Pendle Labour Party - Archived items 2013
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Last updated: Monday 24 February, 2014

Tuesday 17 December 2013
The Season’s Greetings from Mark Porter, President of Pendle Labour Party
Reflecting on the past year as 2013 draws to a close, I know that for many families across Pendle the last twelve months have been extremely challenging, not least because of the strain on household budgets caused by rising energy costs and food prices, and real term pay cuts as wages have failed to keep pace with inflation.

Looking forward to the New Year, 2014 will be just as challenging, but I and the other members of Pendle Labour Party are still committed to trying to secure a better deal for the people of Pendle.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all party members for their hard work throughout the year. I hope they get some well-earned rest and come back refreshed and ready to take up the challenge in 2014 with the Borough and European elections in the spring.

I would encourage members to check up on other members and residents they know to see if they are managing and to get in touch if they need extra help this winter?

Finally I would like to wish all the people of Pendle a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year - and please take care over this festive period.

Sunday 08 December 2013
Petition against the 'Gagging Bill'
A group of people representing different campaigning interests within Pendle presented the '38 Degrees' petition objecting to the Bill to Pendle MP Mr Andrew Stephenson in the form of a covering letter and a CD with details of the 188,179 signatories on.

The Bill will regulate activity over a year which may affect the result of an election. Moreover, the bill introduces criminal sanctions that are likely to frighten off many organisations from legitimate comment on government policies; will reduce the amount that third party campaigns may spend to £390,000 (from £989,000); and will suffocate organisations with reporting and other obligations. The petitioners argue that these restrictions and restraints are so wide and burdensome as to amount to a disproportionate restraint on freedom of expression.

Ministers accuse 38 Degrees of “scaremongering”. But they are right, and they are not alone in being alarmed at the extent of the bill’s impact on everyday democracy in the UK. A huge range of voluntary organisations, campaign groups and charities – from the umbrella organisation, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to the TUC, the Royal British Legion to the RSPB, Oxfam to Unlock Democracy – have joined 38 Degrees in stark warnings about the damage that part II of the government bill would inflict on open debate.

David Foat, a Labour Party member present at the petition handover said:

“I have signed the petition against this Bill. Mainstream political parties - the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems - concentrate on winning the centre ground vote all the time. The marginal constituencies like Pendle and the swinging centre-ground voters. How can pressure groups with concerns about specific issues exert any influence on the democratic system? Poor and vulnerable members of society have their rights side-lined in an unconscionable manner. The only way these matters can be made election issues is through lobbying and spending on non-party election campaigning in order to attract a percentage of the electorate sufficient to make the difference between winning and losing for the mainstream party candidates.”

The Labour Party is currently reviewing their relationship with their affiliated trade unions so that trade union members will be able to choose whether to donate to a fund to help the Labour Party or a non-party political campaigning fund. Such a set up already exists with UNISON.

Wednesday 20 November 2013
Small firms in Pendle would benefit from Labour’s business rate cut - Azhar Ali
Commenting on Chuka Umunna’s speech to the Association of Convenience Stores Heart of the Community Conference, County Councillor Azhar Ali, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle said:

“Times are tough for small businesses in the Pendle and across the North West. There is a cost of living crisis but this out of touch Government doesn’t seem to care.

“David Cameron and George Osborne could make life easier for small business owners by implementing Labour’s commitment to cut and then freeze business rates in 2015 and 2016. That would save small firms in the area £390 over the two years.”

Monday 18 November 2013
Silverman Lecture: questions still to come on HS2 - and brickbats for the local railways
Colne’s Lesser Municipal Hall was packed on Thursday evening (14 November) for Pendle Labour Party’s 29th Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture, given by Louise Ellman.

A former leader of Lancashire County Council, Louise Ellman is now MP for Liverpool Riverside and Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. She spoke firstly on the persistence of Sydney Silverman in achieving his aims and went on to talk of the work of her committee, concentrating on the future of the railways. She said far more money was invested in railways in London and the South than in the North, and that it was important for the North to keep up the pressure for improvements over and above the Northern Hub investment.

As for HS2, she said her committee were carrying out a further inquiry in the next few weeks. However she made it clear that she thought a decision not to go ahead with this project would not necessarily mean the money saved would be available for investment in other parts of the railway system. In answer to a question as to why HS2 could not have its first sections built in the North and work its way down to London, she said she had been told that the most overcrowded stretch was between London and Birmingham and that this would be the first part of the proposed project.

Following the talk, Peter Nowland from Selrap gave a brief outline of how a re-opened Colne to Skipton line would be a key element in cross-country rail traffic, linking the ports of Hull and Liverpool, where enormous investment is going into new port facilities.

A number of questioners emphasised the poor state of the local rail system and the time it takes to get by rail to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Pendle, Cty Cllr Azhar Ali, also spoke about the consultation on the proposals for the A56 villages bypass. The evening was sponsored by the North West Cooperative Party. Former Cty Cllr Tim Ormrod, in intoducing Louise Ellman, said how pleased he was to be welcoming a Labour and Cooperative Party MP to speak in Colne.

Saturday 16 November 2013
Nelson volleyball club welcomes £700 grant
Nelson area committee granted Nelson Volleyball Club £700 at their last meeting to help with training facilities for team members. Club Treasurer, Mohammed Suleman said "the club has been in existence for over 30 years and we represent our town at national competitions. We now train 12 months of the year and this help from Nelson committee will help towards the costs of hiring a facility. I would like to especially thank Cllr Julie Henderson who made this possible".

Walverden labour councillor Julie Henderson added “I know many people across Nelson who are involved in the club both as players and volunteers. This grant will help the club ensure that Nelson is represented at national competitions”.

Friday 25 October 2013
Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture
The annual Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture will take place on Thursday 14 November at the Lesser Municipal Hall, Colne.

The principal speaker will be Louise Ellman MP. She is the Labour/Co-operative MP for Liverpool Riverside & Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee.

Supporting speakers include County Councillor Azhar Ali, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle.

This lecture is an open meeting and is scheduled to commence at 7.00 p.m.

Saturday 19 October 2013
M65 to Foulridge bypass bid ‘closest it has ever been’ - Pendle Today
Lancashire County Council is the closest it has ever been to making the £40m. “Villages Bypass” a reality.

Showing his support, County Coun. Azhar Ali said: “I have been campaigning for the bypass for the past 15 years, and this is the nearest we have got. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the people of Pendle, and in particular the people of Colne, cannot afford to miss. More>>

Download Vivary Bridge Newsletter (PDF-569KB)

Wednesday 02 October 2013
Shadow Education Secretary to Visit Pendle Schools
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg, will be visiting two Pendle Secondary schools tomorrow, 3 October.

At 9.30 he will be meeting staff and pupils at West Craven High Technology College in Barnoldswick, and at 1.00 pm at Fisher More High School, Colne.

Monday 30 September 2013
Pendle Labour congratulates Mark Porter on his election to become the President of Pendle Labour Party.
Mark has taken over the reins from Azhar Ali who will be concentrating his efforts on contesting the Pendle Parliamentary seat for Labour in 2015.

