Next week is dementia awareness week. The week is an annual event to highlight and increase understanding of issues related to dementia, and is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society
The theme for this year’s campaign is talking, and there will be activities and events nationwide. You can find out what is going on in our area by contacting the North West office here. You can also join the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #TalkDementia.
I will be supporting the campaign on twitter, and elsewhere – and I have also taken up the issue of funding for dementia services. Government funding cuts have placed huge pressure on local authorities, and I am working with the Alzheimer’s society to look at what effect these government decisions are having on local services.
You can find out more about Dementia Awareness week here
Many people have spoken to me locally about their childcare concerns – and particularly the latest government proposals to cut childcare staff numbers.
At a time when the biggest challenge we face is jobs, childcare becomes an even more crucial issue. For many parents and families, affordable, reliable, quality childcare is the key factor in being able to find, and balance, work and other responsibilities.
Influential parent groups Mumsnet and Netmums have both added their support to the growing campaign to stop Ministers increasing the number of children nursery staff and childminders can care for, after overwhelming opposition to the plans from their members.
In addition, experts say that increasing the number of children each childcare professional can look after will undermine the quality of childcare provision for the youngest children, and crucially, will not reduce costs to parents.
Following these concerns, I have organised a coffee morning for Mums, Dads and families to discuss the issue of childcare as well as any other issues that are impacting on families and households. It is being held at Picton Children’s Centre, Earle Road on Friday 24th May, between 10.30 and 12.00. I hope that many parents will be able to come along to discuss the issues that matter to them, and help shape a new approach to childcare that delivers on what parents and professionals want – unlike the current government proposals that have met so much opposition.
If you, or anyone you know wants to attend the event, then please call 0151 228 1628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . I look forward to a positive discussion on how we can improve childcare for all.
Whilst the Queen’s Speech offered nothing in terms of a programme for jobs and growth, there was at least some limited progress on the issue of dangerous dogs. The government will be bringing forward draft proposals to extend the law to cover attacks on private property and also to place more emphasis on past behaviour. This progress is welcome, but the government has taken 3 years to bring forward these measures. Since the consultation that the Labour Government initiated in 2010,dog attacks have continued and we have tragically seen more incidents such as the recent death of schoolgirl Jade Lomas-Anderson; showing all too clearly why these changes are so crucial.
I have been campaigning alongside the families of victims, trade unions and charities to secure tougher, more appropriate laws to deal with the issue of dangerous dogs, and Labour will be working constructively to refine the proposals. However, as they stand, these proposals fall short of what is needed to prevent attacks: local authorities and enforcement agencies need powers to intervene in cases where they feel they can prevent incidents like this happening again, and to support and educate owners about how to improve the way they care for their dogs. The government need to give priority to introducing measures that can be used to prevent attacks before they happen.
I will continue to do all I can to campaign on this vital issue. I will be pressing the government to ensure that the unacceptable delays we have seen so far are not repeated, and legislation is brought forward that can really help tackle the scourge of dangerous dogs, whilst supporting the vast majority of responsible owners.
Last week was compost awareness week. The Merseyside and Halton Waste Partnership helped promote the week by getting residents involved and promoting the environmental benefits of home composting and the great results that can be achieved by using peat-free composts containing recycled material.
I was also pleased to see Garden Organic, in association with Master Composters running a ‘Decorate Your Compost Bin’ competition to help encourage families and the younger generation to get composting.
Composting is a great way to reduce waste and help improve sustainability. It’s good news to see the Recycling and Waste Authority promoting it so strongly.
I was pleased to take part in a roundtable led by UK Music to discuss the Live Music Act. The Act came into force last year for small venues with less than a 200 capacity – and it means that many small venues are now able to put on live music without a music licence, which is great news for both venues and artists. However – both UK Music and the Musicians Union recognise that more needs to be done to promote the new act and let venues know about the benefits of live music. According to research by PRS for music, live music is good for business, being valued by customers and venues alike. The research found that live music is the best way to increase sales — with 24% of publicans reporting an increase in takings of 25%-50% on nights when they have music, and 71% reporting an increase of 10-25%. On average, pubs without featured music are three times more likely to close than pubs with featured music.
UK Music are visiting various cities to hold roundtables with promoters, venues and musicians to talk about how best to promote the benefits of the Live Music Act and help more venues take advantage. The Musicians Union have published a toolkit, which is available here which explains the legislation and provides guidance. It was great to see so many organisations proactively coming together to help support venues and our music industry locally. You can read more here
Britain faces huge challenges. With our economy continuing to flatline, unemployment scarring communities and living costs rocketing, today was an opportunity for the government to deliver the change the country needs.
