Pendle Labour Party - Archived items 2015
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Last updated: Friday 1 January, 2016

Saturday 26 December 2015
Message from Mark Porter, President, Pendle CLP
As 2015 draws to a close and we take time to reflect on the events of the last 12 months and how these events have not only changed the shape of UK politics but the world in which we all live.

Populism politics is on the rise with immigration top of the agenda around the world, with fear the dominant driving factor. The terrible events in Paris at the beginning and towards the end of 2015 have only served to reinforce the global insular retreat arguments, but we must not let the actions of a few destroy the way of life for the many.

Closer to home populism politics was evident by Osborne's complete U-turn on tax credits which provided some welcome relief for millions of low income families (albeit it took the House of Lords to force the issue), however austerity continues to bite with the use of food banks on the increase across the whole of the UK.

Within our own ranks there was a fiercely fought leadership contest following the General Election defeat, which was ultimately won by Jeremy Corbyn. Whether or not you personally supported Jeremy, one thing is clear, he has inspired large numbers to become involved in politics with party numbers swelling over 100% to over half a million people.

2016 will see both the 'in' and 'out' camps of the EU referendum launch their campaigns. the result of which will be a game changer for our country. Regardless of the result it will undoubtedly provide the direction of travel for the UK Economy for many years to come. Therefore I would urge everybody to think very carefully before making their decision on the UK's in or out membership of the EU.

I would also urge that we all take 5 mins to check on elderly neighbours and those less fortunate than ourselves especially as the rain continues to fall and many rivers threaten to give way and flood large parts of Pendle threatening houses and business as well as potentially life itself.

Finally I would like to take the opportunity to wish all the residents of Pendle a safe and happy New Year.

Tuesday 22 December 2015
In Memory of Trevor Walsh
Pendle Labour Party is saddened by the loss of Trevor Walsh, who's funeral took place today.
Trevor was Immensely respected as a comrade, Councillor, School Governor, and campaigner for the disabled.

We are saddened at losing Trevor and offer our condolences to his family.

Saturday 12 November 2015
Fracking in Lancashire Yvonne Tennant - Vice Chair, Membership.
Yvonne Tennant recently wrote to the local press stating her concerns regarding Lancashire County Councils decision to reject fracking in Lancashire being "called in" by National Government. Her letter is reproduced below:

I am sure that many of your readers will be appalled to learn that central Government have announced that they will make the decision about whether to allow fracking in Lancashire. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark has called in the decision made by Lancashire County Council to reject the two applications to frack, submitted by Cuadrilla

The Minister’s announcement is in direct conflict with his own stated views on de-centralisation. As recently as July, in a speech to the Local Government Association Conference, Mr Clark stated “To have ministers and officials calling the shots from the centre is to miss out on the knowledge, the drive, the connections, the leadership that local government can give” before going on to say “I will never impose an arrangement – and neither can one tier impose its will on another tier; rather a local consensus will need to be agreed.”

After the County Council’s extensive investigation and consideration of Cuadrilla’s applications, collecting evidence both for and against before reaching their decision, imposing an arrangement is exactly what Mr Clark is doing in this case and this smacks of hypocrisy.

Pendle Labour Party believes that his move shows scant regard for the opinions and concerns of Lancashire residents and a blatant desire to circumvent local democracy. This exposes the Conservative’s claim, that they encourage local democracy, to be a sham.

Friday 27 November 2015
Letter from The Council Leader to the Press - 27 November 2015

Core Strategy

Dear Sir,

I have been contacted by a number of residents in Pendle concerned about the level of development proposed in Pendle’s Core Strategy, the plan which will guide development over the next 15 years. They have asked why we need so much housing and industrial land when they are told that Councils are allowed by Government to decide for themselves what is right for their area.

When Councils produce their Local Plans there is a very strict policy document issued by Government that every Plan must comply with. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out what every Local Plan must contain.

The requirement is that Local Plans must deliver the full housing and employment needs of their area, in our case for the next 15 years, on land that is viable for development. No Council is allowed to deliver less than their full needs. We are required to assess what that level of need is but how these assessments are carried out is also strictly controlled by Government.

