the reorganisation proposals to be referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel – a group of clinicians from outside the area with no axe to grind. But the councillors on the then Overview and Scrutiny Committee, after hearing from Professor Sir George Alberti, waved the controversial plans through.”

“The very same Professor Alberti has since commented on the reorganisation in a report earlier this year for the National Clinical Advisory Team. It makes depressing reading.”

“The professor tells us what we already know – and a bit more.”

“While still maintaining the original reorganisation model is valid, he says the programme management arrangements set up in 2006 “seem to have fallen somewhat into disuse”. This is an astonishing admission given the raging controversy about the changes.”

“He says there was inadequate management of patient flow and capacity. He admits that in the original review he “had not anticipated a decrease in beds or staff” - which is precisely what happened.”

“He also found delays in developing integrated community and primary care services. He says “these seem not to have been developed at the pace required to provide the necessary additional ‘out-of-hospital’ capacity”. He goes on: “In retrospect, these developments should have preceded the hospital changes.”

The MP added: “We have had a series of reviews, including the Alberti one, with none of them inspiring confidence. That is why I am calling on Ministers and the Hospital Trust to act now and bring in a respected outside organisation such as the King’s Fund.”

The King’s Fund is an independent charitable organisation that works to improve health care in the UK by providing research and health policy analysis.

Next Tuesday (29 September) the MP will be meeting the new Chair of the Hospital Trust, Hazel Harding, and the Acting Chief Executive, Diane Whittingham, who retains her current job as Chief Executive of the Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
Thursday 17 September 2009
MP's dismay at Breast Screening failure
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today expressed deep concern at the failure of the breast screening service at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to correctly diagnose possible breast cancer patients.

Responding to the statement issued earlier today by the Trust, the MP said: "The statement begs more questions than it answers but, for now, our concerns must lie with the women, their families and friends who have been put through this ordeal."

"I had arranged earlier to meet the Chairman and Acting Chief Executive of the Trust to talk about pressing issues. The Breast Cancer Screening Review and the position of the consultant radiologist involved will now be at the top of my agenda."

Thursday 17 September 2009
MP condemns owners of  'Suicide Car Park'
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has launched a blistering attack on the owners of the Nelson car park which, over the years, has become a notorious suicide hot spot.

Pleas from the police, the Samaritans and the local council that the owners should come up with the cash for the necessary barrier work fell on deaf ears. The managing agents, 4D Properties, for the owners, Pendle Rise Estates, refused to budge, saying it was not their problem.

Now the funding gap is due to be bridged with a new contribution from Pendle Council on top of money from the Health Inequalities Fund and Nelson Area Committee.

Since 2001, seven people have jumped to their death from the concrete landmark.

The MP commented: "I applaud the local organisations that have taken the initiative to stop these suicides. Many suicides can be prevented where a person is acting on impulse. Even a short delay can cause them to think again."

The MP added: "The fact that the owners have washed their hands of the issue is deplorable. I have written to the Minister, John Denham, urging action to force property owners to contribute towards the safety of their properties where these have been designated "suicide hotspots".

Wednesday 16 September 2009
Barrowford Grot-spot tackled by Labour Group
At the September meeting of the Barrowford Labour Party it was decided to get out the shears and secateurs and tackle a Barrowford ‘Grot-spot’ hands-on.
A small group spent time on Tuesday evening tidying the grass and shrubs outside the disused petrol station in the centre of the village.

Sue Nike, Branch Chair, said “We have supported the Parish Council and the Pendle Area Committee to improve the appearance of a number of grotty sites in Barrowford but nothing has been done about this garage site. We are encouraging the Parish Council to investigate having hoardings erected at the front of the garage site and using a local graffiti artist to teach some Rushton Street School pupils to spray paint imaginative images along the hoardings.”

A number of passers-by remarked, how much better the grassy area looked and were particularly pleased to see the ‘interesting stone’ feature again. A passing Conservative Councillor grumbled that they couldn’t now take action against the owners to get the site tidied up!

The photo shows John Pope, Sue Nike, Carol Thursby and Pete Maltby taking a well earned breather.

Wednesday 16 September 2009
Lib Dems ‘Lose It’
Writing to the Colne Times/Nelson Leader this week, David Foat wrote:
How typical that your reporting of the delay in going ahead with the new Colne Health Centre immediately brought cries of ‘foul’ from the Lib Dems. Their default position is that if something goes well they will take credit for it, but if there’s a problem it’s someone else who’s to blame.

So your report, quoting the PCT, that the delay was caused by “the differing views from local individuals and organisations” (28.08.09) is spun by Councillor Greaves into the PCT “trying to blame other people for its own blunders” (04.09.09).

Those who read Councillor Greaves’s letters to this paper will remember that in August last year he was saying, “the best site is the old market hall (the former Kippax factory).” Mysteriously, by December (in his so-called View from the Lords in the Lancashire Telegraph) he was cheering the PCT for signing up to “the place we always wanted, on the old Railway Street Mill site more recently known as Kwiksave.”

The Rossendale Health Centre, that was second priority behind Colne in 2006, is half built and on schedule for completion, while Colne’s new Health Centre has slipped years!

Residents can draw their own conclusions as to who was responsible for the delay.

Friday 04 September 2009
Will it all add up?
Pendle CLP has invited County Councillor, Clive Grunshaw, Deputy Chair - Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee to its next meeting.

The intention is to discuss the current view of education in Lancashire and particularly Colne where the Tories, notwithstanding their proposed extensive budget cuts, have agreed to expand Laneshawbridge School, despite falling rolls in other Colne primary schools

Friday 04 September 2009
“Stop the Privatisation of the Health Service!”
The Pendle CLP General Management Committee has endorsed the above contemporary issue resolution to be submitted to Labour Party Conference at the end of September.

Barrowford Labour Party submitted the original motion along with the following supporting statement:

“Pendle CLP strongly urges the Labour party to conduct an urgent review of the current introduction of the ‘Patchwork privatisation of the Health Service’ and recommends that a wholly state-provided and managed National Health Service is the most effective operating model to continue improving the health of Britain’s population.”

Friday 28 August 2009
New Rules for Parking Companies Announced
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has been told by the DVLA that they are to bring in the safeguards on release of personal information that he has been calling for.

The MP said “From 23 November all car parking companies requesting DVLA information in order to issue charges will have to be a member of an Accredited Trade Association. By February next year they will have to show full compliance with their Trade Association’s code of conduct. This should finally close the loophole that allowed unscrupulous operators to terrorise motorists.”

“I have been calling for this ever since Effective Car Park Management made life such a misery for customers and businesses down at Bizspace in Lomeshaye last year. It’s very welcome news.”

Thursday 27 August 2009
Labour Councillor in victory for Young People in Brierfield
Brierfield Labour Councillor and Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Naeem Ashraf has welcomed the start of work for the new Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) on Sackville Street, Brierfield. The project costing in excess of £70,000 has come to fruition following months of hard work and lobbying of Council Officers by Cllr Ashraf.

Cllr Asraf said, “I want to thank Colin Patten and his staff at the Council for working with me and the residents to secure this money for this much-needed project. Young people will be able to enjoy a new MUGA in the coming months”. “I would also like to thank Town Councillor Mohammed Arshad who worked with me on this project” said Cllr Ashraf

Lancashire County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal added, “Naeem is someone who is young and full of energy to work for Brierfield. This success proves hard work does pay off”.

For details contact Cllr Iqbal on 07974412218

Tuesday 25 August 2009
The Pendle Labour Leader has written to the Nelson Leader/Colne Times calling on the Council to clean up it's act on expenditure recording.

The letter is set out below:

Dear Sir,

I am glad to see the Pendle Lib Dems have been needled into life from Mr Prentice’s investigation into the street cleaning budgets of local boroughs, in your report of 21 August, “MP’s claim is rubbish!” The MP’s investigation was prompted by the Council’s own Scrutiny Panel being set up to look at the issue of litter and dog fouling “following calls from residents” according to the Council’s press release in early July. See the MP’s reasoned comments at

The figures quoted by Mr Prentice came from The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Finance and General Statistics 2008/09. If Pendle Council does not declare its entire street cleansing expenditure into that compilation that is up to it. But the residents of Pendle have the right to ask “Why not?” We are desperately trying to move to a more transparent reporting of local government activities. These ‘hidden’ figures were not explained by the Operational Services Manager when the 2009/10 figure was requested from him.

In Bradley on 12 August the first activity in the “Street Pride Week”, supported by the Council, was a community clean-up. It is quite obvious to all except Cllr David that Pendle’s streets are not clean enough, however “efficient” the service may be.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr M. Iqbal
Thursday 20 August 2009
The General Election is on its way - protect your right to vote!
Your Electoral Registration form will have been delivered or will be dropping through your door this month. The form is issued to the main Occupier to complete.

Many people did not vote in the Euro Elections because they felt disgruntled over the Parliamentary expenses issue and Alan Duncan's recent, but ill chosen comment about "living on rations" has not helped. Even if you are currently a non-voter other events between now and the General Election may compel you to vote.

Register now,  to ensure that you are able to make a difference by voting in the General Election!

