“Break up BT monopoly”, Beverley MP says

Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, has joined the campaign to break up BT, by separating the publically subsidised infrastructure wing Openreach from the rest of the company. He joined over a hundred MPs in signing a letter to the Telegraph endorsing a recent British Infrastructure Group (BIG) report criticising the performance of BT Openreach.

The report finds that Openreach has so far received £1.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies to connect harder to reach areas of the UK to superfast broadband, but has repeatedly failed to deliver. Around 5.7 million people in the UK have internet connections that do not reach Ofcom’s ‘acceptable’ minimum speed of 10Mbps, of whom 3.5 million live in rural areas like Beverley and Holderness. 42% of SMEs report experiencing problems with their internet connectivity, costing the UK economy up to £11 billion per year.

Separate figures from Sky also reveal that in the last year 400 Sky Broadband customers in Beverley and Holderness relying on BT Openreach exchanges reported a fault. They also show that 88% of customers in the constituency had to wait more than 9 days for a new line when switching their broadband provider to Sky.

Graham at the North Newbald Broadband summit in March 2015

Graham at the North Newbald Broadband summit in March 2015

Graham said: “The performance of Openreach just isn’t good enough. It’s letting down local residents. BT have an outdated monopoly which is holding back investment in broadband. I’ve campaigned for better broadband for our area for years. Broadband isn’t a luxury for people anymore. Whether it’s in our home lives or our work, it’s an essential utility. Progress has been made, but it’s not quick enough for many, particularly those in rural areas. Over the past year, I’ve met representatives from many of the major broadband providers, including BT, to challenge them to deliver a better service to my constituents. I’m delighted to have joined over a hundred MPs in calling for BT to be separated from Openreach. This will open up the broadband market to greater competition, creating fresh incentives for companies to invest in the future.”

Check out the defibrillator at Beverley Leisure Complex in case you need it.

Beverley’s MP, Graham Stuart, who is always highlighting the need for more public access defibrillators as part of his HEART campaign, inspected the new defibrillator at Beverley Leisure Complex last Friday.

Graham said “The British Heart Foundation estimates that after a heart attack, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. Being able to make a dash to the Leisure Complex to get this defibrillator and rush back with it to a cardiac arrest victim could save a life. I am pleased to congratulate everyone whose hard work has resulted in this new piece of life-saving equipment which is available for everyone in the community to use.

“I’d especially like to mention Coby Kemp and Stuart Armstrong from the Leisure Complex, and local residents Oliver Johnston and Rowena Pearce. I hope everyone passing by will familiarise themselves with its location on the outside of the field sports club’s changing rooms. You can’t miss the big yellow box.”

g with defib at bev leisure centre 005 (2)Oliver Johnston said “I use the facilities at the Leisure Centre and spoke to Stuart Armstrong last year about a public access defibrillator. I was really pleased how seriously he took the issue and made it happen. The proximity of the Leisure Centre to the new Flemingate development means that the effective coverage area of this vital piece of life-saving equipment is considerably increased.”

Rowena Pearce of Molescroft said “I’ve been campaigning for more defibrillators in and around Beverley for several years. With the help of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Beverley Lions and the Smile Foundation defibrillators are slowly becoming a common sight in many neighbourhoods. I’m very pleased to have been part of the team, led and driven forward by Stuart Armstrong, which has brought this defibrillator to the leisure centre.”

Stuart Armstrong, Assistant Manager of the Beverley Leisure Complex commented “It’s great having this new public access defibrillator available for everyone to use in an emergency, 24 hours a day. We’ve got a defibrillator inside the Complex, with trained lifeguards ready to help out if there’s an emergency while we’re open. But until Rowena Pearce jumped into action to raise the funds for one on the outside of the building, there wasn’t one for the community to use. The Beverley Lions and The Smile Foundation are doing a brilliant job in helping to finance the roll-out of public access defibrillators across the area. In my view, everyone should be living within a couple of minutes of one.”

