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

Friday 28 December 2012
Deep cuts to local Cancer Network
Mark Porter, the Labour Candidate for Pendle West Division, commenting on the revelation of deep cuts to Cancer Networks said:
“A survey of all Cancer Networks in England carried out by the Labour Party has revealed deep budget cuts. The budget for Lancashire & South Cumbria Cancer Network has been cut by 43%.

“Despite Lib Dem Tory Coalition Ministers’ repeated promises that funding for these vital groups of experts would be protected, figures released show that in Lancashire & South Cumbria our local cancer network has seen its budget cut by £843,000 since 2009/10.

“Meanwhile, the Government’s NHS reorganisation is causing huge uncertainty and confusion about the future of cancer networks – destabilising the crucial services and support they provide.

“Reduced funding and another top-down upheaval in the NHS is forcing many of these groups of local specialists to cut their workforce, reduce existing and future projects to improve patient care, and reject additional grants from charities as they are unable to make commitments into 2013/14.

“Across England, Cancer Network budgets have been cut on average by over a quarter since 2009/10, and their staff by a fifth in the same period. “The figures are even more disturbing when taken in the context of the latest research published by cancer research which suggests, that by 2027 50% of the male population will suffer from some form of cancer in their lifetime with the figures for females not much better, now is the time for increased funding not reduced.

“Today across Lancashire we can see yet another broken promise from the Tory-led Coalition Government on the NHS.

“Over the time Labour was in Government, we delivered fantastic improvements in the treatment of cancer patients, and the work of local Cancer Networks was key to this achievement. Yet despite Coalition Ministers’ assurances they would protect local cancer experts, we can see that funding for our local network has fallen by 43% over the last 4 years.

“As a result of David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s unnecessary structural reorganisation of the NHS, these crucial networks are being cut, their future is now uncertain, and it is patients in Lancashire that will pay the price of the Government’s failure”.

Friday 21th December 2012
Burnley and Pendle hit with savage local government funding cuts - Lancashire Telegraph
Burnley and Pendle face Whitehall grant cuts next year of almost 10 per cent, the highest in England.

And they have been warned there is worse to come if they miss Government targets to increase efficiency.

They and Hyndburn will see a reduction in central government support of at least 8.8 per cent – more than £1million – affecting services across the board.

If they fail to meet Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles targets in reducing staff and outsourcing “back office” services, Burnley will see that reduction double to £3.5 million - 17.8 per cent.

In Pendle’s case the cuts will rise to 14 per cent if they fail the government’s efficiency test.

Read the full Lancashire Telegraph article here

Friday 21 December 2012
Seasons Greetings
Azhar Ali, Labour Candidate, Nelson South Division and President of Pendle Labour Party sends the Seasons Greetings to everyone and said:

“I would also like to thank all those Nelson South Labour Party members who recently took part in the selection of a replacement Labour County Council Candidate for 2013. Nelson South County Councillor George Adam is standing down in 2013 and we would all like to say what an excellent councillor George has been for the Labour Party. His will be a hard act to follow but I am pleased to say that Nelson South members have chosen me to contest their division for Labour in 2013.

“Thanks too to all those on the short list who made this selection process a good example of democracy at work within the Labour Party. It was a difficult choice for Nelson South members as each person on the short list would have made an exceptionally good Labour Party candidate for Nelson South. “Nelson residents will already know me from when I was Leader of Pendle Council some years ago and since then I have worked with Pendle Labour Party on various matters concerning Nelson especially in the face of the Lib Dem and Tory austerity cuts which have gone too far, too fast. Most recently I was involved in the incredible battle to save Pendle Community Hospital.

“The threat to Pendle Community Hospital was and is real. Beds and services were going to be transferred out. Our petition gathered over 8,000 signatures to ensure that the Hospital remained open, securing another 3 years of transitional funding from the NHS. Many leading Pendle Lib Dems and Tories signed the Labour Party petition and we shall carry on the fight to secure the long-term future of the Hospital.

“Elsewhere, the Tories are starting to sell off our NHS and feathering their own nest at the same time. The first NHS hospital to be run by a private company has revealed that losses in the firm's first six months in charge were almost double those forecast - £4.1million. Circle Health took over management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire in February 2012. However, over the last few years, shareholders in Circle Health have given the Conservative Party £1.4million.

“The donations, made since 2001, lift the lid on the relationship between the private health lobby and the Tories. They want to “carve up” the NHS for their wealthy chums in big business. Records also show Tory MP Mark Simmonds is paid £50,000 a year by Circle for 10 hours’ work a month.

“If you care about the NHS and want to see it properly protected from the Tory cuts then please show your support by signing Labour’s petition at”
Tuesday 18 December 2012
Labour Councillor welcomes Vivary Bridge improvements
Pendle Borough Councillor, Ian Tweedie, is pleased that he has helped secure funding to brighten up Vivary Way and Hyde Park areas of the ward. Ian says:

“This part of Colne has become rather neglected of late. With the funding secured we should be able to brighten up this area with some landscaping and flower beds. The shrubbery at Hyde Park has already been cut back and I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements to the gardens on Vivary Way in the spring. There will also be some power cleaning at the bottom of Lancaster Street which was declared a ‘heritage street’ some years ago.

” Ian adds: “The work will be undertaken by Pendle’s Environmental Action Group.”

Monday 10 December 2012
Osborne's Autumn budget piles even more austerity agony on women
Sheena Dunn, Labour Candidate Pendle East Division, commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement said:

“As a result of George Osborne’s failure, the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government are borrowing £212 billion more than they planned and will miss their debt target.

“The first question to ask about the Autumn Statement is ‘what contribution will the banks make?’ The increased national debt’s really as a result of the tax income from banking suddenly drying up since the international credit crisis. Although quite whether people in charge of the banking sector could have foreseen the credit crisis any more than politicians of all political persuasions should have done is also a big question. In 2014/15, the Tory Chancellor is raising an additional £545 million through the bank levy but almost three times more, £1.43bn, is being taken from tax credits and discretionary benefits in the same year.

“While millionaires get a tax cut, it is millions of struggling families on middle and modest incomes who are paying the price for this government’s economic failure. A working family with children on £20,000 will lose £279 a year from next April on the same day that 8,000 millionaires get an average tax cut of over £107,000.

“This includes the impact of the income tax personal allowance increase. It also includes all the other policy decisions the Coalition Government have taken in past Budgets and Autumn Statements, but it does not include the £450 a year worse a family will be as a result of the VAT increase.

“The Lib Dem Tory Government claim to be targeting work-shy claimants, but around 60 per cent of households hit by the real terms cuts to benefits and tax credits are working households. For the unemployed seeking work, there are precious few jobs to find due to the Coalition’s failure to keep the economy going. “Restricting the up-rating of Child Benefit for the three years from 2014/15, by half of what families were expecting, will take almost £175 million in support away from children in 2014/15 alone.

“The planned rise in the personal allowance for income tax does lift some people out of taxation. However, whilst around 57 per cent of the beneficiaries of this move are male, the policy does little to boost the incomes of the approximately 4 million people who currently earn too little to pay tax, around 73 per cent of whom are women.

“Overall we find that it’s women who are paying more than three quarters of the cost to household income from the Coalition Government’s deficit reduction plan. Women will be hit four times harder by tax and benefit changes than men. Of the £1.065 billion from new direct tax, tax credit and benefit changes announced in this Autumn Statement in 2014/15, 81 per cent (£867 million) will be coming from women.

“Despite repeated warnings from women across the country that their budgets are disproportionately impacting women’s incomes, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and David Cameron keep coming back for more to pay for their failure to get the economy growing. The Government’s blind spot on women is going from bad to worse. Of the £16.03bn raised in 2014/15 through net direct tax, benefit, pay and pension changes since the General Election, £12.14bn is coming from women and £3.89bn is coming from men. This leaves women shouldering 76 per cent of the cost of reducing the deficit.”.

Friday 07 December 2012         
Christian Aid Green Climate Fund
David Johns, Labour Candidate, West Craven Division commenting on the Green Climate Fund said:

“The Labour Party fully supports the Christian Aid Green Climate Fund (GCF) campaign to increase the money available to developing nations, to help them adapt to climate change. This is why Labour in government allocated £2.9 billion to the Climate Change Fund, to be distributed through the International Climate Fund (ICF). £1.5 billion of that ICF funding is being used as the Fast Start finance pledge, and two-thirds have been allocated so far.

“The United Kingdom is on schedule to meet international obligations and is taking a leadership role on the Green Climate Fund. However, that role could be strengthened if the Tory-led Government would answer many necessary questions in regard to the CCF, like when and where it will be spent. Not having a plan for executing spending £2.9 billion in the case of a time sensitive issue, where millions of children need to be protected from natural disasters, poverty, and hunger, is not the best way to instil confidence in the United Kingdom as a positive international leader on climate change. It’s therefore prudent to cautiously welcome the £2bn of UK climate aid, announced by the Tory-led Government at the latest round of climate change talks in Dohar. This is going towards building wind turbines in Africa and making cattle ranchers in Colombia plant trees.

“The Shadow International Development Minister, Rushanara Ali MP, leads on this policy area. If anyone is interested in finding out more about Labour’s plans regarding the Green Climate Fund, and the ways in which they are helping developing countries around the world adapt to climate change please visit Labour’s Shadow International Development Team website at There you can keep up to date with the Shadow International Development team’s activity and sign up for their newsletter. You can also find more resources about Climate Change, on the Labour Campaign for International Development website at

“A further Christian Aid campaign draws attention to the contribution that international shipping makes to greenhouse gas emissions. The Committee on Climate Change has concluded that emissions from international aviation and shipping should be formally included in the UK’s carbon budgets. Emissions from these sectors were initially left out of carbon budgets and the 2050 emissions reduction target when the Climate Change Act became law. Under the Act, a decision on the inclusion of emissions from international aviation and shipping is required by the end of 2012. Labour agrees with the CCC that formal inclusion of these emissions will ensure a more transparent and comprehensive framework under the Climate Change Act and provide more certainty. It’s disappointing that the Lib Dem Tory Government has so far refused to accept this common sense measure.”.

Thursday 06 December 2012
Public apology called for from BNP and Tories
Senior Nelson Councillor Kathleen Shore has been cleared by a Pendle Council investigation that she wrongly abused her position to secure the tenancy of a cottage in Nelson.

During the local elections in May 2012, both parties had sent out leaflets across Pendle accusing Cllr Shore of wrong-doing.