For example, we are required to assess how many new houses we need but we are not allowed to have less new housing than the Government’s household growth projections. We are then obliged to add more housing if, for example, we are in an area of weak housing demand.

We are not allowed to make developers use brownfield land before green field land as this is not in line with National Planning policy. We tried to require developers to use brownfield land before green field land in our Local Plan but have been required to change our proposed policy as it is contrary to National Planning policy.

When we produce Local Plans we are examined by an Independent Planning Inspector. If we do not have enough housing or employment land to meet our full needs the Plan will be rejected. This for example happened in Ribble Valley where they wanted less housing than they needed and were asked to increase their proposed housing numbers by a Planning Inspector.

It is far from the case the Councils can determine what is right for their area if this means providing less industry or housing than they need. We are required to provide for our full needs. Our options are to decide how to deliver these not if we should.

I know there are some specific concerns about the inclusion of both the Strategic Housing Site at Trough Laithe, Barrowford and the Strategic Employment Site which will see an extension of the current industrial estate at Lomeshaye.

I would like to point out that the Council agreed to include these sites in the Core Strategy at its meeting in September 2014 after extensive consultation and that, in both cases, the Independent Planning Inspector accepts they are required for the Council to meet its needs for both housing and employment land. Indeed, the Independent Planning Inspector states categorically that the inclusion of Trough Laithe is ‘critical to the delivery of the housing strategy in the Core Strategy and its allocation is justified’.

Finally, given the amount of interest generated by the Inspector’s Report, which comes at the end of the process of producing the Core Strategy, it is only right that I highlight the Inspector’s comments in para 21 of his report – ‘Criticisms that the process has not engaged with people are not surprising…but it seems to me that the Council has gone beyond both legal requirements and its own Statement of Community Involvement in attempting to involve all parties in the process.’

Yours faithfully,
Leader of Pendle Borough Council

Wednesday 18 November 2015
Tax Credit Cuts and how it will affect families in Pendle
If you are wondering how many families in Pendle will be affected we have provided a hyperlink to the data setting out how many thousands of families could lose money.

The data is on the Government's own web site, pages 16 & 23 show the numbers that will be affected in Pendle, if the cuts go ahead.

We believe that Andrew Stephenson’s first duty is to the people of Pendle and that he should be voting down these savage cuts – but will he?

Personal tax credits: Finalised award statistics - geographical statistics 2013 to 2014:
Download. This is a PDF file of 3.85 MB you will need to have Adobe Reader or similar installed to read this file.

Thursday 12 November 2015
Kate Green MP visits Pendle
Great Pendle Labour Women's Group get together this evening. Huge thanks go to our Women's Officer, Laura Blackburn, for organising it all - and of course to Kate Green MP who was our guest of honour.

Friday 23 October 2015
(Labour) MP fights for free hospital parking for carers - Pendle Today
Burnley MP Julie Cooper has launched a new national campaign to Park the Charges for Carers. Mrs Cooper has linked up with Carers UK and will propose new legislation to exempt carers eligible for Carer’s Allowance from hospital parking charges in England. More from Pendle Today>>

Tuesday 13 October 2015
Labour to oppose Tories elected Mayor proposals in Pendle
Labour Councillors will vote against a motion tabled by Conservative Leader Joe Cooney at the Full Council meeting in Pendle on Thursday 15th October 2015.

Leader of the Council Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said

“At a time when the Tory government has reduced funding to Pendle Borough Council by over 50% since 2010, here we have a display of internal civil arguments within the Tory party as to who wants to be a one man/woman Mayor of Pendle which will cost tens of thousands of pounds to run elections and administer the office of the Mayor. This is a silly ill-thought idea and makes a fool of the residents of Pendle we are here to serve”

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group Mohammed Hanif added,

“It is evidently clear that following his removal as Council Leader in May, Joe Cooney and his party are suffering an extreme case of sour grapes and wants to use Pendle taxpayers money to pursue their personal greed”

Southfield ward Councillor Sheila Wicks added,

“I have been informed that to arrange an election for Elected Mayor will cost in excess of £100,000. At a time when we are facing savage cuts by the Tory government affecting front-line services, the Tory party seem to think they can spend money which Pendle does not have in pursuit of their own politically motivated goals. This is not fair to the people who elect us to serve them”.