Photograph, left to right: Beverley Leisure Complex Manager, Coby Kemp, Graham, Assistant Manager, Stuart Armstrong, Oliver Johnston.

Ministers listen to rural MPs’ concerns on local government funding

East Riding MPs Graham Stuart and Sir Greg Knight today welcomed the new proposals from the government on rural funding. In a statement to the House of Commons on Monday 8th February, Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, set out new measures to support rural councils during the transition to full business rates retention.

The Rural Services Delivery Grant will increase from £15.5 million this year to £80.5 million next year. Ministers will also provide a £150 million a year transitional fund for the biggest losers over the next two years, of which £32.7 million will go to rural areas. In the meantime, the Government will carry out a Fair Funding Review, which will inform the move to 100% business rates retention scheme. The new assessment will be an opportunity to highlight the particular needs of rural areas.

Under the new proposals, the East Riding of Yorkshire will receive additional funding from central government of £2.15 million in 2016/17 and an extra £1.45 million in 2017/18 compared with the provisional settlement.
Graham Stuart MP 2

According to research by the Rural Services Network, residents in rural areas currently pay £81 more in council tax than their urban counterparts, earn less, and yet see urban residents receive 45% more in central government funding for their council services. This is despite the fact that services in rural areas are more expensive to deliver because of an older, sparser population.

The Government’s provisional settlement, set out in December, would have reduced the overall amount of central government funding for rural councils by over 31% over the four year period, whereas urban councils would only have received a 22% average cut.

Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness and chair of the Rural Fair Share Campaign, said: “The Government’s proposals which came out before Christmas were unacceptable. I’ve led the Rural Fair Share Campaign for years now to get the Government to close the urban-rural funding gap. In the last Parliament, ministers accepted our arguments and gradually began to reduce the deficit. The provisional settlement would have not only failed to narrow the gap any further, but would have actually taken us backwards and redistributed more money to urban councils.

“I cautiously welcome the Government’s new proposals, and the clear recognition of the challenges of delivering services in rural areas. We will be making submissions to the funding review to ensure that the needs of an older, poorer and sparser population in rural areas are properly taken into account. This is only a small step on the journey to fairer funding, but I am pleased that ministers have listened to our concerns.

“I am very grateful to Sir Greg for his consistent support for the Rural Fair Share Campaign. Together, rural MPs from across England were able to make representations to ministers. We have not been asking for any special favours for rural areas. This is about basic fairness. Our rural constituents have the right to expect to be taxed fairly and to receive a fair amount of support for their local services.”

The Rt Hon Sir Greg Knight, Member of Parliament for East Yorkshire and Patron of the Rural Fair Share Campaign, said: “I am pleased that the Government has decided to change its proposals so that the funding gap between urban and rural areas will not widen any further. I pay tribute to Graham’s effective campaigning on this issue, and have been glad to support him. I hope that the Government listens very carefully to the rural voice as it carries out the long-overdue needs assessment. It cannot be right that rural areas effectively subsidise higher government funding for urban councils through higher council tax rates. I’ll be watching very closely to see if the Government makes progress on this issue.”

During his statement to the House of Commons on Monday, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “I pay tribute to [Graham Stuart] for conducting a well-reasoned and forensic argument that has been persuasive, and I am grateful for the manner in which he has done that. He is right. It is a false assumption that because an area is rural, it is wealthy and prosperous. Some of the most challenging circumstances are in the most rural areas. That is why, after more than a decade, it is long overdue that we should look at the costs of delivering services in rural areas. We should look at the pressures that they face and set the retention of business rates accordingly, so that they can be recognised in a way that they have not been over recent years.”

Graham Stuart MP campaigns for dementia sufferers

Graham Stuart MP has become a Dementia Friend with the East Riding Dementia Action Alliance after meeting with the charity in the constituency last month. Graham will be attending an Alzheimer’s Society reception in Parliament on 10th February, to find out about their ‘Fix Dementia Care’ campaign.