Cllr Shore said:

“I was very angry that both BNP and Conservatives had made out that I was a liar and a cheat. In my decades of service to the people of Pendle, I have never abused my position and never will”.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal who had called for the investigation said:

“I am publicly calling upon the local Conservative Party and British National Party leaders to do the decent thing and apologise to Cllr Shore. It has been proven that she did nothing wrong. They were wrong to print lies and should now apologise to her publicly”

Friday 30 November 2012
Coalition’s deep cut for Pendle
Commenting on the Conservative/Liberal Democrat cuts to local authority budgets, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Labour Group Leader & County Councillor for Brierfield & Nelson North Said:

“Not so long ago the Government claimed “we’re all in this together” but with each passing day this seems more and more like a bad joke. In their determination to enforce a reckless cuts programme that goes too far and too fast, the Tories have slashed local council budgets but instead of spreading the load, they have deliberately targeted the communities that can least afford it, and it’s areas like Pendle that are paying the price.

“Data gathered by Newcastle City Council show how the Lib Dem Tory Coalition is to impose central government funding cuts on local authorities in the forthcoming years. Newcastle has considered money provided to 330 local authorities directly and also through schemes such as the new homes bonus and the council tax freeze.

“Over a three year period, the divide between North and South is to be aggravated. Tory councils in the South such as Elmbridge, Wokingham and Richmond on Thames will receive a very small cut of £16 per head of population and yet only have child poverty levels of 10%. The fifty poorest Councils receive cuts on average of £160 per head.

“In the marginal Tory-held constituency of Pendle, the loss amounts to £92.22 per head with child poverty level at 22% but David Cameron’s local authority of West Oxfordshire is losing just £34.33 per person with child poverty level at 8.1%.

“The real enemies in Pendle are not only poverty, inadequate housing and unemployment – we must include this Tory-led Coalition too.”.

Friday 16 November 2012
Well Done Clive
Pendle Labour Party congratulates Clive Grunshaw on being elected The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Lancashire. The Liberal Democrat candidate Afzal Anwar who stood unsuccessfully in Pendle at the 2010 General Election came fourth in the first round of voting behind the candidate for the single-issue party, UKIP.

Our congratulations also go to Andy Sawford who overturned a deficit of 1,951 votes into a whopping Labour majority of 7,791 over the Conservative candidate in the Corby parliamentary by-election. The Liberal Democrats lost their deposit. Corby election results are seen as a strong indicator of who will win the next General Election. The result indicates a swing of about 13% from the Conservatives.

Congratulations also to Labour’s Steven Doughty who won the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election with a swing of over 8% from the Conservatives despite the low turnout. The Manchester Central by-election was won by Labour’s Lucy Powell. There were substantial swings against both Coalition parties with the Liberal Democrat vote down by nearly 17%. The Tory candidate losing his deposit as he only managed 754 votes, less than 5% of the total turnout. Well done Lucy!

Our congratulations also go to all the other Labour candidates who won their elections for Police and Crime Commissioners. The overall result was something of a mixed bag, with a surprising number of ‘Independent’ candidates taking about ten seats, which would have normally been expected to have been won by the Conservative Party. The jury is still out on how politically independent some of these candidates really are. There remains considerable concern about the need for these elections, the Coalition Government’s timing of the elections and their failure to provide information about candidates to voters. These issues were no doubt significant reasons why voters failing to get on their feet and vote.

Thursday15 November 2012
European Union Budget
Responding to the “Mr Pendle” column in the Colne Times series, Ian Graham, Labour Party candidate for Pendle Central Division said:

“As a Labour Party member, I am obliged to heartily agree with Mr Pendle when he says that there still needs to be some substantial reforms done to the European Union.

“Mr Pendle specifically referred to the monthly trips the EU Parliament makes from Brussels to Strasbourg. The Labour Party group of MEPs wants an end to this for three reasons:

  1. Governments through the EU are setting up swingeing public sector cuts that are hurting working people everywhere. Estimates say the cost of the Strasbourg Parliament is over €200 million for the extra seat.
  2. Governments should be seen to practice what they preach. It is a scandal to cause this totally unnecessary carbon footprint. The University of York have estimated a carbon footprint of an extra 20,268 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide caused by this move. The adoption of a single seat in Brussels would be in line with the Parliament's plan to reduce its carbon "footprint" by 30% by 2020.
  3. The EU Parliament only meets in Strasbourg for historic reasons. The monthly move to Strasbourg represented reconciliation between France and Germany after eighty years of different wars culminating in 1945. We are now the new Enlarged Europe and the significance of the end of Franco-German hostility is now consigned to history text books.

“With regards to the EU budget the Labour Party group of MEPs believes that the European Union's spending must prioritise job creation and economic growth, it should reform agriculture spending and put a stop to harmful export subsidies. In a time of crisis, when public authorities across the EU are cutting vital services, it’s not right that in Brussels it should be business as usual. Why is the EU still planning to subsidise tobacco farming? The priority right now is to cut waste, go for growth and deliver a real term freeze in the Budget. The EU must now start a root and branch reform of its agricultural spending (CAP). Action and not words are now needed. This is why the Labour Party joined forces with Tory rebels at Westminster on 31 October to defeat Cameron and Clegg’s proposal to increase the EU budget. Our Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson blandly toed the Party line. "In Brussels Labour MEPs have recently voted against the EU budget for the years 2014-20 as well as the budget proposal for the year 2013. Glenis Wilmot, Leader of the Labour MEPs said, “It is not acceptable to the Labour Party that the EU is threatening to abolish the UK rebate before it has undertaken what we consider to be essential house management”.

Sunday 11 Novemebr 2012
Thousands of nursing jobs cut
Commenting on statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre this week, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Labour Group Leader & County Councillor for Brierfield & Nelson North said:

“David Cameron and his Tory-led coalition government came into power promising to protect frontline NHS jobs but the evidence against that claim is stacking up, not just in the North West but across the country.

“Statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre this week show that the number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff employed by the NHS has fallen by 6,191 since Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010.

“Between June and July this year over 800 posts alone were lost, the centre’s workforce statistics for England show.

“Despite his election promises David Cameron has cut the NHS budget two years running and turned it upside down with a wasteful and unnecessary £3 billion reorganisation.

“Over 6,000 nursing jobs have now been cut on his watch and the cuts are especially bad in the North West with 1,728 fewer nurses working on the frontline than two years ago.

“Patients are paying the price for Cameron’s broken promises as more people wait longer in A&E and the number of patients left waiting on trolleys in hospital corridors is up by a third.

“It’s time for Cameron to get his priorities straight and deliver on his election promise to protect the NHS and put patients’ needs first.”.

If you care about the NHS and want to see it properly protected from the Tory cuts then please show your support by signing Labour’s petition.

Friday 02 November 2012
Mr Stephenson is wrong to be singing the Coalition’s praises. – David Johns
David Johns Labour Candidate for West Craven Division, commenting on a recent article in the Barnoldswick and Earby Times series said:

“In his column ‘From the House’ in your 19 October edition, Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said how pleased he was with the Lib Dem Tory Coalition’s record on employment: “Since the Coalition Government came to power we have introduced the largest welfare to work programme the UK has seen since the Great Depression, developed a £1billion package to help get our young people into work, and given apprenticeships to 142 young people every day”.

“As a Labour Party member I must admit that the recent fall in unemployment is a welcome chink of light in an otherwise very bleak economic outlook. But frankly, when the welfare bill is spiralling £25 billion over this parliament, Mr Stephenson is wrong to be singing the Coalition’s praises.

“There are now red lights flashing warning that Britain is becoming a much divided country.

“Long-term unemployment has actually risen yet again. The number of young people out of work and claiming benefits for more than a year actually went up yet again, and three-quarters of Britain has higher unemployment than at the time of the 2010 General Election. More than a third of people out of work have been jobless for more than a year in the clearest sign yet that the Lib Dem Tory coalition’s Work Programme is not doing the job. It has been shown clearly that there is always very strong correlation between levels of male long-term unemployment and crime levels. At a time when Cameron and Clegg are cutting back on the Police, happen this would make good news for an insurance broker?

“Since September 2011, in Pendle the number of people aged 18 to 24 claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance for over twelve months has gone up from 5 to 100 - an increase of some 1900%.”

Friday 26 October 2012
Searching for Sid
Mark Porter, Labour Candidate, Pendle West Division sets out a timely message to the energy companies and the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government.

Mark writes:

“If you see Sid tell him”, was the advertising slogan used to promote the privatisation of British gas in the mid 1980’s.

Well, in the absence of the mythical character I would like to send a message to the energy companies: “enough is enough”.

It seems barely a month goes by without one energy company or another announcing inflation-busting price rises of between 6 and 18 % with British gas the latest to announce a 6 % increase on top of the 31% increase British gas has inflicted on its customers over the last 2 years which has resulted in £4.8billion profits for 2011.

This is in addition to Npower’s announcement of an 8.8% rise in gas price and 9.1% rise in electricity costs despite the government claiming inflation to be running at 2.2%.

The result of these increases will force many more households to make the stark choice this winter between eating and heating, adding to the almost 5 million households already in fuel poverty.

Sadly with the local cuts in funding to the luncheon clubs it is the elderly that are once again going to be hardest hit.

Last Wednesday saw Cameron announce he would legislate against the energy companies forcing them to place households on the lowest tariffs only for a number of his Lib Dem Tory Coalition Ministers to contradict his claims resulting in him having to retract his commitment.

This is hardly surprising when you learn that Centrica’s (British Gas) major shareholders happen to be Tory party donors with donations totalling over £1.4million in the last 2 years!

With History being the only true teacher, the question is have the Tories learnt from their past mistakes of privatisation and outsourcing which places Joe public at the mercy of an artificial market governed by corporate greed for their essential public utilities and services?

I would argue the answer is an emphatic

Soaring energy bills are hurting families and pensioners, already hit by the double dip recession made in Downing Street by Cameron and Clegg.

The Government has to get a grip on energy bills. It’s not good enough for out of touch Ministers to tell people to shop around.
The Government should get behind Labour’s plans to put all over-75s on the cheapest tariff and overhaul the energy market to deliver fair prices for all.

Friday 19 October 2012
Stop the badger cull – Sheena Dunn
In response to the coalition governments pilot badge cull scheme the Labour Candidate for Pendle East, Sheena Dunn said:

“The British government is giving in to pressure from farmers, rather than using the best scientific advice to stop badgers spreading TB to cattle. “The RSPCA and other animal welfare groups have been to Brussels to get support for a ban on British farmers killing badgers, and to press for measures towards an EU approved vaccination.

“A British government pilot scheme allowing certain farmers to "free shoot" badgers in prescribed areas was set up on Monday 17 September. This causes the badger population to scatter over a wide area.

“I fully understand the desperation of farmers affected by this devastating disease. TB in cows is a terrible disease that needs to be controlled, but this cull isn't the way to do it. Vaccination rather than shooting has already been shown to significantly reduce the disease in
the badger population. It's more sustainable and humane. Even the former Coalition Government Defra Minister said that vaccination is the best long term approach to tackle the disease”.

North West Labour MEP, Arlene McCarthy said:

“There's been recent British research on cattle vaccines and Labour MEPs will work hard to put pressure on the European Commission to speed up the process to allow the use of new vaccines”.

