Category Archives: News

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP urges council to consider levy towards night time economy

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has urged the City Council to consider raising funds from a Late Night Levy on night time outlets and venues, including takeaways, to cover the social costs of nightlife in the city centre.

Richard said, “The legislation now exists to enable councils to raise funds from those who benefit most from the night time economy to help cover the social costs also associated with it. The Late Night Levy could be a valuable source of funds for services like CCTV operators and the police who deal with the brunt of incidents.

We want all the fun our night time venues can bring, and most people enjoy them responsibly. But I think it’s time that the businesses involved, for example, contribute to the clean-up of broken glass and food on the street. So this is something I’m asking Gloucester City Council to consider carefully.”

The Late Night Levy has been taken up by seven local authorities so far, and was amended by the government in January to encourage more local authorities to consider implementing the levy in their area.

The Levy allows the council to raise a contribution from late-opening alcohol suppliers towards policing the night-time economy. It can apply to specific geographical locations, and the authorities will be required to publish information about how the funds are spent. The police will receive at least 70% of the net levy revenue and the local authority can retain up to 30% to fund other services.

Gloucester: second fastest growth in business jobs in the UK

The hardest thing for those trying to make things better in a city is a sense of perspective and relative measurement. How are we doing compared to others?

The annual Centre for Cities Outlook Report, like any data gathering exercise, has limits and needs interpretation. But it does shed some interesting light.

In 2015-2016 Gloucester had the fourth highest employment rate of any city: over 80% of us are working, with a very high (6.7%) increase. In fact we had the second fastest increase in business jobs of any city in the country: 2,100 more jobs in that year alone. For me that’s critical. We’ve always had a very high ratio of public sector jobs but our economy is more balanced now, with the ratio of business to public sector now of 1.8 or 41,000 to 23,000.

This is all very good news, and takes us closer to what economists would say is full employment. Our next challenge is to increase the numbers of those with disabilities in work. Our county does well overall on this, but there is more we can do in the city, and there are skills available that employers should look at more. Forwards (based in the county council) leads co-ordination on this.

Gloucester was also the 10th fastest growing city by population, and 7th for the fastest growth in housing stock – building homes to meet increased demand. I know we need more homes, more affordable homes and more 1 and 2 bed homes. New housing is coming through in different places, both in the city centre and suburbs, and there is much more to come – while still keeping our precious green lungs.

There are a couple of areas to work on. We come fairly low on export revenue per worker (third quartile), and I suspect this reflects a mix of some strong exporters but many SMEs who aren’t yet exporting at all. Our skill levels are improving – those with no formal qualification are down to 8.1% (national average is 8.8%), but we can do much more on skills.

Which is why the relocation of the University’s Business School to Gloucester, offering nursing degrees and nursing associate higher apprenticeships from the University, the apprenticeships at GlosCol, GET, Prospect and SWAP matter hugely. As does our goal for a University Technical College. There is no point trying to increase our control of immigration unless we can train our own young for the jobs we have available, like nursing, and especially the 50,000 jobs in the county’s health sector.

The Centre for Cities latest report is a good one for Gloucester. Like any school Head’s report there’s room for improvement, and there always will be. Skills, productivity and exports stand out for me. We have plans on all and must make sure they come through. A good result from our Growth Fund bid would help, as would government approval of the world’s first tidal lagoon and local planning approval for our University’s plans. It’s all about keeping good momentum going.

Why I voted to trigger leaving the EU

Watch my speech in the House of Commons above

In the run-up to the referendum, I believed that the considerable short-term risks of leaving the European Union outweighed the unquantifiable future benefits, but I underestimated the deep mistrust of the European Union.

The people have decided to leave. I must respect that decision, and I will support this Bill.

The hard work now begins. For example, how do we access the benefits of free trade and the inspection-free transfer of goods from outside EU structures such as the single market and the customs union? Some believe that nothing is possible, but that the alternative to working for success is to hope that things go badly—even to will it—to be ceaselessly critical and, ultimately, to achieve only an echo of Private Fraser’s lament, “We’re all doomed.”

Although none of us has perfect foresight, I am absolutely confident that we will have much greater success in lining up future free trade agreements than some people have suggested.

The negotiations will begin soon. In my view, we need an agreement in which we are generous to Europeans living here, enthusiastic in our continuation of academic and research co-operation, and resolute in our solidarity with Europe on defence and security.

