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11 January 2013 12:24
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In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.’s Diary Websites of the Week: Conservative Councils in Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea Extra £30 million of business Start-Up Loans Photo news: Order of Malta Polish Community Christmas Concert New traineeships to give our young people the skills they need Hammersmith & Fulham Council Tax to be cut by another 3% and freeze parking charges Kensington & Chelsea set to freeze Council Tax New Homes could scupper Thames Water Pipe Dreams K&C allocates more money to civil society MOPAC police and crime plan consultations Support the Conservative Party with a Legacy through the Conservative Foundation How to contact Greg Hands M.P.
Issue 357 – Friday 11th January 2013
Since the last edition, Greg:
Met a small group of local parents seeking to establish a free school for autistic children at a site to be determined in inner west London. Greg gave his support to this project. Welcomed a visiting group of German Members of the Bundestag from their European Affairs Committee to the House of Commons. Greg explained his role as the Government Treasury Whip and explained aspects of Government policy. Met fellow ministers and civil servants to discuss the passage of the Succession to the Crown Bill, which will remove the ban on the heir to the throne marrying a Roman Catholic and will ensure that a girl has equal rights with a boy to succeed to the throne. Met representatives of Lloyds Banking Group to discuss the impact that local branch disposals might have on banking services in Chelsea and Fulham. Met the Chief Executive of the Conservative Foundation to discuss how local supporters of the Conservative Party could support the work of the Party by making a legacy. For more information, see below. Had a full schedule of activity as a Government Whip in and around the chamber of the House of Commons, including ministerial meetings and organising votes and standing committees. Held a weekly surgery for Chelsea and Fulham residents at the Fulham Methodist Church, Fulham Broadway. Greg’s surgeries are held generally every Monday at Fulham Methodist Church, or at Peter Jones, Sloane Square. To make an appointment, email email@example.com or call 020 7219 5448.
Websites of the Week:
The websites of our local Conservative Councils in Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. This week, LBHF announced a further 3% Council Tax cut, and RBK&C a further Council Tax freeze. For more on this, and their excellent local services, see their websites.
Extra £30 million of business Start-Up Loans
The Prime Minister has announced a £30 million boost to Start-Up Loans, which will help create thousands of new businesses and help young people find jobs. New figures show that in the first three months of the scheme, over £1.5 million worth of loans have already been approved, helping nearly 500 new businesses get off the ground. London has received 34 per cent of the loans awarded so far. The announcement increases the total funding for Start-Up Loans to more than £110 million over the next three years. Anyone up to 30 years-old can now apply, enabling more people to take advantage of the scheme. James Caan, Chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company said: “I am delighted to see that more and more young people are now looking to set up their own business. It is only with this renewed focus on youth entrepreneurship, that we will create more jobs and wealth and see the economy flourish once again. “Start-Up Loans enable young people to harness their skills, and gives each budding entrepreneur not just a low interest loan, but also the help and support from an experienced mentor to guide them to success.” Commenting, Greg Hands M.P. said: “This Government is on the side of everyone who wants to work hard and get on. I would encourage any budding entrepreneur in Chelsea and Fulham to apply for a Start Up loan to get their business ideas moving. “We are increasing loans to small companies, investing in innovation and cutting corporation tax to make sure Britain can build the best businesses and compete in the global race.”
Order of Malta Polish Community Christmas Concert
Greg Hands M.P. at the Order of Malta Polish Community Christmas Concert before Christmas with leaders of the Polish community.
Greg Hands M.P. at the Order of Malta Polish Community Christmas Concert before Christmas making his speech praising the Polish contribution in the UK.
New traineeships to give our young people the skills they need
Greg Hands M.P. has welcomed new plans to set up a Traineeship programme for young people. The plans announced by the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, will provide young people aged 16 to 24 with tailored support to develop the skills they need to secure apprenticeships and employment. For those aged 16 to 19, the Traineeships would fit within broader study programmes. They will provide opportunities for even more young people, building on the success of the apprenticeship schemes. A record half a million people started an apprenticeship last year, which represents an 80 per cent increase under this Government. Traineeships would be introduced from September 2013, and more information can be found here. Outlining the plans, Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister for Skills, said: “We want to support everyone in our country to reach their personal best. To do that, we are introducing Traineeships to help young people with the skills they need to get a job, and hold down a job. “That’s vital for our economy to compete in the global race. And it’s a question of fairness. Traineeships will give young people the helping hand and experience they need to compete for Apprenticeships and good jobs.” Greg Hands M.P. added: “This is great news for young people trying to get on the work ladder. Conservatives in Government are making sure our young people have the skills they need to compete and succeed in work. “Some 220 people in Chelsea and Fulham started apprenticeships last year. This traineeship programme will help even more to get jobs.”