Bradley ward Councillor Mohammed Sakib added

“People living in my ward are already approaching me about the difficulty decisions they have to make on a daily basis about their children’s future and here we have the Tory party led by their MP choosing to put their party politics ahead of the people who elected them. They should be ashamed of their actions and withdraw this silly motion”

Saturday 10 October 2015
One million UK citizens set to lose their vote
Changes in the voter registration system mean around one million additional people will be taken off the electoral register this year.

Are you one of them?

Pendle Labour Party are concerned that Pendle residents will not be able to vote in elections and referendums if they are not registered to vote.

Next year there will be major elections in Pendle. And soon we have a big choice to make about whether Britain should stay in the European Union, but if you don’t register, you won’t be able to have your say.

You can register to vote in just three minutes at You will need your National Insurance number, so make sure you have it ready. You can use this website on your PC, tablet or smartphone. If you do not have access to the internet you may be able to use a computer at your local library, or ask a relative, friend or neighbour if they can help you.

Don’t forget that if you’re not registered to vote, you could be facing a fine of £80 and you might find it harder to get a credit card or a mobile phone contract. It may even be harder to get a passport!

Friday 09 October 2015
Stop the Tax Credit Cut hurting 7,900 Pendle families
Tory changes to tax credits will leave working families £1,300 a year worse off.
Across the UK 3 million working families will be affected
This tax credit cut will hit working families in the wallet.

In Pendle:

  • 6,900 working families claim Tax Credit
  • 7,900 families claim tax credit
  • 5,700 working families with children claim tax credit
  • 12,200 children are in families that receive tax credit
  • 67% of families receive tax credit
  • 74% of children are in families that receive tax credit.
Call on David Cameron to stop the tax credit cut by signing our petition at

Call on Andrew Stephenson, to vote, to stop the tax credit cut.

Friday 09 October 2015
Nelson Health Class gets a financial boost!
Shaista Arshad is a Project Worker working with the scheme at Williams Hall in Nelson. She says the project is a woman's exercise class which brings women together to improve health and tackle obesity.

As well as getting people fit it also brings people together in a social capacity. Healthy eating is also covered to improve the lives of themselves and their families.

The councillors from the Southfield Ward in Nelson donated £250 from their ward initiative money to help the project. The photo shows Councillor Sheila Wicks presenting the cheque to Shaista Arshad watched by Councillor David Whalley.

Saturday 03 October 2015
Pendle Labour Party is saddened by the death of Dennis Healey

We send our condolences to his family and mourn the passing of a substantial figure of the Labour Movement.

Lord Healey was Labour's defence secretary from 1964 to 1970 and chancellor of the exchequer from 1974 to 1979 before becoming deputy party leader in opposition in 1980. The former Leeds MP's family said he died peacefully at his Sussex home on Saturday, after a short illness. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "a Labour giant". Read more on the BBC web site.

Jeremy Corbyn Statement on the death of Dennis Healey

Saturday 12 September 2015
Pendle Labour Party congratulates Jeremy and Tom on winning the Leadership Elections.
Jeremy Corbyn has been elected Leader of the Labour Party and Tom Watson has been elected Deputy Leader. Pendle

Labour Party congratulates Jeremy and Tom and thanks all of the other candidates for the part they have played in a stimulating contest. You can view a video of the declaration of the outcome of the elections

Following the General Election and the announcement of the leadership elections, we are delighted to have welcomed 219 new members to the party in Pendle. Whist these new members of all ages come from wide-ranging social and cultural backgrounds, we are particularly pleased to welcome 35 new youth members.

Wednesday 29 July 2015
Yvette Cooper wins Pendle Labour Party nomination
At a packed meeting of Pendle Constituency Labour Party on 28 July, members debated and voted on the local party’s supporting nominations for the next Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Party Chair Mark Porter said

“It was great to see so many new members coming to contribute to the vigorous debate on the merits of the four leadership candidates. Many members told me they had been undecided at the start of the meeting but after listening to the speakers were able to make up their minds.”

