Saturday, 14 October 2017

Redlands Ward Public Surgery - Saturday, 14 October

Cllrs David Absolom, Jan Gavin and I will be holding our regular Labour Councillors' Ward Public Surgery for residents at Hexham Road Community Centre, Hexham Road, between 10.30am and noon today.

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road (RG1 5LR) and the Hexham Road Community Centre (RG2 7UD).

David, Jan and I also undertake "street surgeries" on other Saturdays and weekdays - so watch out for the window poster coming through your letter-box!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

School Budget Cuts

Remember before the general election earlier this year when the Tory candidates promised there would be no cuts to school budgets ...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Labour's Policy On The NHS

At last month's Labour Party Conference the Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jon Asworth announced that the next Labour Government will reinstate the Secretary of State's responsibility for universal care and end the Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, including Accountable Care Systems.
The full text of the motion on the NHS passed by the Conference is included below:
Conference notes:

The NHS Accountable Care System contracts announced on 7 August impose a basis for 44+ local health services to replace England’s NHS, bypassing Parliamentary debate and legislative process.
On 9 August, the House of Commons Library revealed a doubling of the number of NHS sites proposed for sale. 117 of these currently provide clinical services.
Like their US templates, Accountable Care Systems will provide limited services on restricted budgets, replacing NHS hospitals with deskilled community units.  This will worsen health indicators like the long term increase in life expectancy, stalled since 2010. The ACSs and asset sell-off result directly from the 5 Year Forward View currently being implemented via ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’.  The 5 Year Forward View precisely reflects healthcare multinationals’ global policy aims.
Conference reaffirms its manifesto commitment to restore our NHS by reversing its privatisation and halting Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships.

We therefore call on the Party to oppose and reverse funding cuts (ideally meeting Western European levels) but also 5 Year Forward View policy:
  • creating Accountable Care Systems;
  • replacing 7500 GP surgeries with 1500 “superhubs”;
  • downskilling clinical staff.reclassifying NHS services as means-tested “social care”;
  • cementing the private sector role as Accountable Care System “partners” and as combined health/social care service providers.
Conference recognises that reversing this process demands more than amending the 2012 Health & Social Care Act and calls for our next manifesto to include existing Party policy to restore our fully-funded, comprehensive, universal, publicly-provided and owned NHS without user charges, as per the NHS Bill (2016-17)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Broken Britain

The Tories have been governing Britain since 2010.

In the past few days and weeks this is what the Prime Minister and other senior Tories have had to say about some key aspects of our country and economy:

"We have a fractured health and social care system"

"We need to fix the broken housing market"

"The energy market is broken and needs to be fixed"

"For too many children a good school remains out of reach"

"Remains below where it was in 2007 - such a period of stagnation is unprecedented in modern times"

But just don't ask them to take any responsibility for this mess.

Or as Lord Heseltine described the situation earlier today "A deeply divided cabinet, a deeply divided country, a deeply divided party" and, of course, "the Tories do not want an early general election"

speaking on The World This Weekend, BBC Radio 4, today

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Labour's National Education Service

Angela Rayner & Tony Jones discussed the charter this week 
The Labour Party has explained more about its proposed National Education Service, in a draft charter that all schools would be required to sign up to.
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, launched the charter during her speech at the party’s annual conference in Brighton last week.
The National Education Service is Labour’s umbrella term for a raft of reforms, including increases in schools funding, free adult education and the return of the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16- to 19-year-olds.
They’re binning their manifesto, we are building on ours
Rayner accused the government of failure on education issues, claiming the Conservatives have spent the last few months “ripping up their own manifesto page by page”.
Unlike the government’s policies, the National Education Service will be “lifelong, providing for people at every stage of their life”, she will say, and “not just another structure, not another new sign on the school gate”.
“Theresa May’s education ministers have spent the last few months ripping up their own manifesto page by page. They wanted to open new grammar schools. But they can’t. They said they’d build 140 free schools. They couldn’t. They pledged the healthy pupils fund would not fall below £400 million. Now it will. They promised they’d provide free school breakfasts. But they won’t.
“In fact, I went through their manifesto line by line. There are more education policies that they are reviewing or abandoning than that they’re implementing. They’re binning their manifesto, we are building on ours.”

The charter

According to the charter, the National Education Service will do the following:
1. Be guided by the principle that education has “intrinsic” value in giving all people “access to the common body of knowledge we share, and practical value in allowing all to participate fully in our society”.
2. Provide education that is “free at the point of use, available universally and throughout life”.
3. Provide education “for the public good”. All providers within the National Education Service shall be bound by the principles of the charter.
4. Work alongside the health, sustainability, and industrial policies set by government.
5. Commit to “tackling all barriers to learning”, and providing high-quality education for all.
6. Provide all forms of education, integrating academic, technical and other forms of learning within and outside of educational institutions, and treating all with equal respect.
7. Be structured to “encourage and enhance” cooperation across boundaries and sectors.
8. Be accountable to the public, communities, and parents and children that it serves. Schools, colleges, and other public institutions within the National Education Service “should be rooted in their communities”, with parents and communities empowered, via appropriate democratic means, to “influence change where it is needed and ensure that the education system meets their needs”. The “appropriate democratic authority” will set, monitor and allocate resources, ensuring that they meet the rights, roles, and responsibilities of individuals and institutions.
9. Aspire to the “highest standards of excellence and professionalism”. Educators and all other staff will be “valued as highly-skilled professionals”, and appropriate accountability will be balanced against giving “genuine freedom of judgement and innovation”. The National Education Service shall “draw on evidence and international best practice, and provide appropriate professional development and training”.
10. Have the “utmost regard to the well-being of learners and educators”, and its policies and practices, particularly regarding workload, assessment and inspection will “support the emotional, social and physical well-being of students and staff”.

(The original form of this article by Freddie Whittaker appeared in Schools Week on 26 September 2017).