Category Archives: Gloucester News

General Election Candidate 2017

Today is my last day as MP for Gloucester and from tomorrow I’m the Conservative candidate for Gloucester during the election until June 8th.
It has been a pleasure serving you, my constituents and employers, and I’ve replied to over 7000 issues raised by you over the last two years. I hope to continue trying to help constituents in trouble as the next MP for Gloucester.
My office will reply to urgent problems and casework issues that are sent to me throughout the election period.
If you’d like to know my views on issues please email richard4gloucester@gmail.com
Thank you for having me as your MP from 2010 – 2017 and I will campaign for your vote to continue.

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP leads committee urging government to look again at supported housing funding plans

City MP Richard Graham has co-chaired an influential joint committee of the Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government Select Committees as they urge the government to look again at plans for supported housing funding to ensure the sector is adequately supported and provision is boosted in a report published today.

Richard Graham MP, Co-Chair of the inquiry and member of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Supported housing is deeply valued by those who live in it and contributes enormously to their independence and wellbeing. We support the Government’s aims to reform funding for this vital sector to ensure quality and value for money, protect and boost supply, and provide greater local control.

“But we are concerned that the proposals, as they stand, are unlikely to achieve these objectives. Our recommendations seek to improve the Government’s plans and ensure it delivers on our common goal of a sustainable, long-term funding solution for supported housing.

The Committees argue that a new Supported Housing Allowance, banded to reflect the actual cost of provision in the sector, should be introduced instead of the current Local Housing Allowance rate. The Committees note concerns that the Government’s proposed reform will damage provision in parts of the country and could lead to a serious shortfall in the availability of supported housing.

The Committees recommend grants to local authorities, which can commission accommodation and pay providers.

The report also calls a separate funding system for women’s refuges and urges the Government to work with Women’s Aid and providers to devise it. The Committee says it is essential that refuges are able to operate as a national network, unrestrained by local admissions restrictions.

The Committee found that the cost of provision is largely consistent across the country. Unless funding reflects this consistency the Committees are also concerned that providers will be put off investing in particular areas, creating a disparity between the supply of homes and services across the country.

The Committees argue that a Supported Housing Allowance would ensure tenants only require top-funding in exceptional circumstances. The Allowance would be calculated according to a formula made up of a fixed amount for provision, which is consistent between areas, and a smaller variable amount that reflect differences in land costs.

Central funding of the top-up should be guaranteed for at least the duration of the next Parliament to provide greater certainty. Funding levels should be regularly reviewed to ensure the top-up fund keeps pace with increases in the cost of provision and changes in local demand.

Helen Hayes MP, Co-Chair of the inquiry and member of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “Ministers must intervene immediately by scrapping the proposed Local Housing Allowance reform. The sector needs a far more suitable funding system that recognises the consistent cost of provision across the country and provides long term reliability.

“Supported housing caters for an incredibly diverse range of people, from long-term sheltered accommodation for older people to short-term emergency housing for those who have recently become homeless or are fleeing domestic abuse. The Government is right to consider alternative funding for emergency accommodation and we urge Ministers to also recognise the unique challenges of refuges with a distinct funding model.”

Other findings, recommendations and conclusions include:

  • Benefit restrictions that may be justified in the private rented sector should not be applied to those looking to leave supported housing so as to ensure people are not discouraged from do so.
  • The Government should ensure providers are aware that supported housing tenants claiming Universal Credit will not be worse off if they seek employment. A job should be seen as an important milestone towards independence and self-sufficiency.
  • The Government should establish a set of national standards to enable monitoring of the quality of provision in all supported housing in England and Wales, with a specific emphasis on improving the quality of life that tenants experience

NOTES

700,000 people live in supported housing in the UK, from older people and those with learning and physical difficulties, to survivors of domestic violence.

The Government acknowledges that supported housing saves in the region of £3.5 billion per year, through lower costs for the NHS, social care and criminal justice systems.

The system is facing considerable demand, with a reported 17,000 shortfall in supported housing places; a figure that could double within the next three years without Government intervention.

Further information is available on the inquiry webpage or on the Work and Pensions Committee and Communities and Local Government Committee websites

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP welcomes c£1 million for A&E services for Glos Hospitals Trust

Richard Graham MP says the c£1 million awarded to Gloucestershire Hospitals by the Department of Health will help ease the pressure on emergency departments before next winter.

Richard said, “Funding for the Gloucestershire NHS is rising year on year, but we all know that our A&E departments can get particularly busy in the winter and so all extra funds will help. Meanwhile we must all continue to use the GRH A&E only for genuine emergencies.”

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Department of Health has allocated £56 million of the £100 million A&E capital funding outlined in the spring Budget by the Chancellor, to ease pressure on emergency departments in time for next winter. Funding awarded at this stage is being allocated to 70 NHS hospitals, including both Gloucester Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital.