Cllr Wayne Blackburn, the CLP’s new Secretary, said

“The nomination votes were conducted on the preference system, and the Party leadership vote went down to the wire with Yvette Cooper only winning on second preference votes over Jeremy Corbyn. Andy Burnham came third and Liz Kendall fourth.

“The Deputy Leader vote was less close, with Tom Watson, who had made time to come to the Constituency last week, winning on first preference votes, with Angela Eagle second, followed by Caroline Flint, Stella Creasey and Ben Bradshaw.”

Supporting nominations from constituency parties can be used by candidates in their material going to individual members, who will be voting in the second half of August.

The result is expected to be announced on 12 September.

Monday 29 June 2015
Pendle Council’s Executive has agreed to transfer the Fleece public toilets in Barrowford to Barrowford Parish Council.
Councillor Iqbal, Leader of Pendle Council, explained:

“This means that the toilets which have been closed for more than 18 months will be re-opened for shoppers and visitors.

“We’re delighted that the Parish Council has agreed to take on the facility and we’ll be working closely with them to ensure a smooth transfer, including paying their business rates for two years.”

Barrowford Parish Council had originally indicated that they were not in a financial position to take on the facility which meant they were closed and put up for sale. But in June the Parish Council requested that Pendle Council transfer the facility to them so that they can be re-opened. Pendle Council has turned down an offer for £78,750 to buy the premises to ensure that this valuable community resource will be re-opened.

Saturday 18 April 2015
Complaint against prominent Tory Doctor for abuse of trust
Pendle Labour Election Agent, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, has sent an official complaint to NHS England regarding Pendle GP Dr Qazi M Jehanghir over alleged abuse of patient records at his surgery to pressurise patients into hosting meetings for the Tory candidate, Andrew Stephenson. Cllr Iqbal said “It is a well-known fact that people respect their GP for confidentiality. In this instance there is an evidenced allegation that Dr Jehanghir, who is a prominent Tory, has been abusing his position of trust and harassing patients at his practice to host meetings for Andrew Stephenson. What is more alarming is that it seems pressure is being applied for them to vote Tory against their wishes. I wrote to NHS England who have today indicated that they will be investigating my allegations.

“The use of emotional blackmail via a GP for people to vote against their wishes is very serious and I am angry that these allegations have had to be brought to me. I would publicly call upon Andrew Stephenson to denounce this practice and distance himself from Dr Jehanghir until the matter is resolved.”

Saturday 28 March 2015
Rushton Street crossing success for Barrowford
Labour’s Parliamentary candidate, Azhar Ali, working with Sue Nike and Mark Porter, has secured funding for a pedestrian crossing on the main road by Rushton Street School, to be installed this year.

Mark Porter commented:

“We have been pressing for a solution to the dangerous traffic situation around the school for years and this is great news.”

Three elections on May 7th
As well as the General Election, there will be Borough Council and Parish Council Elections all on May 7th. The Borough Council election will be for two Barrowford seats on Pendle Council, as Cllr Tony Beckett has resigned owing to ill health. Sue and Mark wish him all the best in his recovery. Download the Barrowford Rose Spring edition here (PDF 375KB)
Tuesday 17 March 2015
Cancer patients in Pendle waiting longer for treatment
Hundreds of local NHS patients diagnosed with cancer last year waited longer than the expected two-month period before starting treatment, a new analysis of official figures reveals.

In East Lancashire NHS Trust over the course of 2014, 148 patients waited too long for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other forms of treatment for cancer – an increase of on the previous year. Labour’s analysis of official NHS cancer care statistics shows over 20,000 patients waiting too long for treatment last year across England.

Patients have a right to receive their first treatment within 62 days of receiving an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer, according to the NHS Constitution. However, the NHS in England missed the target for all four quarters in 2014.

The figures come after separate NHS data last week revealed a record 19,000 patients waiting more than six weeks for key diagnostic tests, including seven that detect cancer. Patients must be tested promptly in order to begin treatment at the earliest opportunity. Labour’s election pledge card, unveiled at the weekend, commits the next Government to providing cancer tests and results within one week by 2020.