Find out more by visiting Pendle Borough Council's web site.

Tuesday 18 August 2009
MP Challenges Government to Act on High Pay
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has called on the government to set up a High Pay Commission to review the excessive sums paid out at the top end of the pay scale. The MP joined almost a hundred politicians, trades unionists and academics in a letter to the Guardian newspaper on the issue.

The MP is a member of the influential Public Administration Select Committee which has conducted an inquiry into Executive Pay in the Public Sector. Mr Prentice commented at the time that "Private sector salaries shouldn’t be a matter just for the private sector. Billions of pounds of pension fund money are invested in the private sector each year."

Today the MP added "Less than a year ago the banks were on the point of total collapse because of wild investments fuelled by the short term bonus culture, and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. It beggars belief that the same behaviour should just continue. The government needs to take this opportunity to find long term solutions to the problem of inequality of rewards."

Friday 07 August 2009
MP Welcomes Hazel at the Helm of NHS Hospitals Trust
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today welcomed the appointment of Hazel Harding as Chair of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The MP said: "This is a crucially important appointment for the local NHS which has gone through turbulent times. I am confident Hazel will do a superb job."

"She has East Lancashire at heart and is wholly committed to the health service. I look forward to meeting her very soon to discuss the current issues that constituents are raising with me"

Hazel Harding CBE is a former Leader of Lancashire County Council and served as a County Councillor representing Rossendale North for more than 20 years.

Her term of office runs from 1st August 2009 to 31st July 2013.

Friday 07 August 2009
Labour Leader Stunned at Schools Decision
Mohammed Iqbal, leader of the Labour Group on Pendle Borough Council has expressed dismay at the recent decision of the Lancashire County Council’s Children & Schools Cabinet Member Pat Case to support an increase in the pupil roll at Laneshawbridge Primary School from the present 140 to 210 from September 2011. This will involve the rebuilding of the school premises to accommodate the increased intake. Lancashire County Council has earmarked £2.8Million from the central Primary Capital Programme (PCP) for the rebuild.
Councillor Iqbal commented “This is obviously a popular village school taking pupils from across Pendle and beyond as a result of its recent academic performance improvements. But that doesn’t justify allocating these large sums of public money to expand and rebuild the school which is more than adequate to meet its local commitments. The money should be allocated to schools on the east side of Colne which cater for children from low-income families. Investing these sums in the rebuild of West Street school, for example, would significantly improve the learning experience and future life-chances of these disadvantaged children.”

Colne Park Primary School governor, David Foat was stunned when he heard of the LCC decision adding “this proposal is inappropriate when there are schools in Colne with falling school rolls that are struggling to reach required standards. If there are funds available the children of Colne must be the priority for the Tory administration at County Hall”

Wednesday 29 July 2009
Rolls-Royce exports core technology to Singapore
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today expressed dismay that Rolls-Royce is to manufacture wide chord fan blades in Singapore. The MP claims fan blades are core technology whose manufacture should remain in the UK.

The MP said: "The new investment in the UK announced yesterday by Rolls-Royce is very welcome. But I am very disappointed the company is, in effect, exporting its core technology and know-how to Singapore, no doubt attracted by all sorts of grants and incentives provided or underwritten by the Singapore Government."

“The company say that putting critical component manufacturing facilities in two locations gives ‘business continuity benefits’, but in that case I feel the second location should also have been in the UK.”

The MP has pressed the case for retaining core technology in the UK, taking the issue directly to Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson.

The MP added: “Despite this disappointment we must acknowledge the huge financial support the government has given to Rolls Royce. Following the announcement, I spoke to Richard Harcourt, Rolls-Royce Executive Vice-President, about the plans for the Barlick site.”

“He told me that the only one of the four UK developments that was location-specific was the investment for military wide chord fan blades in Barnoldswick.”

“He confirmed that jobs would be safeguarded there and held out the prospect of new jobs if the Joint Strike Fighter F136 goes ahead as planned. The project is currently being examined by the US Senate.”
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
MP Calls on Government to consult on Holiday Lettings Rules
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing Holiday Cottages in its bid for a re-think on new tax rules for furnished property lettings. The company is a big local employer based in Earby.

In this year’s budget Chancellor Alistair Darling announced changes to tax rules imposing a greater liability from April next year on property owners when running a holiday letting business.

The MP said: “ I am in touch with the Chancellor and am supporting a Commons motion for a review of this policy change. Businesses should have the chance to discuss any unintended consequences. The concern is that many holiday property owners will sell their properties before April 2010 which could mean fewer visitors to the countryside in places like Pendle. This would then have a knock-on effect on the rural economy.”

Early Day Motion 1730 reads:

Anderson, Janet
That this House notes that the repeal of Furnished Holiday Lettings rules announced in the Budget will have negative and unintended consequences for providers of holiday lettings; believes that the negative impact of the repeal will lead to a reduction in the supply of self-catering accommodation in particular, resulting in a significant loss of jobs and damage to rural and seaside economies; further notes with concern the lack of any industry consultation on the repeal; and calls upon the Government to conduct a full consultation and review of this policy change as soon as possible to ensure all affected parties have the opportunity to voice their concerns and to promote an understanding of and mitigate against any unintended consequences on tourism, especially in rural and seaside areas.

Thursday 23 July 2009
Waiting for an answer from Andrew Stephenson
Why will Andrew Stephenson not answer the questions?
Wednesday 22 July 2009
MP to meet East lancs Social Care Head
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, is to meet Tony Pounder, Head of Commissioning, Adult Social Care Services for East Lancashire, on Friday 24 July for an overview of the County Council’s care service delivery.

The MP said “I look forward to hearing about the new ‘Putting People First’ agenda and the changes it will mean for care services in Pendle. I shall also be raising the government’s new consultation document, ‘Shaping the Future of Care Together’.”

Note; The Green Paper “Shaping the Future of Care Together” can be found at The consultation runs until mid-November.

Tuesday 21 July 2009
MP welcomes extra funding for Housing
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has expressed his delight that Elevate, East Lancashire’s housing renewal body, has secured an additional £5 million funding.

Speaking from his Westminster office the MP said: “The Minister for Housing has assessed Elevate’s strong progress in meeting its targets across East Lancashire and confirmed this additional money on top of the £45 million allocated in March.”

“Max Steinberg, Elevate’s Chief Executive, has told me that Pendle is to receive a further £1,275,000 from this pot.”

“This is great news and should encourage developers who are holding back at this difficult time.”

Friday 10 July 2009
Pendle - Streets Behind Burnley
Local MP, Gordon Prentice is calling on Pendle Council to increase spending on street cleaning.

Figures for spending in 2008/2009 show Pendle’s spending per head is second bottom in East Lancashire, with only the Ribble Valley spending less. The figures also show that Pendle spent nearly 50% less than neighbouring Burnley and 75% less than Rossendale, who came top in the area.

The MP said, “Pendle’s street cleaning expenditure this year has gone up slightly, but when I am out and about I see streets in many parts of the borough in a dire state. So I am delighted that the Scrutiny Management Team are looking at the whole issue.”

“The Scrutiny Team should call on the council to increase street cleaning spending to at least the same level as Burnley’s. At the same time I am in touch with the Environment Secretary urging him to implement the recommendations of the Council for the Protection of Rural England’s “Litterbugs” report. It makes many key suggestions such as reinvigorating the Keep Britain Tidy campaign and greater consistency in the application of penalties for littering.”

Note to Editors:
These are the figures per head that councils spent on street cleaning in 2008/9:
Rossendale - £19.70
Blackburn - £18.86
Burnley - £16.48
Hynburn - £13.90
Pendle - £11.24
Ribble Valley - £5.60

For the CPRE Report, see

Wednesday 1 July 2009
The Late Ken Spence
It is with sadness that we record the death of the Labour stalwart Ken Spence.

Ken was granted the Freedom of Pendle in 2002 following a career as headteacer at Worsthorne County Primary School, serving as a magistrate and representing the people of Pendle at Borough and County level for nearly half a century.

He was the Mayor of Nelson for the term 1966/7 and Chairman of Pendle Council for the term 1974/5

Ken was a conviction politician, unselfishly dedicated to improving the quality of life for all. He was a vociferous and respected campaigner; a dear comrade who will be sadly missed.

Funeral details are as follows:
Wednesday 22nd July
The service will be held at Christ Church, Carr Road, Nelson at 10.45 am followed by a short service at Burnley Crematorium - 12 noon

Tuesday 30 June 2009
Warm Front Take-Up Rises But More Can Benefit, says MP
Figures released earlier this year show that there has been a record take up for the Warm Front scheme in Pendle.

A total of 8196 households have been helped by the scheme, receiving either heating assistance or help with insulation.

Local MP, Gordon Prentice, said: “It is estimated that these households will save 1.2 tonnes of CO2 every year as well as reducing their running costs. At the same time, Warm Front’s benefit entitlement checks lead to a rise in household incomes, especially for the most vulnerable, with 599 in Pendle assisted so far.”

“Households connected to the gas grid are now eligible for grants of up to £3100, while those in areas off the gas grid can apply for funding up to £6000. Funding to the Warm Front scheme has been increased by £174 million since September 2008.”