Hammersmith & Fulham Council Tax to be cut by another 3% and freeze parking charges
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council has declared itself the UK’s ‘low tax borough’ - as it unveils plans to cut tax for the sixth year out of seven and freeze parking charges. While most household bills - including gas, electricity, food and petrol continue to soar, H&F has announced its intention to buck the national trend by cutting council tax by 3% again this April. This reduction will see H&F taxpayers paying the third lowest council tax in Britain while resident satisfaction with services is close to being at an all-time high. While household bills have rocketed by around one third (33%) since 2007, council tax will have fallen by 17% in H&F - if the latest reduction is approved at a budget meeting in February. Pay and display and permit parking charges are also set to be frozen. The cumulative saving of six tax cuts, of 3% or more, over the past seven years has saved H&F residents £667 since 2007. In comparison, during the same period, the cumulative, year-on-year cost of gas, electricity, petrol and food has risen by almost £5,000. While H&F Council is announcing its latest reduction - thought to the largest in the country, many other local authorities, such as Rochdale, Harrow, Herefordshire and Aylesbury Vale are proposing to increase their council tax by up to 3.5%. H&F Council has been catapulted from one of the worst councils for value for money in 1999 (27th out of 32 in London) to the top 3 low tax boroughs in the country. The ‘low tax borough’ says the secret of its low-tax/high-performing services is mainly down to a relentless private sector ethos that means the council is now more ‘lean, agile and in tune with residents’ concerns than ever before. Senior management costs have been reduced by half, debt repayments to the banks have also halved and office accommodation costs have tumbled by more than a third. Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, said: “A radical revolution has seen the council transformed from a cumbersome and bureaucratic place into a lean and dynamic organisation. From a lower cost base, we are now able to respond rapidly to the needs of our customers - just like the best companies in the private sector do. “Our approach has catapulted us from relegation fodder in the league table of low tax boroughs into the top 3 of the Premier League. While other household costs continue to rise and pile pressure on families we have strived to leave more of our residents’ hard-earned cash in their pockets. “While council tax is falling year after year, our parks have never been greener, our streets are cleaner, our schools have never performed better and residents are noticing the improvements. “Other public bodies wanting to follow our lead need to know the top three factors to improving front-line services while delivering savings are to strip out duplicated layers of management, reduce debt repayments to the banks and drive down accommodation costs and overhead.” Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, said: "Once again, Hammersmith & Fulham is leading the way in saving taxpayers’ money and cutting out waste and inefficiency. Other councils across the country should follow its example, and adopt innovative ways to deliver sensible savings that protect frontline services and keep council tax down.” Matthew Elliott, Founder of the Taxpayers' Alliance, Britain's nonpartisan grassroots campaign for lower taxes, said: "Cllr Nicholas Botterill and his team should be heartily congratulated for managing to cut council tax so consistently over so many years. Hammersmith & Fulham truly is a shining example of a low tax borough. Other local authorities up and down the UK should learn from them, follow their example, and deliver better services and lower council tax for their residents." Greg Hands M.P. added: "Well done to Nick Botterill and his whole team! The Government is delighted to see Hammersmith & Fulham Council setting the pace on reducing tax, cutting waste, whilst improving services. At a time of rising utility bills and other costs, I know that life for my Fulham constituents is being made easier by significant savings on their Council Tax bills. Longer term residents will remember the 20 years of Labour at the Council, 1986 - 2006, with soaring tax bills, huge Council waste and poor Council services."
