Was great to meet workers constructing the Ordsall Chord recently and get a tour of works as they take shape.
It looks pretty impressive and is just a snap shot of the type of upgraded rail infrastructure we need to see delivered across GM to provide the rail network we deserve.
I was also pleased to see that some of the on site engineers were ladies.
Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey on why she fears key manifesto pledge could be quietly dropped
Shadow Business Secretary says she was unconvinced by the Tories' manifesto vow to cap bills - and now it's in danger of being axed
Staggeringly, in one of the richest nations in the world, more than 4 million people are living in fuel poverty across Britain.
Ofgem confirmed recently that energy bills account for 10% of spending in the poorest households, compared with just 5.5% in 2004.
So imagine my surprise when the Theresa May called for Labour’s energy price cap to be implemented during her general election campaign.
In the run-up to the 2015 election her party had attacked Labour’s price cap policy as “extremely dangerous” and coming from a “Marxist Universe”.
Yet there she stood in 2017, a ‘born again price cap convert’.
Historically, if you’re a Big Six energy company then the Government’s bark is worse than its bite.
So I was decidedly unconvinced of this apparent ‘road to Damascus’ style conversion by Theresa May.
Fast forward to the present time and it seems that the Tories are back to business as usual.
Various media outlets reported recently that Senior Cabinet members and the Big Six energy companies were ‘lobbying’ for the Conservative Price Cap Manifesto commitment to be dropped.
Clearly their chosen election gimmick didn’t win them the majority they so craved, so why should they carry on pretending to care about struggling households and businesses?
The much heralded post-election letter of manifesto demands from Business Secretary Greg Clark to Ofgem simply asked for details of the action Ofgem intends to take in relation to safeguarding those on poor value tariffs.
Somewhat deliberately silent, it seems, on the big price cap issue.
Suspicions were compounded further last week when Prime Minister ‘refused’ to confirm ‘unambiguously’ that the price cap would be upheld when questioned during her Queen's Speech contribution.
Today in this sea of ambiguity, I asked Mr Clark across the floor of Parliament whether ‘he’ would implement the promised price cap - to deliver 17million customers the £100 savings his Prime Minister promised.
To this he could simply have said ‘yes’.
Instead, after an awkward interlude where he praised Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity at Glastonbury, he spoke around this issue but made no commitment to his party’s price cap manifesto promise.
It would appear therefore that there has indeed been a significant U-turn of the Tory party position.
This suggests a weak Prime Minister who is unable to push through her own commitments - and that the recent speculation in the media that the Big Six energy firms are lobbying for watered down commitments seem to be well founded.
The Tory party is once again surrendering to big energy business interests at the expense of real people who are suffering with rising energy bills.
They’ve proven to bill payers across the country that they cannot be trusted and that they cannot deliver.
The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragedy that should never have happened and has shocked the whole country. The Governments priority must be to ensure those who are affected by the fire are given the support they need now and in the years ahead, including rehousing in their local area. The government has eventually committed help for those affected, and I will be monitoring progress closely in the period ahead to ensure that those who have lost everything are not let down again.
My priority in Salford and Eccles over the last week has been to immediately ensure that those living in high-rise residential buildings are safe, and there are urgent checks being done across the city by the fire authority, council and housing associations. Salford as a Local Authority area has confirmed that the number of high rise blocks owned by Housing Association Partners is in the region of 43. I have been liaising closely with both the Local Authority and Housing Associations over the last week to ensure that urgent fire safety checks are being carried out at all blocks, that residents are being informed and reassured and that a full and urgent assessment of the materials used on the exterior cladding of buildings as well as materials within is carried out. I am assured that this is currently being carried out across the city. I am also ensuring that any direct fire safety queries from residents are being picked up urgently by the relevant Housing Provider so please do urgently send me any other specific issues or concerns you may be aware of so that I can make sure they are dealt with.
In terms of the latest updates, a Greater Manchester Task Force of Housing providers, local authorities and the fire authority has now been set up to monitor fire safety checks across the whole of Greater Manchester and I also understand that whilst testing is being carried out in Salford and Eccles, a 24 hour visual guard response is being implemented at all blocks that may be at risk to ensure regular checks are being carried out on all floors, both to reassure residents and to ensure safety until the results of such assessments are clear. I am assured that checks will be frequent at least one every hour and where there is a security guard on site thy will check all floors regularly.
In addition to what is being done in Salford and Eccles, the Government has also asked all housing providers to assess cladding and fire safety in all blocks urgently and to provide that information to Government. It is my view that Ministers should publish these results to reassure residents urgently and to make directions to ensure public safety immediately.
I am still awaiting the full assessments from Housing Providers but whilst tests are carried out I have been made aware this week that some blocks are clad with an aluminium polyurethane composite. Whilst I understand that they may differ from that used at Grenfell tragedy and I have been assured of tenant safety by housing providers that all fire checks have been robustly carried out, I want total assurance of safety immediately and I have written to Government requiring an immediate and robust response from Government.