“Anyone who thinks they might qualify for the scheme and who has not yet made an application can contact Warm Front on 0800 6136014.”

Thursday 25 June 2009
Care Leavers funding success for Pendle
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed the news from Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, that Pendle is to receive funding to provide support and accommodation for care leavers in the Borough.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “As part of the Government’s Children’s Plan, £200 million is being made available nationwide to help provide integrated working between schools, health and other services.”

“The announcement has just been made that a joint bid by Pendle Council and other partners for supported accommodation for young people leaving care has been awarded £160,000. It is intended that the money will be used to refurbish four previously empty properties in Colne, Nelson, Barrowford and Brierfield.”

“The project, known as the Pendle Dispersed Foyer Scheme, will allow the young people leaving care or foster homes to continue to stay close to where they have been living and gradually become independent.

For more information visit Gordon Prentice's web site

Friday 12 June 2009
Gordon Prentice MP & the Ramblers encourage young people to explore the local area
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice has presented framed walking maps of the area to two local high schools.

The Burnley & Pendle Ramblers' Group have used a bequest from its members to donate maps to all schools and colleges in Pendle.

Its aim is to encourage more young people to explore the local countryside and enjoy the myriad of paths in Pendle.

Mr Prentice the President of the North East Lancashire Ramblers' Association, presented maps to Fisher-Moore Catholic Humanities College and Primet High School.

He said,"it is an honour to be involved with the local Ramblers Group and particularly when it is showing this valuable initiative to encourage young people to get fit in our magnificent countryside.

(Mr Prentice's Private Members Bill on the "Right to Roam" led to the Government bringing in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000. This had a significant effect on opening up the countryside to the public.)

Wednesday 10 June 2009
MP calls for full disclosure of Conservative spending in Pendle
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is devoting a section of his web site to the Conservatives, publicising their newsletters and other campaigning material.

Speaking from Westminster earlier today, the MP said: "The published accounts of the Pendle Conservative Association do not tell the whole story. They are spending as if there is no tomorrow."

"Their tabloid newsletters are delivered by the Royal Mail to all 37,000 households in Pendle. No other political party can match their spending power."

"The Conservatives have received millions from Lord Laidlaw, a self confessed tax exile living in Monaco. Lord Ashcroft is also a huge donor. But Ashcroft refuses to say whether he is a tax exile or not."

"He was elevated to the peerage in 2000 on the recommendation of the then Conservative leader, William Hague, and after promising to bring his tax affairs on shore."

The House of Lords is likely to debate amendments to the Political Parties and Elections Bill on Monday 15 June which would close the so called "Ashcroft loophole" which allows people who are not UK residents for tax purposes to bankroll political parties.

Last week the Pendle Conservatives threatened legal action against Mike Warner, a former Lib Dem councillor in Pendle, who has raised questions about their accounts.

Thursday 04 June 2009
Vote for a Labour County Council today
Today Lancashire faces a stark choice between Labour’s plans for improved public services and Tory cuts.

There is also a risk that the BNP will grab a seat in Europe. They don’t have the answers to any of the challenges we face.

Your votes are essential to continue Labour’s progress at County Hall and in Europe.
The Lancashire County Council elections are determined by the usual 'first past the post' system. We are asking you to support The Labour Party Candidate in each division. The County Council voting slip is GREEN.

In the European Parliament Elections you have to vote for a party. Each party lists up to 8 candidates and the party totals across the Region determine which candidates are successful. To support The Labour Party you simply need to place a cross against the eleventh entry in the list of 13 parties. The European voting slip is YELLOW.

The Polling Stations are open from 7:00am to 10:00 pm.Thank you for your support.

Monday 01 June 2009
MP to present Ramblers’ maps to local high schools
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, will visit two local schools this Friday (5 June) to present them with framed walking maps of the local area.

The Burnley & Pendle Group of the Ramblers have decided to use a bequest from one of its members to donate framed walking maps to all Pendle Schools and Colleges. The Ramblers’ aim is to encourage more young people to explore the local countryside and enjoy the varied network of footpaths across Pendle. Mr Prentice is the newly elected President of the East Lancs Area of the Ramblers. He was instrumental in getting the Right To Roam legislation through Parliament in 2000 and is now actively supporting the Coastal Access legislation being debated at Westminster.

The MP will present the first framed map at Colne Primet High School at 1.15 pm and give a short talk at the school assembly.At 2.15pm he will meet a group of Citizenship students at Ss John Fisher & Thomas More Catholic Humanities College and will present the Ramblers’ map to the College.

Sunday 31 May 2009
East Lancashire: the friendliest place in England?
David Foat, Labour’s Lancashire County Council Candidate for Pendle East, raises his concerns that hateful BNP propaganda is despoiling East Lancashire’s reputation for being the friendliest place in England.

David Foat, Pendle CLP Secretary, commenting on the BNP tactics said:

“My brother-in-law's father was a Polish pilot who flew a Spitfire for the RAF and later a Mustang for the USAF during World War II. When I said to him that I was living in Pendle, he told me that when he first came to England he was told that the two friendliest areas in England to settle in were East Lancashire and Nottingham”.

The BNP and their cronies have tried to ruin that reputation. Asylum seekers no longer come to Pendle because the BNP propaganda as made them feel unwelcome.

The BNP exploit footage of the heroes of WWII on the one hand and target people of Pakistani origin on the other; whilst deliberately failing to recognise that the Pakistani Government has taken a significant role in the international war against terrorism. Recent operations in the Swat Valley underline this commitment.

David argues, “the BNP tactic is to mislead the naturally friendly people of East Lancashire with lies, more lies and outrageous claims; in the hope that we will all respond to the narrow-minded selfish bigotry that defines the BNP”.

David added; “according to the Hope not Hate web site, a common tactic of the BNP is the promotion of the ‘big lie’. The issue might vary from place to place but the concept is the same”.
The BNP will tap into a local issue or concern and give it a racial twist. They will repeatedly peddle this lie to portray the other parties as out of touch and to promote their own racist agenda:

  • In Barking & Dagenham they tapped into concern over a lack of cheap affordable housing by claiming there was a secret ‘Africans for Essex’ scheme in which non-whites were given £50,000 grants to buy property in the area.
  • In Sandwell the BNP claimed that a local library building was going to become a mosque.
  • In Amber Valley they claimed that a local 15-year-old white girl had been sexually attacked by three asylum seekers.
  • In Thurrock they claimed that Hackney council had struck a secret deal to ship over 3,000 asylum seekers.
    On each occasion the BNP lied.

Saturday 30 May 2009
Bob Allen responds to Andrew Stephenson
Bob Allen Chair of Pendle CLP and LCC Labour Candidate - Pendle West, responded to Andrew Stephenson's letter which appeared in the Nelson Leader of 16 May 2009. Bob's objective in writing the letter was to provide readers with an alternative view from which they could reach an informed and balanced judgement.

To date the Nelson Leader has declined to publish this response.

Read Bob's letter now (PDF 14KB)

Thursday 28 May 2009
MP Asks "who speaks for NHS patients?"
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is meeting representatives from the Lancashire LINk organisation this Friday, the 29th May. Lancashire LINk replaced the Patient & Public Involvement (PPI) Forums which the government wound up in March 2008.

Mr Prentice said “Since spring last year, there has effectively been no official patient or public representation on any NHS body locally. I have asked questions about this in the House of Commons to raise my concerns that the patient’s voice is being silenced via the back door. We knew well in advance that the PPI Forums were being wound up and yet here we are 15 months later still going through endless consultations to determine the best way to represent the patient and the public interests. Whose NHS is it anyway?”

“I am meeting officials from the local representative body and Lancashire County Council, which is responsible for ensuring that patient interests are taken seriously across the county. I want to find out what progress is being made setting up the LINk network and why the whole process is taking so long.”

“We are currently half way through the Meeting Patient Needs re-organisation of our local hospital services and there is a lot of bad feeling out there that the changes are not to improve services to the patients but to cut costs. In my view, it is essential that we have active public involvement in our health services during this time of major upheaval.”

On Friday 29th May, Mr Prentice will be meeting:
Pauline Blackie, Lancashire LINk Manager
Prof. Peter McEwan (Lancashire LINk Chair),
David Rowbotham (Lancashire LINk Vice-chair and Chair of Lancashire LINk's East Lancashire Locality Group)
Peter Shorrock, Lancashire County Council LINk co-ordinator.

Thursday 28 May 2009
MP to open Titanic exhibition
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, will be opening the “Titanic—the Experience” exhibition at Colne Municipal Hall this Saturday, 30 May at 9.45. The exhibition includes furniture and artefacts from Titanic’s sister ship, the “Olympic”, together with Kate Winslet’s costumes from the 1997 film and items on loan from the Wallace Hartley collection.

Friday 22 May 2009
Free school meals – new eligibility
New legislation about free school meals means that more children might be able to claim them.

The government has introduced new rules that mean Lancashire County Council can provide free school meals for pupils whose parents become unemployed, or work less than 16 hours a week, but are still receiving Working Tax Credit (WTC) while their benefits are reviewed.

