22 of July Olympic Flame comes to Barking and Dagenham

Archive for May, 2012

22 of July Olympic Flame comes to Barking and Dagenham

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I hope all residents will put this date in their diaries and make sure they line the streets to welcome the Olympic torch as it travels through our borough.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will be something many of us will never see again. Our children can tell their grandchildren that they were there the day the Olympic Flame came to Barking and Dagenham.

Please see the map below for the Flame’s exact route or visit www.lbbd.gov.uk/2012. I understand it will be going down all the main roads including Longbridge Road, Lodge Avenue, Porters Avenue, Hedgemans Road and Heathway. It will end up at the Dagenham Town Show.

The Council also tell me that it’s not too late to be part of the games – they have a few spaces left for people to volunteer. Over 500 people have already registered and will be trained next week. If you want to help out you need to contact the Council quickly by calling them on Phone: 020 8227 2012 or emailing them at : [email protected]

Slower cuts and more investment will help us create jobs

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

I recently spoke at the local Chamber of Commerce’s business breakfast. The meetings are an important forum bringing together key local business people. I was there to listen and find out what more I could do to support the local economy.

We have had some successes. For example, working alongside the Creekmouth business forum, I managed to get Network Rail to rebuild Renwick Road bridge. But we need to try to tackle the congestion on the A13 and we’ve got to improve the roads which serve the businesses on Thames View.

One of the things that is hitting businesses is that bank lending has gone down. Some businesses have stopped asking for loans which would have helped them create more jobs.

We’re in tough times. The economy has stopped growing. More than 200,000 private sector jobs were created in the last year in Britain, but more than 250,000 were lost at the same time. Redundancies are up and the number of job vacancies has fallen.

Unemployment is at 2.625 million. In Barking alone, there are now 9 people chasing every vacancy.

Worse, long-term unemployment is back with a vengeance. The number of people unemployed for over a year is now at its highest since 1996. And long term youth unemployment is at its worse since October 1997. Locally, there are eight times more long-term unemployed young people than this time last year.

The Government doesn’t seem to have a strategy for growing the economy or jobs in industry. I chair the Public Accounts Committee in the House of Commons. We have done a lot of work looking at defence spending. There are 11,000 jobs in the aerospace industry but there is little evidence of the government making more of this. This is just not good enough.

The Government has not succeeded in getting the deficit down as much as they thought they would. They need to rethink. They should be cutting more slowly and putting more money back into the economy to help create jobs in places like Barking & Dagenham which are being hardest hit.

Eventually confidence will return and we will come out of recession but at what cost to those who have been without work for so long?

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Saturday, May 19th, 2012

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Queen’s Speech does nothing for local jobs and growth

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Today’s debate on jobs and growth is of huge importance not only to the constituents of Redcarbut to those in Barking and Dagenham in my constituency. All too often, particularly in this Chamber, people believe thatLondon’s streets are paved with gold, and that there is little poverty or joblessness in the capital. All too often, again in this Chamber, people believe that the challenges facing Londoners are concentrated in the inner boroughs. Sadly, and with a strong sense of anger and frustration, I must tell the House that the reality for families in Barking and Dagenham demonstrates that those beliefs are not only misguided but just plain wrong.

Any set of statistics will demonstrate a high level of joblessness in my constituency and, under this Government’s legislative programme, there is little hope for the future. A datablog published by The Guardian shows that Barking and Dagenham is ranked eighth out of 326 local authorities for long-term unemployment, and 11th for child poverty. If we look at the latest unemployment figures, we see that the unemployment rate in my constituency, across all people of working age, is almost double the national average, and that the number of people on jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months or more has doubled in the past year.

Growth and jobs are vital for my constituents, yet they have become the victims of the Government’s stubbornly blinkered and highly ideological approach to the economy. This involves putting tax cuts for the rich before job creation for the poor, putting deficit reduction before poverty reduction and putting the interests of the few before the well-being of the many.

Without active Government intervention, my constituents will find it harder than most to find the jobs that they need to pull themselves out of poverty. Almost 60% of 19-year-olds do not have a level 3 qualification, nearly half the people of working age who are out of work have no qualifications at all, and one in four of my constituents work in the public sector. Faced with cuts in public sector jobs, cuts in training and employment opportunities, a failed growth strategy, little business investment and miserable levels of bank lending, the future for them is bleak.

As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I also know that when the Government talk about private sector job creation, the reality is something else. Many of the new private sector jobs are simply public sector jobs that have been transferred to the private sector as a result of the Government’s privatisation programme. We have only to look at the Audit Commission, at the privatisation of the Work programme and of prisons, and at private contractors providing health care to NHS patients to see that many of the so-called new private sector jobs are jobs funded by the public purse. That is scarcely a surge in private sector growth.

The Government claim that they are running the biggest-ever welfare-to-work programme with the Work programme. Let us inject a bit of reality into that claim. I shall look at the Work programme both as a constituency MP and as Chair of thePublic Accounts Committee. I have always been an optimist, but I have grave concerns about whether this will be an effective value-for-money programme. Ministers claim that it is value for money because it is paid by results, but surely the programme’s purpose is to get people into work, not to cut the welfare-to-work budget. If we end up spending less, we will do so by achieving less. A detailed look at the programme shows that one in four of those referred will get a job anyway, with public money being spent both on the attachment fee and on the placement. Unemployment is much higher, so referrals are greater and more money is going to private providers, but with fewer people placed in a job.

Finally, I shall speak about Barking and Dagenham as an excellent example of where opportunities exist for the Government to stimulate jobs and growth. We might have lost many Ford jobs over time, but we have massive potential for expansion, with Barking Riverside, Dagenham dock and Barking town centre. The lack of public sector investment in infrastructure and services, however, is the major barrier to achieving growth and jobs. There is potential in Barking Riverside, with planning permission granted by the local council for 11,000 new homes, but at the current rate of building it will take 50 to 60 years before the scheme is completed. If those homes were built, it would stimulate jobs and help to tackle housing need.

We cannot get the school that we need in order to assure families who move into the area that their children will have a school place; we cannot get the transport infrastructure we need through the docklands light railway extension, because there is no money there; and we cannot get the Mayor to do anything to stimulate private sector house building. What we need is action, not words. Not a penny of the regional growth fund moneys has come to an area like ours, which needs a huge amount of resources.

I am conscious that many Members want to speak, so let me briefly say in conclusion that although Ian Swales, who spoke previously, devoted about half his speech to the previous Government, we are now two years into this Government—and things have got only worse. During the two years on their watch, living standards for hard-working families in Barking and Dagenham have declined. Since they came into office, people’s hopes for a better future—with jobs for their children, homes for their families, and economic growth for their children and grandchildren—have been smashed.

The Queen’s Speech has nothing to say to the people of Barking and Dagenham. It does nothing for a community where needs are great. It fails the hard-working families of my constituents, it fails the businesses in my borough, and it fails to meet the aspirations and needs of future generations who will make Barking and Dagenham their home.


Help make Queen’s Hospital Website better for patients

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Queen’s Hospital have contacted me to tell me that they want patients to help them make their website better, so it has the information that local people want and need and a layout that is easy to use.

I’ve visited their site and filled out their survey and I hope you can find time to do the same.

To take part please visit http://www.bhrhospitals.nhs.uk/aboutus/home.php