MP says better mobile phone coverage must not come at high cost to consumer

Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, raised the issue of poor mobile phone signal in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday in Parliament. He called on the Government to reduce the regulatory burdens on businesses so that they could deliver better signal at the lowest possible cost to the consumer. He commented that too often sparsely-populated rural areas get left behind as industry invests in the country’s digital infrastructure.

In particular, he called on the Government to look at increasing the maximum permitted development height for mobile phone masts. He also called for a reform of the Electronic Communication Code, originally produced in 1984, which sees mobile operators charged dramatically high rents for their masts by landowners.

Commenting on the Government’s agreement with the mobile operators to achieve 90% voice call coverage by 2017, Graham said: “We want it to go ahead as quickly as possible, so that people who are trying to live their normal life, call their girlfriend, do a business deal, run a small business or fulfil the normal obligations of life are able to do so as easily in rural areas as elsewhere in the country.

“Every imposition on those companies will feed through into our constituents’ bills. We want to deliver a fantastic and effective mobile phone system as cheaply as possible and without imposing unnecessary burdens and regulations on those businesses, which is why the electronic communications code needs to be reformed.

“Mobile telephony is a basic utility. We have had frameworks in the past to ensure we keep the cost of delivering that basic utility as low as possible to encourage operators to deliver the service as widely and effectively as possible. That is true for other utilities, and it should be true for mobile telephony.”

In his response, Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pointed to the Government’s landmark deal with operators to tackle ‘notspots’. He said: “About 6% of the East Riding of Yorkshire and 1.2% of Lincolnshire have been affected by notspots. As a result of the agreement, we will eliminate notspots altogether. Just 0.2% of north Lincolnshire and less than 1% of the East Riding of Yorkshire will have partial notspots, which is when just one mobile operator provides coverage. Therefore, 99% of east Yorkshire and almost 100% of north Lincolnshire should have coverage from all four operators. That will make an important difference.”

Responding to Graham’s call for higher mobile masts, the Minister said: “We want to increase the height of masts, to increase the height at which cells can go and to increase the time in which operators are allowed to take emergency measures to repair masts, because my honourable Friend [Graham Stuart] is quite right to point out that the size and length of masts is important.”

Graham Stuart welcomes good news for East Riding commuters as new era for rail travel begins

Graham Stuart has welcomed the news that new rail franchises due to start in April 2016 will offer a much improved service to passengers.

Over the course of new franchises running until 2025, First TransPennine Express and Arriva Rail North will each invest heavily to provide an improved service to passengers. Between them they will:

• Introduce more than 500 brand-new carriages;

• Remove the outdated and unpopular Pacer trains from across the North;

• Create space for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times;

• Bring in thousands of extra services a week;

• Roll out free Wi-Fi on trains and at stations;

• Introduce automatic delay compensation for season and advance purchase ticket-holders;

• Meet challenging targets to reduce cancellations and short-formations;

• Invest more than £55m in improving stations and bring them into the 21st century; and

• Make a massive £1.2bn investment across both franchises.

Locally, people in Hull and the East Riding will benefit from specific plans to improve services.  These include a £1.4m investment in Hull Station to provide improved waiting and toilet facilities and provide additional retail space alongside other enhancements. This will be delivered in 2017 to coincide with Hull UK City of Culture.

Hull services will benefit from new and refurbished trains, extra carriages, and increased frequencies. These will include doubling the service frequency to full hourly services to Scarborough and York, and extra TPE services to Manchester and Leeds. Hull-Doncaster-Sheffield is to be operated as part of the new longer-distance Northern Connect network using brand new diesel trains, with extra services on Sundays.

A new direct Northern service will link Bridlington, Beverley and Hull with Leeds.  There will also be extra Northern trains from Bridlington to Scarborough and Hull.

Planned station improvements include extra car park spaces at Beverley station and improved passenger waiting facilities at Cleethorpes station.

Responding to the Government’s announcement, Graham Stuart MP said,

“The vision of the Northern Powerhouse came a step closer to reality today as we learned how our vital transport connections will develop over the next decade.  I know rail passengers across the East Riding will be delighted to hear our area will be better linked to cities across the North and this can only help local businesses continue the strong growth we have enjoyed in recent years.

“For too long, people in East Yorkshire have been the poor relations when it comes to transport investment.   These new franchises show this is changing – and why it is so important that we can attract massive private investment in our railways rather than flirting with the discredited politics of nationalisation as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party wants to do.”