Mark, who is 41 years of age, was born in Burnley and is an avid supporter of Burnley FC.

Mark lives in the Borough of Pendle with his family and also works in Pendle’s manufacturing sector.

In addition to his manufacturing experience Mark has an extensive knowledge on a range of subjects from pensions to employment law. He also understands the many challenges that the people across Pendle face on a daily basis.

Mark said: " I am very pleased and feel honoured to have been elected to the position of President of Pendle Labour Party.

“I would like to Thank Azhar Ali for his leadership over the last two years and wish him well with his parliamentary campaign.

“I look forward to working with him alongside all the party members, candidates and councillors in the coming months. Our priority is to try to help our community of Pendle. Many people in Pendle are suffering unnecessarily as the result of the unfair cuts in services and the ill thought out policies of the Conservative led coalition both nationally and locally.

“I would also like to extend Labour’s hand of friendship to the people of Pendle and say, ‘if you share our values of equality and fairness, if you would like to try and help improve your community and build a society for the many and not the privileged few; then why not get in touch and share your ideas and together let's rebuild our communities and make Britain Great once more’."

Monday 16 September 2013
Pendle Labour Party select Azhar Ali as its Prospective Parliamentary Labour Party Candidate for Pendle
Former Pendle Council Leader Azhar Ali has been selected as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate by Pendle Constituency Labour Party.

County Councillor Ali, currently Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing on Lancashire County Council, won the ballot of members at a packed meeting of the Constituency Labour Party in the Silverman Hall yesterday afternoon (15 Sept). The five shortlisted candidates had each given a presentation and then answered questions about their policies for Pendle, their beliefs and campaigning experience.

After the vote was announced Cllr Ali said: “I am honoured to have been chosen to stand as Pendle’s prospective candidate for Labour in the General Election.

“Everyone in Pendle who has been affected by the calamitous austerity measures over the last three years and by the unnecessary and costly reorganisation of the NHS – all voted for by the current MP, whatever he says locally – can now join our campaign for a Labour victory in 2015.

“I should like to pay tribute to the other candidates in yesterday’s hustings, and also to Liz Savage, the Selection Committee Secretary, for the efficient running of this very demanding process.”

Saturday 14 September 2013
Birtwistle Avenue Rat Run Update
Vivary Bridge Labour Councillor Ian Tweedie says:

"On Friday I met Simon Bucknell of Lancashire County Council at their offices in Burnley with Pendle Labour Party Chairman Azhar Ali".

"Our meeting followed public consultations about the Birtwistle Ave rat-run problem including two residents' meetings at the North Valley Community Centre. Various proposals have been made including closing Birtwistle Avenue completely to through traffic at a point between Red Lane and Burrell Avenue with signs saying 'Road Closed to Through Traffic' at the Red Lane and Vivary Way roundabouts. However, at our meeting we decided to proceed in stages. Firstly there will be more Speed Indicator Devices (SPIDS) installed along the rat run, then more speed humps and then more signage. There will be further residents' meetings to review progress."

Cllr Tweedie adds: "I'm very pleased to be keeping my 2012 election pledge to take real action about the Birtwistle Ave rat run."

Saturday 07 Septemebr 2013
Former Labour Councillor wanted by the Conservative Party
Following the news that a suspended Labour councillor has joined the Pendle Conservatives, Labour Group Leader on Pendle Council, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said:

“Cllr Aziz was suspended for an indefinite period a number of months ago for his actions which had brought him into disrepute with the Labour group.

"It has also come to my attention in the last few months that Cllr Aziz is a wanted man in another country in relation to an alleged serious criminal matter.

“I would challenge him to resign and fight a by-election on his new party’s platform, let the people of Walverden decide if he is worthy to represent them.”

You can read Councillor Joe Cooney’s tweet welcoming Cllr Aziz
Monday 12 August 2013
Mike McIlroy, 1958-2013

Alan Newbould recalls Mike’s role in Pendle Labour Party.

Mike was born in Northern Ireland in April 1958.

Following his university education, Mike arrived in Pendle in the late eighties (he had previously been a member of Milton Keynes CLP).
Mike immediately became active in Brierfield branch. He played an active role in the campaign committee which led to the election of Gordon Prentice as Pendle’s MP in 1992.

Mike was elected President of Pendle CLP in 1993 and also served as the Election Coordinator.

He was never afraid to challenge people in authority and many of us remember the occasion when his voracity facilitated Tony Greaves storming out of a public meeting. Mike also relished the role of being the person to ask the appropriate questions to ensure that Gordon Prentice in his position as the MP was reflecting the best interests of the local party and Pendle’s constituents.

When he left the area he regularly returned to Pendle to campaign for Gordon Prentice due to both a loyalty to Pendle and not being too comfortable with the political leaning of his local MP in Chorley.

Mike believed that the Blair years were the missed opportunity to build a fair and equitable society.

He had letters and articles published in the Guardian and Tribune.

Whilst living in Pendle, Mike taught at Bradley Primary School and was appointed the deputy head teacher at Hyndburn Park Primary School in Accrington. He left Pendle to take up a post in the Chorley area and later became the head teacher of a new Burnley school. He later became an HMI and then a Senior HMI working for OFSTED.

Mike will be remembered for his intellect, humour and most importantly his sense of comradeship.

He was a BIG man in every way.

He lived life as a socialist and died a socialist, insisting that the red flag was sung at his funeral.

The large number of people attending his funeral (in excess of 100) who knew him from different facets of his life was testament to both the respect and popularity that he earned.
Labour Party members in Pendle that knew him, send their heartfelt condolences to all of his family.

Mike will live on in the hearts of many of us and especially his wife Gillian, his sons Tom and James, his brother Brian and sister Barbara.

Friday 09 August 2013
Gordon Prentice records some of his memories of Labour Stalwart Bob Wilkinson who died recently
The news this week that my friend Bob Wilkinson has died of cancer comes as a huge shock.

Bob was my agent in the 1997 General Election and masterminded a brilliant campaign that gave Labour a colossal majority of over 10,000. We had over 53% of the total vote.

As it happens, I last saw Bob a couple of years ago when I bumped into him quite by chance in the Rising Sun in Blacko as I was having a quiet pint with John Pope and Andy Stringer. Bob, a keen supporter of the Campaign for Real Ale, was his usual convivial self. He enjoyed the company of others.

Bob, a teacher by profession, could be quite self-effacing, playing down his own role in our stunning victory in Pendle.

In his report to the GC after the May 1997 General Election he admitted that we had a lot going for us. “A bankrupt Government, a good national campaign by Labour and Tony Greaves as the Liberal candidate!”

The campaign was certainly memorable for the terrific show of posters. There has been nothing comparable since. They were absolutely everywhere with Bob directing the stakeboarding teams to get them up first and ask permission later!

He told the GC afterwards: “The experience of acting as agent was exhilarating and almost addictive but I would warn anyone thinking of taking the job for the next election that it can turn the mildest of individuals into a dictator overnight. So much for democracy!”

Back in 1997, no one was very sure how the Blair Government would shape up but there were straws in the wind. We went into that election promising no increase in the top rate of income tax. And that we would stick to planned public spending for the first two years. Bob was uncomfortable with all this but was hoping for the best.

