Oct 30

Tackling the causes of air pollution

air qualityAir pollution is stunting the growth of children’s lungs in ways which will affect them for the rest of their lives. Long-term exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.

It is a problem demanding government action, yet in the past four years progress has stalled or been reversed despite warnings from the Chief Medical Officer.

At a local level, community groups, local authorities and universities have developed their own strategies to deal with the problem. But these local low emissions zone plans simply can’t be delivered until government provides a national framework.

That is why the next Labour government will deliver a national framework for low emissions zones in every town and city that needs one.

The Healthy Air Campaign includes organisations such as the British Heart Foundation and Asthma UK. It has described government policy as ‘designed to mask the true scale of England’s air quality crisis rather than make any attempt to solve it.’

Everyone should have the right to breathe clean air. It is the responsibility of government not just local authorities to tackle the causes of air pollution.

Local Authorities want to implement various forms of Low Emission Zones but are being discouraged because there is no support from national government.

Under a Labour government, there will be.

Oct 27

NHS five-year view endorses Labour’s plan

A major NHS review shows that Tory spending plans for the NHS would leave a large funding gap and would not be enough to prevent an NHS crisis in the next Parliament.

The Shadow Health Team shows its support

The Shadow Health Team shows its support

Labour has made a commitment to raise an extra £2.5 billion a year for the NHS through a Mansion Tax on the highest-value properties over £2 million, tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco companies.

The review, led by Simon Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England, endorses key planks of Labour’s NHS plan, including:

  • a shift towards a preventative NHS with mental health care at the centre;
  • a stronger focus on public health and tackling lifestyle-related diseases;
  • full integration of NHS and social care and a greater role for Health and Well-being Boards;
  • better access to primary care through recruiting more GPs;
  • faster access to cancer tests;
  • new rights and support for carers.

This report lays bare the inadequacy of Tory funding plans for the NHS which, if left unchanged, will trigger an NHS crisis in the next Parliament.

David Cameron’s decisions will leave patients facing even longer waits and raise the spectre that a re-elected Tory government would have to introduce rationing, cuts and charges.

Labour’s plans would see 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives employed to help deliver our integrated, whole-person care approach.

We will begin by repealing the Tory Act that has put competition and privatisation before co-operation and integration.

That is why I am backing my colleague Clive Efford’s Private Members Bill on November 21 that would repeal existing government regulations and free the NHS from the morass of competition law that has been introduced by the current government. It would also help restore the right values to the NHS, putting patients’ needs before profits.

Our aim is full integration of health and social care with more support provided in the home that will deliver a NHS that serves the patient and is fit for the 21st century.

Oct 25

Planning for Small Business Saturday

Scenes from Small Business Saturday 2013

Scenes from Small Business Saturday 2013

The choice and unique character of our local shops and businesses is greatly valued, not least because small businesses provide almost two-thirds of all private sector employment and almost half of private sector turnover.

Each year, we get the chance to celebrate the best that is local on Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday 2013 proved a £500 million boost to local firms across the country and is set to be bigger and better this year.

This year Small Business Saturday falls on December 6 and I want to visit as many local businesses as possible on the day to show my support and publicise the great work they do in our communities.

Of course, local shops and traders across Liverpool Wavertree make some fantastic offers throughout the year and have the local knowledge to provide a personalised service all year round.

Small Business Saturday gives us all the chance to show our support and get behind the people who make it happen.

I had a fantastic time out and about across the Wavertree constituency during last year’s Small Business Saturday and want to ask now – nice and early – for suggestions and feedback about where I should visit this year.

I’ve already spoken at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce  urging business and community leaders to get behind the initiative this year.

Now, I want to ask you for suggestions about which businesses I should visit on the day. Please let me know the local shops, services and firms which offer a fantastic service. You can ring the office on 0151 228 1628 or email me by clicking here.

Oct 16

Living with Diabetes Day

living-with-diabetes-days-banner-569x200Over 80,000 people are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes across Merseyside. The charity Diabetes UK is running a free event in Liverpool on Saturday for anyone diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes who wants to find out more about the condition.

The Living with Diabetes Day will help people manage their condition, improve their day-to-day health and avoid serious complications like renal failure, blindness, amputations and heart disease.