 

 

MP congratulates pupil on excellent Christmas card artwork

Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, sends his congratulations to Eliza from Molescroft Primary School, who is the winner of his Christmas card competition this year. Graham visited Molescroft Primary School on 23rd October to congratulate her in person after the school’s morning assembly.

Graham holds an annual Christmas card competition for primary school pupils in the constituency. He wrote to all the primary schools before the summer holidays asking if they would like to take part. Hedon Primary, Molescroft Primary, Roos Primary and Lockington Primary all took up the challenge and submitted a shortlist of entries from their pupils.

Graham asked Nick Matson, a local artist based in Beverley, to judge the competition. The four runners-up were: Jack from Hedon Primary, Amber from Molescroft Primary, Lottie from Roos Primary, and Henry from Lockington Primary.

Graham with Eliza, winner of his 2015 Christmas card competition

Graham with Eliza, winner of his 2015 Christmas card competition

The winning artwork will feature on the front of Graham’s Christmas card this year, with the entries from the four runners-up on the back.

Graham said; “I am delighted with this year’s winning design, created by the very talented Eliza. It was brilliant to be able to meet her and thank her for her festive picture. I’m also very grateful that Nick lent his expertise to make the final decision. I know that judging the competition was a very tough task, as all of the pupils’ efforts were fantastic.

“I would like to thank all the pupils at Hedon, Molescroft, Roos and Lockington Primary Schools who took part. I would also like to express my gratitude to their teachers for facilitating this year’s competition.”

Meet Graham in Beverley this Saturday 28 November

Graham Stuart MP Jan 14Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, is holding one of his regular Street Surgeries in Beverley this Saturday, 28 November, between 10.00am and noon, at the junction of Toll Gavel and Cross Street. No appointment is necessary.

Graham said “My constituents expect to be able to see me in person at a time that’s convenient to them, and I find Saturday mornings in the middle of Beverley fits the bill.  I look forward to meeting residents this Saturday to hear what issues they’re struggling with that I might be able to help with, or exchanging views on national and local issues.”

Graham Stuart welcomes Swinemoor pupils to Parliament

Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, welcomed a group of pupils from Swinemoor Primary School to the Houses of Parliament this week. The pupils were visiting Parliament in order to present Graham with a portrait, which they had drawn following Graham’s visit to the school earlier this year.

After a guided tour of Parliament by Graham’s staff, the pupils had their packed lunches in Portcullis House and presented Graham with his portrait in a Houses of Parliament Committee Room. Graham then spoke with the children about the role of an MP and how MPs should be accessible to their constituents.

Pupils present Graham with his portrait

Pupils present Graham with his portrait

Graham said: “I am absolutely delighted with the portrait that the pupils have drawn for me. It’s an excellent likeness and really must have taken a lot of hard work. It will have the pride of place on my office wall.

“It was excellent to welcome the pupils from Swinemoor to Westminster and to talk to them a little about the job of an MP. It is really important to show children that Parliament is not a remote institution and that what happens here affects all of our futures.”

Parents of some of the children visiting Parliament commented as follows:

Jenny Anderson: “My daughter Keira had such an amazing time with Graham this week, a day she will never forget. Thank you so much, Graham, for organising and taking time out to spend the time with them – truly memorable.”

Sarah Murray: “My daughter Lucy had a fantastic day down in London with Graham and her friends. She’s still talking about it over 24 hours on. Thank you Graham for making her day a special one.”

Zoe Bucknall: “My son Rhys was one of those pupils who presented the portrait to Graham earlier this week! He thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day with Graham, and it’s certainly a memory that will last a life time.”

Graham Stuart MP welcomes fair funding breakthrough in Comprehensive Spending Review

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart has welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to introduce fair school funding as part of today’s Comprehensive Spending Review. A new funding formula will set a national rate that every school will receive for each pupil, with additional funding for those with extra needs. Crucially, from 2017-18 onwards the resources schools and local authorities will receive will be based on pupil characteristics rather than historic political calculations. The Department for Education will consult on the detail of the announcement in early 2016.

The announcement signals an end to the current unfair system, which has lasted for decades and led to a situation where the ten best funded areas of England receive an average of £6,300 per pupil of schools block funding, compared to just £4,200 in the ten worst funded areas – with no objective basis for the difference.

Graham has campaigned for fair school funding since his election in 2005 and first secured a debate on the issue in March 2006. He has continued to highlight fair funding at every opportunity and since May 2015 he has served as Vice Chairman of the F40 campaign for fair school funding in Parliament. In October, he coordinated a letter from 111 MPs to the Prime Minister to call for fairer funding to be introduced, and on 5 November he secured and opened a debate in Westminster Hall.