These were also the days when there were debates within the Party on whether the UK should join the Euro. I recall long conversations with him on the merits or otherwise of the Single Currency. I was hostile. Bob less so.

I am told that Bob left the Labour Party after Iraq. If so, this decision wouldn’t have surprised me. He would have quickly sussed out that the reasons for the war were entirely bogus.

Bob had two boys, Alan and Ian, with his first wife, Ruth, who worked in my office in Carr Road for many years.

I feel a deep sadness that Bob is no longer with us.

Saturday 13 July 2013
Birtwistle Avenue Rat Run
Vivary Bridge Labour Councillor Ian Tweedie says:

"I have been asked to comment on a very nasty accident today (12 July 2013) on the Birtwistle Avenue Rat Run. A resident getting out of his car was hit by a VW camper van travelling at speed. His car door was ripped off and he was dragged for a distance and has been rushed to hospital. I'm sure your reporters will have more information about this terrible incident from the Police involved.

"I hope the resident makes a full recovery but the campaign to have Speed Indicator Devices (SPIDS) installed along the route of the rat run continues. Working closely with the Labour County Council I have been asking for the SPIDS and we were delighted to see one installed this week at the end of Birtwistle Avenue approaching the Sacred Heart Primary School. However, this further accident has happened at the Harrison Drive end near the roundabout with Birtwistle Ave. We need SPIDS and better traffic calming all the way along the Rat Run."

Labour-run Lancashire County Council this week decided to complete the programme of 20 mph limits in all residential areas in response to the ‘Slower Speeds, Safer Children’ campaign. The former chairman of the Labour Government’s Commission for Integrated Transport, ex-Transport Convenor on Edinburgh City Council and visiting professor in Sustainable Transport at Plymouth University said: “The first responsibility of any politician is the safety of their citizens, particularly children.

Cllr Tweedie added:

"Accidents can still happen at low speeds and speed cameras and SPIDS are not a panacea. However, the overwhelming evidence shows that where such devices are installed the number of serious accidents drops by a quarter."

Friday 12 July 2012
Ill-conceived Taxi Parking idea – Ian Graham
Commenting on the proposal for taxi parking on Midgley Street Car Park,Labour Party Member and School Governor, Ian Graham said:

“Pendle Council are considering a Planning application for a portable cabin Taxi Office and 5 taxi parking spaces on Midgley Street Car Park in Colne.

“With parking spaces for members of the public in Colne already at a premium this is an ill-conceived idea. The car park entrance is exactly opposite to West Street Community Primary School main entrance and parents delivering children to school use this car park to avoid parking dangerously on the road by the school entrance.”.

Follow this hyperlink to a letter opposing the application giving reasons for their concerns signed by the Head teacher Mrs Sarah Burtoft and the Chair of Governors Ian Graham.

Saturday 08 June 2013
Birtwistle Avenue Rat Run
For years people living along Harrison Drive and Birtwistle Avenue have complained about speeding traffic taking a short cut through the estate. Now, Cllr Ian Tweedie is saying that Speed Indicator Devices (SPIDS) will shortly be installed along the route of the rat run.

Ian, a Labour Pendle Borough Councillor for Vivary Bridge Ward, says:

"Traffic gets particularly bad during rush hour. The traffic on the North Valley grinds to a halt and workers eager to get to work on time in the morning and return home in the evening resort to the estate roads. Normally, it takes longer to get through the estate than it does to take the North Valley, so drivers are tempted to go faster than the speed limit. At times a continuous stream of fast moving traffic develops as flow tends to be in one direction in the morning and reversed in the afternoon. I have been asking the Lancashire County Highways Department to install SPIDS on Birtwistle Avenue and now it appears that they are indeed about to be put in place."

Cllr Tweedie adds:
"Accidents can still happen at low speeds and speed cameras and SPIDS are not a panacea. However, the overwhelming evidence shows that where such devices are installed the number of serious accidents drops by a quarter."

Monday 03 June 2013
Lake Burwain Path Funding
Labour Pendle Borough Councillor for Vivary Bridge Ward, Ian Tweedie, is seeking funding for essential repairs to the footpath round Lake Burwain. The footpath is popular with locals and tourists alike as well as anglers. There is a long-standing agreement between Pendle Council and British Waterways for the Council to maintain the footpath as a recreational amenity since its inception, but the Council has failed to provide routine maintenance it seems.

As a result of Cllr Tweedie responding to numerous requests from Colne residents for the path to be made usable to a reasonable standard, there is a bid for funding on the Colne Area Committee this Thursday 6 June from Pendle's Countryside Access Officer, Tom Partridge. Once the path is put into order, routine maintenance will be provided for from the countryside access maintenance budget.

Cllr Tweedie says: "I was pressed about this issue when I was elected in 2012 as the first Labour Councillor in Colne for some years. We need to ensure that our tourist attractions and recreational amenities are maintained to a decent standard first and foremost."
Monday 27 May 2013
Vivary Bridge Labour Councillor Ian Tweedie wins battle of the spray
During the recent County election campaign, Ian Graham, the Labour candidate in Pendle Central identified that residents were far from happy with the car wash being operated on the old petrol station site at the bottom of North Street. Spray from the cars being washed by hand with high pressure hoses was drifting into North Valley Road and soaking pedestrians walking along the pavement.

Local Labour Councillor Ian Tweedie has spoken with the owners of the car wash and they have promised to erect some screens along the side of the site to protect pedestrians from the worst of the spray. Cllr Ian Tweedie say: "It was especially bad in very cold weather and I am pleased that the owners have responded in a reasonable manner to complaints. Some residents complained that the cleaning agents also caused their eyes to sting, so this really is a required measure."

Friday 24 May 2013
Leading MP backs Burnley’s Bank of Dave for Britain -
The Shadow Business Secretary wants to see a Bank of Dave opened in towns across Britain, he announced during a visit to Burnley.

Chuka Umunna MP visited the town to see first hand the work of Burnley Savings and Loans in boosting hundreds of businesses and traders in East Lancashire.

The rising star of the Labour Party met David Fishwick who has battled against regulators and financial fat cats to open his “tiny bank” which featured in hit Channel 4 show “The Bank of Dave”. More>>

Wednesday 08 May 2013
Jim Mortimer 1921 - 2013
Pendle Labour Party mourns the loss of Jim Mortimer, a former general secretary of the Labour Party and a leading figure in the Labour Movement for over 60 years.

He was a committed socialist and activist in the draughtsman’s union.

In 1969, to the surprise of many of his political allies, Jim accepted Barbara Castle's invitation to serve on the National Board for Prices and Incomes.

Jim was appointed in the summer of 1974 as the first chairman of the Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

In 1982 Jim became general secretary of the Labour Party.

Friday 03 May 2013
Conservatives lose control of Lancashire - BBC
Jennifer Mein, Labour's group leader, said she was "delighted" with the result.

The Conservative Party has lost control of Lancashire County Council. The Labour Party made 23 gains but fell four seats short of getting overall control of the county.