Lord Krebs, the Oxford scientist who instigated the previous Labour government's scientific trial, has described the government's cull as "a crazy scheme."

He says: "If the cull wipes out whole badger populations, this would put the UK in breach of the Berne Convention on wildlife protection as it is a protected species under both European and UK law".

Tuesday 16 October 2012
Pendle Labour welcomes revised boundary proposals
Pendle Labour Party voted for Pendle to be kept together as far as possible and welcomes the news that the Boundary Commission has revised its original proposals which would have broken the constituency up.

However, although the Boundary Commission was obliged to carry on with its work and produce these recommendations, it has been known for some time that the Liberal Democrats will not allow the Boundary changes to be passed into legislation, because the backwoodsmen in the Conservative Parliamentary Party voted down the Lib-Dem proposals for reforming the House of Lords.

Despite David Cameron’s pledge to go ahead with the Boundary Review in this Parliament, in effect the Boundary Commission is just going through the motions, and we are ending up with another Tory-Lib Dem shambles. This wouldn't matter so much if it hadn't been at the expense of the taxpayer, just like the chaos of the West Coast rail franchise.

Local Tories are cock-a-hoop of course, because the Boundary Commission's original proposals for Pendle had meant that the proposed "Burnley North and Nelson" constituency would have included a number of Labour wards in Burnley, making Andrew Stephenson's seat much less safe.

The whole process has been completely anti-democratic, as it has delayed the selection of opposition candidates for parliamentary constituencies by years. Pendle voters should remember that Stephenson had nearly four years to "work the constituency" before 2010, supported by vastly more funding than other parties had available. This included cash from the notorious Lord Ashcroft who as far as we know still hasn't met the tax obligations required of him when he was given his peerage by the then Tory boss, William Hague.

Tuesday 16 October 2012
Nelson South County Councillor welcomes St Paul’s School and Walverden School success stories
County Councillor George Adam, who represents Nelson South on the County Council, has welcomed the good outcomes of campaigns against Tory attempts to force local primary schools into taking action against their wishes.

Cllr Adam said: “Both St Paul’s CE Primary School and Walverden Primary School are in my patch. One was threatened by the Tory administration at County Hall with being moved into the neighbouring town, Brierfield, if it wanted to expand. The other was under threat of being forced by Secretary of State Michael Gove into becoming an academy, against the wishes of its staff, governors and parents.”

St Paul’s – credit where credit is due

Councillor Adam continued: “I’m pleased to say that following a campaign by local parents and councillors the County Council were persuaded to back down and locate the new St Paul’s school on the former Edge End site as we wanted.”

“I don’t believe this would have happened without the support and publicity given to the St Paul’s campaign by local councillors such as Eileen Ansar, Julie Henderson, Abdul Aziz and myself. It was Labour Councillors after all who got the motion passed at Pendle Council that made the County Council work with Pendle on a solution that would meet the wishes of the school community.”

“So it was a bit galling to see that Pendle’s Conservatives had sent out a self-congratulatory press release even before the end of the call-in period following the County Council’s decision to approve the expansion on the Edge End site. A quote from a ‘delighted’ Joe Cooney seems inappropriate when he had nothing to do with the campaign. And an equally delighted Andrew Stephenson in fact made no public pronouncements on the issue at the time when it mattered. As with so many controversial issues locally, he just keeps his head down and moves on to the next easy photo opportunity.”

“Sadly, Mr McGowan, who played a good part in the campaign, discovered he would be unable to advance his political career through the Labour Party on this issue, and went off to advance it with the Tories. His very brief Labour Party membership, which was subject to local party endorsement, was not accepted as a result of his behaviour.”

Walverden Primary School – forcing the Education Department to back down

“Across the country, Education Secretary Michael Gove has been forcing or bribing schools to leave Local Authority control and become academies – answerable to Michael Gove.”

“Walverden Primary School saw no reason to leave Lancashire County Council, believing that it was getting the best support possible from the County’s Children and Young People’s Department. And the Tory chiefs at County Council supported them, writing to the Minister saying they were highly reluctant to force the school to change status, as it was performing satisfactorily and had a robust improvement plan in place.”

“Sadly that didn’t stop them doing what they were told and the School received its “academisation” notice. But then the School appealed for help to the school inspectors, Ofsted, who supported them, and the threat was lifted. Another success for Nelson South – but Gove’s programme marches on.”

“And where was our MP on this issue? Despite his visiting the school there was nothing on his website about it, let alone a reply to Labour Councillor David Whalley who challenged him at a Pendle Council meeting to state his position publicly. It was head down time again –
the issue was just too controversial.”

Friday 12 October 2012
Social Insecurity
Ian Graham, Labour Party Candidate for Pendle Central has written the following letter for the Nelson Leader/Colne Times:

It’s quite a populist policy to hit out at so-called benefit scroungers or the ‘undeserving poor’ as the Victorians called them. However, this letter is about genuine disabled people and the lack of compassion being exhibited by the Lib Dem Tory Coalition in their reforms to our welfare system of health and social security.

There is outrage amongst disability charities at the news that the Lib Dem Tory Government has set up a new quango, the Disability Action Alliance, to produce disability policies and then secretly appointed Disability Rights UK (DRUK) to run it.

News came out only after the deal was done and some angry charities are now trying to get questions asked in the House of Commons about what went on behind closed doors.

The new organisation is supposed to help ensure that government policy gets the best possible outcome for disabled people. But the Alliance is made up of private companies more concerned about making profits than supporting disabled people, public sector organisations more concerned about saving money, and by charities like DRUK which are heavily and increasingly dependent on government cash to stay afloat.

There is particular disquiet from disability charities such as RNIB and the UK Disabled People’s Council that DRUK was chosen to lead the new body without any consultation or appointment process that would have allowed others to take part.

The appointment includes a fee for DRUK, whose head Liz Sayce wrote the report recommending the closure of Remploy factories for genuine disabled people which the Lib Dem Tory Government is now putting into action. This is a perfect example of a government that knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

Meanwhile, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) has been forced to reveal what really becomes of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who are found 'fit for work'. According to a DWP survey recently uncovered by a Freedom of Information request, 55% of claimants found 'fit for work' were left unemployed and without any income. A further 30% were in receipt of benefits and only 15% had found employment. A former nurse, Joyce Drummond, who was employed by the controversial capability assessor, the French-owned firm Atos, has blown the whistle: she was forced to manipulate tests so that disabled people were deemed fit for work. The contract is worth £110m a year to Atos, and the appeals cost the taxpayer another £60m a year.

From 8 April 2013 the Lib Dem Tory Government is introducing yet another new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for eligible working age people aged 16 to 64. A Freedom of Information response has revealed that Atos’ contract for carrying out DLA to PIP transfer medicals includes a very hefty profit of £40 million if the company manages to put 15% more people through medicals than expected in Scotland and Northern England. The “Atos Risk Management Plan” shows that they will make more than £28 million even if they only examine the expected number of claimants.

However, there is no evidence of any penalty for getting it wrong in tens of thousands of cases as they currently do with ESA.

Aristotle has been often quoted as saying you can judge a nation by the way they treat their most vulnerable citizens. What does all this say about the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government?

Thursday 11th October 2012
Bishop of Blackburn exposes the North West and South divide - Lancashire Telegraph
The retiring Bishop of Blackburn has expressed concern at a widening funding and employment divide between the North West and South.

In his final speech in the House of Lords, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, said the government’s infrastructure plan, which includes £30billion of spending, highlighted huge discrepancies in the spend per head.

He said: “The National Infrastructure Plan 2011 does not fill me with much hope for a rebalancing of the economy between the regions.

“The Institute for Public Policy Research has analysed the proposals contained in the plan and discovered that 11 of the 20 largest projects benefit London and the South East." More>>

Friday 05 October 2012
HSE begins Fee for Intervention
Commenting on the introduction of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new cost recovery scheme, George Adam, Labour’s County Councillor for Nelson South said:

“It’s rather refreshing to find a piece of legislation from this Lib Dem Tory Coalition that I can react positively to and not feel that the next Labour government should repeal as soon as possible. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), came into force on Monday 1 October 2012. Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.

“Each year around 170 people are fatally injured at work and more than 100,000 serious injuries are reported to HSE. These incidents devastate lives, causing untold suffering and grief – not to mention millions of working days being lost as result and a cost to society of billions of pounds every year. What makes matters worse is that many of these incidents are caused by the same basic safety mistakes that have been injuring and killing people for decades. Inspectors routinely spot these failures when visiting workplaces across Britain.

“Often it is the most basic of safety mistakes in the workplace that can devastate lives and result in real costs to industry. It is right that those who fail to meet their legal obligations should pay HSE’s costs.

“You could be responsible for a workplace hazard that is simple and easy to prevent. Over 10,000 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a slip or trip at work in 2008/09. Over 4,000 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height in 2008/09. “The many businesses that comply with their legal obligations will continue to pay nothing. Business that are concerned may obtain further information and advice from the HSE website.

Sunday 30 September 2012
Public Meeting: Can a Land Value Tax kick-start the economy?
Pendle Labour Party held a free public meeting at the Ace Centre, Nelson, on Friday 28 September at 7.00. Robert Oliver, Pendle CLP Campaign Coordinator chaired a friendly meeting with members of various political parties represented in the audience.

The speaker, Dave Wetzel from the Labour Land Campaign, gave an entertaining history of past campaigns to introduce a Land Tax and asked if a Land Value Tax could kick-start our present economy. This was followed by a question-and-answer with the audience.

Land Value Tax cannot be avoided – unlike income tax and business taxes where tax avoidance experts can help the rich evade paying their dues. The Labour Land Campaign believes moving to a Land Value Tax would encourage new capital investment, bring empty sites into use and reduce urban sprawl, and combat property inflation.

The audience listened to Dave Wetzel relate how successful a Land Tax has been in Pennsylvania. After witnessing the huge improvements in the urban scene at Harrisburg following its introduction 21 towns in the State have also brought in similar measures. Unemployment is down, crime is down and the city centre is rejuvenated.

There were also questions about the Private Members Bill currently in Parliament from Caroline Lucas the Green Party MP and seconded by a Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins. A similar scheme is already working well in Denmark.

Friday 28 September 2012
‘The Million Meal Appeal’ – Sheena Dunn
Cllr Sheena Dunn, Pendle Labour Shadow Central Services Executive Officer said:

“Pendle Labour Party has pledged to help local residents living on the breadline by supporting a non-party political local food drive.

“Shoppers can donate food to help local people in crisis is being organised by charity FareShare and Sainsbury's stores across the country, including Colne on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th October. Customers will be encouraged to buy an extra item of food from the Million Meal Appeal shopping list to give to the Appeal. Donations will be collected as shoppers leave the store. FareShare will then deliver the donated food to over 700 charities and community projects across the UK to help families in need. Sainsbury’s will match the level of food donations collected over the weekend.