Throughout the day, the charity will be working with local healthcare professionals so people can find out what Type 2 diabetes is, learn about the care they should get and attend workshops on diet, exercise, medication, avoiding complications, travel and driving.

Type 2 diabetes is six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common among people of Black African and African Caribbean origin.

The event at Liverpool’s Crown Plaza Hotel, St Nicholas Place, Pier Dock is free but places are limited so please book your place online at www.diabetes.org.uk/lwdd or by calling 0345 123 2399 if you would like to attend.

Oct 15

Time to better regulate sunbeds

The look toSkin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with sunbed use increasing the likelihood of developing it by up to 50 per cent.

Sunbed regulation is an issue that I deeply care about and was delighted to support Liverpool council’s recent conference on the issue. Here in Liverpool, we have even higher levels of skin cancer compared to the rest of the country.

Currently England has one of the weakest regulatory regimes for protecting sunbed users.

The passage of the 2010 Sunbed Act was an important first step towards regulation of sunbed use, but it has become clear that these current regulations in England are not sufficient to protect people from harm.

The situation in England lags behind those of the devolved nations, where regulations go considerably further than a simple ban on under-18s. Welsh regulation of sunbeds has resulted in a more skilled workforce and no reports of children being burnt.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin has done a lot of work on what changes are needed to bring England in line with other nations. The group carried out an inquiry at the beginning of this year into the effectiveness of sunbed regulations. Liverpool Council has submitted important evidence. The findings of this Inquiry illustrate the range of challenges facing councils when it comes to trying to protect people in their communities from harm that sunbeds can cause and what changes we should be pushing for.

The Inquiry’s findings have recommended the following changes:

  • Compliance testing
  • Ensuring sunbeds are staffed and sunbed users are supervised at all times
  • The inclusion of safety information
  • Licensing by local authorities

The All Party report came out in February 2014 and there has still not been a formal response from the government. Back in June I asked the Minister when it would be responding and if it would make a statement. Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said the government had noted the report and was considering how to respond to the recommendations. Three months later and we still have had no further update. This issue isn’t going away.

The longer the government drags its feet, the more people are being exposed to risks to their health that could easily be avoided.

I’d like to pay tribute to the council for its tireless campaigning for greater powers to license sunbed salons and thus raising awareness about the issue. You can read more about its Look to Die For campaign here.

I will keep applying the pressure to the government to ensure that we keep this matter on the agenda.

Oct 14

The threat to our NHS

NHS campaign logoPrivatisation is the biggest threat to our National Health Service.

All the talk at the Tory Party conference of protecting the NHS is worth nothing. The Tories have spent the last four years breaking up the NHS in an unwanted top-down, £3 billion re-organisation. This has led to longer waiting times and crucial treatment targets being missed.

The Tory re-organisation has also forced through competition and procurement rules that are dividing the NHS into competing units, rather than bringing together physical health, mental health and social care to provide seamless support and treatment for the whole person.

The piecemeal break up of our NHS is seriously threatening its future.

That is why I am backing my colleague Clive Efford’s move to bring forward a Private Members Bill on November 21 to reverse the Tory dismantling of the NHS.

You can show your support to by signing a petition to government by clicking here

If the Tories and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners vote down the Bill, a future Labour government will act to save the NHS and repeal the Tory legislation that has introduced creeping privatisation to the tune of billions of pounds.

We’ll ensure that the Secretary of State for Health has a duty to guarantee a national service free at the point of use. We’ll remove enforced competition. We’ll ensure private patients aren’t put before NHS patients; and we’ll tackle conflicts of interest.

We will make sure the NHS is focused not on competition but on collaboration, so that the system is properly integrated to work in the interests of patients and we’ll stop the NHS wasting money on competition lawyers instead of patient care.

Oct 10

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

World Mental health day coverToday is World Mental Health Day, organised by the United Nations and marked in over 100 countries around the world.

It is a great opportunity to find out more about an issue that is still surrounded by stigma. Time to Change is launching a new campaign to encourage us all to do the little things that can make a big difference and encourage people to talk more easily about mental health.

In Liverpool from today and across the weekend, there are events across Williamson Square, FACT, Central Library, World Museum, the Playhouse Theatre and many more venues co-ordinated by Liverpool Mental Health Consortium.