However, all we got was a “no answers” Queen’s Speech from an out of touch government that is failing to provide the support that people here in Liverpool need.
On energy, David Cameron has not delivered on his promise to force the energy companies to put everyone on the lowest tariff, and the proposals contain nothing to make the energy market more competitive and transparent, or to help consumers with rising bills.
On care and support the Bill looks set to do little to address the current funding crisis caused by the Government’s huge cuts to local authority budgets or to help those who are currently facing a daily struggle to get the support they need right now.
On banking the Government is failing to legislate for a tough ring-fence between high street and investment banks and full break-up of the banks if they do not change their structure.
Most disappointingly of all, with a cost of living crisis, there was nothing to help people on low and middle incomes who are paying the price for this Government’s failed economic plan. We desperately need a change of direction to support the economy so it works for working people, and delivers jobs and growth.
A Labour plan would have included a Jobs Bill to put in place a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, a Finance Bill that would kick-start our economy and help make work pay with a 10p rate of tax, and a Consumers Bill to tackle rip-off energy bills and train fares.
We would also introduce a Banking Bill that backs British business with a real British Investment Bank and new regional banks, and a Housing Bill that would take action against rogue landlords and extortionate fees in the private rented sector. These measures would have helped families and businesses across the UK and here in Liverpool Wavertree. Instead, today we got no new answers, and the same failed economic plan. I will continue to do all I can to persuade the government to change direction, and support people who need a one nation government that is on their side.
I was pleased to join Merseyside Police, local dog wardens, the Dogs Trust, Citysafe and the RSPCA over the weekend to see “Operation Melton” in action. Operation Melton is a joint scheme to promote responsible dog ownership, by offering free chipping and neutering and help tackle dangerous dogs. During the operation, 3 Pit Bull Type Dogs were seized, 12 dogs were micro chipped free of charge, 10 dog owners issued with free neutering vouchers, 6 dogs were examined to assess their breed and deemed not to be pit bull types, 1 person was summonsed to court, 1 affidavit was served and 1 stray dog was seized. Dog bags were also offered and handed out to dog walkers.
I have been campaigning for changes in the law to help tackle dangerous dogs, but it is also important to support the vast majority of responsible dog owners, so it is great to see this proactive scheme working so well.
Dangerous dogs continue to be a major issue. If you have any information then please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
This week is national catch the bus week. It is a national event aimed at encouraging infrequent users of the bus to get out of their cars and onto buses. Merseytravel are supporting the event, by making some city centre and other services free and bus operators are also running their own promotions.
The week is organised by the organisation Greener Journeys who campaign to increase the use of buses and coaches. The week will highlight many of the positive benefits of catching the bus, including; convenience, value for money and environmental benefits – reducing the carbon footprint from transport and improving local air quality.
I’m pleased to be supporting this great initiative. Catch the bus week runs until 5th May.
Sunday 28th April was International Workers Memorial Day. I joined UCATT colleagues and others including the North West TUC at the Hunter Street Memorial to recognise this hugely important day, and remember all those who have been injured or lost their lives at work. A minute’s silence was held at 12.00 and we heard from speakers who outlined how much more there is to do to protect people in the workplace. There were 49 deaths in the British construction sector in 2011/12. That figure is too high and we need to see more action from government, not less, to ensure people at work are protected.
International Workers Memorial Day is a reminder that we must continue to work to ensure that our workplaces are as safe as they can be – remembering those who have tragically lost their lives, whilst campaigning to improve health and safety for all those who go to work every day.
I was delighted to join pupils at St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, and the charity Magic Breakfast, for their daily breakfast club. The club brings together approximately 35 children a day, and has a hugely positive impact.
Teachers and parents are happy knowing that children are having something to eat at the start of the school day, are calm when starting class, and the scheme also ensures that children start the school day on time. It also has a positive social benefit, with children across all age groups enjoying breakfast together.
Magic Breakfast is a charity delivering free healthy breakfasts to primary school breakfast clubs across the UK. Their goal is to ensure no child lacks the right food as fuel for learning. The charity works with schools supporting the most deprived communities in the country, where 50% or more of students are in receipt of free school meals or demonstrate other indicators of deprivation.
While the organisation does absolutely fantastic work, it remains a scandal that any child should come to school hungry. We know that too many teachers are reporting children are coming to school hungry.With the numbers of people accessing food banks in the last year tripling, it is a disgrace that is – shamefully – getting worse. I will continue to do all I can to support organisations like Magic Breakfast, and schools in setting up schemes to tackle food poverty and help our young people start the day on the best possible footing.