“The Million Meal Appeal comes as the economic crisis deepens and the rising costs of living hits households in Pendle hard. Food prices rose by more than four per cent over the last year and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that around 5.8 million people in the UK struggle to afford everyday essentials like food.

“The Million Meal Appeal will help local families struggling with rising living costs and cuts to tax credits. Last year the Million Meal Appeal collected food for 1.2 million meals for disadvantaged people with Sainsbury's customers buying an additional item of food for FareShare, which the charity then distributed to hostels, day centres, breakfast clubs and local projects.

“Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, who is leading the Breadline Britain campaign nationally has said: “More and more families are feeling the squeeze from higher food bills and struggling to make ends meet. It is a disgrace that even though we are the seventh richest country in the world we face an epidemic of hidden hunger, particularly in children.”

“Cllr Dunn added “I hope shoppers in Pendle will support the Million Meal Appeal as well as similar non-party political charity appeals at our other local superstores. I am supporting the Million Meal Appeal and I urge others to visit to see how they can help.”

Wednesday 26 September 2012
What have the Liberal Democrats REALLY done in government for Pendle people?
This week at their Party Conference we head a lot from Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats about their supposedly distinctive achievements in Government, as they try to persuade their members and former supporters that their decision to join the Conservatives was worth it. Nick Clegg has even tried to clear the air by apologising for making a promise on tuition fees that he knew he couldn’t keep – but he hasn’t explained why anybody should trust him now.

Find out what the Liberal Democrats have really done by downloading this document (PDF 597KB)

Saturday 22 September 2012
Labour Councillor calls for taxi law reform
The new Labour Councillor for Vivary Bridge, Ian Tweedie, was well-known as a bus driver in the Ward where he is now a Pendle Borough Councillor.

After all the complaints about the round-the-houses bus services in Pendle, Cllr Tweedie and Pendle Labour Party heard that the Law Commission were carrying out a review of English Taxi Law and wrote the following submission to their consultation:

“In your list of provisional proposals, as far as I can see there is no mention of legalising 'Share Taxis' that would enable taxis to operate a bus-type service on routes round houses.

There are a lot of complaints currently being directed to the Labour Party locally about the round-the-houses buses missing out streets if access looks problematic as well as complaints about damage to cars caused by these buses. Bus drivers have been told that they will be responsible for paying for damage to cars.

One conclusion is that there's a clear need for 'Share-Taxis' in Pendle and with modern cell phone networks these would be a bonus. Both Operators and consumers could call for extra taxis as demand arose.

There are also grounds to support extension of over 60's bus pass allowances paid to bus operators to also be paid to 'Share Taxi' operators.

The question arises, should ‘Share-Taxis’ be legalised as a form of taxi or as a form of minibus service?”

The Law Commission have sent the following response:

”Many thanks for your response to our consultation on the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles. We appreciate your comments and they will be considered as a formal consultation response. We treat all responses as public documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and we may attribute comments and include a list of all respondents' names in any final report we publish.

Please do get in touch if you would like any further information.

Kind regards,
Hannah Gray
Research Assistant,
Public Law Team Law Commission
Steel House
11 Tothill Street

Councillor Tweedie adds:

“Bus drivers are reluctant to drive down narrow streets with cars parked both sides when they know they will have to pick up the bill for any damage to cars. We need to look at a solution, such as share-taxis, that will avoid this problem and yet provide elderly residents with public transport on which they can use their over 60s bus passes. I’m glad that the Law Commission is now aware of this problem and hope they can come up with an answer.”

Saturday 22 September 2012
ony Greaves in despair at his party leadership
We spotted this article in the "Liberator" in June.

Tony Greaves was wondering at that time whether anyone at the top of the Liberal Democrats understands why government policies have left the party in such a dire place.

We can't help wondering how Tony feels after Nick Clegg's pathetic apology for dropping the Liberal Democrats key pledge regarding tuition fees.

Doe's he believe that the apology squares it for all those young people from working families who will be burdened with years of debt?

Monday 17 September 2012
Albert Road parking problem sent to new Colne Councillor
New Labour Colne Councillor, Ian Tweedie, has been asked to get a new parking bay by shop keepers on Albert Road Colne.

Ian says: “The shop keepers on this part of Albert Road cannot see why there should not be a parking bay installed outside their shops. There are such parking bays outside other shops on Albert Road and I totally agree that we need to help Colne shop keepers as much as we can in order to keep our town an alive and vibrant shopping centre. Although Albert Road is a conservation area, there is no reason why parking bays should not be installed in a way sympathetic to the architecture”.

Cllr Tweedie has got the item on the agenda for Colne Area Committee and now Pendle Borough Council Officers are asking the Highways Authority, Lancashire County Council to take a look at this issue.

Ian adds: “Our Tory County Cllr George Askew has left Pendle for a job in Cheltenham so shop keepers turned to me for help with this.”

Friday 14 September 2012
Who really gets the most income from “something for nothing” culture?
David Johns, Labour Candidate for West Craven Division, commenting on how money could be raised for maintaining public services said:

“The Labour Land Campaign says that instead of attacking the most vulnerable in our society, people on benefits, David Cameron should attack the biggest beneficiaries of the 'something for nothing' culture – land owners. 65% of land ownership is held in the private hands of just 0.3% of the population.

“Land values, especially those with buildings in the centre of towns and cities, arise from public and private investment in infrastructure, businesses and services. Public and private investments – paid for by all of us as consumers and taxpayers – enable land owners to receive an unearned increase in the value of their land. Tenants (private and commercial) of course get to pay higher rents as a result of increased land values.

“The Labour Land Campaign calls on David Cameron to examine the real damage this does to our economy and to introduce an annual Land Value Tax on all land.

“Then, as our economy grows, so the increase in land value will be returned to the public purse to pay for maintaining and improving our public services instead of going to property speculators as unearned income.

“The theory goes that the results of this taxation would be many, including an extra incentive to develop all unused and underused sites and bring empty homes, shops and unused buildings back into use thus providing homes, business premises and leisure facilities rather than just providing profits for property speculators. This would also increase employment and therefore reduce Government expenditure on welfare benefits.

“A Land Value Tax could not be avoided or evaded and therefore the rich would have to pay their fair share of this unearned wealth that is created by the whole of society and not through any effort on the land owner’s part.

“Eleanor Firman, Chair of the Labour Land Campaign, says ‘Today all kinds of businesses (not just landlords) speculate in property for capital gain financed by the taxpayer, or use sale and leaseback to cut their tax bill. The result is lower tax revenues and higher welfare expenditure. We should be cutting the vastly excessive tax benefits to landowners and landlords - not the meagre welfare payments to those on low incomes who have no control over inflated rents.’

“Pendle Labour Party is holding a Public Meeting to discuss the Land Value Tax with Labour Land Campaign speaker, Dave Wetzel, at the ACE Centre Nelson, Friday 28th September at 7.00pm.”

Sunday 09 September 2012
The coalition government and dangerous dogs
Ian Graham, Labour Candidate for Pendle Central Division, commenting on Andrew Stephenson’s article about dangerous dogs published in the Colne Times/Nelson Leader on 24 August said:

“Andrew Stephenson’s comments on are only part of this long-running saga. I was very pleased to hear that owners of dangerous dogs in England and Wales are to face tougher penalties under new guidelines from the Sentencing Council. The new advice aims to encourage the courts to use harsher sentences, meaning more offenders will face jail sentences, more will get community orders and fewer will get discharges.

“It’s already an offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place or in a private place where it is not allowed to be. In addition, the ownership of certain types of dog, such as the Pit Bull Terrier, is prohibited. It is also an offence to breed from, sell or exchange (even as a gift) a prohibited type of a dog.

“I wish that the current Coalition Government was as keen to take action in this area as the Sentencing Council seems to be. The last Labour Government launched a consultation on toughening existing laws to protect the public from out-of-control dogs in March 2010. The consultation closed on 1st June 2010 but the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government has taken nearly two years to set out its position. Since June 2010 there’s been 5,000 patients admitted to hospital for injuries caused by dog attacks in England. Several of these patients from Pendle have been people attacked while delivering election leaflets – including our MP’s mother. However, as these attacks took place on private property, the current laws don't apply.

“99% of dogs are good dogs if they are treated right. It's dangerous dogs that have been 'demonised' by their owners that we are anxious to protect people from - the ones that are only used as status symbols and are not allowed to interact with other dogs and people and that is what makes them vicious.

“In April 2012, the Tory-led Government finally announced a further consultation about a number of proposals to tackle out of control dogs including:

• Extending dangerous dog laws to all private property – without penalizing the owners of animals that defend them against trespassers – Labour agrees with this.
• Consultation on whether to micro-chip all dogs. The Government’s preferred approach is to make breeders responsible for micro-chipping the puppy before sale – Labour agrees with this.

“The Coalition Government has been criticised by dog and animal welfare charities, postal workers, the police & many others for failing to act now by publishing a further consultation when it took them nearly 2 years to respond to the last consultation. What the Lib Dem Coalition Government did move swiftly to implement was a relaxation of the quarantine laws for bringing dogs into the country.

“The Coalition Government has latterly announced some rather limp-wristed measures which could be used to deal with irresponsible dog owners in the Home Office White Paper on Anti-Social Behaviour published in May 2012. Dog owners could be compelled to make their dog wear a muzzle, to put up a sign at their gate ‘Beware of the Dog’ or provide a safe letter box.

“There’s a difference between a barking warning dog and a demonised attack dog. When protecting one’s property one is only permitted to use ‘reasonable force’ and occupiers should be liable for personal injuries incurred on their property. Offending irresponsible dog owners must be put on the rack. They should be guilty of a criminal offence not just liable for damages.

“Government action is well overdue and thousands of people have suffered debilitating injuries while the government has dragged its feet. What more do they need before taking action? We've had a comprehensive consultation, there's cross-party support, now we need action. The Labour Party and post office workers have been calling for the laws about dangerous dogs to apply on private property for years and we fully back compulsory micro-chipping to identify the owners of dogs and encourage more responsible dog ownership.”

Sunday 02 September 2012
The longer the Chancellor refuses to act, the heavier the price our country will pay
Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Labour Group Leader & County Councillor for Brierfield & Nelson North commenting on the Coalition’s economic record said:

“The Lib Dem Tory Government says that the last Labour Chancellor, Mr Alistair Darling presided over the UK's biggest post-war deficit. It also says he failed to regulate the banks effectively.

Both these truths are only half the story. Without skilful management of the banking emergency we would have been in even greater trouble. Big decisions – to save Northern Rock, to let Lehmans go bust, to take action to prevent a global banking meltdown – these were taken by the last Labour Government.