In that agreement, we must be practical about ways of controlling immigration but welcoming to skills, tourists and entrepreneurs; we must be free of the European Court of Justice, but never compromise on standards or the rule of law; and we must be adventurous in pursuing our own trade deals, but never underestimate the importance of free trade and easy customs clearance in all that we do with Europe.

That is what I hope the Government’s White Paper will lay out. I hope that it will bring our one nation of diverse parts together. Whatever our concerns about the journey, we should start positively, not cynically.

Do let me know what you think Brexit should look like at richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.
Best regards

 

 

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE: MP secures BT broadband deal for Tolsey Gardens

Richard Graham MP has secured an agreement from Openreach – BT’s local network business – to fund vital upgrade works in Tolsey Gardens in Tuffley to provide them with fibre broadband from the Summer.

This follows concerns raised by Tolsey Gardens residents about the ongoing slow internet they were experiencing, with average speeds of 2.5MB. Richard Graham had meetings with BT and the then-Broadband Minister Ed Vaizey MP to discuss the case and to see if an appropriate solution could be found.

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, said, “I am glad that we have now come to an agreement with BT to help Tolsey Gardens residents get the broadband that they need. One local resident told me about how he is unable to Skype his son who lives abroad, which is not acceptable in this day and age. This is a great result for Tolsey Garden residents, but there are still some who struggle to get decent internet speeds, and so we are also working with the county council on how to use Fastershire money for other black spots in Gloucester.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said, “Our ambition is to never say no to residents who ask for improved broadband service. In this case, following a review, we were able to find a solution by working with Ministers, the local MP Richard Graham and residents. As a result, Tolsey Gardens will see a real improvement in their broadband speeds when the works are finished.”

Cllr Nigel Hanman said, “I would think the residents of Tolsey Gardens will be highly delighted considering their wait.”

Cllr Steve Morgan said, “It is encouraging that BT have responded in a positive way to the requests for improvement to this service. This demonstrates that they will listen to the views of residents and their elected representatives.”

PRESS RELEASE: Richard Graham MP urges local charities to apply for new funding option

Richard Graham MP has urged local charities to apply for a new funding opportunity from the Postcode Lottery. The Lottery have £6 million on offer via three trusts which support different categories of projects.

A minimum of 30% of Postcode Lottery profits go directly to charities and players have raised £168.4 Million for good causes across the country. The first round of funding is now open until 10 February 2017, and there will be a second opportunity in August.
The Gloucester MP said, “it’s important that our charities make the most of the opportunities like this to continue the great work they do in Gloucester. We’ve already benefited from the Heritage Lottery Fund from the National Lottery, and now the People’s Postcode Lottery provides another opportunity for our charities to get a funding boost. They just need to submit an ‘expression of interest’ form by 10 February and shortlisted candidates will be invited to bid for funding.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said,£6million injected into grass-roots projects across Great Britain will have a tremendous impact in local communities. We encourage charities to put themselves forward for this funding and to have a look at the different Trusts to see where their project fits in.”

NOTE TO EDITOR

The maximum a project can receive is £20,000.

People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups. Postcode Local Trust supports wildlife, sustainability and volunteering initiatives. Postcode Community Trust focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £168.4 million to date for over 2,800 good causes across Great Britain and internationally.

For more information on how to apply for funding, please visit the Trusts’ websites: www.postcodetrust.org.uk www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk

 

ENDS

Richard Graham MP comments on the Prime Minister’s Brexit Speech

The Gloucester MP said, “The Prime Minister’s speech should put an end to the boiled egg debate – ‘hard’ and soft’ Brexit. I totally agree our aim should be for the closest possible relationship on defence and security as well as all research, science and technology: for the rights of EU citizens here and ours there to be protected; for free trade between us and for a customs arrangement so that our goods are not inspected.

At the same time she has absolutely honoured the will of the people in recognising that leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market, and bringing back control of our laws and immigration. One of the key questions (understandably) not discussed in detail was the shape of transitional arrangements. That is a crucial part of the talks, and Theresa May will not want to give our position away.

I hope most of my constituents will welcome her speech – and especially the decision for a vote by Parliament on the result of the negotiations. This recognises the sovereignty of Parliament. I’ve no doubt my constituents will tell me their views before that crucial vote!”

Britain’s chance to create energy from the world’s first Tidal Lagoon

It may not hit the headlines when the media are focused on whether the Kremlin has compromising material on the new US President, but yesterday was I think the moment Britain got serious about creating a new global industry.

We were early movers in offshore wind energy, and we have an opportunity now to be the first mover in generating energy from tidal lagoons. There are tidal barrages in eg France and Russia, but no tidal lagoon – where a large wall is built around a bay, and an under water turbine captures energy from the twice daily movements of the tide – anywhere in the world. Yet.