Normally, parents receiving WTC do not qualify for free school meals but you may now qualify during the four-week review period known as the 'four-week run-on'.

If you think you may fall into this category, then please contact your local area education office and ask them to check for you.

Their contact numbers are:

East (Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle & Rossendale): 01254 220711

North (for pupils living in Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde): 01524 581207

South (Preston, Walton le Dale and Lostock Hall): 01772 533608

(Chorley, Leyland and Bamber Bridge): 01772 533606

(West Lancs, Longton and Penwortham): 01772 531812
Thursday 14 May 2009
Start Adopting!
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is pressing the Government to grasp the nettle of "unadopted" roads. These are highways which are the responsibility of the people whose houses are alongside – rather than the local authority.

Quizzing Transport Minister Paul Clark, the MP claimed there were thousands of miles of unadopted roads in Lancashire where private individuals were responsible for the upkeep, not just of the surface but sewers and water pipes below.

The Minister told MPs it was up to local authorities to decide their own priorities but that money was available to allow more adoptions.

Speaking after the exchange, Prentice said: "There are back streets all over Pendle that have to bear the weight of heavy vehicles such as Council refuse trucks and it is unfair that the costs of maintenance falls on the householders and not the local authority."

"I appreciate it is a huge problem that has existed for decades."

"I would like to see a ring fenced grant to Councils which would allow them to progressively adopt a certain number of roads every year."

"Deciding which highways should be adopted in any given year would be up to the Councillors themselves."

Tuesday 12 May 2009
National Minimum Wage
Increases in Minimum Wage rates are announced today.These will take effect in October.
The Minimum Wage for workers aged 22 and over will increase from £5.73 to £5.80 an hour.
The rate for 18 to 21-year-olds will rise from £4.77 to £4.83.
For 16 and 17-year-olds, the rate will go up to £3.57 an hour from £3.53.
Nearly one million people will benefit from the increase which was recommended by the independent Low Pay Commission.

From Westminster, local MP, Gordon Prentice, said: “The Minimum Wage is an important safety net for many low paid workers. But too many people are still completely in the dark about minimum wage levels.”
“I want to see the Government make it mandatory for all pay slips to set out the current minimum wage rate.”

Sunday 10 May 2009
David Whalley wants your opinions on the Traffic in Colne
Politicians of all persuasions are now in favour of reinstating the railway link from Colne to Skipton. As a result, Pendle Labour Party considers that this track bed should now be ruled out for any planned new relief road. However, current traffic problems in the North Valley and through Colne Town Centre are causing residents and commuters real concern.
The Police have noted that crossing the North Valley Road has caused the highest number of road accidents to young people in the Town.       
Download the Freepost questionnaire (PDF - 874KB) and send David your opinion.

Monday 27 April 2009
Local Focus for Young People's Service in Pendle
Using new powers, Pendle's Lancashire Local committee has approved recommendations on how Lancashire Young People's Service will operate in the district over the coming year.

At its most recent meeting, on 22 April, the committee approved ten recommendations to be included in the Young People's Service's operational plan for the year ahead.

Recommendations included:

• Reviewing how effective the Young People's Service's communications with young people are, across all Pendle's neighbourhoods
• Offering a core minimum offer of activities and services provided for communities which currently have no provision.
• Increasing access to sporting opportunities.
• Reviewing which communities are accessing each centre, to ensure the Young People's Service is supporting cohesion across the whole     of the area's youth community.

Thursday 23 April 2009
MP Makes Formal Request for Sir Fred to be stripped of his Knighthood
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today formally requested the Forfeiture Committee to consider stripping Sir Fred Goodwin of the knighthood he was awarded in 2004 for "services to banking".

In a letter to the Chairman of the Committee, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, the MP said it was wholly inappropriate for Sir Fred to retain the high honour of a knighthood given his role in the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland and his determination to hold on to his £700,000 a year pension.

The MP raised the issue at a meeting this morning of the Public Administration Select Committee which held a one-off session on the operation of the honours system.

Speaking after the meeting, the MP said: "Fred the Shred ought to do the right thing and return his knighthood. But if he won't, then he should be unceremoniously stripped of it.

Wednesday 22 April 2009
Cash boost for all-weather play for tots in Pendle
Lancashire's youngest citizens are set to benefit from a £13.5 million cash boost.

Government money is being distributed by the county council over three years to help nurseries, playgroups, pre-school groups and out-of-school clubs to meet new legal requirements.

Early years and childcare settings are getting up to £20,000 each so they can install new outdoor play areas, many with soft surfacing, and canopies to protect children from the elements – rain or shine. There will also be disabled facilities and new toilets.

The money comes from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and covers the period 2008-2011, working out at £4.5 million a year. It will help settings for young children meet the requirements of the Childcare Act 2006.

Lancashire County Council has been working with schools and other partners to plan and lead change, develop the childcare market and make sure that there is sufficient care, education and support to meet the needs of parents and children.

The cash is allocated under the Sure Start programme by a panel including senior representatives from Lancashire County Council, Jobcentre Plus and the health service.

Over two hundred projects all over Lancashire benefited from the previous handout of £6 million which ran from 2006-2008.

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Outdoor play is vital for young children's learning and enjoyment and the new funding means that many more early years and childcare settings will be able to offer high-quality play facilities, often with direct access from their indoor play areas.

“We’ve concentrated the grants in areas where they will have most impact, so we can help as many children as possible have a good start in life.”

Monday 20 April 2009
Lancashire commits to tackling the climate change challenge
Organisations in Lancashire have come together to launch an ambitious new strategy designed to combat climate change across the county.
Launched by the Right Honourable John Healey MP, Minister for Local Government, at County Hall in Preston it brings together representatives from a wide range of local, regional and national organisations the Lancashire Climate Change Partnership and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the county by 30% by 2020.

In 2005 (the baseline year for the Strategy) total carbon dioxide emissions for Lancashire were 12.7 million tonnes, the equivalent of 8.7 tonnes per person. This comes from three main sources, industrial and commercial (45%), Domestic (29%) and Road Transport (24%). So to reach the ambitious targets set within the strategy Lancashire will have to work across all these sectors to reduce annual emissions by 3.8 million tonnes in the next 11 years. The strategy looks at how this will be achieved, identifying where savings will be made and looking at some of the practical projects that are already being undertaken.

As well as working to reduce carbon emissions the strategy looks at work that will be undertaken to adapt to the changing weather patterns, such as increased flooding, that climate change will bring to Lancashire.

In a recent survey carried out by Lancashire County Council nearly half of people questioned thought that Climate Change was already affecting Lancashire, with 83% of people saying they were concerned about the issue.

The challenge faced by Lancashire now is to turn that awareness / concern into practical action by people, showing them how their actions, which may seem small, could help reduce the problem.

Local Government Minister John Healey said: “I am impressed at the ambitious strategy that the Lancashire Climate Change Partnership has devised, to bring local organisations together to tackle these challenges head-on, improve the quality of life for local people and make a significant contribution to country-wide efforts to combat climate change. And in these tough financial times, this focus on improving the local environment will also ensure that, when the upturn comes, the county is able to take full advantage of the opportunities that the ‘green economy’ and green collar jobs will bring.”

Dr John Collins, Chair of the Lancashire Climate Change Partnership, and North Area Manager for the Environment Agency, said: "We need a step-change in the way we consume energy in our homes, businesses and transport and to adapt to changing weather patterns, especially the prospect of increased flooding. Lancashire's response is a very positive step forward. But there is no more time to lose. We must all work together urgently to address these challenges."

County Councillor Hazel Harding, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "This partnership strategy brings together all the organisations in Lancashire that have a responsibility to lead the way when it comes to climate change. It is clear that we will only make an impact on climate change and carbon dioxide emissions by working together and setting ambitious targets. The Lancashire Climate Change Partnership has its work cut out over the next decade, but I am confident that the official launch of the strategy will lead to significant changes in the way organisations and individuals think and act over the coming years."

Further Information regarding Lancashire Climate Change Partnership

Sunday 19 April 2009
Chairman of Pendle CLP Bob Allen welcomes investment for Pendle’s Young Families
“I am delighted to see that the Labour run County Council is continuing to invest in support for young families in Pendle. After the establishment of Children’s centres in Nelson, Colne, Brierfield and Barnoldswick new facilities are planned for Barrowford and Trawden with an investment of £310,000.

The roll out of these children centre facilities will provide much needed and comprehensive support for parents of young families.

The Services are likely to include access to early education and links to childcare, child and family health services, antenatal advice and support to pregnant women, drop-in sessions and other activities for children, help with job hunting and information on all aspects of bringing up a family.
Not only is the provision of the services crucially important but also the commitment by the county council to support the staffing and running costs of these services to the tune of around £100,000 per annum.

This investment demonstrates the strong commitment of the Labour Party to improving access to services at a neighbourhood level with reduced need for people to travel to access support”

Thursday 09 April 2009
MP Vows Crackdown on City Sharp Practices
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing an attempt by his Labour colleague, Frank Field, to ban the practice of short selling where speculators can make a fortune in hours on the movement in the market value of shares they don’t own.
The Short Selling and Bank Accounts Bill will come before the Commons for debate in June. The Bill also requires banks and building societies to offer their retail customers current and savings accounts free of any charge for holding the accounts where these accounts are in credit.