Kensington & Chelsea set to freeze Council Tax
A draft budget entailing virtually no loss of service to residents was set out by the RBKC Cabinet on Thursday 10th January 2013, despite the continuing squeeze on local government spending. It will go to a further Cabinet meeting in February before being submitted to the full Council for debate and final approval on Wednesday 6th March. The Government grant for Kensington and Chelsea will fall by £8.5 million or 6.7 per cent in 2013-14. Reductions in grant will have caused a 14 per cent reduction in the Council's recurrent spending between 2010-11 and 2013-14 after allowing for inflation. Despite these reductions, the draft budget proposes no increase in Council Tax to fill the funding gap. Council Tax will be frozen for the fourth year in a row, helped in part by a grant of £700,000 from the Government, equivalent to a one per cent rise. The Royal Borough's Council Tax will therefore remain one of the very lowest in England. Rather than any increase in local tax, the budget proposes instead to find £9.5 million of savings through further service efficiencies. A key element of that programme is the sharing of a range of major services with our Tri-borough partners, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham. Sharing management, back office functions and procurement is on track to deliver at least £10m worth of savings a year by 2014-15. But other policies and initiatives would also contribute. The Council is lowering costs by moving more transactions online. It is consolidating staff into fewer buildings to reduce overheads and so that the unused capacity can be released for sale or rent. In addition pay per officer is now about 5.5 per cent lower than it was in 2008. These savings and efficiencies have enabled the Council to avoid any significant service reduction. Despite the continuing financial pressures, strong reserves built up over many years will enable the Council to continue to be ambitious for the Royal Borough in 2013. For example, work will be getting underway on the new £60 million Academy and leisure centre for North Kensington; two thirds of which will be met directly from the Council's own coffers. There are also exciting plans for a new Middle Row primary school, a new children's home at East Row and a major regeneration scheme for the Westway area. "Our strategy is seeing us through these difficult times while maintaining excellent local services," said the Leader of the Council, Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell. "We are proud to be at the forefront of revolutionary change in local government and we are equally proud that we are still able to pursue our ambitions to regenerate our borough and provide it with the new schools, new homes and new community facilities that it needs." Greg Hands M.P. said: "Kensington & Chelsea is freezing Council Tax for the fourth year running, which is to be welcomed. Meanwhile, my Chelsea residents can enjoy some of the best Council services in the country."
New Homes could scupper Thames Water Pipe Dreams
Hundreds of new riverside homes could scupper Thames Water’s sewer pipe dream after a council planning committee gave them the green light yesterday. The Secretary of State for Local Government will need to decide whether the plans for a new riverside community in south Fulham trump Thames Water’s controversial plans for a sewer construction compound on the same site. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s planning committee resolved to grant consent for hundreds of much needed new homes along the south Fulham riverside, at Carnwath Road, on 8th January. The committee signalled their support for 475 new riverside homes, new offices, shops and leisure facilities including new public squares, an opened up riverside walk and an artisans’ quarter for arts and crafts. The popular plans, from Fulham Riverside West Partnerships, received broad community support and benefitted from the help of the Prince’s Foundation which worked with residents and council planners to improve and refine the proposals in a series of community workshops. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has also expressed a desire to take up to 5,300 sq ft within the new community to replace their current base at Chiswick, which is the second busiest in the country. The RNLI saves lives along the River Thames and currently responds to more than 200 emergencies a year from Chiswick but says this would be likely to rise to around 300 if they were to relocate to south Fulham. But Thames Water is threatening to scupper the new riverside community by seizing the land so it can dump a sewer construction compound the size of six football pitches on the site. Despite originally choosing an uninhabited site in Barn Elms, Thames Water changed its mind and has now earmarked Carnwath Road for round-the-clock construction work for its 22 mile long sewage tunnel for at-least six years. Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, says: “Now that these excellent plans to create a vibrant new riverside community, including much needed new homes, have got the green light from the council it is Thames Water’s duty to back off. Thames Water needs to find an alternative site for their unnecessary stink-pipe or, better still, ditch their costly white elephant all together. Experts have repeatedly highlighted the cheaper, less disruptive and greener ways to clean up the river and Thames Water should now admit that their concrete tunnel plan is a dead duck.” The council’s planning committee resolved that the Executive Director of Transport and Technical Services be authorised to determine schemes and negotiate and complete a legal agreement under Section 106 and to grant permission subject to referral to the GLA and Secretary of State upon the completion of a satisfactory legal agreements and subject to a series of conditions. This means the council must now seek authorisation from the Department of Communities and Local Government for the new homes and jobs effectively giving the Secretary of State the final say on whether the plans go ahead or not. Thames Water is expected to lodge its application for the concrete stink-pipe under the Thames in the next few weeks. Cllr Botterill concludes: “The local community helped to shape this exciting plan to develop a new residential, mixed-use community on Carnwath Road and the last thing any of us want is for all our hard work - including that with the Prince’s Foundation - to be flushed down Thames Water’s unnecessary stink-pipe. “We are imploring the Secretary of State to approve this positive riverside regeneration, which would be the new home of the RNLI in west London as well as providing a new arts hub and hundreds of new homes, rather than the nightmare that is Thames Water’s sewage pipe construction compound.”