Last autumn, a Cancer Research UK report said the current Government’s NHS reorganisation had left services “standing still for the last two to three years” and that the changes were “hampering efforts to develop services and improve performance”. Meanwhile, NHS spending on cancer care in England fell by £790 million in the early years of this Parliament.

Azhar Ali Labour’s PPC for Pendle said: "These figures show that you can't trust David Cameron with our NHS.

"In the last year, hundreds of cancer patients have waited too long for treatment to start and, in some cases, their chances of survival will have been harmed.

"When it comes to cancer, speed is everything. Labour is committed to cancer tests and results within one week to help end this scandal and help cancer patients in Pendle .

“The NHS as we know it can’t survive another five years of the Tories’ failing plan. Labour has a better plan, to invest an extra £2.5 billion a year in the NHS and build a Time to Care Fund to recruit thousands more nurses in our region.”

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

"David Cameron cut the cancer budget by £800 million in real terms and, despite all the warnings, he persisted with an NHS reorganisation that disrupted cancer services. The deterioration in cancer care is a direct consequence of Government policies and the clearest proof the Tories can't be trusted with the NHS. Ministers have left families facing anxious waits for cancer tests and treatment and their complacency is dangerous.”

Tuesday 10 March 2015
Azhar backs Labour's pledge to support thousands caring for family members in Pendle
Azhar Ali was joined last week by Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, in meeting the Alzheimer's Society support group for Pendle and talking with carers about the struggles they face.

The 2011 census shows 42,000 people in East Lancashire caring for elderly or disabled relatives. Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to their families and society as a whole, yet too many feel pushed to breaking point, seeing their own health and income suffer too.

Labour have pledged to help families who care by:

  • Placing a new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and giving carers a new right to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating.
  • Giving families caring for people with the greatest needs a single point of contact with care services, so they don't have to battle different parts of the system.
  • Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers' breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers.
  • Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of “adjustment leave” to help families cope with a short-term crisis.
  • Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions.
  • Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need.

Azhar said,

“Families in Pendle do an incredible job looking after their loved ones, but from the conversations we have had it's clear that many family carers are struggling. Labour's pledge to support family carers will make a huge difference here. Caring for a loved one is physically and emotionally demanding, and families need a government that's on their side. With Labour, Britain's family carers will get the recognition and support they deserve.”

Monday 09 March 2015
Labour Candidate opens new nursery school
Labour's Parliamentary candidate, County Councillor Azhar Ali, has opened Nelson's newest childcare facilities in the former St Paul's School building.

Smartypants Nursery, originally set up on Romney Street, has expanded into the vacated primary school on Hibson Road.

Founder and owner of the nursery, Colette Hewitt, said:

"I'm delighted to be able to expand the nursery into the St Paul's site. We've transformed part of the school into a children's wonderland coupled with an outdoor play area."

At the opening Azhar said:

"I'm chuffed to bits to have been able to help secure the funding from Lancashire County Council for the expansion, and now to officially open this fantastic new nursery site in the heart of Nelson. And I was very pleased that it was a local company, Let's Play, of Waidshouse Road that designed the play area."

"I first got involved with Smartypants almost 10 years ago when they opened in Romney Street. Colette deserves huge recognition for providing first class child care to local families."

"The Labour Party has pledged to increase free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, which will make a massive difference to parents who want to go back to work."

Friday 06 March 2015
“No To Fracking” says Parliamentary Candidate
Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle, Azhar Ali has spoken out against plans for fracking in East Lancashire.

Azhar who, as County Councillor and Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing, commissioned the world's first independent health impact assessment on fracking, says that he is extremely concerned about any plans to extract natural gas from shale rock.

The report raises serious questions around the safety, pollution and the unknown factors around environmental impact as well as the lack of a regulator for the fracking industry.

Azhar Ali said “I agree with Ed Miliband when he visited Pendle recently and said that fracking is not the answer to our energy problems”.