The consortium points out that one in four people in Liverpool will experience a mental health problem and one-in-three visits to a local GP are for a mental health related concern.

It has produced an event-packed 32-page booklet detailing performances from choirs, performers, artists, comedians, exhibitors who will celebrate the best in mental health and help raise awareness about what still needs to be done to break down the stigma and put care and support on a par with physical health care.

One of the many highlights will be the unveiling at Central Library of the winners at Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall Festival competition for diaries, blogs, short stories, journalism, poetry, letters and tweets inspired by the title Mental Health and Me.

View the events booklet by clicking here or ring 0151 237 2688 to find out more.

Oct 08

Bringing jobs and growth to Liverpool

I recently pressed the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about why Liverpool is not represented on his Northern Futures initiative which is supposed to bring together ideas to ‘create a vibrant Northern hub so it can compete with the biggest cities around the world.’

His offer of a government email address as an alternative to the real representation and involvement this city needs underlined for me why it is so important that Liverpool’s voice is heard directly in the coming months and years as the debate about how to bring jobs and economic success to the North heats up.

I support a direct high speed rail link to Liverpool because of the important economic benefits it will bring to the city and the inter-connectedness that it will bring to the Northern economy as a whole.

I share Mayor Joe Anderson’s view that the extra freight capacity is needed to make the most of the port developments that are coming in the years ahead.

Joe rightly points out that almost half of the world’s trade moved through the Port of Liverpool in the 19th century but that getting freight to and from the Liverpool City Region is just as important.

The Liverpool 2 container berth that is due to open late next year will be able to handle 90 per cent of the world’s container ships and opens the possibility of Liverpool being at the centre of a new era of sea trade. But without a HS2 link, the opportunity will be limited.

Five great cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle – have come together to make the most powerful case yet for 21st century connections that allow people to do business together more easily.

We need connectivity – both East-West and through HS2. Investment in a trans-Pennine connection will lead to renewed confidence and growth across the North of England. Liverpool is the only major city in the North and Midlands not directly connected to HS2 and with talk now starting about a HS3 linking Manchester and Leeds, it is vital that Liverpool’s voice is heard.

Oct 07

Putting local people back in charge

Why vote Labour books pileThe vote by the people of Scotland to stay within the UK has underlined why we are better together and why we need to give careful consideration to how we make sure everyone is able to express their voice for change.

I believe that we need further devolution of power within England, we need reform at Westminster, and we need to look seriously at codifying the constitution.

Nothing highlights this more for people locally and across the North West than the unfair cuts imposed by this Tory-led government.

Between 2010/11 and 2015/16 we will have faced a reduction of £807.23 in spending power per household, while councils in some of the wealthiest areas in the country – like Surrey Heath and Wokingham – will actually see an increase in their spending power per household over this period.

That is despite Liverpool topping the league table of multiple deprivation. We have the greatest need but one of the highest level of cuts in the country. It is a disgrace.

This is not special pleading. The Audit Commission watchdog said last year: ‘Councils in the most deprived areas have seen substantially greater reductions in government funding as a share of revenue expenditure than councils in less deprived areas.’

The 10 most deprived local authorities in England will lose 16 times the amount in spending power per household compared to the 10 least deprived local authorities between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

A Labour government will put fairness back at the heart of local government and its finances. We will push resources and power out from Whitehall and into the regions and communities of our country.

The people must be heard.

That is why Labour is planning a process to begin before the next election in which every region in the country is engaged in a dialogue about how power needs to be dispersed, including in England.

The people, not just the politicians, need to discuss how this will happen.

That process will culminate next year with a Constitutional Convention to discuss how we are governed. It will look at new ideas for representation including reforms at Westminster and the case for a Senate of the Nations and Regions. This is a Convention for the United Kingdom. It is not a Convention to divide or drive our country apart once more.

Oct 05

Grants to help communities tackle crime

Police commissioner logoIf you are part of a community group with a great idea to help cut crime and increase community safety, you can now apply to Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy for a grant of up to £5,000 to make it happen.

The deadline to apply is October 10, and the Commissioner is particularly keen to hear from community organisations who wish to apply for funding for activities around Autumn half term, Halloween and Bonfire Night.

To find out more and apply, click here, email info@cfmerseyside.org.uk or telephone 0151 232 2444.

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