K&C allocates more money to civil society
Money for the voluntary sector in Kensington and Chelsea is set to increase next year (2013/14), despite the continuing reductions in the Council's overall budget. Proposals currently before the Cabinet Member for Civil Society would mean that while other councils cut funding to community organisations the Royal Borough's spending will actually increase, from £2,081,000 in 2012/13 to £2,331,212 in 2013/14. The extra cash is courtesy of a Council decision to invest an additional £739,000 for innovation in the voluntary sector. Together with money from other sources, the new fund could see as much as £1.5m invested in new organisations and projects over the next three years. Successful bidders to the fund have had to show how they are offering a new service, reaching a new client group or are themselves a new group not currently receiving a grant. In particular, the Council selected proposals that address its own priorities of tackling social isolation, supporting people into work and training, and encouraging greater neighbourliness, civic participation and self-help. A critical component of all the successful bids was a business plan demonstrating how the service would in time become financially sustainable without Council money. Amongst the successful bids are ideas for: a used furniture enterprise that would train unemployed people in upholstery and furniture repairs so that donations can be brought back into use two cafes to provide training and employment opportunities for local people, one of which would focus on those with a learning difficulty a network of successful Royal Borough entrepreneurs to mentor local start up businesses a volunteering and social networking scheme for the over 50s. Moreover, the organisations providing well-established services such as community centres, support to local groups and citizen's advice will continue to receive significant funding - some £1.99m in total next year. "We have long supported voluntary sector organisations because we believe they are a fundamental part of a strong and healthy community," said Cabinet Member for Civil Society, Cllr Rock FeildingMellen. "We knew that there was a lot of untapped creativity and entrepreneurialism in the local voluntary sector and we are delighted to be supporting some really exciting new projects and organisations. "We are confident that together the existing and new organisations can play an even more important role in these tough financial times, ensuring that our local communities become stronger and more resilient."
MOPAC police and crime plan consultations
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, became Police and Crime Commissioner for the capital in May 2012. A key part of the Mayor’s role is to produce a Police and Crime Plan, which sets out the crime reduction strategy for London for the next four years, and explains what the Metropolitan Police Service and other agencies should be doing to tackle crime in the capital. From 7th January 2013, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) will be consulting with anyone who lives, travels or works in London. The final Police and Crime Plan will be published by April 2013. With your help, MOPAC wants to produce a plan that will: Improve crime prevention in neighbourhoods; Hold the police to account for cutting crime and boosting public confidence, whilst giving Londoners better value for money; Ensure other agencies work better to deliver effective justice, better service for victims and improved resettlement to cut reoffending. The consultation runs from 7th January 2013 – 4 March 2013, and we are hosting town hall meetings in every London borough throughout January and February. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, and senior Metropolitan Police officers will be sharing a platform at each event to answer questions and discuss the issues. The Hammersmith and Fulham borough event is being held on the 5th February 2013 at 6pm at Hammersmith Town Hall. The Kensington & Chelsea borough event will be in Chelsea Town Hall on 31st January, 2013 at 8pm. You can pre-register for events at www.london.gov.uk and MOPAC will be keeping Londoners updated during the whole consultation period. You can also take part in the consultation by viewing the draft plan online and completing a questionnaire at www.london.gov.uk, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support the Conservative Party with a Legacy through the Conservative Foundation
The Conservative Party is the most successful political Party in the history of Great Britain distinguished through the centuries by Peel, Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher. It is a dynamic Party that repeatedly re-articulates Conservative values in a relevant and contemporary context. All Conservatives wish to proud and confident of the Party’s future and to ensure this is the case, the Conservative Foundation has been established. The Foundation was set up, over 8 years ago, to receive legacy donations. Supporters can now leave a gift in their Will to the Conservative Foundation, knowing that it is inheritance tax free and that the money can only be used to fight and win future elections. All bequests received are placed into a ring-fenced endowment fund that is carefully managed by a high profile, Independent Board of Directors that is chaired by Michael Spencer. All the administrative costs of the Foundation are paid for by the Directors so no legacy is wasted on costs. Many Conservative supporters have amended their Wills to include a bequest to the Foundation including David Cameron and hundreds of supporters across the country. No legacy is too small, every penny will help make a difference. If you would be interested in learning more visit the website www.theconservativefoundation.co.uk or call 020 7984 8037.
5 ways to contact Greg Hands M.P.:
By Phone: By email: By post: In person: 020 7219 5448 email@example.com Greg Hands M.P. House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Click here for details of how to book an appointment at Greg Hands M.P.’s weekly surgery
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Greg Hands M.P. – a strong voice for Chelsea & Fulham
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