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester to learn from Oxford on homelessness and begging

Gloucester’s MP Richard Graham has invited Jonathan Clark, Chair of the Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPATs) to come and share their experience of supporting the homeless and combatting begging with key agencies, charities, faith and business groups in Gloucester tomorrow.

Richard said, “we have two separate issues on the streets of Gloucester: people who need help and people who need to clear off. It is impossible for residents and visitors to know how to differentiate, and we need to find a way for our city’s natural generosity to be most effective in helping those who need it most.

“Oxford created OxPATs in the 90s to help solve similar issues, and I think we will all benefit from hearing what they did and how, and learning from their experience. Our Police, agencies and charities are all doing great work. But the problem isn’t easy to solve and we may find another way to tackle this from OxPATs’ experience. This is what I hope tomorrow’s meeting will explore.”

PRESS RELEASE: MP says all of Quedgeley to benefit from new Kingsway GP surgery

City MP Richard Graham said that planning permission given yesterday for the new GP surgery in Kingsway was the ‘last planning hurdle, successfully jumped’ for Gloucester’s largest surgery and ‘will benefit every resident of Quedgeley’.

Richard has worked on this since calling on NHS Primary Care Trust CEO Jan Stubbings in 2007 with then Cllr Jackie Hall. ‘Ten years later,’ he noted, ‘we are almost at the stage of the spade in the ground. It has taken a very long time, but does means that work can now start on a building that will make such a difference to people’s lives’. The new building, which will take around 12 months to complete, will include ten consulting rooms alongside four rooms for treatments and minor operations.

Cllrs Richard Cook and Hannah Norman agreed that “The new surgery will relieve pressure on Quedgeley surgeries and provide a much improved service to Kingsway residents”

Wyndham Parry, Practice Manager at Rosebank Health, said:

“With several new housing developments anticipated in the area over the next few years and a growing population, the new surgery, which will be located off Rudloe Drive, will be ideally located to provide primary care services for the local area for years to come.

It will be very closely linked to the existing Rosebank Health Surgeries to ensure the right support and services are in place.

Our ambition is to create an attractive, modern, light and airy building which will be welcoming to both patients and staff and we will be excited to see this progress over the coming months.”

The development also includes training and meeting rooms, which will facilitate education and shared learning. These facilities will also allow other health and social care professionals and specialists to provide services for the local people.

Dr Jon Unwin, Senior Partner at Rosebank Health, said:

“We are really pleased and excited that our plans for a new, contemporary surgery are coming to fruition.

We look forward to all our patients, both old and new, benefitting from this new development.”

Property adviser GVA has been working with Rosebank Health on the delivery of the new surgery, including architectural services, site purchase and planning.

Richard Taylor, Senior Director at GVA commented:

“We’re delighted that the next step in the progress of this development has been achieved with the granting of planning consent. We’ve been working closely with the GPs to bring their vision to fruition.”

Director of Primary Care at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Helen Goodey said:

“The CCG has ambitious and exciting plans to improve and expand practices across Gloucestershire, and this development is really positive news for the local area.

The new premises will mean that patients can benefit from facilities that are fit for modern healthcare and will support the provision of high quality care.

The new surgery will also offer an attractive work environment for GPs and other members of the practice team.”

Note to Editors

Architectural proposals were shared with local residents in May 2016 at a drop-in consultation event at the Kingsway Sports Pavilion, which was also attended by GPs and practice team staff.

The CCG has already approved the development and provided the required funding.

Rosebank Health currently operates Rosebank Surgery and Severnvale Surgery, has seven GP Partners and employs 65 clinical and support staff.

Patients will be able to register with Rosebank Health, and can be seen at Rosebank Surgery, Severnvale Surgery or Kingsway Surgery.

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP confirms government approval of Blackfriars Masterplan

Richard Graham MP has today welcomed confirmation from Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid MP that Quayside and Blackfriars will be granted its Local Development Order, confirming overall planning permission for the whole site’s development.

The £135 million master plan includes University of Gloucestershire student accommodation, where contractors are expected on site shortly, residential accommodation and retail in a much more attractive setting.

Richard said, “this is the starting pistol for detailed talks with potential developers and enables the two councils to move forward quickly.”

Leader of the Gloucester City Council Paul James said, “I’m grateful to Richard for having got confirmation of this before Parliament dissolves. The transformation of Blackfriars has just jumped one more key hurdle.”

Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid MP said, “The development of the Blackfriars area of Gloucester’s city centre was Richard’s initiative and has been successfully taken forward by the LEP and both councils. I’m delighted to confirm I have no objection to the proposed LDO and hope it speeds up the regeneration of this key site.”