It now holds the majority with 39 seats. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband had targeted Lancashire as a key battlefield. Among the other results was the British National Party's (BNP) loss of its only county council seat in the country. More>>

Thursday 18 April 2013
Job Seekers Allowance
Ian Graham the Labour Candidate for Pendle Central has written to the Colne Times, pointing out failings in the Government’s approach to Job Seekers Allowance:

“The Rt Hon Ian Duncan Smith MP used to believe in compassionate Conservatism and the need to act on social justice and poverty in the UK. What we have seen more recently are further symptoms of the Tory Lib Dem Coalition’s failure with the economy and these symptoms illustrate how they react when under pressure. In order to divert blame away from themselves they are directing it at the poor. The Secretary of State for Work & Pensions is now claiming that poverty is not directly due to a lack of money but is instead the result of bad parenting, drug and alcohol addiction, laziness, and the breakup of families.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen many more people than usual refused their Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) because they have not applied for the required number of jobs per week. The increase is entirely because the Government have moved the goal posts in this respect as all claimants of JSA now have to apply for these jobs ‘online’.

“Firstly, most of the claimants have no access to a computer at home and the vast majority of them have no computer skills at all. Staff numbers in Jobcentres up and down the country have been reduced to such an extent that they are no longer able to help claimants online. Staff are also largely occupied dealing with the "fall out" of those who have lost JSA, their only source of income.

“Secondly, there are precious few jobs to apply for. Surely employers want to consider serious job applications from appropriately qualified personnel not material hastily sent off by people with their backs to the wall and in a corner as part of a desperate game of mindless high-speed chess?

“Thirdly, the Government has decided that JSA will be paid monthly in arrears into a UK bank account. This means that some of the most vulnerable people in our Society that need support and help will be expected to manage for four weeks without any income or support and will only be able to receive their JSA if they have a bank account which many do not.

“If any policy of this Tories/Lib Dem Coalition was designed to get people queuing to get Pay Day Loans or to turn to petty crime it must be this. The inevitable consequence of this is to drive people deeper and deeper into poverty and destitution. Talk about kicking someone when they are down!

Saturday 13 April 2013
The ‘Bedroom tax’ and other cuts – Ian Graham Labour Candidate Pendle Central
Commenting to Labour Party activists on letters to the Colne Times, Ian Graham said:

“I recently wrote to the Colne Times on the subject of the ‘Bedroom tax’ “Tory Councillor Joe Cooney replied with an offer to help me get my facts straight.

I have responded and asked him to confirm the following Tory inspired cuts which will affect people in Pendle:

  1. £31million cut from Lancashire adult care services.
  2. Charges for older people and those with disabilities to attend a Day Care Centre have risen from £5 to £30 per day each.
  3. The County ‘Young Persons Revenue Budget’ has been cut by 50% despite record levels of youth unemployment across Lancashire.
  4. 29,000 full time jobs cut from the NHS since March 2010 in an attempt to reach the Governments £20 Billion pound saving before 2015.
  5. £3billion wasted on a top-down NHS reorganisation and £1billion in redundancy payoffs that could have been spent on front-line services.

With regard to the Bedroom Tax, or more correctly, a reduction in housing benefit for people living with a spare room to store much needed medical equipment etc., I have pointed out to Councillor Cooney that my previous letter was sent in before the Government announced their series of U-turns trying to make this unworkable legislation workable. Perhaps I should have waited to see what the Coalition’s policy would be this week on the matter! The idea is fundamentally flawed in the same way as the previous ridiculous Tory idea of the Poll Tax”.

Thursday 11 April 2013
By Election Coates Ward – Pendle Borough Council
The Labour Party Candidate in the Coates Ward By Election is Christopher John McKimm

Following the selection meeting Chris said:

" I am very pleased to have been selected to be the Labour Candidate for the Coates by election 2013. I am 35 years old and an ex-Army soldier. Coates is very close to my heart, it is where I was raised as a child. I attended Coates Lane County Primary School and had a very happy childhood in this very close knit community where I still know many residents.

"Now I wish to serve the people of Coates and give this ward a Labour voice on Pendle Borough Council.

"The Liberal Democrats are becoming a spent force in Pendle politics as they continue to prop up the Tories. I can promise each and every Coates resident who raises an issue with me that I will not just listen, I will act to do my very best to get any issue sorted out with the help of my Labour colleagues."

Friday 05 April 2013
Balancing the protection of the public against the coalition government’s cuts
A message from Clive Grunshaw, Police & Crime Commissioner in Lancashire:

"The Police & Crime Commissioner for Lancashire is the people's voice in policing.

“Whilst the Coalition Government have slashed the budget for police officers in Lancashire. I have consulted with the public and they have told me consistently that they want me to support PCSOs and neighbourhood policing. To enable me to balance this year's budget and ensure a visible policing presence I took the decision to raise the precept by just 2%. A decision that was supported by the cross-party Police & Crime Panel.

“As Labour's Police & Crime Commissioner I will listen to your views and implement them"

The Lancashire Police & Crime Plan is available online here

Tuesday 02 April 2013
5 things you may not know about welfare
  • a tiny 3 per cent of welfare spending goes on benefits to unemployed people, but 42 per cent is spent on the elderly and 21 per cent spent on Working families

    • if you were a couple with two kids and lost your job you’d receive just £111.45 a week in Job Seekers Allowance

    • a single person will only have £71 a week to live on

    • only 0.7 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently... but up to 24 per cent (£11.77bn) of benefits goes unclaimed

    • experts reckon the gap between what the government thinks it should receive in tax versus what it actually gets (the tax gap) is up to £120bn.

Wednesday 27 March 2013
Bedroom tax: 'A lot of disabled people are very scared'
Wayne Blackburn and his wife live in a small, social housing bungalow in Nelson, Lancashire.

Mr Blackburn suffers from conditions which severely limit his mobility and leave him in constant pain.

Although their house is classified as a two bedroom property, the second bedroom is principally used to store mobility aids.

The Blackburns stand to lose about £12 per week as a result of the benefit changes and Wayne says he fears whether they will be able to make ends meet.
View the BBC Video.

Pendle Labour Party invites local MP Andrew Stephenson and Pendle Council Leader Joe Cooney to tell us what they are going to do to help Mr & Mrs Blackburn.

Tuesday 26 March 2013
Spring Garden and Green Road Mills
Ian Graham, the Labour Candidate for Pendle Central has written to the Colne Times in response to a published letter from Conservative Councillor, Paul White.

Ian wrote:

I would like to respond to Paul White’s letter criticizing my views on the demolition of Spring Garden and Green Road Mills. If Mr. White had taken the trouble to read what I actually said, he would not have concluded that I was simply against the demolition of the Mill and for the site to be redeveloped. I have had a long and interesting meeting with Mr Stephen Wolfenden, the original owner of the buildings who passed the business over to his sons some time ago and they now own the site. He, like many other Colne residents such as Carol England and David Penney who have expressed their views in your letter pages, is against complete demolition.