“The Tories failed to win a convincing victory at the General Election and entered into a coalition with the Lib Dems. The coalition government agreed with Labour that we should reduce the fiscal deficit by pruning back some public services; however, their cuts went too far too fast.

“The Tories were keen to liken the economy to a domestic household, saying when you are in debt you need to cut back to pay it off. However, a better analogy is that the economy is like a shop, when you are in debt it makes no sense to cut back on buying in stock to sell. While it is true that public services do not actually generate income for the country directly, they do provide a fiscal stimulus to the economy that should not be ignored as much as the Tories seem to do.

“Remember David Cameron and George Osborne’s promises on the economy?

“We’ll make Britain a safe haven, secure the recovery and get the deficit down”, they said. “Well, in the last two years they have turned Britain’s recovery into a flat-lining economy and now a deep and deepening recession. And with high unemployment meaning a bigger benefits bill, the result is that borrowing is now going up. George Osborne is already forecast to borrow £150bn more than planned.

“It’s now clear that the Tory and Lib Dem plan has failed. And the country is paying a heavy price. Prices are rising faster than wages. Businesses are going bust. One million young people are now out of work. And despite the crisis in the euro area, Britain is the only major economy other than Italy in a double-dip recession.

“Alistair Darling has told George Osborne that his policies since 2010 'simply haven't worked', Mr Darling said:

"You need another plan. Call it plan B. Call it whatever you like. But unless you do something now it will be years before we recover."

“Labour’s advice to the Chancellor: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Change course, listen to Labour and the experts at the International Monetary Fund and take action now to get the economy moving again.

“Let’s tax bank bonuses to fund a guaranteed job for young people out of work for more than a year and boost the construction industry by building thousands of new homes.

“A temporary VAT cut would ease the squeeze and help our struggling high streets. Tax breaks for small businesses taking on extra workers would help firms who want to expand and create jobs. Cutting taxes for the very rich has not worked and should be reversed.

“This is the new direction we now need. All the signs are that George Osborne seems to have given up on any plan for growth. Has he put his political pride above the best interests of the country? The longer the Chancellor refuses to act, the heavier the price our country will pay.”

Sunday 26 August 2012
Coalition School Sports Policy in disarray
“Sheena Dunn, the Labour Party Candidate for Pendle East Division has spoken out about the Government's apparent failure to protect school sport resources.

“As we all congratulate Steven Burke on his Gold Medal there has been a lot of news in the press about our Olympic school sports legacy and how we need to ensure that our children’s future is not being sold short. Lord Coe, the organiser of London 2012, has demanded more compulsory sport in schools to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by the Olympics and to stop Britain's stunning successes declining.

“The Prime Minister, David Cameron has been struggling to make sense of his own government’s policy on school sport after the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, called for two hours a day of compulsory school sport, contradicting Cameron's dismissal of the previous Labour government's target of two hours a week as a "piece of pointless Whitehall box-ticking".

“The Lib Dem Tory Coalition’s record has not been good. Sports Partnerships, which saw sports teachers from different schools working together, have also been scrapped by Education Secretary Michael Gove. These Partnerships were working well until the education minister came along and axed the £162m-a-year funding. Following a public outcry (including a protest from Pendle Council, led by my Labour colleague Cllr Julie Henderson), only a partial U-turn followed: £65m a year for school sport, but only until 2013 and no longer ring-fenced, and just £7m-a-year for a new annual School Games in which barely half of 28,000 primaries and secondaries are participating.

“The Tories are clearly the ringleaders in the Coalition. Between 1979 and 2008, at least 10,226 playing fields were sold off by the Tories, most before legislation was tightened up by the Labour government in 1998. Figures recently released by the Department for Education show that the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has approved 21 out of 22 requests to sell playing fields. Approval was given despite the Coalition Agreement declaring that the Government would "seek to protect school playing fields". Now the the Tories have scrapped completely the minimum area requirement for schools playing fields.

“The former Labour Government Olympics minister Dame Tessa Jowell has urged politicians not to make school sport a party political football, and instead has urged all parties to unite around a cross-party 10-year strategy for sport. Let’s hope Tessa wins this one.”

Friday 24 August 2012
They should cut crime not the police
Mark Porter, the Labour Party Candidate for Pendle West Division, reacting to a recent report warned:

“I think Pendle people will find the figures shocking: 550 Police Officers to go from Lancashire. David Cameron and Nick Clegg said frontline policing would not be hit by their huge 20% cuts to our force, but the truth is that 213 of our frontline officers are being cut. These figures are from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Report: ‘Policing in austerity – one year on’.

“Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country. 168 of these visible officers are being lost in Lancashire. “The blame for these cuts lies squarely with the Tory-led Government. Our Chief Constable has been put in an impossible decision by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20%.

“We recognise savings need to be made, but the Government has doubled Labour’s cuts to police funding, and made the steepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police. The Labour Party plan was for proportionate cuts of 12% over a Parliament and this was shown by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to be deliverable without impacting on frontline services.

“On Thursday November 15th 2012 there will be elections for new Police & Crime Commissioners brought in by the current Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government. The £125m they will have spent on these elections and setting them up could pay for 3,000 new police constables instead. The Labour Party believes elected Police & Crime Commissioners to be the wrong policy, the wrong priority at the wrong time. But, because policing is so important to our communities, Labour just cannot ignore these elections.

“Our Lancashire Labour Police & Crime Commissioner candidate, Clive Grunshaw, has said: The Tory-led Government are cutting our local police, making it harder not easier to fight crime. Tory Police & Crime Commissioner candidates will be cheerleaders for cutting our local police. They support these cuts and are failing to stand up for our communities. I will oppose these huge cuts and stand up against the Tory-led Government who are wilfully cutting our frontline police officers. Labour is calling on the Government to change course – they should cut crime not the police.”

Sunday 19 August 2012
Banking Transparency needed - Ian Graham
Ian Graham, Labour Candidate for Pendle Central Division commenting on banks said:

“increasingly to most people the culture and governance of banks matters.

“In my opinion we need to make banking more transparent to prevent further scandalous behaviour and secondly we need to ensure that those responsible for such actions are brought to book.

“The Labour Party policy review has seen that there is at present very little information disclosed to consumers by retail and investment banks about their internal compliance procedures and conflicts of interest policies. The inadequacy of many of these procedures and policies was revealed by the LIBOR and mis-selling scandals, all of which involved the abject failure of banks to manage internal conflicts of interest. Better management of conflicts of interest could be achieved by requiring banks to publish detailed reports in which they identify potential conflicts and explain how those conflicts are dealt with by their conflicts of interest policy. We believe that public disclosure of these policies would bring greater accountability: the prospect of public scrutiny should in itself improve management of conflicts of interest, and policies that remain inadequate would be visible to policy makers, regulators and the general public.

“Meanwhile, one of the North West’s Labour MEPs, Arlene McCarthy, has welcomed proposals from the European Commissioner to toughen up the Market Abuse Regulations to penalise individuals involved in rate fixing scandals like Libor and Euribor. Arlene, who is Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, has said: “The European Parliament and Commission have moved swiftly, in response to the public outrage against yet another abusive practice by rogue bankers, to strengthen the Market Abuse Legislation and to make rate fixing a criminal offence”.

“I am wholeheartedly behind moves to see the bankers responsible for these scandals charged as the criminals that they surely must be rather than merely being pushed into voluntary early retirement with enormous pensions and golden handshakes.”

Wednesday 08 August 2012
Arms Trade Treaty Lib Dem Tory Coalition Failure - David Johns
David Johns, Labour's candidate for West Craven commenting on negotiations at the UN to achieve a landmark treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade having ended without agreement, said:

“One of the previous Labour Government’s proudest achievements was getting countries to agree to attend the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Conference in New York this year.

“The legal and responsible trade of conventional arms supports jobs and skills at home and is necessary in helping countries protect themselves against violent aggressors. The role of the defence industry in our economy, and in our security, must not be underestimated. However, in Africa alone, armed violence costs over $19 billion a year – which is roughly equivalent to the entire amount the continent, receives in aid every year.

“The critical focus during the ATT negotiations was on the steps governments should be required to take before deciding whether an arms transfer should go ahead or not - any transfer would have been prohibited if there was a substantial risk it would be used for violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.

“The UK Government must continually work to be a role model for a future Treaty. A Treaty must prevent the transfer of arms where there is risk of importers violating human rights or humanitarian law or where arms trade would stifle or undermine development. Measures must be legally binding and cover a broad range of weapons, ammunition and armaments. A Treaty must be verifiable – including having adequate reporting and transparency measures included within it.

“A statement outlining the minimum humanitarian principles that must be included in the treaty, was supported by 74 states including Colombia, Malawi, Mexico, Norway and New Zealand and scores of Caribbean and African nations. But key players including the UK, Australia, Japan and France did not sign up.

“Despite the setback, conference chairman Roberto Garcia Moritan said the eventual adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was inevitable. ‘I don't have any doubt, because there is a need. We need a treaty and we will have a treaty.’

“Only 52 of the World’s 192 governments have any kind of regulation of the sale of arms at all. Fewer than half of those actually enforce those laws or penalise those who violate them. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United Kingdom ranks fifth as a top World arms supplier behind the United States, Russia, Germany and France.

“When in Government, The Labour Party pushed for the UK to have some of the tightest controls on arms sales in the World. The Labour Party banned handguns and cluster bombs and cut the number of our own warheads.

“Rather than continuing the good work, the current Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government seems to be letting things slip. The current UK Parliamentary Working Group on Arms believes that recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have exposed certain weaknesses in UK arms transfer policy and practice. They recommend that the UK Government should immediately update its arms export licensing criteria to accurately reflect its obligations under the 2008 EU Common Position, which contains much stronger commitments on transfer licensing than those currently employed.”

The Working Groups full recommendations can be read at:
Saturday 28 July 2012
Labour Party’s NHS Pledge
Commenting on the launch of Labour's 'NHS' pledge, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Labour Group Leader, said:

"The Labour Party has launched its ‘NHS pledge’ - a five-point practical attempt to limit the damage of the NHS reorganisation. Your local Labour Councillors will act as patient champions and the last line of defence for East Lancashire’s NHS, calling on local health leaders to: Protect NHS founding values; Prevent postcode lotteries; Guard against longer waits; Promote collaboration over competition; & Put patients before profits.

"I and my Labour colleagues fully support the launch of the Labour Party NHS Pledge as it will offer a last line of defence for our local health service. We ask our local NHS leaders in East Lancashire to adopt five principles to protect the NHS from the worst that David Cameron throws at it. Labour will not sit back and wait for things to go wrong in our NHS - it is far too important for that.

"By joining forces with health professionals at local level, we can resist the drive towards the rationing of treatment and the encroachment of charges we are starting to see in our NHS. The Tory-led Government’s NHS re-organisation is already causing real harm to patients and is wasting £26,931,706 in our area. Longer waits for operations and chaos in A&E continues, operations and treatments are restricted as the postcode lottery gets worse and thousands of nursing jobs are axed.