“We need to be focusing more on renewables as part of our country's long term energy needs. We cannot afford to give a blank cheque to big business to play Russian Roulette with our environment and our health, as there is no evidence to prove that fracking is safe”

Tuesday 03 March 2015
Bolton South East MP encourages women to vote.
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East visited Pendle last weekend to encourage women from the Asian Community to use their vote in the coming elections.

Some nine million women did not vote in the 2010 General Election and both Yasmin's visit to Nelson and the visit of the “Woman to Woman” bus to Colne, last week, aimed to turn this around and encourage women to have their say at the ballot box.

Yasmin said,
“Politics is every bit as important and relevant to the lives of women as it is to men. Government policies can have a big impact on their lives in terms of childcare, help for older women who have to work until they are older as well as juggling childcare duties as grandparents, equal pay, and women’s representation in areas such as public life and business”.

Thursday 26 February 2015
Labour's much talked about “Woman to Woman” campaign bus rolled into Colne on Thursday with not one, but two, female MPs on board.
Luciana Berger, (Shadow Public Health Minister) and Yvonne Fouvarge, (Shadow Children's Minister) were welcomed to Colne by Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle, Azhar Ali.

The trio came to talk with mums and families who use the local Children's Centre to listen to their concerns about the rising costs of childcare and to discuss Labour's pledge to increase free childcare and save Sure Start Centres.

Azhar Ali said,

“It was fantastic to welcome Luciana and Yvonne to Colne, to see for themselves the amazing work that the Children's Centre does with families.

“This centre was built under a Labour Government and Labour will ensure that not only do we deliver more services in such facilities, but will increase free childcare to 25 hours per week for 4 & 5 year olds. This will help parents in returning to work and making sure that work pays.”

Saturday 21 February 2015
Ed Miliband answers the people’s questions at Nelson & Colne College
On Thursday 19 February, the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, joined over 250 people from across Pendle to answer questions and discuss concerns on a broad spread of issues.

The areas covered included Europe, Immigration, Education, Employment Law, NHS, Mental Health and Social Care.

Many people spoke of the difficulties that they were currently facing and the failure of various organisations to address their needs. Both Ed Miliband and Azhar Ali committed to follow up these concerns.

Ed Miliband thanked everyone for attending the session and following the event there were many positive comments from the people who had attended.

Monday 16 February 2015
Pendle high school's bid for urgent repair cash is rejected
In 2014 the government asked local authorities to submit funding bids for schools considered to be in most need of rebuilding or refurbishment.

In Pendle, three schools - Fisher More, West Craven and Park High Schools - had missed out on Building Schools for the Future funding when the Conservative led government cancelled the programme in 2010 .

After a visit to Park High School in Colne by Lancashire County Council Cabinet Members Azhar Ali and Matthew Tomlinson, the school's refurbishment needs were considered so great that it was selected as the only High School to submit a bid in the whole county.

But last week Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, turned down Lancashire County Council's £6 million bid on behalf of the school.

Azhar Ali, Labour's Parliamentary candidate in Pendle, said:

"This is a shocking decision, considering that Park High School needs at least six million pounds to bring some parts of the school up to proper standards. "I'm appalled that Pendle's Tory MP brought the Education Secretary to see one of the Building Schoools for the Future schools built by Labour's Lancashire County Council, instead of standing up for the kids and staff at Park.

“This is one more example of the Tories saying one thing and doing another."

Thursday 12 February 2015
Parliamentary candidate slams drop of 280 apprenticeship places in Pendle
New figures have highlighted the failure of the government’s flagship apprenticeships policy in Pendle.

They show that while there was a tiny increase of 20 apprenticeships in the Under-19 age group between 2012/13 and 2013/14, this was dwarfed by drops of 50 in the 19-24 and 250 in the 25+ age groups in the same period.

Pendle’s Labour Parliamentary candidate for Pendle, Cty Cllr Azhar Ali said:

“Once again we are seeing that this Government simply isn’t working for Pendle. “The Government’s own research shows that nationally the proportion of apprenticeship starts made up by 16 to 24 year olds has fallen significantly - from 82.3 per cent when the last Labour government left office, to 63.2 per cent last year.