Frank Field commented: “This bill, it is hoped, will put an end to what many believe to be an underhand and immoral trading practice. Short-selling is a trading technique that involves lending shares with the hope to buy them back later for a lower price. Such activity often leads to a devaluation of major financial institutions including banks and pension funds.”

The Pendle MP added; “We need to clean up the entire financial sector, rooting out shady and unethical practices.”
“Frank’s Private Member’s Bill will, I hope, make the Government address this issue.”
The Pendle MP is one of the Bill's 12 sponsors.

Wednesday 8 April 2009
Harriet Harman – Deputy Leader of the Labour Party visits Colne
The Deputy Labour leader met youngsters at Pendle Leisure Centre, Colne, where the trust's sports development unit has organised fun activities for children during the Easter holidays. It has been funded by the Government's Health Inequalities fund and is helping to provide fair chances for all. Harriet said, “it was great to see the Labour Councillors supporting this work”.

She commented, "I think Pendle is a great place, there's some beautiful countryside and from what I've seen here today, the children are really enjoying themselves”.
She added, “Some of the children told me that if they weren't here they would be at home bored. It is a great help for parents, particularly those who are working as well as looking after their families. It's a great place for them to meet up with friends and it's not always easy for parents to find something for them to do that's enjoyable and inexpensive. They know they can drop them off here and they will be in a safe environment”.

Following the visit Harriet Harman said, “What Cameron and Osborne are not brave enough to tell people across Lancashire is that they want to make £5 billion of cuts that would see one in five Children’s Centres close and fewer police on the streets. Cameron's policy also means disgraceful cuts in leisure, training and apprenticeships, housing, transport and regeneration in the North West”.

Friday 3 April 2009
Historic Victory for Labour
A record winning margin for Labour Candidate, Mohammed Ammer was the result as Labour gained the Bradley ward in the Nelson Town Council by-election held on 2nd April 2009. The by-election was caused due to the resignation of a Lib Dem Councillor.

The head to head battle was between Labour and Conservative as the Lib Dems failed to field a candidate. Newly elected Labour Town Councillor Mohammed Ammer said “I would like to thank all the voters who voted for me and promise to repay their trust by working with other Councillors to improve this area”

Leader of the Labour Group Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said “Despite the Tory Party trying to win this seat, people in Bradley know that Tory policies are not good for areas such as Pendle. They may be spending money on leaflets but are out of touch with local resident's issues. The margin of victory was 660 votes for Ammer – a record margin for any election in Bradley. The Lib Dems could not even find a candidate to defend their seat”.

Wednesday 1 April 2009
Key Rolls-Royce investment decision looms
Aero engine company, Rolls-Royce, is expected to take key investment decisions this month on whether to manufacture state-of-the-art fan blades in Singapore as well as its facility in Barnoldswick.

The fan blades are leading edge technology requiring high skills to manufacture. They are critical to engine performance.

Local MP, Gordon Prentice, met representatives from the R-R workforce from plants around the UK, including Barlick, at a meeting in Westminster earlier this week.

The Pendle MP said: "The company has a policy of "dual sourcing" key components. Fair enough. But I want to see both sources located here in the UK."

"I do not want to see high technology exported overseas."

"The Regional Development Agency is offering financial support to the company of around £25 million providing the company gives a commitment that Barnoldswick remains a centre of excellence for the manufacture and technical expertise of wide-chord hollow fan blades for Rolls-Royce. This will safeguard jobs at the site."

"I am in touch with Ministers on behalf of the Rolls-Royce group of MPs."

Tuesday, 31 March 2009
MP Backs Plans for a Strong Sustainable Post Office Network
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing a new report from the National Federation of SubPostmasters on the future of the network.
Speaking at a Commons event to launch the report, the MP said: "It is in everyone's interest to have a healthy and sustainable Post Office. The publication of Six Steps to a Sustainable Post Office Network is essential reading for people who want a living breathing Post Office and not one that is dying on its feet." The Pendle MP is a member of the All Party Post Office Group.

Monday 30 March 2009
Government Minister Impressed With New Nelson Youth Centre
Friday saw the visit to Nelson of government minister, Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Before giving the Silverman Lecture he took time out from his busy schedule to meet young people and their youth leaders from Nelson Youth Centre. The minister was shown the plans and artist’s impressions of the new Youth Centre which is currently under construction, on Leeds Road in Bradley Ward, Nelson.

The existing rundown youth centre is being rebuilt using £1.3million of ‘MyPlace’ funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families together with additional funding provided by Lancashire County Council. The money will pay for a new state-of the-art youth and community centre, with supported housing for young people in the pipeline for the same site.

Bradley Ward District Councillor and prospective County Councillor, Mohammed Iqbal introduced Andy Burnham to the young people and the youth leaders saying “These young people have been actively involved in helping design this superb new facility. The new design includes educational, social and recreational facilities that they have asked for. Lancashire County Council’s Youth service needs to be congratulated on making this development happen. It’s a really exciting time for Nelson’s youth.”

Congratulating the young people, Andy Burnham said “This is a brilliant use of resources. The inclusion of supported accommodation is innovative and will provide a wonderful service to local young people.”
Saturday 28 March 2009
Sydney Silverman remembered
Andy Burnham in delivering the 2009 Sydney Silverman Memorial lecture describer Gordon Prentice MP as “a very worthy inheritor of the Silverman tradition – speaking up for those who do not have a strong voice in society”.

Andy is the MP for Leigh in Greater Manchester, elected in June 2001. He spoke of his role as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and proposals to increase access for participation in cultural and sport activities. He recalled the dark days of Thatcherism, the irony of the destruction of the mining industry and emphasised that Labours values were right for these difficult times and gave people hope. He spoke of the strengths of young people in particular; that they were sensitive to the needs of the planet and more likely to respect other people regardless of age, gender, race, belief or sexual orientation. He said “that this was evidence of the changes that Labour had made in Government”.

He also made the comparison between the positions of Gordon Brown and David Cameron on the world stage; Brown being ‘international’ in is pursuit of a global solution to the financial crisis, whilst Cameron had isolated himself on the political right of the European Union rendering himself unable to influence decisions within Europe.

In his tribute to Sydney Silverman’s record as a fighter for the under-dog, he reflected on the alternative outcome that would have befallen Shaun Hodgson and others had it not have been for Silverman’s relentless efforts to bring about the abolition of the Death Penalty.

Other speakers included Paul Silverman, Bill Whittaker, Secretary of the North West and North Wales CO-OP (sponsors of the Memorial Lecture) and Gordon Prentice MP.

Friday 26 March 2009
Postal Voting Anger
David Whalley the Labour Party County Council Candidate for Pendle Central Division has stated in a letter to the local newspapers, ‘The Liberal Democrats are up to their usual political point scoring’.

David’s letter continues, ‘according to the article ‘Vote flop sparks election fears’ in last weeks Leader/Times newspapers. The ‘flawed elections last year’ proved to be totally unfounded after Councillor Greaves and friends called in the police authorities who investigated and very quickly concluded there ‘was no case to answer’.
However, the situation in Burnley is quite the opposite. The police are apparently still investigating allegations of attempted bribery and voting irregularities by Lib Dem candidates in Burnley district council elections’.

David makes the point: ‘As usual the Lib Dems are trying to appear squeaky clean by pressing for ‘local’ agreements when all parties should be signing up to the Electoral Commission’s national standards for postal voting’.

Friday 26 March 2009
Local Press Coverage
Ian Tweedie the Labour Party County Council Candidate for West Craven has written to the local press expressing his concerns about local press coverage.

Ian draws our attention to Gordon Prentices revelation that ‘the future of local newspapers such as the Nelson Leader are threatened by moves to relocate to Preston’ Ian adds ‘this is bad news for local democracy here in Pendle’.

The article continues: Even though we have to put up with our Council tax being used to pay for the Council’s press office which churns out masses of news ‘praising’ the ruling Lib Dems, it is better than no news!

Last week’s front page spread ‘Hospital’s A&E U-Turn Welcomed’ makes you wonder who is controlling the news stories.

The Barnoldswick & Earby Times version had Councillor David Whipp welcoming the U-turn by hospital bosses … whereby paramedics now call doctors from an ambulance and a decision is made over the phone where they should go – Burnley or Blackburn! However, this story appeared in the local press on 1st December 2008 (999 ambulances to return to Burnley) and Councillor Whipp is quoted as saying “It is a step in the right direction”!

Is this a case of the Lib Dem masters getting desperate for front page coverage or do they simply take the readership for mugs. If the Leader/Times local newspapers are to survive they need to give their readers more credit than simply regurgitating Lib Dem press releases.

Thursday 26 March 2009
Labour Councillor supporting Brierfield Residents
A Brierfield Labour Councillor swung into action this morning when residents telephoned him to complain about gardens being flooded due to the rain. Cllr Ashraf has called for an urgent investigation by Council officers’ as to why repeated requests were made by residents to Pendle Council to address the mud mountain and nothing appears to have been done.