"People are particularly angry about what’s happening to our NHS and believe that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have betrayed them. Before the election we were promised no more top-down NHS re-organisations but they brought forward the biggest ever, taking £3.45bn away from the frontline and running unforgivable risks with patient safety."

Monday 23 July 2012
The Lib Dem/Tory coalition record on women’s employment - George Adam
County Councillor, George Adam, commenting on Lancashire County Council job losses said:

“Since the Tories took over Lancashire County Council in June 2009; nearly 11,000 people have left the employment of the County Council. Women are hardest hit with these Tory austerity measures while they have been giving tax breaks for their rich friends nationally.

“Figures obtained by the leader of the Labour Party County opposition, Cllr Jennifer Mein, give a full breakdown of staff that has left the employment of the Council since June 2009. The revealing statistics show that 8,146 (75%) of the 10,874 departing staff - were women!

“By directorate:

Schools 6,563
Direct Services 1,641
Children and Young People 1,169
Adult and Community Services 1,063
Environment 271
Office of Chief Executive 271
Resources 189
Total: 10,874

“The national picture of how the Lib Dem Tory government have impacted on more elderly women is even less favourable.

“Since the quarter prior to the general election (Feb-April 2010), unemployment amongst women aged 50-64 has increased by 42,000 (from 108,000 in Feb-April 2010, to 150,000 in Feb-April 2012). This is a 39% increase in just two years. In comparison, unemployment in the same period amongst all people aged 16 and over has increased from 2.487 million to 2.615 million (an increase of 5%). (ONS, 2012)

“To complete the picture, in 2011 the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government brought forward the rise in the State Pension age for women born between 6 December 1953 to 5 October 1954 by 18 months. This affects around 300,000 women, who have less than 7 years to plan for changes to their retirement. For individual women in this group the average “lost” state pension would be around £8,000.”

Tuesday 17 July 2012
Councillor Sheena Dunn writes about our woodland heritage

Last year, over half a million people signed a petition against the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government's plans to privatise England’s forests. As a result, the government did a u-turn and set up an Independent Panel on Forestry to look at the future of England’s forests.

On 4th July, the Panel published its final report. The report recommended that England's Public Forest Estate should be kept in public ownership and be given charter status like the BBC.

The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has announced that England’s forests will remain in public hands, which means that our woodland heritage is safe. It is a beautiful resource that people have enjoyed for generations, and will continue to enjoy for years to come. This is a victory for people power.

This forest sell-off should never have been announced in the first place but I hope the Panel’s report will mark a new beginning for England’s woodlands. The government’s formal response to the forestry panel’s report must be published by January 2013.

Our forests are a much loved part of our national natural heritage, and will play a pivotal role in the green economy and our low carbon future. Woodlands provide space and corridors for wildlife and help keep our air and water clean. They provide shade, stabilise our soils and can slow and prevent floods. They lock up carbon and can help us adapt to living in a changing climate.

The Labour Party looks forward to working to protect biodiversity create more woodlands local nature reserves and secure access for future generations to enjoy.

You can read the Independent Panel’s Report online:

Thursday 04 Juy 2012
Pendle Council Question on Walverden School Leads to Challenge to local MP
At last Thursday’s (28 June) meeting of Pendle Council the Leader of the Council was asked what action he was taking to support parents who want to stop Walverden Primary School being forced by the Conservative government into becoming an academy.

Nelson Southfield Councillor David Whalley, in whose ward the school lies, said: “Cllr Cooney, the Council’s Conservative Leader, was floundering in his reply, as he didn’t seem to know that the School is graded as satisfactory and making rapidly improving progress.”

“ It was only Government pressure that made Lancashire County Council send a warning notice to the School, obliging it convert to academy status. The Leader of the County Council and the Cabinet Member for Schools have even written to Ministers complaining at what they were being forced to do.”

“And Cllr Cooney certainly had no idea what Pendle’s MP thinks about the situation. Once again Andrew Stephenson has kept his head down when tough questions are being asked. Either he supports the Headteacher, the School Governors and the parents - his constituents – or he supports Michael Gove, the Schools Minister. Which is it?”

“Does he want to see another Downhills School situation where the whole Board of Governors were dismissed by Michael Gove because they also disagreed with converting to academy status?”

“Pendle Council will be writing to the Department for Education in support of the school’s stance. I hope our MP will be joining them.”

Monday 25 June 2012
Britain’s carers are being neglected by the Tory-led Government – Ian Graham

Ian Graham, Labour’s candidate for Lancashire County Council’s Pendle Central Division has written the following article to the local newspaper.

Not so long ago the Government claimed “we’re all in this together” but with each passing day this seems more and more like a bad joke, and nothing exemplifies this better than the way unpaid carers in the UK are treated by this Tory-led Government.

Carers do an incredibly important, and too often under-valued job – looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner by helping them with personal things like getting them dressed, turning them in their sleep, helping them move about or administering their medication. Carers also help with everyday tasks that you and I might take for granted like shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, filling in forms or managing money.

There is an army of unpaid carers in this country that help some of the most vulnerable people lead full, dignified lives. The UK’s health and social care services simply could not function without the unpaid care provided by families and friends – estimated to be over £100 billion a year. But the vital work they do is being undermined by the Tories and their Lib Dem allies.

In their determination to enforce a reckless cuts programme that goes too far and too fast, the Tories have slashed local council budgets for older people’s social care by over £1 billion since coming to power and will cut social care and disability payments by £8.6 billion by 2015. Local councils are being forced to pass on these cuts by, for example, restricting eligibility criteria for access to care - 8 out of 10 local councils (including Tory run Lancashire), now only provide care for those with substantial and critical needs compared with 5 out of 10 in 2005.

Cuts on this scale create a vicious domino effect as reduced services mean that many carers are forced to either cut their hours or give up work completely in order to care for their friend, family member or partner. This costs the economy £1.3 billion in lost tax revenues and increased benefits.

Carers deserve our help and gratitude, but more needs to be done to recognise and celebrate the contributions made by the hundreds of carers in Pendle, and the 6.4 million carers throughout the UK. The job they do is too important to be taken for granted and the Tories and their Lib Dem allies simply cannot continue to marginalise and neglect them any longer.

Monday 18 June 2012
Bradley Primary School Fair receives support from local councillors

Bradley Primary School is holding its Annual Community Fair on Friday 22nd June between 2.30 -4.30pm and has benefited from a grant of £500 from Nelson Councillors.

Bradley ward Labour Councillor Mohammed Iqbal presented the school with the cheque “This event is always very well attended and brings together hundreds of local people to help support the school and the parents, in their efforts to raise funds to help the school children. This money from Nelson Area Committee is an excellent investment in our community”.

The photograph is of Cllr Iqbal with Headteacher, Mrs Mitchell, Farzana Asghar and Kaneez Choudhry along with a group of school children.

Thursday 31 May 2012
Local group benefits from £300 cash boost

Hodge House Residents Association has received £300 boost to help celebrate the Queen Jubilee this weekend from Nelson Area Committee.

Bradley ward Labour Councillor and County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said “I along with Cllrs Nadeem Younis and Mohammad Sakib recognise the importance of local groups organising community celebrations and Hodge House Association has worked hard for this weekend.

I would like to congratulate their Chairman Kath Bryan who is working hard along with her fellow residents and look forward to enjoying the Queens Jubilee”.

Tuesday 29 May 2012
Holt House footpath problem sorted by new Colne Councillor

New Labour Colne Councillor, Ian Tweedie, has set to work. When a local resident on Birtwistle Ave, Mrs Calvert, complained about the state of an access path to Holt House playing fields, Ian went into action.

The path is adjacent to the new North Valley Residents Community and Memorial Garden but had not been included in the budget for that project. Mrs Calvert's garden was being flooded with water draining off the field and the path was an absolute disgrace. Once elected, Cllr Tweedie contacted Pendle Parks Department to make good the path and to ensure that the drainage did not ruin the new Community and Memorial Garden opening.

Ian Tweedie said,”I’m pleased to have been able to get the work under way quickly. Not only is the path being improved but also effective drainage for the run-off from the new Memorial Garden has been installed. I congratulate the contractor, Landscape Engineering, on a good job being done."

Contact Ian on 07910 165005

Monday 08 May 2012
The Labour Party has gained two seats on Pendle Borough Council.
Mohammad Hanif was elected in Reedley, defeating the Conservative Candidate and Ian Tweedie won the Vivary Bridge seat which had previously been held by a Liberal Democrat.

Labour held Southfield (Cllr Sheila Wicks), Cloverhill (Cllr Eileen Ansar), Walverden (Cllr Abdul Aziz), Brierfield (Cllr Naeem Ashraf), Bradley (Cllr Mohammad Sakib).

We thank everyone who took the time to vote for our candidates.

We extend our best wishes to all of our candidates and our thanks to our supporters who are working hard to gain control of Pendle Council, with the intention that the Labour Party will deliver a better way of life for the people of Pendle.

We share Ed Miliband’s view that most people are worried about the squeeze on their living standards, and we are saddled with a coalition government that blatantly works for a few at the top, to the detriment of the majority.

Meanwhile, Pendle Borough Council remains “hung” with Labour and the Conservatives each holding 18 elected places. There are 12 Liberal Democrats and one BNP councillor

Discussions are now underway to determine who will take control of the Council or whether the administration will be shared in a proportional manner or some other arrangement.

Friday 13 April 2012
Labour’s Marsden Ward candidate given a helping hand by visiting supporters
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg, brought a band of young volunteers to help Azhar Ali’s campaign in Marsden ward on 11 April. Together with Nelson Councillors and the Marsden team, over 20 people canvassed the Oxford road and Glenfield Road areas. Azhar said:

“We were getting a tremendous response, especially to our campaign to stop the Tory and Lib-Dem plans to build houses on the Gib Hill fields. Only the Labour Party is in a position to take over the running of the Council and put a stop to it.”

“I am very grateful to Stephen Twigg and his helpers, some of them canvassing for the first time, for coming over from Liverpool to support the campaign.”

Monday 09 April 2012
Pendle families asked to pay more so that millionaires can pay less
Following the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government’s budget:

  • Families on £20.000 will lose £253 a year.
    This is on top of the VAT rise which is costing families an average of £450 a year.
  • 4.4 million Pensioners will lose an average £83 a year.
    People turning 65 next year will lose most, up to £322.
  • 14,000 millionaires to get a tax cut worth over £40.000 a year each.

The Tories and Lib Dems are out of touch and George Osborne’s budget has failed the fairness test

At a time when Pendle families are being squeezed by rising fuel prices, seeing their tax credits and child benefit cut, one million young people are out of work and there’s a big deficit to clear, it is the wrong priority to cut taxes for millionaires.