“This comes despite the Government’s attempts to fix their struggling figures by re-badging in-work training schemes for existing employees as apprenticeships. “On top of that there is cause for new concern about the quality and status of the apprenticeships created under the Tory-led government, as the Business Department’s research has found almost four in 10 firms offering apprenticeships don’t even realise they are doing so.

“The Business Department’s research also finds that two-thirds of employers recruiting apprentices from existing staff don’t consider their qualifications to be apprenticeships at all, and this number is increasing.

“The government’s Apprenticeship Pay Survey has found that 21 per cent of apprentices receive no formal training, rising to 24 per cent for the 19-24 age group, while 15 per cent of apprentices are not receiving the relevant National Minimum Wage.

“Under Labour’s plans, all apprenticeships would last a minimum of two years and be quality Level Three qualifications and involve proper training.”

Friday 06 February 2015
Barrowford Post Office bombshell
The whole of Barrowford was shocked to hear today of the closure of the Spar shop in the centre of the village and the village’s only Post Office which was based in the Spar premises.

Former post al worker, Parish Councillor Sue Nike said “We warned about this possibility last year but the suddenness of the decision to close has come as a bolt out of the blue. Losing our only Post Office is going to massively inconvenience everyone in the village. It was extremely well used and popular, and for elderly residents the closure will turn what was a short walk down to the village into a time-wasting bus journey up to Nelson or Colne and back.

Local campaigner Mark Porter said: “Last year Barrowford Labour Party argued against the Morrisons planning application on the old garage site next to the Spar; it required the amalgamation of four of the planned shop units and we felt a condition should have been imposed to keep the units at their original size. But the Conservative dominated Area Committee gave permission and must bear a good measure of responsibility for the Post Office closure.”

“But perhaps worst of all is the loss to the village of a long-standing family business employing some 26 people . Morrisons argued that their store would create new jobs, but I doubt if there has been any net gain in employment.

“Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Pendle, Cty Cllr Azhar Ali, said: “This is a sad day for Barrowford and yet another example of the way planning decisions are being taken in Pendle against local interests. I am in touch with the Post Office and will make every effort to help any interested parties replace this vital village asset. It’s a shame that our MP, who once claimed to be so supportive of local Post Offices, voted to sell off the Post Office nationally, and kept his silence on this one. Once again he has failed the people of Barrowford.”

Monday 02 February 2014
The battle for Pendle hots up
The battle for Pendle started to hot up last Saturday (31st January) as Labour's General Election campaign for the constituency was launched at the Ace Centre in Nelson.

Labour's prospective candidate, Cty Cllr Azhar Ali, was joined by Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn, Theresa Griffin from the European Parliament and around 100 supporters from across the constituency.

Jack Straw spoke of how important the marginal seats in the North West are if Labour is to win the election nationally. He identified fairness as the key to Labour's programme for government, warning that another Conservative government would continue to attack the most vulnerable in the community.

Azhar Ali went on to thank all those who had turned out despite the poor weather, noting that Labour's strength is the number of supporters who were prepared to get involved, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and making phone calls. He expressed his concern that the opposition was likely to run a very personal campaign, to distract from the failed policies that were making life so difficult for so many families across Pendle.

Questions were put to the speakers on a wide variety of issues, including support for pensioners, the attack on local government funding, and on proposals for fracking in Lancashire. Azhar Ali pointed out that as County Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing he had commissioned the world's first health impact assessment of fracking, in order to inform the County Council's decision.

Friday 30 January 2015
Labour would change green energy policy
Future energy needs and government policy were on the table for debate when Labour's Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change visited Pendle.

Jonathan Reynolds MP visited Dales Renewables in Earby on Monday to discuss the future make-up of the UK's energy resources and how government support for the growing number of small businesses in the energy sector could be improved.

Mr Reynolds met the company's Managing Director Peter Wilkinson to talk about cleaner energy and sustainability, accompanied by Azhar Ali, Labour's Pendle candidate for the General Election in May.

Mr Reynolds MP said: "The message I've got here is there is a lack of consistency and commitment from government to this whole industry.

"It's a hugely important one because jobs of the future are really in businesses like this one.

If you follow where this government has gone, at the beginning green technology and climate change was central to what David Cameron was about.