Cllr Ashraf said “It is deplorable that whilst the Lib Dems and Tories who have run Brierfield for the last few years have been sitting on their laurels, residents living on Mansfield Crescent were today overwhelmed with flooding. I will be raising this as an emergency item at the next Brierfield Area Committee for the Tory Chairman, Cllr Barton to ensure that local residents interests are looked after first!”

Thursday 26 March 2009
Nelson's young people to benefit
Whitefield Labour Councillor Asjad Mahmood is today celebrating after securing a new MUGA and Play Area for youngsters in Nelson. The £140,000 play area and MUGA will be located in Victoria Park replacing one of the bowling greens.

Cllr Mahmood said “The Friends of Victoria Park are onboard this project and I believe it proves that Labour are working for Nelson. I have been working with Council officers, Chairman of Nelson Committee and local young people to identify a site and once built this will prove to be an excellent facility”.

Iqbal Mohammed, County Council candidate for Brierfield and Nelson North and Labour Leader praised Cllr Mahmood’s efforts by adding “Asjad is proving to people living in Whitefield that he is an excellent Councillor and does deliver on his promises”.

Monday 23 March 2009
£10M Health Centre Here
The new Colne Health Centre will be built on
the old Kwik Save site. “This is major investment by the Labour Government, on a site I had promoted from the start” said David Whalley.

(David Whalley was a popular Vivary Bridge Ward Labour Councillor, and has been selected to contest the Lancashire County Council seat which includes Vivary Bridge, Waterside and Marsden. David is a member of Pendle Strategic Partnership and Governor at Primet High School.)

Tuesday 17 March 2009
MP Backs Call for New Post Bank
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is backing calls for a new Post Bank, based on the nationwide network of Post Offices.

Speaking at Westminster earlier today after the launch of the Post bank campaign, the MP said: “A Post Bank would fill a huge gap in the market as banks have progressively withdrawn from the high street leaving many sizeable communities with no bank whatsoever. Barrowford immediately leaps to mind but there are many other examples.”

“The Post Office branch network should be seen as a national asset and developed to deliver new banking services which people can trust.”

The MP added: “So far as I am concerned the new bank can’t come quickly enough.”

The main aims of the campaign to set up a Post Bank for the people, based on the Post Office network are:

1. To build up a trusted financial system for the people which is not based on shareholder value or a target driven bonus culture for management.

2. To strengthen the Post Office network by building up its business so that local economies- the driver of prosperity are enabled to grow through the convenience of locally based Post Offices and the availability of local advice and financial help.

3. To exemplify the notion of a Universal Banking Obligation: to help the three million people without bank accounts; to making banking services available throughout the UK; to put trust back into the banking system.

4. To connect with other banks and with credit unions, community development finance institutions.

5. To do what a number of other European countries- France Italy Germany have all done- set up a Post Bank, which has proved popular and profitable.

6. To take the opportunity of the current crisis to radically re- design the banking system.

The Pendle MP is sponsoring the following EDM, tabled by Jon Cruddas MP, supporting the Post Bank coalition’s objectives.

“That this House congratulates the Post Bank Coalition of the Communication Workers Union, Federation of Small Businesses, New Economics Foundation, Unite the Union, National Convention of Pensioners and Public Interest Research Centre, on its plans for a new state-owned Post Bank based on the Post Office network; recognises the importance such a Bank could have in underpinning the future sustainability of the Post Office network; and calls on the Government, as a matter of urgency, to set up a Post Bank to combat financial exclusion and allow communities and local businesses to access a fair and trusted banking system.”

For more information e mail:

Wednesday 11 March 2009
Pendle Jobless
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today accused the Conservative Employment spokesman, James Clappison MP, of being "wide of the mark" in claiming that twelve jobseekers are chasing every vacancy in Pendle.

The Conservative Shadow Minister made the claim yesterday in the Commons during an Opposition initiated debate on unemployment.

Clappison said: "… in jobcentres up and down the country there are many times more jobseekers than there are vacancies for them to fill. I do visit such jobcentres. In Dartford, for instance, there are five jobseekers for every vacancy. In Harlow and Selby there are 12, as there are in Pendle."

The Pendle MP responded: "Unemployment is rising as a result of the recession. We all know that. But why fiddle the figures for Pendle?"

"We have an independent National Statistics Authority and I hope they will in future respond to the claims that politicians make – Labour, Conservatives or Liberal Democrat."

"Clean statistics make for cleaner politics."

The MP tabled the following Commons motion which will appear on the Order Paper tomorrow (12 March)


This House notes that the Hon Member for Hertsmere, speaking for the Official Opposition in the Unemployment debate on 10 March stated that he visits Jobcentres where there are many times more jobseekers than vacancies, claiming that there are 12 Jobseekers for every vacancy in Pendle; further notes that the Hon Member visited the Colne office on 17 February but the 12:1 ratio was not discussed at any point with officials; records that in January 2009 there were 1,746 people on the JSA Register and 376 jobs notified giving an overall ratio of Jobseekers to jobs in Pendle of 5:1 with the Colne ratio coming in at 3:1 and Nelson 7:1; recognises these ratios can fluctuate on a daily basis; that unemployment in Pendle as elsewhere is rising but is well below the all time high of 4,914 recorded in July 1986, and resolves to do everything it can to ensure the recession is as short and shallow as possible, to keep people in work and to encourage the growth of new employment opportunities.

Gordon Prentice MP
Tuesday 10 March 2009
Give Building Societies a Break says Pendle MP
Prudent building societies such as the Pendle based Marsden are being forced to contribute to a levy to bale out banks which have recklessly gambled on the financial markets says local MP, Gordon Prentice.

The MP spoke out at Westminster today in support of his constituency next door neighbour, Keighley’s Ann Cryer.

In a Commons motion, now supported by 159 MPs, the Keighley MP has called for changes to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) levy which hits building societies disproportionately hard.

Speaking in the debate earlier today, the Pendle MP said: “The Marsden Building Society has been around since 1860 and has around 40,000 members. Because it is a mutual organisation, its profits are ploughed back into the business giving savers and borrowers a good deal. It is a long established and well run business serving Lancashire.”

“But this levy, which comes out of pre tax profits, is squeezing the business. Around 15% of its profits are earmarked for the levy compared with 5% for banks who also must contribute.”

The MP added: “This levy was designed before the meltdown in the financial markets and clearly must be looked at again.”

“It is simply not acceptable for prudent and careful building societies to be funding the losses incurred by swashbuckling banks, taking high risks and making imprudent lending decisions.”

Replying to the debate, the minister, Ian Pearson, said the Regulator, the Financial Services Authority, is to review the levy and how it affects different sections of the financial services industry – the banks, building societies, credit unions and so on.

Monday 9 March 2009
Colne 'Train Spotter' was the only person on the right track!
Speaking to a group of Labour Party activists David Whalley, Labour County Council candidate for Pendle Central, commented "The possible re-opening of the rail link to Skipton from Colne has been talked about for the past twelve years. Due mainly to the efforts of SELRAP we are probably closer now to seeing this realised." He added “Ten years ago I was the only member of Pendle Borough Council to promote this idea and back SELRAP. In fact I was derided as a ‘train spotter’ by the Liberal Democrats. Three years ago they did a complete U-turn and now back the idea!”

David continued “The County Council now have the opportunity to purchase a length of the track bed to add to the length already in their ownership.” He added “The Lancashire local meeting in February voted unanimously to recommend the County Council to purchase the land. This was backed up at the Pendle Labour Party’s recent AGM when a similar motion was passed supporting the recommendation.”
Thursday 5 March 2009
"Three star" rating for Lancashire County Council
Lancashire County Council has received a three star rating in its latest performance health check.

This rates the council as "good" and classed as "improving adequately" - following a review of performance during 2008.

As part of the review, the council scored full marks for its Use of Resources assessment, which looks at how well the authority manages the money it spends. However, the report also identified weaknesses in the arrangements for safeguarding children and services for looked after children.

County Councillor Hazel Harding, leader of the county council, explained: "The county council has previously received the highest possible rating in its last four inspections. Whilst this latest review has given us a three star rating, it is important to stress the majority of our services are classed as staying the same or improving."

Lancashire's council bosses say they accept the reasons for the latest rating and that measures have been put in place to tackle the issues.

Councillor Harding added: "Ofsted's Joint Area Review in May last year did highlight some of our working arrangements in fostering. Since last summer, we have made important changes and added an extra £6.5m for children's social care."

The report, referred to as Direction of Travel statement, describes several strong aspects of the council's work. It states:

  • Educational attainment and services for vulnerable adults are improving. The council's approach to waste management and its    children's trust arrangements are especially good.
  • The council has significantly strengthened its contribution to partnership working across Lancashire, with notable outcomes achieved in community safety and regeneration. Crime is falling faster than the national average.
  • A new joint health unit with three primary care trusts is aimed at tackling health inequalities - a major challenge.
  • Access to service continues to improve, with increased take-up among target groups, such as older Asian people. Value for money is good and improving.
  • Improvement planning and performance are strengths. New leadership has impacted positively relationships with district councils and other partners.
  • Financial and organisational capacity is good, with particular improvements in sickness absence.
Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald, said: "As a county council, we must strive to continually improve, and assessment is part of this process. The report has highlighted many examples of improvement, and credit for this must go to our staff who continue to work hard to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in Lancashire."
Wednesday 04 March 2009
Lancashire gets a taste of Fairtrade
Lancashire County Council joined in the spirit of Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of the scheme.