The local elections that will take place on 3rd May provide an ideal opportunity for
you to vote Labour and send a strong message to this Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government, that we need action on youth jobs and to stop a tax credits bombshell for working parents, not cutting taxes for the very richest.

Wednesday 28 March 2012
Bid for Queen Elizabeth Country Park at Gib Hill receives Nelson Councillor support
The Friends Of Gib Hill received unanimous support from Nelson Councillors at Monday night’s meeting of Pendle Council's Nelson Area Committee.

Dr John Plackett spoke passionately about the need "not only to regenerate the built heritage in Pendle but equally to preserve the natural heritage of the Borough."

Azhar Ali and Alison Plackett, who have spearheaded the campaign to save this part of Nelson from development and who set up the “Friends Of Gib Hill”, both spoke about the Council’s corporate responsibilities in relation to the area.

Azhar Ali said, “We want assurances from Pendle Council that they will not allow, directly or indirectly, the destruction of wildlife and natural habitat, as has happened in the past.”

“The campaign for Gib Hill has been going on for over 10 years. We want the Council to set up a working group to consider applying to the government for a Local Nature Partnership. It should also look at other options including transferring the land to a Community Trust in order to ensure the local environment is protected and enhanced for future generations.”

“We want the Council to grasp this issue properly and at the same time to commemorate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by renaming Gib Hill as the Queen Elizabeth Country Park."

Alison Plackett, co-founder of Friends Of Gib Hill said, "The Council has already designated some of the fields as Biological Heritage Sites, but has not enacted a Local Nature Reserve, despite receiving numerous instructions from environmental organisations and even having a Council resolution to do so. In my view the Council is playing a dangerous game with Gib Hill and the future of our town’s natural environment and is not complying with the law."

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said, "I want to congratulate Alison Plackett and Azhar Ali for their campaign. I believe that officers should produce a report looking at all the options outlined by Friends of Gib Hill, taking account of the earlier Get Knotted and Rage campaigns. I think it’s an excellent idea to rename Gib Hill after our Queen." Cllr Iqbal went on to say that he could declare publicly that the Labour Group would oppose development on Gib Hill and would support its preservation and enhancement.

This received support from all Councillors present.

Monday 19 March 2012
Fund Raising Dinner
Stephen Twigg MP, hosted a Labour Party fundraising dinner in Brierfield Community Centre Friday night 16th March 2012.

Stephen is Labour Shadow Education Secretary and Honorary President of the Progress Group within Labour. Stephen spoke at length about his time as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

He said how proud he was of Labour’s Surestart and the Building Schools for the Future programmes as well as Labour’s pioneering work introducing Academies and Free Schools.

Stephen also recalled the time he beat the then Tory Defence Secretary Michael Portillo to win the Enfield Southgate Parliamentary seat in a surprise result in the 1997 General Election.

Stephen is now MP for West Derby in Liverpool. He is looking forward to taking over as Secretary of State for Education at the next General Election and reversing some of the wasteful and bureaucratic measures that the present Tory Government have imposed on our Education system.

Members enjoyed a splendid meal and Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Leader of the Labour Group on Pendle Council said that he was looking forward to the May local elections when Pendle voters are expected to send a message to the Lib Dem Tory Coalition that they are not at all impressed with their broken promises and lies. The message will be ‘make way for Labour’.

Cllr Julie Cooper from Burnley Labour Party said, “We had a lovely evening”.

Thursday 15 March 2012
Public meeting called over the future of NHS in Pendle
A PUBLIC meeting is set to be held in Nelson’s ACE Centre later this month with speakers addressing the government’s Health Service “reforms”.

The meeting scheduled for 7:30pm on the evening of the 27th March will give concerned members of the public an opportunity to hear specialist speakers and debate the way forward for the health service.

Speakers for the evening include Tim Ellis, Unison’s regional organiser in the Health Service; Mike Irons, GP Chair East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group; Craig Simpson, a learning disabilities support worker; and a yet to be confirmed speaker from the Equality Trust, the independent, evidence-based campaign working to improve the quality of life in the UK.

The meeting, organised by Pendle Labour Party, comes in the wake of enormous public disquiet over the government’s plans for the NHS.

Tim Ellis, one of the event’s scheduled speakers, said: “The government’s so-called health service reforms have caused confusion and significant suspicion. This public meeting has been called so people can hear for themselves from people who work in the NHS.”

“People care deeply about the NHS and social care. They understand that people who work in the NHS don’t have a career in health because they want to make money – it’s because they want to make a difference. That’s why talk of competition and the “marketisation” of the NHS is so distrusted.”

“I see the NHS as the jewel in the crown of British society – it’s admired the world over and is seen as a benchmark for a decent society. That’s why I’m deeply worried about the NHS facing £20 billion worth of cuts, social care being run down, home care being cut and a top-down reorganisation that will see five tiers of management. If you share these concerns, join us at the ACE Centre so we can make our voices heard!”

Monday 05 March 2012
8,000 + petition campaign wins the battle to save Pendle Community Hospital
The 'Save Pendle Community Hospital Campaigners' are claiming victory in their battle to save Pendle Community Hospital. On Monday night at Pendle Council's Scrutiny Committee meeting Tim Mansfield from East Lancashire PCT confirmed that Pendle Community Hospital would remain open, as 3 years of transitional funding had been secured to keep the inpatient beds at the hospital.

Cllr Eileen Ansar who has been a leading light in the campaign said," This is excellent news for local patients. This campaign to keep the hospital open is down to the thousands of ordinary people who signed our petition over the last 6 months. I want to thank the health officials for listening and acting upon the concerns of people from Burnley and Pendle. I also want to thank local businesses and all those who helped to collect the signatures. Now we have to monitor what happens from here and keep the pressure to ensure that services like cardiology are introduced back into the hospital. Our campaign goes on to ensure no loss of services.

Azhar Ali, former Chair of Burnley NHS Trust and fellow campaigner said, " 8000 plus people from across Burnley and Pendle signed the petition and this is their victory. We have managed to secure more outpatient services but equally important kept the vast majority of in-patient and rehabilitation beds at Pendle Community Hospital. However, we need to look carefully at how rehabilitation services are going to be delivered and keep monitoring progress at the hospital. I also want to focus on ensuring we get dementia beds and care provided for local people in Pendle at the hospital as well as work with health officials to develop new infrastructure which helps families cope with serious heath issues at hospital before moving to treatment at home.

County Councillor George Adam added, This is a good response to local peoples concerns but we now need to focus on holding the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust to account on the A&E service and concerns around the lack of bed capacity.

Regional Unison organiser Tim Ellis who attended the meeting said, "Health workers will be pleased with the news that we have managed to force the health officials in to a position to secure services in Nelson for local people but there is still much to do."

Friday 02 March 2012
Molly Short Obituary
Pendle Labour Party mourns the loss of Molly Short. Mollie Short was a staunch Labour Party supporter.

Mollie originally from Accrington, moved to Colne when her father obtained work with the Co-operative Society.

Mollie was a pacifist and during the Second World War chose to serve her country as a nurse, eventually becoming a District Nursing Officer.

Mollie was the founder and Secretary of the Pendle Stroke Support Group for many years.

Her son Martin who was also a Labour Party member, served as a Pendle Borough Councillor in Marsden ward for several years.

Thursday 01 May 2012
A message of thanks from Ian Graham
I would like to thank every one who braved the elements on Wednesday 22nd February to attend the Public Meeting that I called to oppose the proposed housing development on the land adjacent to Knotts Mount in Colne.

Despite the atrocious weather over 30 people turned out to voice their views.

It was decided to form an action group to oppose the development once planning permission is applied for and I will be in touch with all residents again when this happens.

Thank you all for your contribution on the night.

The question is, why build 200 new houses in Colne when there are so many existing properties lying empty due to absentee landlords?

Yours sincerely,
Ian Graham.

Thursday 01 March 2012
Letter to Nelson Leader Colne Times series from Mark Porter
I write in response to Mr G Metcalfe’s letter (“Football crazy”) published in this paper on 24th February.
I feel that though he did not appear to be disagreeing with Sue Nike he fundamentally missed the point. Whilst there is no question that some of the salaries paid in the world of football are excessive and the morality of some footballers and pundits is questionable, as far as I am aware there has not been one single footballer or pundit who has recklessly gambled somebody else’s money then gone cap in hand to the British taxpayer to seek money to cover such losses.

It is also true that, as with some bankers, footballers receive bonuses on top of their salary, but these are usually called win bonuses, and the clue is in the title. Whilst Mr Metcalfe may disagree with the bonus culture within football, these bonuses are usually only paid for winning. I think the point Ms Nike was raising was in relation to a bank which is 84% owned by British taxpayers, who are still owed some £45 billion pounds, and which posts a £2billion loss. How can it be morally justifiable to still pay vast sums of monies in bonus payments even when making a loss?

The way I see it is that when the banks that required taxpayer bailouts have repaid the taxpayer in full then they are entitled to pay what salaries and bonuses they like, even if they are excessive. That is certainly the case with HSBC who this week announced profits of £13.8 billion with a bonus pool of £2.64 billion, but importantly never received one penny from the British taxpayer.

Finally, Mr Metcalfe mentioned the large sums that Tony Blair is now earning, which he claimed are virtually tax free. Unfortunately I am not in a position to verify this claim either way. I do, however, note that he failed to point out that Gordon Brown has earned £1.4 million from public speaking since leaving his post as Prime Minister, all of which has gone to charity, via the foundation that was set up by himself and his wife Sarah. While there are some who questioned his policies whilst in office, I doubt there are many who could question which direction his moral compass is pointing.

Wednesday 29 February 2012
MP challenged to an urgent debate on the state of the NHS

Former Chair of Burnley NHS Trust and a leading health campaigner has responded to the accusations from Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle by challenging him to a public debate at a venue and time he chooses to discuss the disastrous Health and Social Care Bill that is going through Parliament at the moment and the way our local NHS is suffering with a huge loss of experienced clinicians and staff.

Azhar Ali said," The MP just cannot get his facts right. When I was Chairman and a Non-Executive Director of Burnley Hospitals Trust, we built phase 5, millions were spent on improvements and recruiting more doctors and nurses. It was only when the hospitals merged that the A & E was lost; in fact, I shared platforms with Gordon Birtwistle, Gordon Prentice and Kitty Ussher in the fight to save our A & E.”

“This Health and Social care Bill is taking us on a route to longer waiting lists and our GP'S becoming glorified bean counters"

Azhar went on to say " of course, I along with thousands of others wants a fully functional A&E back, but I also want to make sure our local MPs wake up and smell the coffee before it's too late, by voting against the Health Bill rather than worrying more about how they can climb the greasy pole and get a ministerial limousine. We need less 'spin' and more action."

Friday 24 February 2012
Andrew Stephenson votes to keep the “NHS Risk Report” secret
Pendle CLP very much regret that Andrew Stephenson has voted to keep his constituents in the dark about the risks related to the controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

We ask, what have Cameron and Lansley got to hide by refusing to publish this report and why has the Pendle MP aided and abetted them?

