As the extent of two health scandals have become clear in recent months, both emanating in France but affecting people across Europe, much of my committee work has focussed on revising health regulations at European level. Many of you will be aware of the breast implant scandal, but an equally shocking failure of regulation was exposed after it was discovered a French drug company had left a drug widely believed to have harmful side effects on the market for several years, causing the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands of people. As the spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats group on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, closing these regulatory loopholes and improving coordination between national and European regulators has been at the forefront of my work recently.
These startling cases also show how interconnected we are with other European countries. With stronger Europe-wide legislation and closer working relationships between national institutions these health scares could have been prevented or at least better contained.
In contrast to the progress we are making in reforming European health regulations, there still appears no obvious end to the Eurozone crisis. With right-wing governments across Europe determined to savagely slash public spending and with unemployment as high as 20% in some European countries, economic recovery in the short term seems unlikely to a lot of people. Across Europe millions are out of work, pensions and wages are being cut, yet still there is little to no growth, particularly in the UK. Labour and our sister parties are campaigning for more investment in jobs to kickstart the economy and drive Europe forward. Austerity is not working.
As we know, there is an alternative to cuts and it is up to us as Labour Party members to effectively communicate our vision out of economic trouble to the rest of the country. We have a perfect opportunity to make our voices heard at the forthcoming local elections.
Best of luck to all candidates and I look forward to seeing many of you out on the campaign trail.
Labour Members of South Yorkshire Police Authority are fighting the Coalition Governments proposals to get rid of South Yorkshire’s helicopter.
The original proposals from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) meant the existing South Yorkshire based helicopter would have been absorbed into the national structure, and that the county would have received air cover from bases in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire, with significantly longer response times for most of the area. The Police Authority voted to keep the helicopter, only to be told by the government that this wouldn’t be allowed. “It’s great for the Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems to bang on about support for the Localism agenda that David Cameron and the Tories are rolling out, but when it comes down to an issue that local people really want, our own dedicated police helicopter, our views don’t count” said Cllr Bryan Lodge “Why isn’t Mr Clegg standing up for the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire against this government? It seems localism is OK, but only where it suits the Coalition Government!”
Your local Labour Councillors support the Living with Nature programme at Dyke Vale Road and were joined today by over 75 people who took part in the Easter Egg Hunt. Councillor Karen McGowan said “it’s great to see so many young people and their families supporting this event and enjoying the area. Thank you to all those staff involved in organising today’s event”.
Living with Nature is a three year programme, funded by the Big Lottery, focussing on improvements to sites on Sheffield Homes land, which are all currently identified as Play Areas (although many have had old equipment removed in recent years). This is a partnership which involves Wildlife Trust for Sheffield & Rotherham, Sheffield City Council, the University of Sheffield, and Sheffield Homes.
The greenspace at the junction between Dyke Vale Road and Carr Forge Road is a designated play space, managed by Sheffield Homes. It is being re-developed to provide better and more exciting play opportunities, high quality public greenspace for all and improvements for wildlife and nature.
The aims of the programme are to improve the play value of the sites, and to increase their biodiversity and value to wildlife. This will be done through an intensive process of community engagement with local tenants and residents as well as existing community groups, to create a sense of local ownership of the completed facilities; increase social cohesion in the areas concerned; and to encourage people to be more involved in terms of the ongoing upkeep and positive use of their local community greenspace. For details of the site see http://www.wildsheffield.com/what-we-do/projects/living-with-nature
Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham MP, came to Sheffield today for the regional launch of Labour’s local election campaign. During his visit to Sheffield, Andy took time out for a chat with local Birley councillors Bryan Lodge and Karen McGowan. We discussed concerns raised by members of the public across Birley over the recent Tory/ Lib Dem imposed changes to the NHS and cuts to Police numbers in the region. Andy confirmed that a future Labour government will reverse the NHS changes.
Proposed Coalition changes to local planning laws have been controversial, with many fearing that green belt land could lose vital protections. In a constituency like Sheffield South-East, this could result in countryside at present enjoyed by all being lost to developers.
Fortunately our MP Clive Betts, in his role as chairman of Parliament’s backbench Communities and Local Government Committee, has been leading the fight against the worst aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework. On hearing news that changes to proposed legislation have led to increased protection for our green spaces, he said:
The select committee listened to the campaigners, and the Government listened to the select committee. Great credit should go to everyone who has campaigned to get this change… the draft NPPF would have reshaped England very differently if the initial plans had gone through.
On Tuesday 10th April the new energyshare Fund will be launched with 8 awards of between £2,500 and £5,000 available to local energy projects. To be in with a chance there are two ways of applying – raise £5k of your own through Peoplefund.it and British Gas and energyshare will match it; or submit an online application to be considered for three lots of £2,500.
Last time around the scheme helped 4 communities realise their renewable energy projects, and between them they are set to generate enough energy to power 1,169 houses and earn a projected annual income of £500,000. This year they want to help more groups on their way, so whether you want to raise funds yourself or are looking to support a local community, register your interest on energyshare today.
Following the decision of the Fire Authority on Monday 26th March to close Mansfield Road fire station and the retained station at Mosborough, Birley appears to be in line for a new fire station. Labour councillors Bryan Lodge, Denise Fox and Karen McGowan will seek to work with the Fire Authority to ensure that the views of the local community are considered in developing the new facility.
Birley Ward Community First Panel is part of a nationwide programme set up to help community groups, and is run under the auspices of the Community Development Foundation. The money isn’t available in all parts of Sheffield, but since Birley is one of the wards chosen to participate eligible Birley groups can get financial help which could make a real difference to what they’re doing.
To find out more, simply visit the website of Birley Ward Community First Panel. If you’not part of such a group yourself, please pass the information on. Let’s do all we can to boost community groups in Birley!
I lost a very close friend last year after a short but very brave battle against cancer. Shannon (my daughter) and I have entered the Race for Life in memory of my good friend Jennifer Molyneux on 15 July 2012. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her. We met at college when we were 20 years old and we had some great times together which I’ll always be grateful for. Jen was married to Brian and they have two wonderful boys. Reece and Callum were her life, she was very proud of them and they are a real tribute to her. I’m sure the day is going to be very emotional but I know Jen will be with us urging us to keep going. We would be very grateful if you could help us raise money towards this worthwhile cause by clicking on our Just Giving page at http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/Karen-ShannonMcGowan
A much safer pedestrian access to Charnock School is to be put in place over the Easter school holidays thanks to the drive and commitment of a group of parents. Birley ward councillors, Bryan Lodge, Denise Fox and Karen McGowan have been working with the parents and officers from the council’s South East Community Assembly and Road Safety Teams to deliver improved pedestrian access to the school off Carter Hall Lane. A dedicated pedestrian footway is to be marked out, with yellow ‘Keep Clear’ and zig-zags also added to help maintain a safe entrance and exit to the school. “Cars parked close to the school gate have been making it difficult for the children and parents using this entrance. With a dedicated footpath and clearer visibility around the entrance, the risk of injury is reduced and everyone will be much safer” said Cllr Bryan Lodge.
Cllrs McGowan, Fox and Lodge view the current access route
Local residents will have noticed that signs have appeared on Hopefield Avenue and Fox Lane. Your Councillors have made enquiries regarding this and can advise that the reason for these closures are for the replacement of the gas main. In addition to the closures, it will be necessary for signal controlled sections at various times to enable the work to be completed. It is envisaged that the closures will remain in place for up to ten weeks. If anyone experiences problems, please don’t hesitate to contact Bryan, Denise or Karen.