Labour supports a public inquiry to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened, and to hold those responsible to account, but we cannot wait months or years for a report. You will see that I am urging the Government to take immediate action now and to provide the funding for Housing Providers in Salford to carry out immediate works to retrofit sprinklers and to assure funding for any works required plus support for tenants once the findings of assessments is clear.
Ministers need not wait on the findings of any new inquiry to act. Coroners’ reports sent to the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2013 provide clear recommendations for improving the safety in high–rise residential blocks, important parts of which were ignored or rejected by Ministers. This includes the retrofitting of sprinklers into high-rise blocks and overhauling building regulations as Conservative Ministers promised to do in 2013, but have still not done. Ministers should now act immediately on these recommendations which they have had for four years.
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP slams Tories’ “broken promises” as three quarters of Salford’s Sure Start centres lost since 2010
- New research reveals in that in Salford 12 Sure Start centres have been lost since 2010, and just 4 designated children’s centres remain in the borough.
- There are now over 1,240 fewer designated Sure Start children’s centres across the country than when the Tories took office – a fall of around 34 per cent since 2010.
- Over 230 have been lost in the last year alone.
The local Labour MP has spoken out as new figures reveal that 12 local Sure Start centres have been lost from the 16 that were serving local families when the Tories’ took power in 2010, leaving just 4 designated children’s centres serving the entire borough.
The figures, released in response to Freedom of Information requests, revealed that over a thousand Sure Start centres, around a third of the total, have been lost across England in the same period. The 75% cut in Sure Start provision for Salford is one of the worst reductions in the country.
David Cameron had promised to protectthe service during the 2010 election, saying that the Conservatives would be ‘the most family friendly government we’ve ever had’.
Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, said:
“We had been promised by the Tories that they would be the ‘most family friendly Government we’ve ever had’ and that Sure Start was safe with them. But these figures reveal that they are not keeping their word. Even worse, they show that the government has singled out areas like Salford to bear the brunt of their cuts.
“It is not family friendly to cut vital services that have changed the lives of so many. It is not family friendly to remove one of the key drivers of social mobility for the most disadvantaged in our society. It is not family friendly to leave parents up and down the country unable to afford the childcare they need.
“Labour opened over 3,500 Sure Start centres to support working families across the country, but we are seeing provision slashed under the Tories, and it will be local parents and children who pay the price for their broken promises.”
Councillor Lisa Stone, Lead Member for Children’s and Young People’s Services, said:
“Since 2010, children’s services have seen cuts of almost £20 million, a 30% reduction per head, whilst at the same time we have seen rapid growth of the child population, with a 6% increase, or over 3500 extra children.”
“Having taken 47% of funding from Salford since 2010, the closure of 75% of Salford Sure Start centres is yet another example of how this Government are failing children in Salford.”
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“This research exposes the truth behind the Tories’ claim to be protecting Sure Start. They use cheap accounting tricks - like pointing to buildings which are still open but running seriously reduced services – to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes. But the facts speak for themselves. On the same measure that was used in 2010, Sure Start has been slashed.
“There are a third fewer designated centres than there were when the Tories came to office nationally, and it’s even worse in many areas.
“We know that because we asked local authorities, those tasked with running these vital services, and that’s what they told us. The Tories are taking us backwards. It’s a scandal that local families are being left to pick up the pieces.”
Was great to meet the dedicated staff and apprentices at Electricity North West Salford depot yesterday. Really knew their stuff and carrying out lots of exciting innovation so Salford is at the forefront of electrical infrastructure development.
Every time you see a substation think of them and remember they are keeping the lights on for Salford.
Salford housing providers and local politicians are calling on the new Greater Manchester Mayor to make housing a top priority when they come into power.
Last month (February), Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) launched a campaign for everyone in the region to live in a home they can afford.
To help demonstrate Salford’s support for the campaign, housing providers from the Salford Strategic Housing Partnership have joined forces with key politicians, and other high profile organisations such as Shelter and the National Housing Federation to ‘sign-up’ to the pledge – that also urges mayoral candidates to commit to solving the housing crisis of not enough affordable homes being created in the city.
Today (Friday, 31 March), Rebecca Long Bailey (Salford and Eccles MP), Paul Dennett (Salford City Mayor) and Councillor Paul Longshaw (Lead member for housing and neighbourhoods) were among several public figures from the city who made their voices heard on the lawns of Salford Civic Centre.
They joined organisations – Salix Homes, City West Housing Trust, Together Housing Group, Great Places Housing Group, Irwell Valley, University of Salford, Shelter and National Housing Federation – at the event.
As part of a “week of action” all attendees signed a large “jigsaw piece” – along with members of the public – which will be combined with pieces from the other nine Greater Manchester local authorities area.
Representatives will unite outside Manchester Town Hall on Monday, 3 April to fuse together the pieces which will reveal the pledge.