Friday 17 February 2012
Community leaders seek public apology from MP for deception over return of 'Blue Light Services" to Burnley General Hospital
Health campaigners in Burnley and Pendle are calling on Gordon Birtwistle MP to own up to gross exaggeration in his announcement before Christmas of a new A&E unit for Burnley General Hospital.

At a ' high level summit' with local health Chiefs last week they were told that it was totally inaccurate by the Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle to give the impression that bringing forward a planned development for the Urgent Care Centre would mean any change to existing services particularly the return of a blue light service.

Burnley Labour Leader Cllr Julie Cooper said,"

I welcome any extra funding for Burnley General if it becomes available but if the scheme - for £9 million,not £12 million as reported - is accepted and funding brought forward ,this would purely be a relocation of the service and improvement of the environment and facilities. The health Chiefs which included GP'S, Primary Care Trust and the Acute Trust were crystal clear that there will be no return of the Accident and Emergency to Burnley. For the local MP to mislead the public is not only dishonest but highly irresponsible."

Former Chairman of Burnley NHS Trust Azhar Ali said,

"I can understand that MP's like Gordon Birtwistle and Andrew Stephenson - who owe their positions in large part to their promises to bring a full 'blue light' service back to Burnley- are desperate to be seen to be doing something; however, this political spinning of an already planned development shows the depth to which the Lib/Dem MP will sink to. He should do the decent thing and make an unconditional public apology to the people of Burnley and Pendle for what is clear deception and lies!"

Azhar Ali went on to say," If Gordon Birtwistle is unclear about the difference between an Urgent Care Centre and an A&E service,perhaps he should ask Andrew Lansley the health Secretary to bring out the 2010 Nomenclature Review on this issue.This review was meant to have been published two years ago but has mysteriously disappeared. Also while he's at it he might want to ask Lansley to publish the risk assessmemt of his massively expensive and unwanted NHS reorganisation which again has been buried.

Former MP Peter Pike said,

" The people of Burnley and Pendle should not be conned by 'flash Gordon's announcement because he continues to break his pledges.

Wednesday 15 February 2012
Campaigner calls for action plan on empty homes
Local community campaigner and former Marsden Councillor Azhar Ali has launched a campaign to raise the issue of empty homes in the Marsden Ward of Nelson. The number of empty homes are increasing in Pendle and particularly in parts of Nelson.

The Government’s recently launched 'Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England' as allocated £150m to help bring empty homes back into use. Tackling empty homes is one of the Coalition Government’s policy priorities.

As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, the Government announced a £100m fund to bring more empty homes back into use. Empty homes in England account for 3% of the total housing stock. According to Council Tax Data collected by local authorities, there were 734,000 vacant dwellings at the end of September 2010. Out of these, 301,000 are in the private sector, which accounts for 1.6% of all private sector stock.

Azhar Ali said," I have been undertaking a residents survey and was overwhelmed with the concern about properties for sale and/or empty properties and the knock on effect. Many local residents are concerned about the effect on the street scene,impact on surrounding house values and dumping of rubbish in back and front gardens. This part of Marsden was always much sought after and local residents take pride in their streets but are being let down by lack of action by agencies".

Azhar went onto say " I went to the last Council meeting in Nelson to share residents concerns about these empty properties which are adding to the deterioration of the whole area and have asked for a meeting with senior officers so that the Council puts together an action plan to deal with all the problems. Its gutting to see the council's lack of investment in this area.

Wednesday 15 February 2012
Changes to working tax credit rules
Changes to eligibility rules for the working tax credit, first announced by George Osborne in the 2010 spending review and due to come into force on 6 April 2012, mean 865 Pendle households with parents in part-time work are set to lose around £4,000 a year unless they can significantly increase their working hours.

The change means that couples with children earning less than around £17,700 will need to increase the number of hours they work from a minimum of 16 to 24 hours per week or they will lose all their working tax credit of £3,870 per year.

Everyone appreciates how difficult it is to find work at present and if these parents cannot ‘up’ their hours 2,230 Pendle children will have to bear the impact of the loss of the tax credit.

In George Osborne’s Cheshire constituency of Tatton, 270 children will be affected in a similar way. It hardly feels like sharing the pain!

Wednesday 15 February 2012
Keep Gib Hill green
A public Meeting will take place at Primet Community Centre on 22nd February 2012 to discuss the future of Gib Hill. The meeting starts at 6.00pm.

Ian Graham is leading the campaign to keep Gib Hill green. Ian says:

“For the last 20 years Pendle Labour Party, along with local residents’ support, have successfully kept developers from building on the only green lung between Nelson and Colne.”

You can join the campaign by attending the meeting (download poster PDF 108KB) and asking friends to sign the petition (download petition PDF 215KB)

Monday 06 February 2012
Eric Cockerill Obituary
Pendle Labour Party mourns the loss of Labour Party member Eric Cockerill.
Eric received a debilitating injury during the second World War (1939-1945) and was a prisoner of the Japanese in the notorious Changi prison, Singapore.

Eric is probably best remembered for his commitment to the Royal British Legion, serving as President of the Barnoldswick branch for many years.

We must never forget the the debt that our society owes to people like Eric and all those other service men and women, both past and present, who risked/risk all, serving on our behalf.

Friday 03 February 2012
Bankers' Greed under the Spotlight
At Barrowford Labour Party’s January meeting, Mark Porter, a local trade union and party activist, led a robust discussion on the current Banker’s Pay dispute.
He said that, while difficult economic times meant uncertainty for millions of people, there was one constant that could be relied upon; the Banker’s Bonus.

The meeting noted that despite the Tory manifesto promises to curb executive excesses, the latest round of banker’s bonuses just kept coming. Last week’s announcement that the chief executive of the bailed out bank RBS was due to receive a massive bonus on top of a salary of £1.2 million annual salary beggared belief.

The meeting was told that David Cameron had said he didn’t think it was right that employees should have a seat on company remuneration committees, but he did think it appropriate that shareholders be given rights to block such payments agreed by those committees. The government, which is the major shareholder in RBS and which should be demonstrating its serious intent to to tackle endemic executive high-pay, should therefore be blocking such enormous bonuses.

But the government did absolutely nothing.

The chairman of RBS quickly announced that he would not take up all of his option of a £1.4 million bonus.
But it was not until several days later amid mounting pressure, most notably a motion tabled by the Labour opposition, as well as growing anger from the public that the CEO, Mr Hester, finally announced that he would not take up the bonus.

The meeting felt that if the government is unwilling to instigate regulatory reforms, despite widespread acceptance that they are needed to ensure the country’s financial stability, then surely they have lost the right to govern us!

Friday 20 January 2012
Parents oppose plans to move Nelson primary school to Brierfield –
The proposed closure of a Nelson primary school and the building of a replacement in Brierfield has been given an unanimous thumbs down at a public meeting.

Parents, governors, local councillors and concerned community members expressed their anger at the way Lancashire County Council and management at St Paul’s CE Primary School had dealt with the consultation process, and voiced their opposition to the planned move of the school to the former Mansfield High School site in Brierfield.

Councillor Eileen Ansar, who sits on Pendle Council and is also chairman of Nelson Town Council, said she had only officially been told of the consultation two weeks ago, and was appalled at the lack of information from the county council.

Walverden Ward councillor Julie Henderson said she lived next door to the school and had not been informed. “We have to put the kids’ safety as our number one priority, and walking to the Mansfield site for young infants is outrageous.

County Councillor George Adam told the meeting a joint working group had been set up between Pendle Council and Lancashire County Council and he would be pushing to have local councillors and parents on this so they can have their say. He welcomed the creation of an action group and urged everyone to stick together in opposing the move.

Azhar Ali, former Pendle Council leader and community activist, said: “If half of what we are hearing here tonight is true, the headteacher needs to be held accountable for her actions.”

Friday 20 January 2012
An evening with Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary.
Pendle Labour Party is holding a fundraising curry night on Thursday 16 February at the Palatine Club, Norfolk Street, Nelson. Guest speaker is Stephen Twigg, Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Pendle CLP Chair, Cllr Bob Allen, said: “ I’m very pleased we have a Front Bench spokesman coming to support us and I know it will be an interesting evening. We have kept the price of tickets down to £10 for a 3-course meal to encourage as many people as possible to come along.

If you have questions you want to ask on education policy please book your ticket early as I expect this event to be very popular.”

For tickets contact Pendle Labour Party on (01282) 612573 or email

Vegetarians will be catered for and non-curry meals can be made available if ordered in advance. Please arrive at 7.00 for 7.30.

For further information contact Azhar Ali on 07734 384 602 or Bob Allen on 07769 727 200.

Wednesday 18 January 2012
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Launch Safer Day
Pendle Labour Party welcome the initative of LFRS to make homes safer.

In Lancashire the numbers of house fires and injuries from fires are at their lowest recorded levels ever. Despite this, six people have tragically died in their homes over the last month. As part of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s response, the Service will hold a high profile Smoke Alarm Fire Education Roadshow (SAFER) at every Fire Station in Lancashire on Saturday 21st January 2012 between 11am and 5pm.

The campaign will see all fire stations open to the public who are invited to come along to collect a free 10 year smoke alarm and fire safety guidance, as well as having the opportunity to book a free Home Fire Safety Check. For more information visit

Saturday 14 January 2012
Barrowford Labour Party stalwart retires 
Douglas Barber, a long-standing Labour Party activist, has retired as branch treasurer after 15 years of keeping the books in order. A social evening was held at the Bombay Lounge in Barrowford with friends from across Pendle in attendance to thank Douglas for all his hard work over many years. The Barrowford Branch gave Douglas a gift of an engraved glass tankard and his partner Carole also shared the occasion with a present of a bunch of flowers.

Sue Nike, chair of the Barrowford Branch, said “Douglas has been a real asset to both the local Labour Party and the Barrowford community for years and years. He was involved in the launching of the very successful Barrowford paper re-cycling scheme which kept many of us busy one Saturday each month for years. That was one of the first real attempts in Pendle to take action on environmental issues, long before it became mainstream.

Sue added “It will be sad not to have Douglas at our monthly branch meetings at the Rising Sun in Blacko. He has a clever knack of quietly keeping us focused while contributing his individual perspective on any topic of the day. His local knowledge combined with his sharp wit often unblocked a discussion that was getting nowhere! We will all miss him.”

Tuesday 10 January 2012
Save St Paul's School
A public meeting to gather support against St Paul's School moving to Brierfield will be held at the Town Hall, Market street, Nelson on Tuesday 17 January at 7.00pm

Everyone is welcome; parents, prospective parents & the wider community.

Please come along, this could be your last chance to say that you don't want to lose the existing school. The consultation period expires on
27 January 2012. Visit the camaign website.

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