Far from being stuck in the dark ages and having no idea how the private sector works, I would like to inform Mr. White that in the 1980`s I built up a very successful Textile Business which I eventually sold to George Davies who was CEO of the Next Group PLC. I worked with him on a year’s contract whilst the company was absorbed into the Group. After this I became a divisional director at Lamont holdings PLC, another Textile company, based in Northern Ireland. Since moving to Colne in 2000 I have run my own Sales and Marketing Company specialising in Textile Distribution. The suggestion that I have no idea how the Private Sector works is not only ridiculous but slightly insulting.

In the same letters edition we have Tommy Cooney boasting about how much the Tories have cut and how much public money they have saved. I notice there is no mention of the cuts to front-line Police and Health Services, reductions in Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, the Granny Tax, a complete lack of support for the poor, hard working and vulnerable people in our community whilst the Coalition gives a Tax break to Millionaires. Borrowing for 2015/16 is soaring towards £80 billion, and claims that Labour would borrow more are false.

I want to see jobs and investment in the economy, which is why I support the Labour Party’s proposed policy on a Mansion Tax with its proceeds funding thousands of jobs and apprenticeships for young people. We should be using public money to support fledgling businesses as has been done with the community co-operative shop Mr Paul White has helped set up in Laneshawbridge. However, in my estimation, I would say that without a lot of goodwill from the community, such small local shops will be a thing of the past.

Friday 15 March 2013
Labour’s Shadow Environment Minister Mary Creagh MP visit to Colne
Members of the public from across Pendle were invited to meet Mary Creagh MP at Primet Community at 2.00pm. The meeting was run by North West Regional Labour Party and Chaired by Azhar Ali, Labour’s Candidate for Nelson South 2013.

Mary also visited the Colne Household Waste Recycling facility that the Lancashire County Labour Party has pledged to reopen should they win back Lancashire County Council in the May elections 2013.

At the Primet Centre, Mary talked about Labour’s One Nation strategy for the next General Election and took questions and answers. There was also a group session and members of the public discussed what they would like to see done in their community concerning the environment. Many ideas were put forward and these will all be entered into the Labour Party’s One Nation Website. Amongst other things people wanted to see fly-tipping cleaned up quicker, free solar panels and better insulation available for stone-built terraces. They spoke of wishing to see old houses regenerated and the old mills turned into housing before green fields are taken for development.

Mary spoke of her support for bringing back the rail link from Colne to Skipton. After the event, Ian Graham, Labour’s Candidate for Pendle Central 2013, gave Mary a lift over to Skipton Railway station for her to catch a train back to her Wakefield Constituency.

Friday 15 March 2013
Rough Justice
Azhar Ali, the Labour Candidate for Nelson South speaking on the Conservative/Liberal Democrat proposed cuts to legal Aid, said:

“Another penny-pinching scheme to be introduced by this sad Tory/Lib Dem government is going to hit hardest the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

“The President of our Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, has warned that the proposed cuts in Legal Aid are a false economy and deny some of our most vulnerable people their right to justice in our Court system. “The already overloaded Court system will become clogged up with cases of people who cannot afford legal representation, representing themselves and putting forward arguments and defences that a Legal Aid or Duty Solicitor would do more efficiently in half the time.

“John Fassenfelt, President of the Magistrates Association agrees with Lord Neuberger’s sentiments on this issue and expressed them to the Justice Select Committee on 27th February 2013. Chris Grayling MP Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice was present but seems to have refused to listen.

“The English justice system has been the envy of the world but now runs the risk of being biased in favour of those that can afford to buy justice and those that can not. The late Lord Denning may have said that “The Law like the Ritz is open to all” and this will remain so for cases of libel and slander with the failure of the Coalition to implement Leveson – only those who can afford it use these courts. But failing to provide legal aid for those poor people who need it is tantamount to walking past on the other side of the road and not being a Good Samaritan”.

Friday 08 March 2013
Bedroom Tax
Ian Graham, Labour Candidate Pendle Central Division, has written the following letter to the Colne Times:

I wish to highlight further the incompetent, unfair and out of touch policy the Lib Dem Tory Coalition will introduce this April designed to penalise people on benefits who have a spare bedroom. This so-called ‘bedroom tax’ tells you everything you need to know about David Cameron and his Tory-led government.

As far as I can see the task of enforcing this ‘bedroom tax’ will be nigh on impossible as there are many spare rooms that are never used as bedrooms as well as cupboards and box rooms that may be used as baby and children’s bedrooms.

It’s an absolute insult that families of soldiers serving our country will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom.

Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone who is disabled. Foster families will be hit – even if they have foster children in their ‘spare room’. Divorced parents and grandparents will be charged more if they want to keep a spare bedroom for when their children or grandchildren come to stay.

Elderly married couples may need to sleep in separate bedrooms for various reasons.

To add to the chaos, the Department for Work and Pensions has admitted that there are not enough smaller properties for families to move into, yet it seems the ‘bedroom tax’ will still be remorselessly applied to households that don’t have the option to move.

This ‘bedroom tax’ policy is totally unfair, and is being introduced at the same time that the Coalition is cutting tax for 13,000 millionaires to the value of £100,000 a year each on average.

Never have a Conservative Government appeared more cavalier in their attitude towards the poor than this Coalition. What would be their reaction if this ‘bedroom tax’ were to be imposed on members of our beloved Royal Family of pension age using the same criteria? By how much would the Civil List money be reduced for all those ‘spare’ bedrooms in the Royal residences such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Sandringham to name but a few?

Friday 08 March 2013
International Women’s Day – 2013
As we join the World in celebrating International Women’s Day It is a good time to also celebrate the life of Pendle’s own suffragist Selina Cooper (1864-1946).

Selina Cooper was born in Callington, Cornwall and moved with her parents to Barnoldswick. She later lived in Nelson.

An activists for the rights of women, Selina Cooper was a member of the North of England Society for Women’s Suffrage, the Women’s Co-operative Guild, the Independent Labour Party and the Cotton Worker’s Union.

In 1901 the Independent Labour Party asked Selina Copper to stand as a candidate for the forthcoming Poor Law Guardian elections. Although women had been allowed to stand as candidates since the passing of the Municipal Franchise Act in 1869, no working-class woman had ever been elected to one of these bodies. Although the local newspapers campaigned against Selina Cooper, she was elected.

For more information follow this hyperlink or ask the local library to find you a copy of “The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel – Selina Cooper, 1864 – 1946”. The Author is Jill Liddington. ISBN 0-86068-418-0.

Monday 04 March 2013
Source locally
Mark Porter, Labour Candidate Pendle West Division, challenges Lancashire County Council to source locally for school meals:

“While I welcome the comments made by Tesco's chief executive to the National Farmers’ Union conference last week, that in light of the horsemeat scandal his company will now source more meat from UK suppliers, I found such comments a little hard to take. Let us not forget it was the big supermarkets’ relentless pursuit of cost reductions under the disguise of globalisation and their drive for increased profits that have resulted in this scandal in the first place. One cannot help but feel this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. And to judge by the supermarkets’ track record to date, in all likelihood the costs associated with this change of policy will be immediately passed on to the consumer.

“Here in Pendle, following confirmation that Lancashire County Council has supplied horse meat to a number of unsuspecting schools across the borough, it is clear that if the County Council had had such a policy then it would not have got itself in to the mess it has. It is clearly high time that LCC adopts a policy to source school food produce from local suppliers, including meat from local farms.