Graham said: “What Dementia Action Alliance do in the East Riding is so important for not only raising awareness but providing community support for those suffering from dementia. I’m delighted to be able to support and be a part of their work by becoming a Dementia Friend.”Graham Stuart MP

Emma Williams, the Dementia Action Alliance Co-ordinator for the East Riding said: “Becoming a Dementia Friend brings individuals and organisations together to reduce stigma and raise understanding of dementia. We are thrilled that Graham has signed up as a Dementia Friend and are looking forward to welcoming him to events here in the East Riding and to his contributions in Parliament.”

Graham has also joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia – a group of over 80 MPs and Peers committed to raising awareness of dementia and influencing legislation and policy to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

Graham said: “It is very important that politicians of all parties are engaged with the serious issues around dementia and dementia care. Dementia is a devastating condition that causes huge distress for many elderly people and their families. I am pleased to be involved with others in Parliament in this group, which provides excellent guidance and research to help ensure that good laws are made that help in the fight against dementia. Last year the Prime Minister launched his “Challenge on Dementia 2020” and I am pleased to see the improvements that is bringing about in hospitals and care homes.”

Graham Stuart to challenge Yorkshire Ambulance Service chiefs on continuing unacceptable performance

Graham with Yorkshire Ambulance Service Staff during a tour of Ambulance Stations in Beverley and Holderness

Graham with Yorkshire Ambulance Service Staff during a tour of Ambulance Stations in Beverley and Holderness

 

Graham Stuart MP will use a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday 2 February to ask tough questions of Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) Chairman Della Cannings and Chief Executive Rod Barnes about the Trust’s continuing poor performance in rural areas of the East Riding.  Response times in Mid- and South Holderness have been a major concern for years and the latest data requested by Graham has revealed that:

  • Only 41.4% of emergency calls from the HU11 postcode (Mid Holderness) were responded to in the target time of under 8 minutes between January and June 2015, with lows of 37.5% in March 2015 and just 34.2% in June 2015.
  • Figures were also poor in HU12 (South Holderness), where only 54.6% of calls were answered in under 8 minutes between January and June 2015.
    By contrast, the response rate from January to June 2015 was 81.8% in HU19 (Withernsea), 75% in HU18 (Hornsea) and 73.5% in HU17 (Beverley) – in line with the national target for Ambulance Services to respond to 75% of emergency calls in under 8 minutes.
  • Response times have got worse in HU11 and HU12 compared to January-June 2014, when HU11 saw 53.2% of calls responded to in under 8 minutes and HU12 saw 56.3% of calls responded to in under 8 minutes.
  • Response times deteriorated to varying degrees in 4 of the 5 postcodes covering the Beverley and Holderness constituency in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.  Improvement only occurred in HU19.

These delays can have very serious consequences.  In October 2013 Graham’s constituent Ray Poole died of a heart attack in Hornsea after it took 15 minutes for the first help to arrive, and 28 minutes for an ambulance to turn up.  The Pooles live just 450 yards from their local ambulance station.

Graham has now requested the data for the second half of 2015, but he intends to grill YAS chiefs at Tuesday’s briefing for local MPs.  He said,

“It is unacceptable that response times in some rural areas of my constituency continue to trail so far behind the national target – and that they have got worse not only compared to the equivalent period in 2014 but even compared to 2012, when I started my campaign.  People in Mid Holderness in particular will rightly worry that they will not receive emergency care when they most desperately need it.

“It’s good news that response rates are in line with the national target in Hornsea, Beverley and Withernsea, but it’s clear there is much more to do to ensure a better service for everyone.  I have fought for changes to staff rostering and to call assignments so rural crews are more likely to return to their posts from Hull, but the scale of the problem in HU11 and HU12 remains stark.  It’s also concerning that the percentage of calls answered in under 8 minutes slipped in four of the five postcodes in the constituency between 2014 and 2015.