Some time ago I opened the Gloucester headquarters of Tidal Lagoon Power plc (TLP), which proposes a series of tidal lagoons to harness the strength of the Severn Estuary tides and generate up to 10% of Britain’s total electricity needs. The technology is not totally new, but has never been deployed in this way before: and the size of even the first and smallest lagoon in Swansea Bay involves over eleven miles of wall. And although TLP has funding for the c£1.3 billion project, ultimately the taxpayer would subsidise the cost through the price paid by the National Grid.

In the wake of controversy about the size of the subsidy to be paid for nuclear energy from the new Hinkley Point stations, the government was cautious about the cost and last year commissioned a Review of Tidal Energy. Those who thought the aim was delay, prevarication and kicking the issue into the long grass will have been disappointed by Charles Hendry’s report, whose launch I hosted (as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Marine Energy & Tidal Lagoons) in Parliament yesterday.

Charles is a former colleague and Energy Minister, and although he started a sceptic hisreport  is absolutely clear about the scale of the opportunity and its importance to the UK. He described our tides as the greatest untapped source of energy in the country, and highlighted the Severn Estuary and the Solway Firth in particular. He sees a golden opportunity for Britain to be bold and seize first mover advantage in a new global industry, and in his 40 recommendations urges the government to reach agreement on a pathfinder by TLP at Swansea Bay as soon as possible. Why did he reach that conclusion?

The Hendry Review looked at four key questions – the security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs). On all four it found strongly in favour of tidal lagoons. Their energy is domestically sourced and predictable, very low carbon (and supported by Greenpeace). The estimated UK content is 65%, with 50% likely to be sourced from Wales – not least manufacturing (including steel) and construction, but with huge tourism potential which Charles Hendry thought had been much underestimated, and compared to the Eden Project in Cornwall. And then there is the cost.

The report estimates that the cost of the Swansea pathfinder would be cheaper (through the Contract for Difference or CfD structure) than the nuclear subsidy, and over the lifetime of a tidal lagoon considerably cheaper per megawatt hour than offshore wind: less than 50p per household per year over the the first 60 years (after which the subsidy would end).

The Hendry Report makes 40 recommendations, many to government: including the creation of a Tidal Power Authority and establishing competitive tenders for future lagoons. The government will now study these in detail. So what happens next?

Last autumn I wrote a letter to the Chancellor urging him to look seriously at the Review when it came out because the 111 MPs who signed my letter all believed there were significant opportunities for Britain. As the Hendry Review has confirmed our instincts I will now write again, urging a detailed and formal response before the Budget.

In my view it would simply not be credible for the government to ignore or reject the general thrust of the recommendations. The Review and its author are too authoritative. It will have to look closely particularly at the structure and pricing issues, but the risk of the pathfinder at Swansea is really with TLP plc – they won’t receive anything until the electricity is in the National Grid, probably in 2022. And the support they have in Swansea, Wales and much more widely for this project is almost unprecedented.

I am also sure that an opportunity to buy tidal bonds with an income stream as steady as the energy itself would be well subscribed by both pension funds and retail investors alike. I want to see Britain investing in and owning our own infrastructure and this is our chance to show that we can and will do so. So much of our infrastructure from Camelot to most of Heathrow Airport is not owned by us – but it doesn’t need to be that way.

Which brings us back to Gloucester. What could be more exciting than to have a business based in our city construct the first of what I hope will be many tidal lagoons, all over the world. Our city has thrived on manufacturing innovation – whether Booth’s first vacuum cleaner, to the first flight of Whittle’s jet engine, Dowty’s landing gear and aviation instruments and the nuclear industry whose operations are all still run from Barnwood. Creating the world’s first tidal lagoon is in a great tradition – and I will do all I can to keep encouraging this bold step forward for Britain.

Let me know your thoughts and reactions on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk

Best regards

PRESS RELEASE: MP campaigns for two local pharmacies

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has urged NHS England to include Matson Pharmacy and Rowlands Pharmacy (Alvin Street) in the review that protects pharmacies in poorer areas from funding changes.

Richard wrote to the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG), NHS England and the Minister for Pharmacies David Mowatt MP to encourage them to support the inclusion of the two Gloucester pharmacies in the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS).

Richard Graham MP said, “the government changes rightly focus on access for all and value for money. This is important when money is tight but we should also protect those pharmacies that are in high need areas. These pharmacies are important to Matson and Kingsholm residents so I wrote to NHS England to support their application.”