“Before the increased cost argument is advanced, let us just take a look at the possibilities. If LCC were to enter into long term partnerships with local suppliers, giving them certainty of supply and long term security, then perhaps that would allow the suppliers to invest in modern farming methods and new technology helping them to increase their productivity which in turn would keep any cost increases to a minimum.

“In addition to improving the quality of produce supplied to our children, such a policy would have the advantage of recycling taxpayers’ money into the local economy, supporting and sustaining local jobs. You never know, it may even help create jobs in what is arguably the most important industry of all.”

Friday 01 March 2013
Feeling the squeeze
David Johns the Labour Party Candidate for West Craven Division commenting on the effects of the austerity and taxation measures introduced by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government said:

“Families in Pendle are really feeling the squeeze at the moment. People are working harder, for longer, for less - but at the same time, prices continue to go up and up.

“David Cameron promised change, but nothing is changing. His government is failing to take action to tackle the problems in our economy and overcome the challenges we face.

“Cameron’s economic vision is of a race to the bottom in wages and skills, rewarding those at the very top but leaving everyone else behind, squeezed as never before. The talents of millions of young people are going to waste and small businesses that drive our economy on are being held back by the banks and a government that isn’t on their side.

“The perfect demonstration of where the Tories’ priorities lie will come in April when they will cut the taxes of 13,000 people earning over £1million by an average of £100,000, whilst also cutting the tax credits for millions of working families and refusing to stand up to the energy and train companies that are squeezing family budgets.

“In the last two years we’ve had a flat lining economy and a growing deficit, demonstrating that Cameron’s approach simply doesn’t work. We need a new approach; one that will create prosperity by ensuring that everyone plays their part in building our economy.

“Labour Leader Ed Miliband has outlined a fairer tax system that works for everyone. As well as cancelling the millionaire’s tax cut and the slashing of working tax credits, Labour would introduce a mansion tax on homes worth over £2 million and use the money to cut taxes for working people on low and middle incomes, benefiting 1000s of basic rate taxpayers in Pendle alone.

" We also need to change the culture in our economy; so that everyone knows when you play your part and contribute to the economy you will be rewarded. This means tackling vested interests, improving vocational training and supporting businesses that create high quality, sustainable, middle-income jobs.

" These changes won’t happen under the Tories or their Lib Dem allies. Labour is the only party on the side of working people, and families in Pendle will be among the millions to benefit from a new One Nation economy that works for working people.".

Tuesday 26 February 2013
Pendle Cllr Ian Tweedie’s unfinished business at the Shackleton Hall, Colne
Labour Cllr Ian Tweedie was contacted by a wheelchair-bound Colne resident about the newly refurbished Shackleton Hall. Because of the gradient of the pavement, entry to Shackleton Hall for wheelchair users was difficult, hazardous and almost impossible. When presented with a step of uneven proportions, wheelchairs tend to mount one side but not the other causing them to skew round and often fall over.

Thanks to Cllr Tweedie the problem has been remedied and the pavement at the upper entrance to the Shackleton Hall levelled to enable safer access for disabled people.

Ian says: “It’s easy for us to overlook the problems faced by disabled people, but I was astonished that this prestigious refurbishment project had failed to accommodate them gaining access to the shopping mall.”

Saturday 23 February 2013
Childcare Commission
Sheena Dunn, Labour Candidate Pendle East Division speaking about Labour’s Childcare Commission said:

“As a mother myself and as a Labour Party Pendle Borough Councillor, I know parents in Pendle are facing increased pressure when bringing up their children.

“Childcare places in Children’s Centres up and down the country are being lost despite David Cameron’s pre-election promise to parents that he backed Sure Start. Government cuts to the childcare element of the working tax credit mean families are up to £1,500 a year worse off.

“These cuts mean we have the makings of a childcare crisis that is causing working mums to question whether or not they are better off leaving their jobs altogether.

“The Tory-led government’s priorities are clear by the fact that they are giving their millionaire friends a tax cut from April with no guarantee that they will invest their extra cash in the UK. The UK economy is flat lining because of their policies and the longer this failure continues the longer families and businesses will pay the price. “I know from talking to local parents that the cost of childcare is a serious concern, and for some it can provide a real barrier when making the choice of whether or not to do more hours at work.

“Tackling this growing childcare crisis is a priority for Labour, which is why the Party has set up a Childcare Commission to come up with new ideas to help support families who want to stay in work”.

For further information and to submit your ideas and experiences to the Labour Party Policy Review, please visit or write to Labour Childcare Commission C/O Pendle Labour Party 33 Carr Road Nelson BB9 7JS.

Wednesday 13 October 2013
Beit Leed Twinning
A recent letter to the Nelson Leader/Colne Times series indicated that the Council vote on this issue was tied and it was only passed by the casting vote of the mayor. This is not the truth. The council agreed to support the twinning by 20 votes to 16.

We understand that a representative of the Pendle for Palestine Twinning Group sent a letter to the newspaper three weeks ago to correct this – to date they have chosen not to print it.

We also understand that a further letter has been sent to the newspaper explaining that it won’t cost the council taxpayers anything or use council resources for administration.

Pendle Labour Party believes that a peaceful negotiated settlement is in the best interest of all the people caught up in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

We believe that it is not in the interest of the overwhelming majority of people in Pendle for local politicians to try and create antipathy and confusion by using spurious claims.

If you wish to learn more about the relationship which is being developed between Pendle and Beit Leed visit:

Monday 11 February 2013
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust - review of mortality rates
Pendle Labour would like to say it welcomes the review ordered by the Prime Minister about the high death rates in the East Lancashire hospitals NHS trust including Burnley and Blackburn but sincerely hope and believe that hard working men and women on the front line will not become scapegoats.

Pendle Labour Vice Chairman Mark Porter says:

“Whilst it is true that compared to somewhere like Surrey, Pendle does have a significantly higher mortality rates, they are much lower than say Glasgow and here lays the problem. When carrying out comparative studies, despite the wealth of end-point data, primarily held by insurance companies and pension annuity providers, no adjustment is made to take into account regional variations in other data”.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Leader of Pendle Group on Pendle Borough Council says:

“There are many underlying reasons for regional mortality rate variations with lifestyle choices such smoking, drinking, eating and exercise all providing primary risk factors. Academics have long debated the underlying causes that impact on the primary risk factors including, location, climate, genetics, employment and financial wealth.

" Although all are open to debate, social deprivation is widely acknowledged to be fundamentally instrumental in influencing the lifestyle choices people make. For example, the inability to afford fresh fruit and vegetables, the high cost of private gym memberships and depression.

" Pendle Labour Party recognises that these examples are present throughout East Lancashire and with continuing cuts in services such as leisure, luncheon clubs and support group funding, then we are unlikely to see a significant improvement in the short term.”

Mark Porter adds:

“We do believe that it is now time to return some of our lost services to Burnley General Hospital. Anybody who has recently had to use the facilities at Blackburn Royal Hospital will no doubt agree that they are struggling to cope with the patient numbers coming through the doors because they are full to capacity. They have to use wards in Burnley as holding wards with people being transferred to and fro prior and post operation. Blackburn A&E waiting times have risen and operations cancelled due to a lack of beds.