On Tuesday 1 December, Graham will join colleagues as petitions from over 100 constituencies calling for fair funding will be presented by MPs in the House of Commons chamber. Graham has led a nationwide campaign to coordinate the petitions and thousands of people have signed in Beverley and Holderness.

Graham said, “I am delighted that the Government has committed to introduce a national funding formula for English schools, ending the postcode lottery that means children in East Yorkshire lose out for no good reason. As always, the devil will lie in the detail and we will need to see the full proposals in the consultation, but in principle this represents a huge step forward and is a decision of lasting significance.

“That said, today’s news does not mark the end of my campaign. Having fought and failed to obtain fair school funding for a decade as the MP for Beverley and Holderness, that moment will come only when the money is actually received by our schools. When the full plans are published I will go back to ministers and work hard to ensure the final settlement delivers the fairest possible deal for local children.”

Graham with Education Minister Sam Gyimah at Fair School Funding event this summer

Graham with Education Minister Sam Gyimah at a fair school funding campaign event this summer

MP’s drop-in Surgery at The Cherry Tree Centre in Beverley this Friday

slide-03Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, is holding one of his regular drop-in surgeries at the Cherry Tree Centre in Beverley this Friday, 20 November, between 2pm and 4pm.

Graham said “Beverley residents tell me my monthly drop-in surgeries at The Cherry Tree Centre in Beverley are a useful opportunity to come and speak to me in confidence about problems they’re having with housing, benefits and neighbourhood issues. I welcome the chance to offer my help and advice and look forward to doing what I can to assist on Friday.”

Meet Graham on Saturday in Withernsea

Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, is holding one of his popular Street Surgeries in Withernsea this Saturday, 14 November, between 10.30am and noon, outside Aldi. No appointment is necessary.Street Surgery - Withernsea with Councillors

Graham said “I’m looking forward to catching up with my constituents in Withernsea on Saturday. If there’s a problem I can assist with I’d like to help if I can, and I look forward to exchanging views with residents on local and national issues”.

ENDS

Please take part in the Council’s consultation on the future of the Library Service

Reading is one of life’s great pleasures and with access to the Library there are endless subjects to learn about, and thousands of novels to borrow. As well as the Council’s libraries in Beverley, Hedon and Hornsea there are mobile libraries visiting 383 locations in our area. And Libraries are not just for borrowing books – they’re a great place to read the newspapers, or to use the free computers for hobbies or job searching.

East Riding Council has a consultation open until 21 December on how we wish to see the Library Service in future. Please take a few minutes to fill in the online consultation here: www2.eastriding.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/libraries-consultation/

 

Graham endorses BBC Barker’s Breakfast Club for Armed Forces Veterans

BBC Breakfast Club for veterans meeting with Dereck Hardman and Andy Batty 30.10.15Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, has fully endorsed the idea of “Breakfast Clubs” as a means to helping members of the Armed Forces returning to civilian life.

Meeting with constituents Dereck Hardman from Ganstead and Andy Batty from Preston, Graham heard first hand of the success of the Breakfast Clubs throughout the UK and Europe.  The idea of the Breakfast Clubs was conceived by Dereck. He and Andy, who is the Welfare Officer of the Club, served with the Royal Engineers for over a decade but on his return to civilian life Dereck found, like many others, ex-service personnel were often faced with difficulties in obtaining advice on how to cope with many everyday issues.

In 2007 Dereck set up the first Breakfast Club in Hull – BBC Barker’s Breakfast Club – and found it to be a popular meeting point for many ex-servicemen and women in the area.

Dereck said “We find these informal gatherings go a long way to helping veterans and former colleagues meet the challenges we all face on leaving the services. Our Breakfast Clubs have brought together many who face problems ranging from post-traumatic-stress disorder to family issues and housing.  I am particularly proud that this whole international organisation, which has been built by veterans, for veterans, was started here in Hull. The idea quickly took off and we now have seventy four clubs in the UK and four more in Europe.”

Dereck feels that these Breakfast Clubs could prove to be a real asset in the future and is keen to invite individual re-settlement officers to visit the Hull club.  “Making those leaving the forces aware of our Breakfast Clubs as part of their re-settlement programme would ease many with the transition into civilian life,” he added with conviction.

Graham said “I recognise there are many difficulties facing ex-servicemen on discharge, especially those with PTSD and other physical and psychological problems.  I commend Dereck Hardman, Andy Batty and the BBC Barker’s Breakfast Club for their initiative and its on-going success.”