Cllr Jennie Watkins, City Council Cabinet Member for Communities, said, “Matson is a great community and place to live, however it is also in the top 3% most deprived areas in the country and Kingsholm in the top 1.5% in England for health needs. After speaking with pharmacists in Matson, they told me how busy they are and how much their services are needed locally. It is important that this is recognised by the Access Scheme.”

Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair of the GCCG, wrote in response to the MP’s letter, “community pharmacies…deliver an integral part of primary care healthcare provision….We would like to add our support for any pharmacy within Gloucestershire which requests a review of eligibility for the Pharmacy Access Scheme.”

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Minister and NHS England have acknowledged Richard’s letters and his points. NHS England aim to complete a review within six weeks of receiving a request from the pharmacy.

The initial list of Pharmacies that qualified for the PhAS were published in October, when a review was announced to consider turned down pharmacies where there may be a high level of deprivation. Matson Pharmacy have already submitted their application to the PhAS and Rowlands Pharmacy expect to submit their application shortly.

Based on the government Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) statistics from 2015, Matson ranked among the top 3% most deprived Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in England (902 out of 32,844 LSOAs).

In terms of health deprivation and disability deprivation indices, the area around Rowlands Pharmacy (Kingsholm) ranked 487 out of 32,844 LSOAs, placing it in the top 1.5% of LSOAs in England for health needs.

END

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP welcomes huge step forward for Tidal Lagoons from Hendry Review

Richard with Charles Hendry

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons and Gloucester MP Richard Graham said that the Hendry Review of Tidal Lagoons gave the clearest possible recommendation for the government to move fast and develop this new global industry.

Richard said, “Charles Hendry said he had started a sceptic and ended a huge enthusiast for the opportunities in this sector. On the core issues of security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs above all) his Review found strongly in favour of the UK being the world’s first mover of Tidal Lagoons – and he urged the government to get negotiations for a Swansea pathfinder moving as soon as possible, with an aim of seeing electricity generated from the Swansea Tidal Lagoon in 2022.”

The Hendry Review noted the huge public support for Tidal Lagoons, the importance of UK manufacturing, supply chains and tourism, and made over 30 recommendations, including the creation of new delivery body (Tidal Power Authority).

“This report gives the government the opportunity to move forward on domestically sourced, very low carbon generation from our greatest untapped source of energy – our tides. I will be inviting members of our All Party Group to write a further letter to the Chancellor giving our support for the recommendations and urging him to make a positive response before the Budget,” said Richard

Mark Shorrock, the Chief Executive of Tidal Lagoon Power said, “the Hendry Review has set the final piece of the jigsaw in place and we look forward to working with Ministers and Officials to bring this new industry to life. We really appreciate the work done by Richard and APPG members in putting tidal lagoons at the centre of Parliamentary debate.”

Charles Hendry said, “it is clear that tidal lagoons at scale could deliver low carbon power in a way that is very competitive with other low carbon sources. We are blessed with some of the best resources in the world, which puts us in a unique position to be world leaders. The costs of a pathfinder project would be about 30p per household per year over the first 30 years.”

Changing the law on stalking: a Gloucestershire and national success

You don’t get many chances to change the law of the land: many MPs never do so. I’ve been lucky – today’s Policing and Crime Bill, all being well, will be the second time that I’ve been able to play a part in doing so.

Both times I’ve been driven to action by something that happened in Gloucester, by trying to create something good out of something bad.

The first was a constituent whose death was caused by a very drunk, uninsured and disqualified driver, who received a risible sentence because the law didn’t allow for more. The government agreed to increase the maximum sentence in such cases. This time there’s a similar outcome but the journey has been more complex and much less predictable.

In May 2015 I read in The Citizen the comments of our Judge Jamie Tabor, who said in sentencing a stalker, Raymond Knight, that if he could have sentenced him for longer then he would. Judges don’t usually like increasing sentences, and Knight’s crime was only recently introduced – Theresa May as Home Secretary had rightly criminalised stalking in the last Parliament. So I decided to look closer. Little did I know what I was getting into.

Dr Eleanor Aston, a Gloucester GP who lived in Cheltenham had been stalked for 8 years. Raymond Knight had stalked her relentlessly at work, at home and at her daughter’s nursery group. He cut off the gas and slashed a water pipe at her home: he left messages on her telephone, car and in the surgery – and was suspected, but not proven, of burning down half of Dr Aston’s house.