W We would therefore suggest that Mr Andrew Stephenson MP explains just exactly what he is proposing should be done regarding this worsening situation, especially given that the reinstatement of several high profile services to Burnley General Hospital, was among the election promises he made to the people of Pendle”.

Friday 08 February 2013
Extracting natural gas from Lancashire shale beds
Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Labour Group Leader & County Councillor for Brierfield & Nelson North responding to enquiries about controversial natural gas extraction said:

“A good number of folk have enquired what the Labour Party position is regarding fracking in Lancashire. Fracking is the extraction of natural methane gas from shale beds by drilling down and then using various techniques to free up the gas. Those who have seen the film ‘Gasland’, and the infamous clip of a man turning on a tap to be met with a wall of flames, will appreciate the environmental concerns on the minds of others.

“However, apparently, there are huge reserves of such gas within the western part of Lancashire but none directly under Pendle as far as we know.

“Tom Greatrex MP Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, set out the Official Opposition’s six conditions for shale gas exploration and production in an article for Business Green on 7 March 2012:

“The six conditions are:

  1. There must be a mandated disclosure of all hazardous chemicals used in fracking and a risk assessment by the regulator of their potential environmental impact and only non-hazardous chemicals should be used in the fracking mix.
  2. There must be a full assessment of the well integrity to ensure that the casing and borehole are not susceptible to leaking; this must meet current industry standards for other types of drilling.
  3. There must be micro-seismic monitoring of the area prior to any drilling to determine what the potential impact would be on the geology of the local area.
  4. There must be a full assessment of impact of water use on local community, including an assessment of how much of the water will be reused or recycled.
  5. There must be an assessment of groundwater methane levels prior to fracking.
  6. There should be at least a full year’s real-time monitoring of all of the above before any drilling can proceed.

“In August 2012, Tom Greatrex commented on the report on fracking in Lancashire by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society: 'It is welcome that this report reinforces much of what Labour has been pressing for, for several months. Before shale gas extraction can go ahead, important conditions that have been set by this report and by the Labour Party must be established, met and monitored'.

“As I understand it, the Lib Dem Tory Coalition Government has agreed that any fracking in Lancashire will have to comply with what the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society and the Labour Party have stipulated”.

Friday 01 February 2013
Tories selling Pendle's people short
Commenting on the outsouring of the County Welfare Rights Service, Ian Graham the Labour Candidate for Pendle Central Division said:

“I have been appalled by the recent decision of the Tories at County Hall to sell off the Welfare Rights Service to ‘One Connect’, the County Council’s business partnership with British Telecom. This move flies in the face of what people entitled to welfare need. At a time when the Government is making major changes to the system, this upheaval will only add to people's legitimate worries and confusion.

“The county council’s Welfare Rights Service has been around for over 20 years and has provided advice to thousands of residents when dealing with the benefits system. It has reduced the North-South wealth divide in the UK by bringing hundreds of thousands of pounds into Lancashire by helping people claim what they are entitled to. Now BT will make profits out of the most disadvantaged people in the County at their time of greatest need.

“Despite 1000’s of people signing a petition against the unpopular plan to sell off the Welfare Rights Service, the Tories have gone ahead, turning a blind eye to our concerns.

“In Pendle we already know the abject disregard that the Tories at County Hall have for petitioners such as those against the closure of the Colne Household Waste Recycling Centre. In Colne we’ve seen again their contempt for poor people with their closure of the Social Services Office on Market Place on 31st January. With less than 6 months to go to the County Council elections and with the opinion polls leaning heavily towards Labour, I hope your readers will take note that the Tories may be throwing caution to the wind with some of their final acts of social vandalism.”.

Tuesday 29 January 2013
Cuts to Pendle Council Budget
Mark Porter, Labour Party Candidate for Pendle West has written to the local newspaper with the following message:

Last week saw the latest GDP figures released and whilst they did not come as a surprise to most it did highlight that as a country we now stand on the precipice of entering the uncharted waters of a triple dip recession. The lack of growth will result in further cuts by central government as they continue to ignore the advice of many leading economists and continue on to steer the ship in to the economic abyss. So what will this mean for the good people of Pendle?

Well last week Lord Greaves highlighted that Pendle council is facing cuts of 17% for 2013 with worse to come in 2014-2016 despite the governments claims that no council would bit hit with cuts higher than 8.5% this year. He explained the budget was £13 million in 2009 and will be reduced to £7 million in 2014 concluding that the system for local council funding is so crazy nobody could make it up.

Well as we all know that is simply not true, because it has been dreamt up by the crew manning the Westminster destroyer, which is causing the tidal waves amongst council budgets. The crew is made up of Tories propped up by the Lib Dems in much the same fashion as Pendle council itself.

Steering the ship from the galley is none other than the community secretary Eric Pickles himself with fingers firmly in the biscuit barrel demanding more cuts. He wants Council tax frozen, yet expects the good ship Pendle to continue sailing along with no loss of the services that the local people want and deserve.

Just how he proposes to do this is beyond me; however, perhaps our Local MP Andrew Stephenson could enlighten the people of Pendle how this will be achieved given that he, along with the Pendle Council Leader, Joe Cooney agreed with the cuts.

Mr Stephenson was quoted as saying “this is a good financial settlement for Pendle” his view of the situation appears to be based on his submission that it could have been worse had he and councillor Cooney not lobbied for Pendle to be allowed to bid for an Efficiency Support Grant which could be worth up to £949,000.

Whilst it has been a while since I was at school I have still managed to retain basic arithmetic skills provided to me when I sat my GCSE’S, although I must admit you do not need to be a mathematician to work out that £13million minus £7 million plus £949,000 leaves a shortfall of just over £5 million.

Finally, although 2012 marked the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, with all its connections to Pendle, I fear that with the current captains at the helm continuing to navigate us both locally and nationally on the proverbial Zambezi heading towards Victoria Falls it is only a matter time before Pendle is once again associated with another sinking ship.

Monday 21 January 2013
The Palestine twinning debate – David Foat
In last week's Nelson Leader/Colne Times series there were several letters complaining about a democratically reached decision of Pendle Council regarding a proposal to ‘twin’ with a town in Palestine. What is surprising is that it was two prominent Conservative councillors, who having lost the democratic debate in the council chamber, felt the need to mount an attack on the leader of the Labour Group via the local newspaper.

David Foat, Secretary of Pendle CLP commenting on the letters said:

It seems to me that quite of few of the arguments in letters to the paper against twinning with Beit Lid could equally well apply to other towns Pendle is twinned with such as Marl in Germany and Creil in France. I understand that Pendle is also currently considering twinning with a town in Morocco.

A lot of confusion may have arisen because of an earlier article proclaiming that Beit Lid was in Gaza. The town is not in Gaza but to the north of Tel Aviv. Marl is twinned with Hertzliya which is the richest part of Israel with a huge marina and Creil is twinned with Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Beit Lid is somewhere between the two and already has considerable long-standing ties with Pendle.