A few years later he's caught talking about green crap and that's not good enough because there's a lot of jobs in this, a lot of people who invested very well and have the right solutions for things we need to sort out in this country.

"So it's a lack of commitment from the government but that's one we certainly hope we can change if we get into power in May."

Mr Wilkinson said he would like to see stability in government policy ending the "mad rush" to get in before a change in the incentive rate for switching to cleaner energy.

He said: "We are encouraged. What we've tried to stress to the shadow minister and he's heard from other quarters is that we have a very stop-start industry, particularly the renewables sector, which is very damaging to business. The degression of the feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive has really created a lot of problems over the last few years.

"Were in a position right now where we've had ten months of intensive installations, working 6 or 7 days a week sometimes, and yet now from December 31st we've got nothing or very little.

"That stop-start industry is very difficult to plan and invest in."

Monday 26 January 2015
Labour pledge 25 hour’s free child care
Alison McGovern, Labour's Shadow Minister for Children and Families, visited Pendle recently when she and Azhar officially opened the new extension to Acorns Nursery in Reedley which has been backed by a grant from Lancashire County Council.

“I very much enjoyed being here”, she said “It was wonderful to see the children enjoying their play and great to chat to them.”

During the visit, Alison also took the opportunity to chat with staff and parents about what Labour's promise of 25 hours, free, weekly childcare, for three and four year olds, would mean to them.

Many parents currently find themselves unable to return to work, simply because their wages would barely cover the costs of childcare but under the Labour scheme it is estimated that 100,000 mothers would be able to return to employment.

Azhar, who fully backs the Labour plan, said “Helping parents back into work this way is not only good for hard pressed families but for the economy as a whole.”

Wednesday 14 January 2015
Pendle vigil for Peace and Unity
A Pendle vigil for Peace and Unity will be held in Brierfield on Friday night (16 January) for those who have lost their lives in Paris and who are losing their lives on a daily basis throughout the world as a result of acts of terrorism.

The vigil, organised by local councillors, is open to everybody across Pendle and will be held at Brierfield Community Centre at 7pm and is open to all the people of Pendle regardless of gender, disability and faith.

Coun. Mohammad Hanif said he has been contacted by many residents across Pendle who want to show their solidarity with the people of Paris.

“It is important that we show solidarity with victims of these savage attacks and all the atrocities that are happening across the world on a daily basis.

“These attacks could just as easily have happened in our area and to carry out such audacious and repeated attacks makes clear that those who oppose our values are convinced we lack the resolve to defend them.”

County Coun. Azhar Ali said:

“There are those who want to create a climate of hate and division. We must not allow them to succeed. They are wrong. We now have a duty to make clear to all those who hate our freedom to discuss, to debate - you will never, ever, win.

”The vigil gives everybody the opportunity to have their say and remember the victims of terrorism through the lighting of candles and a minute’s silence.
Monday 12 January 2015
Labour withdraw from Tour of Britain working group
Pendle Labour Councillors David Whalley and Robert Allen have withdrawn their names from the working group set up by the Tory led Pendle Council over a proposed £100,000 cost of one day Tour of Britain to pass through Pendle in September 2015.

Cllr Whalley said “ All Councillors were told that the cost to the taxpayers of Pendle would be £100,000 to host this event with Ribble Valley. Whilst the Labour group were unhappy at this level of cost at a time when front line services cuts are being implemented by the Tories, we were prepared to work and secure a better deal for Pendle. However, at the first meeting of the group it has become evidently clear that the £100,000 was simply to join the project and there is a real risk that there will be thousands of pounds of additional costs being borne by Pendle residents. The Labour group are not prepared to take part in a blank cheque exercise in these difficult times”

Cllr Allen added “ I am meeting residents on a daily basis who are struggling to make ends meet for their families. We have a Tory led Council prepared to commit in excess of hundreds of thousands of pounds to a one day Tour of Britain event which will have no benefits to the vast majority of residents living in Pendle. I would urge Pendle Council to rethink their strategy and ask themselves is this a worthwhile investment of a huge sum at a time when services are under real pressure. They need to be honest and tell us what the actual cost of the whole event is”

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