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Secretary of State has formally written to the Council to confirm he will not raise any concerns, allowing the Council to proceed.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP was Secretary of State for Culture when he announced funding for cathedrals across the country in Gloucester Cathedral in 2014.

PRESS RELEASE: County MPs all back Gloucestershire Health UTC

All Gloucestershire MPs have confirmed their support for the proposed new Gloucestershire University Technical College, specialising in health and science technologies and based in Gloucester.

The UTC was proposed by Gloucester’s MP Richard Graham and supported by partners including the University of Gloucestershire, all the NHS Trusts and the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, and backed as well by business and two secondary schools. The 5 other Gloucestershire MPs have written a letter of support to the Education Department agreeing with Richard’s proposals.

Richard said “one of the key features of our proposed UTC is that it will be based close to the bus and train stations and so it will be accessible to pupils from all over the county. I always felt it was important to have the support of every Gloucestershire MP and we now have that.”

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk said, ”I see great opportunities for my constituents from this proposal, not least from staff coming back to work at Cheltenham General and local GPs surgeries.”

Richard Graham highlighted that pupils would study both the usual range of GCSEs and A Levels and also BTECS in health and social care. “Pupils would be guaranteed work experience with the NHS and other partners, and leave with great opportunities in both health and care pathways, whether degrees or apprenticeships, like the new Nursing Associate qualifications shortly to start at the Uni of Glos.”

The process for future UTC bids awaits the government’s response to the recent consultation on education and so progress on the Gloucestershire Health UTC will now have to wait until after the General Election.

“The Steering Group is ready to submit its application”, noted Richard, “with a strong case based on committed University and NHS support – and now cross county political support. Giving our young constituents more opportunities in Health and Care is a strategic must do, and home growing our own health and care professionals will help both the NHS and patients alike. We know too the (Birmingham) West Bromwich Health UTC is a success. These are all great positives and the government is very conscious of them.”

Former Education Secretary Lord Baker of the Baker Dearing Trust which develops and promotes UTCs, said, “There is an urgent need for skills at all levels in the health sector so I am particularly encouraged to see a bid for a new University Technical College in Gloucestershire specialising in health related industries. Gloucestershire Health UTC will offer young people in the South West the choice of a high quality technical pathway from the age of 14. I wish the team behind the bid every success with their exciting application.”

The Steering Group hopes to submit the bid to the Education Department later in 2017.

 

 

Improving our old estates

Parts of Matson and Podsmead look tired now

Churchill famously once said ‘we shape buildings and then they shape us’. The £1.25m Estates Regeneration award just won by Gloucester City Homes, with strong support from the City Council and I, is all about this dynamic.

Our physical goal is to transform the post war estates in Matson and Podsmead, two wards of Gloucester which will hugely benefit from new and better buildings, landscaping and overall look. I know GCH will respect key green areas and local priorities.

There are encouraging precedents: the micro regeneration of the sites of former pubs The Musket (Matson) and Jet & Whittle (Podsmead) by GCH and Green Square respectively have already shown that good value and good materials can go together successfully. And then the buildings have shaped a great sense of pride in surroundings.

I’ve wanted to see a transformation since I first walked around both wards ten years ago. I wanted to see the most made, especially of Matson’s, beautiful natural setting with a more attractive man-made contribution.

Now the combination of GCH’s new status as a stand alone company and the £50m housing debt write off I achieved from the last government, plus a good pitch by GCH to this new government programme, means transformation is now, at last, possible.

This is the next stage of GCH’s journey under Ashley Green: from managing city council housing stock to independent company driving housing regeneration in city and county.

As Citizen Editor Jenny Eastwood notes it’s a great win for all of Gloucester, because regeneration has to be spread everywhere across our city.

This is a good example of a new source of funding through the government. To succeed we need great ideas, and I spend a lot of time either thinking what we could do (like the major Blackfriars scheme or the new railway car park) or writing letters of support for others’ good ideas. The teamwork between MP and different organisations in our city is incredibly important and rating low on political squabbling is one reason we’re winning more bids.

But this is only the beginning of the estate regeneration. The detail is critical. We’re rightly sceptical of big promises in Gloucester and residents of Matson and Podsmead will want to know exactly what’s planned before getting excited about it. But residents have seen the good new housing in Painswick Road, locally designed by Aqua, and that should bring confidence that GCH will bring forward some good plans and designs.

Meanwhile I think we should be proud of our Housing company, and pleased that the Gloucester team is together winning funding for Estate regeneration, against competition from all over the country. Let’s now shape some great new housing and infrastructure – and then be optimistic about how it will then shape us.

A week after Gloucester won £1.49 million for cultural development from the Lottery Fund and the Arts Council, we’re continuing to surprise ourselves, positively.

Let me know what other regeneration initiatives would be positive surprises in our city at richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.

New GCH and Green Square homes in Matson and Podsmead

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