Twinning is to promote cultural and commercial ties. The vast population of non-Jewish residents in Israel live in peace with the Jews and twinning will help maintain the peace.

Friday 18 January 2013
Let’s make banking work
Sheena Dunn, the Labour Party Candidate Pendle East Division shares her thoughts on providing finance to business:

While it is convenient for the Lib Dem Tory Coalition to place the blame for all our current woes at the doorstep of the previous Labour Government, sometimes that strategy becomes a little absurd. Recently, I heard one pundit say that the economic problems in Europe were to a large extent all the fault of the British Labour Party for not saving Lehman Brothers Bank. Apparently, had Labour have borrowed £billions more and saved the bank, this would have maintained the integrity of all the problems associated with Lehmans that now have to be dealt with piecemeal. So Labour are damned for borrowing too much and damned for not borrowing enough!

That having been said, we are all, politicians and bankers alike, looking for a way forward with the banking sector, the deficit and the economy. With the Lib Dem Tory ‘Merlin Project’ being an abysmal failure, all the Tories can suggest is ‘cutting red tape’ for the banks. I think this is hardly the answer and we need better regulation of banking rather than less of it.

One local success story that has been seized on nationally has been David Fishwick’s ‘Bank of Dave’. I understand that there has even been a presentation by David Fishwick in November 2012 to MPs and Peers in Parliament to explain how he has been able to lend out money while other banks appear struck down with intertia. Seema Malhotra MP, Chair of Labour Party Backbench Business, Innovation and Skills Group says there are no reasons why Dave’s model of banking cannot be emulated more widely.

Figures from the Bank of England show that lending to businesses has contracted and fallen by more than £13 billion, while the Ernst & Young ITEM club has predicted that bank lending has fallen to its lowest level since 2006. And, according to Insolvency Service statistics, over 37,000 businesses have gone bust since the 2010 general election.

Although ‘Bank of Dave’ is not really a bank but more like a series of interlinked products and services called ‘Burnley Savings and Loans’ that has restricted cash turnover to £25,000 per week, over the last 12 months ‘Bank of Dave’ has overseen £700,000 of loans granted to local small and medium enterprises in the North West. The key distinctive feature appears to be the importance of relationships in his banking model - knowing the entrepreneur and the business as part of the assessment of risk - a much more personalized risk assessment than a centrally driven ‘conservative’ formula.

The Labour Party has a vision for our country of a more competitive banking industry, where small businesses know that there is a banking system working for them. What we see with ‘Bank of Dave’ and Metro Bank [in Hounslow] is exactly the change in the relationship between branches and community businesses which Labour is calling for – a streamlined relationship-based access to finance to support local enterprises. We do however need more than just individual entrepreneurs helping businesses in odd parts of Britain: we need action from this Government to encourage and support entrepreneurs across the nation in all communities by providing access to finance.

The Labour Party is also developing plans for a proper British Investment Bank, and has commissioned a report that has laid out the case for such a bank, looking at comparisons abroad and how to boost finance to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), such as high growth firms, and to infrastructure too. The UK is alone amongst the G8 countries without such a state investment institution.

Friday 11 January 2013
Driving a bus through their pledges – David Johns
David Johns, Labour Candidate for West Craven, as written to the local newspapers with the following ovservations:

The Lib Dem Tory Coalition goes from bad to worse. At their recent ‘relaunch’ Cameron and Clegg said that their government was like a tin of Ronseal as ‘it does what it says on the tin’. The very next day we hear of a list of 70 things they promised to do but have not done. It may make for good slapstick comedy, but hardly a way to run the country.

Coalition Government Ministers promised that cuts in funding would not lead to the loss of local bus services, yet many communities have seen vital services disappear while fares have risen on average by double the rate of inflation. Despite buses delivering two-thirds of all journeys made using public transport in Britain, the Government chose to cut funding for local transport by 28 per cent and direct support for local bus services by a fifth.

Local authorities such as Lancashire have consequently not been able to sustain the previous level of support for commercially unviable but socially necessary bus services.

Research has shown that one in five council supported bus routes were cut or reduced last year and 41 per cent of local authorities had to axe services. Where services have been protected, bus companies have often increased fares to make up for the revenue lost through cuts to subsidies.

Lancashire County Council is currently carrying out a consultation about proposed cuts to bus services. The service 95 is particularly under threat now that they have used up the £550,000 subsidy from Boundary Mill. I also fear for the future of service 280 that supplies important connections between Skipton, Barnoldswick, Clitheroe, and Preston, and which is linked in with the National Express coaching network.

Pensioners, who were promised by David Cameron that their bus pass was safe, have found that his promise did not extend to ensuring there was a local bus service on which to use it, risking increased isolation and reduced access to shops and services.

Elsewhere, transport authorities who seek to use the legislation passed by Labour when in government to re-regulate bus services, giving them control over fares and routes, have found themselves frustrated by the bus companies and a lack of support from this slapstick coalition Government. It seems eminently sensible that the more profitable routes should subsidise socially necessary bus services and this is what re-regulation would permit.

Friday 04 January 2013
The Coalition Government is making working families pay for the Coalition’s own failure – Ian Tweedie
Ian Tweedie commenting on the Tory/Lib Dem Government’s cuts in Working Tax Credit said:

“Government figures recently released reveal that families in Pendle will be hit by George Osborne’s and Danny Alexander’s cuts in Working Tax Credit. This will be in effect a ‘Strivers’ tax.’

“Working families in Pendle will be amazed that the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition is asking them to pick up the tab for their failure at the same time as the Coalition gives a £3 billion tax cut to their millionaire chums. “The 8,300 working families who receive Working Tax Credits in Pendle are facing this strivers tax because this government has failed on jobs and growth.

“Last month the Coalition Government admitted their Work Programme is worse than doing nothing, leaving millions locked out of work and pushing the benefit bill through the roof - an eye-watering £13.6bn higher than expected.

“In October 2012 there were 2087 unemployed benefit claimants in Pendle but only 275 vacancies. That’s 7.6 claimants per vacancy. 990 claimants were referred to the Work Programme but only 10 were found jobs. Since 2010, there has been a significant cut in the number of jobs per person in Pendle.

“To pay down the price of that failure they are raiding the budget of their own Universal Credit programme which was supposed to make sure you’re always better off in work. Instead the scheme will lock in their Working Tax Credit cuts.

“Taking into account everything George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that one-earner families with children will on average be £534 a year worse off by 2015. Yet 8,000 millionaires will get an average tax cut of over £107,000 in April.”

Wednesday 02 January 2013
Council tax benefit to be slashed in Burnley and Pendle - Lancashire Telegraph
The following article appeared in the Lancashire Telegraph on 22 December:

Council tax benefit is set to be slashed by up to 20 per cent for working-age claimants in Pendle - and eight per cent in neighbouring Burnley.

The Pendle scheme has been condemned as a ‘fundamental attack on the poor’, as 4,900 wait to hear the new charges they will face in 2013, which could be around £150 per year.

Burnley’s alternative has been tempered by using a transition grant, offered by the government, and income from reforms to council tax payments for empty homes. More>>

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