Activities at County Hall, Preston, included a stand full of interesting and tasty Fairtrade products for people to buy. The aim was to show the range of products that are available to consumers.

County Councillor Tim Ormrod, Fairtrade champion for the county council, said:
"Events like this really help us to raise the profile of Fairtrade with the public. The number of Fairtrade products has increased considerably in recent years and in the last twelve months sales of Fairtrade products across the country have reached their highest level.

"Similar stalls have been organised at hundreds of venues including schools, churches and shops across the whole of the country.

"Many shops now stock some Fairtrade products, but sometimes people aren't sure what the Fairtrade mark actually stands for. This helps them to find out more about the message behind the mark."

"Lancashire is moving towards Fairtrade accreditation. We know that more than 50 per cent of Lancashire's residents live and work in towns and districts with Fairtrade status. It's only a matter of time before Lancashire becomes a Fairtrade county."

County Councillor Alan Whittaker, Chairman of the county council, who also attended the event said: "The aim is to ensure that the workers get a fair day's pay for their work, they are not exploited and can work in sustainable ways.

"At a time when we're seeing the effects of the economic slowdown, it is important to encourage sustainable business. And with more shops stocking Fairtrade products, you can also buy from local shops and help Lancashire businesses at the same time."
Wednesday 04 March 2009
Shock at Accident and Emergency figures
Gordon Prentice today expressed his serious concern at recently published figures which revealed that East Lancs Hospital Trust was at the bottom of the national table for accident and emergency waiting times in the most recent three-monthly measurement.

The MP said: “The Department of Health measures the percentage of patients seen within four hours in all A&E departments, including Minor Injury Units and Walk-In Centres. The figures for East Lancs Hospitals Trust published last month show a marked deterioration in waiting times for major A&E cases between April and December last year. Most A&E departments achieve a level for these cases of over 95%, but East Lancs is down at 80%, and this figure was way below the next lowest performing trust, Luton and Dunstable. These will be cases seen at Royal Blackburn Hospital and I am asking the Chief Executive what is being done to improve things, as the current figures look more like a trend than a one-off.”

The MP continued: “The County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been looking at the performance of the Hospital Trust since the big changes that were made in November 2007. I gave evidence to the Committee and called again for a referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. The Panel is drawn from clinicians and managers with no axe to grind, who have wide expertise in handling and delivering successful healthcare change.”

“My own view is that we should reinstate ‘blue light’A&E at Burnley.”

Figures for time spent in A&E are available from the Department of Health web site

Details of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel can be found at:

Tuesday 24 February 2009
Working in partnership
A young people's representative from Pendle was given the chance to see the busy life of a local councillor during a visit to a community mental health centre in Nelson.

Seventeen year old Saniya Janjua teamed up for the morning with County Councillor Mike Calvert from the Pendle Lancashire Local committee, which consists of representatives from the county and district councils who work together to take decisions and shape policy at a local level.

Martin Roberts, Primary Care Mental Health Team Manager with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, showed the pair around Pendle House, a state-of-the-art mental health facility which opened last year following a £1.9m renovation. The centre houses community mental health teams, crisis teams and an eating disorder service, and is run by both health and social care staff.

Martin Roberts said: “In recent years Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has made significant investments in mental health services across East Lancashire. Services at Pendle House are particularly unique as they use paperless clinical recording systems, meaning that we have access to the latest, up to date patient information.”

Saniya, a Pendle district youth councillor, said: "I learned a lot from spending this time with Mike and I was very impressed by the services at Pendle House. I hope we can arrange something like this again."

Pendle District Youth Council meets with the Lancashire Local committee twice a year to consult over decisions that affect young people, as well as campaigning on issues such as a new youth centre in Nelson, multi-use games areas, transport, youth shelters and a cinema.

Councillor Calvert, deputy chair of the Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: "Pendle Lancashire Local has strong links with the district youth council and today's visit underlines the benefits of partnership working.

"It's great to see our young people making a positive contribution to their local community and engaging so enthusiastically with the democratic process."

Friday 20 February 2009
MP and Labour Group Leader Support Whitefield School Proposal
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice has responded to Lancashire County Council’s consultation on the expansion of Whitefield Infant and Lomeshaye Junior Schools, Nelson, which closed on Friday 13 February.

In his submission the MP supports the main proposal to build a new Whitefield Infant school alongside the Enterprise Haven site on Every Street and to refurbish and expand the existing facilities for Lomeshaye Junior School.

Speaking from his Constituency Office in Carr Road, Nelson, Mr Prentice said “The combined infant and junior schools currently on the Norfolk
Street site are full to bursting and the numbers of pupils are set to increase over the coming years. It is essential that the quality of the children’s education is not compromised because of overcrowded class rooms and inadequate facilities.”

“The proposal from the County Council’s Children and Young People Directorate offers a successful solution to the capacity problem. Being located at the centre of the Whitefield regeneration area, the new infants school will form the basis of a valuable community resource, helping to breathe fresh life into this run-down part of Nelson.”

“The long-debated proposals for the Whitefield area stalled again in 2008 when R-Gen failed to secure the regeneration contract. Many of the streets have become derelict after houses were purchased by the local council and have been boarded up for years.”

Leader of the Labour Group and County Council candidate for Brierfield and Nelson North, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “The selection of this site by the County Council is something to be welcomed by everyone living in Nelson. We are desperate for a new a school and despite their promises the Liberal run Council have neglected Whitefield over the last 8 years. I look forward to working with Lancashire County Council to bring about this project as soon as possible”

Monday 16 February 2009
The Play's The Thing
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, wants young people to apply for free or reduced price theatre tickets.

The MP said: “The Department for Culture, Media & Sport are funding an Arts Council England scheme that will provide free tickets to people under the age of 26. Working with more than 200 venues throughout the country, it will distribute 618,000 tickets over the next two years."

"I would like to see young people in Pendle take advantage of this scheme – locally, theatres in Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Manchester are taking part - and the opportunity to see live theatre should not be missed.”

The MP added: “Londoners are spoiled for choice in theatre going and, despite the credit crunch, business is booming. I hope many young people here in Pendle will apply for tickets - for local theatres and for those further afield - and have a really great night out”.

Details of the scheme can be found and applications for tickets made through the "Night Less Ordinary" website:

Monday 9 February 2009
MP Elected as Ramblers' Champion
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, was yesterday elected as Honorary President of the North East Lancashire Ramblers.

Speaking at a packed meeting of Ramblers from all over East Lancashire at yesterday’s AGM in Burnley, the MP vowed to do all he could to get the new Marine and Coastal Access Bill on to the Statute Book as soon as possible.

“Only 70% of the coast around England and Wales has public access. Three miles out of every ten are out of bounds. I want people to have the right to walk on beaches, cliffs and dunes and to enjoy our coastline.”

The Bill before Parliament promises to create a coastal path around the coastline – with safeguards to exclude, for example, parks and gardens.

The Pendle MP has taken a close interest in countryside access issues for many years. His Right to Roam Bill in 1999 paved the way for the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which opened up thousands of acres of previously closed land.
Wednesday 4 February 2009
Councillor blasts Council for failure to grit!!
Brierfield Labour Councillor Naeem Ashraf has demanded an urgent review into why certain streets in Brierfield were not gritted despite him requesting officers to do so for 2 days running.

The streets in question are Chapel Street/Castle Street, Brierfield and are used as a very busy route by schoolchildren and their parents on a daily basis.

Cllr Ashraf said “I rang Council officers on Monday and was told because it wasn’t a primary route; the streets would be done late Monday or Tuesday. When I asked what advice to give to parents/children, I was told they should park their cars on the main road and walk up very steep streets (putting their life and limbs at risk). By Tuesday lunchtime, the gritting had not been done and sadly my own 68 year old father slipped and broke his leg! I returned from hospital at 1.00am and still no gritting had been done. The situation is scandalous and I am demanding that something is done for residents in Brierfield before someone is killed. They should at a bare minimum place grit bins on these streets and I will personally go round and do the gritting if that is what is necessary.

I would like to praise the ambulance response time and the excellent care my father received at Blackburn hospital. Maybe some Council officers could do with a lesson from the NHS staff”.
Tuesday 03 February 2009
2009 Dementia Strategy Unveiled
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed the Government's new strategy to care for people with dementia. The MP says it will transform the lives of people with this condition and help their carers.

Earlier today, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced the new strategy would include the appointment of dementia advisers; better training for GPs; and a network of memory clinics staffed by specialists to provide early diagnosis and treatment.