“I will make it crystal clear to Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s senior leadership that they must improve performance as a matter of urgency, and use the meeting to evaluate what plans they have to ensure there is a better story to tell for 2016 – and how credible these are.  We have to achieve a turning point as lives depend on this.”

Graham cuts the ribbon to launch the new Community Room at Hornsea Nursery School

g cutting ribbon

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley & Holderness, carried out the official opening of Hornsea Nursery School’s new Community Room, on Friday 22 January, ably assisted by pupils Leo, Tia, Jacob and Louise.

Hornsea Nursery School has recently built a new Community Room on its site. It provides an excellent new learning environment for their pupils aged between 2 and 4 years old. The school has invested £90,000 from its budget to create this new space. Capital for the build was raised through fund-raising activities, effective school budgeting and some financial support from the local authority.

Graham said “It was an absolute pleasure to be able to congratulate the school on this development and to have the honour of cutting the ribbon to open officially the new room. The Head, Clare White, showed me the new 3D Immersive Space and Sensory Experience, which is a great new addition to what the Nursery School has to offer. I could see how much the children enjoyed school with their enchanting performance of songs, story-telling and miming.”

 
Photo from left to right: Leo, Tia, Jacob and Louise

Graham champions local exporting drive

Graham with Matthew Hodgson and UKTI

Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, met local exporter Matthew Hodgson of the Great Newsome Brewery last week to discuss the challenges he faces in the export market as a director of a small business.

Great Newsome Brewery is based in South Frodingham, near Beverley, and currently exports its beer to countries in Europe. They have also received expressions of interest from countries as far afield as China and South America, and would like to expand their exports.

During the visit, Graham gave his backing to the Government’s new initiative ‘Exporting is GREAT’. A representative from UK Trade and Investment, Stephen Noblett, was also in attendance to explain what support and guidance this new initiative can provide for businesses looking to expand into new markets.

Exporting is GREAT aims to inspire and support 100,000 additional UK exporters to sell their goods and services overseas by 2020. Launched in November 2015, the Exporting is GREAT initiative will run for five years and is designed to empower UK SMEs to take advantage of the global appetite for British products, skills and expertise in markets around the world. In partnership with major British businesses, the programme will support companies at every stage of their exporting journey – from identifying opportunities to winning contracts overseas. To find out more, anyone can visit www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk, where businesses can register their interest in real-time global export opportunities, as well as access expert advice, trade services, training and events.

Commenting on the visit, Graham said: “I would like to pay tribute to excellent local businesses like the Great Newsome Brewery that export their products overseas. By growing their businesses, they create new local jobs and help Britain to pay its way in the world.

“It can be particularly difficult to start exporting for the first time, with complex rules to follow and new markets to navigate. That’s why I’m delighted that the Government has launched a new initiative, Exporting is GREAT, which helps businesses like Great Newsome Brewery to increase their exports and gives other businesses the support they need to start exporting. I strongly encourage other local businesses who would like to sell their products in other countries to contact UKTI and take advantage of this great initiative.”

Matthew Hodgson, Director of the Great Newsome Brewery, said: “It was a good opportunity to sit down with Graham Stuart and discuss how a small business like ours can export and indeed grow what exports we already have. Graham, Stephen Noblett from UKTI and myself talked about the thirst for British beer in non-traditional markets which for many are less obvious, such as Latin America.

“The Great Newsome Brewery has already benefited from the expert advice of our local UKTI advisors and I think the Government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative will no doubt help drive the value of UK exports. If you are a small business with a modest budget and limited time to dedicate to it you may think that export is not possible but we are proof that it is.”

Mark Robson, UKTI regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We greatly appreciate Graham’s support for the Exporting is GREAT initiative and Matthew and Great Newsome Brewery epitomise the success that businesses can achieve by selling their products abroad in target markets.

“Exporting is GREAT is a five-year initiative and having been launched in November 2015 has already generated in excess of 4,750 applications for export opportunities. As the world becomes ever more globalised and digital, the potential for businesses of all sizes to reach out to new customers and lucrative new markets beyond the UK has never been greater. UKTI will continue to work with customers across the Yorkshire and the Humber region, including through Exporting is GREAT, to realise this potential.”