Her life was cruelly damaged: she suffered from PTSD and had to give up being a GP. The whole family was in a nightmare that wouldn’t go away. No wonder Judge Tabor wished he could lock Raymond Knight up for longer.

So I decided to do something with my neighbour and her (Cheltenham) MP, Alex Chalk, a barrister. I suggested we aim to change the law and get more flexibility on sentencing. Judge and victim were supportive: and so we met Ministers in London.

Then Lord Chancellor/Justice Secretary Michael Gove encouraged us to do much more research into stalking: one case rarely made for good law. We went away and with the great help of our researchers talked to victims, research bodies, anti-stalking charities, and academic and police experts. Alex’s legal knowledge was crucial.

I was particularly moved by hearing the experience of Gloucester hairdresser Katie Price, who had also been badly stalked and later left our city to find peace elsewhere. Her daughter wrote a moving letter about the impact of stalking on the whole family.

Our report showed the size of the issue: one in five women are stalked in their lifetime, and one in ten men, and stalking often leads to violence.

So this wasn’t just about Dr Aston, but a much larger number of victims. In fact when we launched our report to the media, many journalists and MPs had experiences to share too. We recommended a doubling of the maximum prison sentence from five to ten years.

We discussed our report with then Sentencing Minister Dominic Raab and his officials and he joined us for its formal launch in London. There was talk of a Sentencing Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

I asked Prime Minister David Cameron for his support in PMQs. We had a Gloucestershire launch of the report, with the University of Glos and Nick Gazzard. And we created a petition, supported by nearly 30 MPs. Meanwhile Dr Eleanor Aston, supported by charities like Paladin, starred in a BBC documentary on the issue. Momentum was building.

Then the PM resigned after the Referendum and all the Justice Ministers were changed: back to square one.

Bismarck once said that the making of laws is like the making of sausages – you don’t want to know what goes into them. And so, after much discussion and many more meetings, Alex launched a 10 Minute Bill.

It was bound to fail unless supported by government, which was understandably cautious about increasing sentences and prisoners. But the Bill gave our cause more attention and so did the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders by Home Secretary Amber Rudd before Christmas. And immediately afterwards Gloucestershire based Baroness Jan Royall succeeded in an amendment in the Lords to the Policing and Crime Bill.

This helped focus the government’s mind on the case for an amendment. They have accepted our report’s recommendation and agreed to implement it – adding a doubling of religiously or racially aggravated harassment (from seven to fourteen years).

The new law will also pave the way for more remedial work as investment in specialist mental health training for prison officers increases to assess and treat these offenders.

The Minister will propose this amendment later today and I imagine it will sail through.

This is a wonderful New Year’s present for those who’ve been stalked, for campaigners, for women in general – and for Gloucestershire, which has led every step of the way.

It means that Judges will have the flexibility that Judge Tabor sought: that victims will, as Dr Aston has said, be able to sleep more easily when the worst stalkers are sentenced; and the stalkers themselves understand on the one hand the seriousness of the crime and on the other receive more help in resolving what is a severe obsession and mental health issue.

Of course this is not going to stop stalking. But it shows victims and Judges are heard, that MPs and ultimately the government listens and that laws can be changed – so that sentences better reflect the damage that a particular crime can inflict on innocent victims, most of whom (in this instance) are women. Ultimately, Justice is only as good as the laws we adapt, and how these are implemented.

It’s felt like a long and winding road, and I’m glad neither Alex nor I have kept time sheets, but changing the law within 18 months is in fact unusually fast.

Along the way I’ve learnt more about the value of legal research and much more about stalking: the known and unknown victims and the several charities; and the processes and bypaths of getting legislation changed.

There was one other unusual aspect of this campaign – Cheltenham and Gloucester working so well together. Neighbours and mostly friendly rivals, our City and Borough haven’t always had the same book open, let alone singing the same hymn. Well that’s changed. And although Alex and I won’t always agree about everything, Gloucestershire is the better for a much closer relationship between the Cheltenham and Gloucester MPs.

I want to finish this e-news about changing the law by coming back to where it started – the Judge and the victim in Gloucester Crown Court.

Thank you to Ellie Aston for inspiring us, being strong and having faith: to other victims for opening your hearts and sharing your stories: to the stalking charities like the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection Against Stalking and Paladin, and to the Hollie Gazzard Trust, the Police and the University of Gloucestershire, which just happens to be a leader in research on stalking.

This part of a long journey for Justice is now close to over, but there’s always lots more to be done on this and other good causes.

Do let me know what you think about this at richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.

Best regards

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