Councillor Paul Longshaw, Salford’s lead member for housing and neighbourhoods said: “We are calling for the new GM Mayor to prioritise housing and deliver affordable homes that Salford and Greater Manchester desperately needs to solve the housing crisis gripping the region.
“The housing challenge in Salford is about providing the right amount of good quality decent homes at a price that people can afford, within places that work. The number of people without a place to call home is terrible and is getting worse and worse and we are not providing the range of homes to meet first, the housing needs of Salford, and then the right housing offer to meet the growth and ambition of our City Region.
“In the City Region more than 11,000 homes are required to meet demand against a current plan of more than 3,000 homes. We need everyone in Salford – housing associations, councils, academia, charities, community groups, other organisations and the new GM Mayor to work together to tackle this extremely serious issue.”
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP added: “With rising house prices, buyers hoping to save for a typical deposit over the next four years will need to scrape together at least £724 every month at current rates.
“In Salford, house prices are six times the average income of a local person and around 7,000 people are waiting for a home on Salford Homesearch at any one time.
“This campaign shows housing associations and political figures want to work with the new GM Mayor when they are elected in May. They can play a vitally important role in tackling these worrying issues.”
Housing associations have built more than 8,000 new homes in the past five years, a third of all new homes in Greater Manchester and are already housing more than half a million residents.
A quarter of a million homes across the region are owned and managed by GMHP members – one in every five home in the city region.
Hundreds of private tenants in Greater Manchester are living with damp, mould and dodgy electrics, according to a hard-hitting report.
New research reveals just how many people who rent privately are forced to endure slum conditions - and how landlords are raking in thousands of pounds for homes often infested with mice and cockroaches or which flout safety standards.
Housing charity Shelter commissioned a poll of private tenants across Greater Manchester that found 40 per cent of renters had suffered from bad electrics, damp and mould in the last 12-months.
Housing bosses and politicians say that the problems are not just confined to Manchester but offer a grim snapshot of conditions around the UK.
“It is shocking that Shelter has reported that 40% of people living in privately owned rented accommodation in Greater Manchester complained of damp and mould.
"Damp and mould in many cases can be directly liked to fuel poverty as damp is likely to manifest more quickly in homes that are not heated regularly."
Salford has its own fuel poverty strategy. “A Fair Energy Deal for Salford”. It is working on with partners such as National Energy Action, energy companies, registered social landlords and landlords in the private rented sector to obtain a pledge to reduce the number of prepayment meters and replace them with standard meters.
“A shocking 22pc of households in Salford have prepayment meters, whereas the national average is 15.1pc,”
Salford also launched “Warm Salford” campaign in 2015, which provides additional grants to give vulnerable households better access to energy.
To read the full article: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/property/shock-report-reveals-grim-reality-12815746
The government has been forced to pay nearly £100m in a settlement with two US companies for mishandling the way it awarded a £6.1bn nuclear decommissioning contract.
Ministers have ordered an inquiry headed by the former boss of National Grid to find out why the procurement process was so flawed. Labour said the payout showed “dramatic levels of incompetence”.
By cancelling just two years into a 14-year contact the government has shown dramatic levels of incompetence in the procurement process of this deal.
“British tax payers who stand to lose nearly £100m should be asking themselves not just whether they are willing to put up such ineptitude but also whether the government actually has a well thought out and long term nuclear decommissioning strategy.”
Unions said they were concerned at any potential job losses as a result of the contract ending early.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “This is an extraordinary situation given the scale and importance of the Magnox contract to the UK nuclear industry.
“The public, and our members, will want reassurance that the termination process and uncertainty over the future of decommissioning will not lead to standards deteriorating or the loss of UK expertise.”
The Unite union said the financial mess involved in awarding the contract showed the clean-up project should be taken into public ownership.
To read the full Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/27/uk-nuclear-decommissioning-debacle-costs-government-100m
Last week I had a special few hours visiting the YMCA Training Salford, to meet learners, apprentices and businesses, and take part in their awards ceremony. I was amazed by the dedication of all who were there not least the YMCA staff and Dawn Branningan, Salford YMCA’s manager who received a special award for her decades of dedication.
Salford YMCA works with some brilliant organisations to deliver apprenticeships in childcare and horticulture. I met staff and apprentices from Man Utd FC, Kids Planet Nurseries and Worsley Golf Club. What struck me was firstly how switched on and clever the apprentices were but also how the employers were Salford born and bred and wanted to invest in and bring the next Salford generation up the ladder behind them, this is how it should be.
Recently I was contacted by an inspiring constituent Kerry Wade, who loved where she lived and wanted to bring residents together so their voices could be heard and to work together for the common good of everyone.
After a little bit leafleting and a bit of door knocking along with my office, on March 10th I was pleased to attend the first resident’s group meeting of Irlam Square along with local Claremont Councillor Barbara Bentham. Irlam Square are a proud community who are wanting to work together to raise concerns, and find ways to improve the area they live, which is what community is all about! Residents groups are an amazing tool for communities to voice their concerns and improve areas, and I would encourage more and more groups across Salford to do the same.