The first National Dementia Strategy, with an initial budget of £150m over the next two years, is designed to increase awareness of dementia, ensure early diagnosis and intervention and radically improve the quality of care that people with the condition receive.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "The number of people with dementia is set to double over the next thirty years, and the cost of care and treatment is likely to triple. I am told the direct costs of dementia to the NHS are approximately £3.3 billion every year."

"The Alzheimer’s Society has welcomed the Strategy and says it will make a huge difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers - if it is fully delivered."

Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, added:

"Today’s announcement sets out an ambitious national rescue plan to transform the lives of people living with dementia. One million people will develop dementia in the next ten years, this is a momentous opportunity to avert a dementia crisis that could overwhelm the NHS and social care.

"There is so much to do. Only a third of people with dementia get a formal diagnosis, denying them vital support. It is essential the strong leadership from the Department of Health continues so that these plans become a reality. Change won’t happen overnight, but Alzheimer’s Society will be working tirelessly to bring dementia out of the shadows."

Friday 30 January 2009
One day for one world
Building social harmony by teaching children about other religions was the theme of a conference at Farington Lodge, Leyland this week.

Entitled “Helping children to learn about and from local faith groups: addressing the community cohesion agenda through RE”, the conference attracted more than 75 teachers, mainly from Lancashire primary schools.

It was organised by Lancashire County Council.

County Councillor Vali Patel, cabinet member for schools, said: “When children learn about each other’s faiths and world religions at an early age, it can prevent much of the ignorance and fear which leads to misunderstanding.

“This kind of conference is an excellent way to give teachers the confidence to arrange a visit to their local temple or mosque, for example, to see first-hand how others practise their beliefs.”
Thursday, 22 January 2009
MP Wins Road Safety Award
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, last night received the Parliamentary National Campaigner of the Year Award from the road safety charity, BRAKE, for his work in campaigning to stop the carnage of young people on UK roads.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at Westminster, the MP paid tribute to the Lancashire Telegraph’s "Wasted Lives" campaign which had thrown a spotlight on the dangers posed by young drivers.

The MP has called for urgent Government action to tackle young driver deaths. The MP claims the problem is "almost exclusively" with young men.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "We need to introduce a new system of graduated driving licences. It we don’t, some young men will continue to behave behind the wheel as if they are immortal."

The result of the Government’s ‘Learning to Drive’ consultation is expected shortly.

Wednesday 21 January 2009
Life under the Tories!
The Leader of the Labour Group Councillor Mohammed Iqbal was shocked to learn David Cameron's commitment to cut £5bn from public expenditure included a new policy to restrict the growth of the budget of Communities and Local Government - to a one per cent real terms increase for 2009/10.

This policy would mean cutting £240 million from the Formula Grant paid to local government this year.

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said that this callous proposal would inevitably mean hard working Pendle families and pensioners being faced with cuts in services or having to pay more council tax to fill Cameron’s proposed shortfall.

Tuesday 13 January 2009
Making Saving Pay
A new savings account, designed for people who have not traditionally put money by for a rainy day, has been welcomed by local MP, Gordon Prentice.

The Saving Gateway Accounts Bill, which has its second reading in the Commons today, will promote saving for working age people on low incomes - with Government giving 50p for every £1 saved over a two year period.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "This is an excellent initiative where people can save up to £600 and then get an additional £300 top up – and all tax free."

"This is one way of keeping people away from loan sharks who charge exorbitant rates of interest, bleeding people dry."

The Government estimates that around 8 million people on benefits and tax credits are eligible for this incentive to save. Around a third of those will be in full-time work, and nearly half will be doing at least some work. The new Savings Accounts start in 2010 and run for two years after which savers can transfer their money to other kinds of accounts.

The Saving Gateway Accounts will be run through the Post Office, credit unions, banks and building societies.

Saving Gateway Accounts will be automatically available to people on a range of benefits and tax credits. They will be notified of their eligibility by the Revenue.

Note to editors: The scheme has been piloted successfully. The first pilot saw the number of regular savers jump from 16% to nearly 80%.

Savers can save up to £25 per month - securing a matching Government contribution of up to £12:50 a month.

The Child Trust Fund is also meant to encourage the savings habit. It provides every child with £250 at birth (£500 for children in lower-income families) and again at age of 7. Over 4 million children now have Child Trust Funds.

Monday 12 January 2009
Lib Dems too cowardly to admit they were wrong!
Labour Councillors are accusing the Liberal Democrat Leader of Pendle Council and his colleagues of being cowards over a decision to scrap plans for a Waste Transfer Station in the heart of Nelson.

Despite planning the station in Fleet Street for over 2 years and even talking about it on the Pendle Council web site, Councillor David has tried to spin the story into a positive one for his party.

Leader of the Labour Group and Bradley Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said “It is no wonder that certain members of the public treat politicians with contempt when Councillor David and his advisor, Councillor Greaves try and turn the opposition of Bradley residents into a positive spin story for their party. The truth is that Councillor David and other senior members of his party have been planning this transfer station for the last 2 years. Councillor David and Councillor Whipp were as recently as last week talking about the station as though it was already up and running. They were trying to force Nelson Councillors to do their dirty work for them at the next meeting in February.

I challenged Cllr David publicly last week to withdraw this application and listen to what local people were saying in their hundreds. I am pleased and praise those residents who took a lead on this issue; it is a pleasure to see the right outcome has been forced out of the Lib Dems –
in future they should listen and not dictate to the people of Pendle.

It is understood that this process has cost the taxpayers of Pendle the unnecessary expense of over £12,000.

Thursday 8 January 2009
Council needs to listen to the People!
The Leader of the Labour Group and Bradley ward Councillor Mohammed Iqbal is urging Pendle Council to listen to the voice of residents who are against a Waste Transfer Station being located in the heart of a residential area on Fleet Street, Nelson.

Cllr Iqbal said “It has become apparent during the course of the last few weeks that whilst a small group of Lib Dem Councillors have secretly been planning this proposal over the last 2 years and kept the rest of us in the dark, the people have spoken and as far as I am concerned, their views are paramount as they would live and breathe any proposal 24 hours a day.
I support the idea of a new facility being located in Pendle and will work with anyone to achieve this but common sense must be applied and such a scheme has to be located away from any residential area. I would make a public demand of the Leader of the Council, Cllr John David to re-consider this proposal and let the residents of Bradley live in peace and a noise-free environment”

At the moment, there are over 1000 signatures on petitions against the waste transfer station being located in Fleet Street, Nelson. The proposal is to be considered at Nelson Area Committee on 2nd February 2009
The scheme is funded by Lancashire County Council but Pendle Council are taking the lead in terms of identifying a site and obtaining planning permission.

Wednesday 7 January 2009
MP Condemns Israeli Onslaught
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has called for an immediate and unconditional end to the Israeli onslaught in Gaza.

Speaking from his office at Westminster, the MP said: "The carnage we have witnessed in Gaza demands a ceasefire now. Not just for three hours or three days. With over 600 deaths and mounting, the slaughter must end."

"One and a half million Palestinians are trapped in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. In such an environment there can be no "surgical strikes" - the innocent inevitably become casualties."

"We need an international peacekeeping force in the area."

"And we need justice for the Palestinians. This must include the end of all illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian territory."

Note to Editors: The MP supported Richard Burden's Early Day Motion (below), tabled on 10 December 2008

That this House welcomes statements by the Government recognising that justice for the Palestinians is an essential component in achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East for both Israelis and Palestinians; further welcomes the acknowledgement by Ehud Olmert, the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, that the decision facing Israel is something Israeli governments have refused to face with open eyes for 40 years and his recognition that a peace agreement with Palestinians depends upon Israel ending its occupation and withdrawing from Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem; notes with alarm that since the Annapolis Conference intended to introduce a final status agreement, the number of housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank has actually increased; believes that the wide international acknowledgement of Palestinian human, national, legal and political rights as reflected in UN resolutions, the Geneva Convention and ICJ opinion must urgently be acted upon and realised; urges the Government to ensure that the UK, EU and UN policy reflects this urgency; and also urges both the incoming US President and the next Israeli leader not to wait until the end of their terms of office to recognise their own responsibilities to achieve a just settlement in line with these principles, and in negotiation with the Palestinians, to secure an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.

Saturday 3 January 2009 
Return the Cash says Prentice
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is calling on the Conservatives to return a series of cash donations from a multi millionaire living in the tax haven of Monaco.
The MP said: "The breathtaking news that the tax exile, Lord Laidlaw, gave £100,000 to the Conservatives last year is only matched by that Party’s astonishing decision to accept the tainted donations."

"A year ago I introduced a Bill which would disqualify Members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords if they were not resident in the UK for tax purposes. The Bill ran out of time but its purpose is as relevant now as ever. People who make the nation’s laws should pay its taxes."
"When Irvine Laidlaw was ennobled in 2004 he told the House of Lords Appointments Commission he would become a UK resident for tax purposes. He reneged on that solemn promise."

"As a tax exile, living in Monaco, he continues to bankroll the Conservatives, out of reach of the Revenue and Customs."

"The Conservatives should return the money immediately."

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Promoted by Pendle Constituency Labour Party - 33 Carr Road, Nelson, Lancs BB9 7JS