Holmpton all set to save lives with village defibrillator

Holmpton now has a defibrillator in the unusual location of the old telephone box in the village. Graham was very pleased to be invited to carry out the official opening of it last Saturday, 23 January.

Graham said “Thanks to everyone who turned out to see the new defibrillator on Saturday, and congratulations to the parish council for bringing it to the village with their hard work. There’s a free training course in the village in early March, and details are on the parish notice board.”

defib at holmpton - g carries out official opening 23.1.16

Graham pushes for progress on River Hull dredging

 

g with nigel leighton and andy mclachlan discussing flooding

Graham said: “Last Friday I met with the East Riding Council, the lead flood authority, to push for progress to be made on River Hull dredging, other channel clearance, and the removal of sunken vessels; these are issues I know are of great importance to my constituents. I’m pleased to report that there’s a massive amount of work being done behind the scenes to get all the necessary licences in place and the Council is working flat out on it.”

Picture : (L to R) Graham Stuart MP, Nigel Leighton, Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services at ERYC, Andrew McLachlan, Flood Risk Strategy Manager, ERYC discuss dredging at County Hall.

Graham wades into flooding issues this week

 

photoThis week, Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, is hosting the Flood Advisory Service roadshow trailer in Beverley. It will be parked in the car park of Tesco’s on Morton Lane in Beverley on Thursday 14th January between 10am and 7pm and on Friday 15th January between 10am and 2pm. For more information, you can visit their website on www.floodadvisoryservice.co.uk or call them on 0800 970 3950.

Graham said, “I have invited the Flood Advisory Service to bring their roadshow to Beverley this week. Anyone can visit the trailer, free of charge, to ask independent flooding experts about their flood risk and what steps they can take to mitigate it. They will have flood risk checkers on board, various flood mitigation products and Beverley’s flood history. I’ll be at the trailer between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on Friday 15th January to do a Q&A with constituents. If anyone has any questions, or wants to speak to me about flooding, please come along then.

“Over the Christmas period, we have all seen the pictures of the devastating flooding in Cumbria, Dumfriesshire, Lancashire and other parts of Yorkshire. Many people in the East Riding have suffered in the past from flooding and have had to recover not only from the damage to land and property but, also, from the emotional trauma of the experience. It is a reminder of the need to have good flood defences in place in our own area. Just because we escaped the terrible flooding this winter, we cannot afford to be complacent.”

Also on Friday 15th January, Graham is meeting the Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council to discuss the implementation of the River Hull Flood Risk Management strategy and to see how these much-needed improvements are going to be funded.

Graham said, “In 2013 I formed and chaired The River Hull Advisory Board, comprised of local MPs, MEPs, councillors from East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, National Farmers Union, Natural England, Internal Drainage Boards and local communities. It was set up to ensure a joined-up approach to improving drainage and reducing flooding in the area. It produced its final strategy report in July last year when partners on the River Hull Advisory Board agreed to endorse a joint strategy to manage flood risk in the River Hull valley.

“Before the Christmas break, I spoke in a debate in Parliament about the need for a comprehensive Humber flood strategy. I asked the Secretary of State for a meeting and, as a result, will be attending a Humber flooding roundtable later in the year with flooding ministers at DEFRA, other local MPs and representatives from the Environment Agency. I am looking forward to the opportunity to impress upon him that all possible measures must be taken to ensure that our area is resilient to flooding.

“While it will never be possible to safeguard ourselves entirely from the effects of heavy rainfall, it’s important that the Government, the Council, the Environment Agency, and individual homeowners take all possible steps to make properties in our area more resilient. I will be campaigning hard over the coming year to make sure everyone plays their part in protecting homes in Beverley and Holderness from destructive flooding.”

Note:

You can read what Graham said in the debate here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151215/debtext/151215-0001.htm#15121532000001.