Calling all constituents to vote for a community group shortlisted by the Lloyds Bank Community Fund

September 18, 2014

The Lloyds Bank Community Fund which was set up to provide funds to help local groups flourish and bring communities together, has announced its shortlist of community groups which people can vote for in the constituency. Those shortlisted groups for North East Hertfordshire are:

Growing People to vote click here
Jackie’s Drop In Centre to vote click here
N-Able Herts Disability Sports Association (NHDSA) to vote click here
• Anstey Carpet Bowls Club to vote click here
The Royston Foodbank to vote click here
Royston Speak Out Stroke Club to vote click here

There are awards of up to £3,000 available and nominations for any of the above groups can be made until 10 October. Each of these groups has a very worthwhile role in bringing people together and helping them in the community and I strongly encourage constituents to get nominating so the groups receive an award. Constituents can do so by visiting the designated voting link for each group, as shown above.


Good news about the Government’s expansion of free childcare

September 11, 2014

I was very pleased to hear about the Government’s expansion of free childcare which will mean that 40% of the country’s most disadvantaged two year olds will now also benefit from the 15 hours of free early education already on offer. In real terms this extends the number of two year olds who will be benefit from 116,000 to 260,000 children across the country. Locally within Hertfordshire there are 4,000 children who will be able to take advantage of this expansion in childcare.

It is very good that even more provision is being made by the Government to help disadvantaged families, including those in North East Hertfordshire. I hope that this means that those with a less privileged background within the constituency will be able to start primary school better equipped than they would have otherwise done. To see whether their child is eligible, constituents should check https://www.gov.uk/free-early-education.


Last week’s debate on the sale of puppies and kittens…

September 8, 2014

Last week I attended the debate in the House of Commons on the sale of puppies and kittens. It is a matter which I know concerns many of my constituents particularly in relation to the mass commercial production of animals which are sometimes kept in appalling conditions.
The debate was extremely interesting and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA George Eustice gave a full reply when the debate drew to close. He referred to “backstreet breeders” being supported in puppy sales through the internet. However following the creation of a voluntary code devised by Lord de Mauley Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for natural science and environment at DEFRA, there has been a substantial reduction in the number of internet adverts offering puppies and kittens for sale. He also referred to the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 which requires anyone carrying on a business of breeding and selling puppies to have a licence, irrespective of the number of litters they have bred. Apparently there has been some ambiguity for local authorities about this in the past, but George Eustice promised that DEFRA would write to local authorities to provide clarity so that the Act is interpreted correctly.

I was particularly pleased to hear about the work DEFRA has been doing in relation to model licence conditions which have been provided to local authorities drawing up licences for dog-breeding premises. Apparently there were 50 recommendations about the sorts of conditions which should be included in a licence for such an establishment, one of which covered the amount of contact time and social interaction a puppy should have with pet shop staff and humans. The recommendation states are that at least four times a day, a human should spend at least 20 minutes with the puppies for sale.

At the end of his response, the Minister reminded the House that we are a nation of animal lovers and although this is true, it is important that there are regulations in place to ensure kitten and puppy breeders look after their litters correctly. I hope that my constituents will take heart from the fact that DEFRA is fully committed to addressing this issue.


Royston Arts Festival 19-28 September

September 5, 2014

I notice that Royston Arts Festival which starts on 19 September and runs until 28 September is looking for volunteers to help with its busy programme. The programme includes a range of activities from nights at the Royston Picture Palace to cupcake making classes to an introductory session for interested writers wanting to get into magazine or journal writing. The various events which are taking place are taking place at locations in and around Royston. The Festival has a lot to offer and those who wish to volunteer or just want to see what is on, can do so by visiting http://www.roystonartsfestival.org/.


The Hundred Parishes Society and the launch of its new website

August 15, 2014

This week I received notification that the Hundred Parishes Society website which can be found by visiting http://www.hundredparishes.org.uk, has been officially launched. The Hundred Parishes Society is an organisation which has been set up to increase awareness of just over a hundred administrative parishes, some of which are in my constituency, and which fall within an area of approximately 450 square miles of northwest Essex, northeast Hertfordshire and southern Cambridgeshire. The website provides information about each of these parishes so that people in the area can enjoy and care for the places in which they live.

This part of the country is largely unknown apart from by those who live in the region but in fact each of these parishes retain a unique character which is enhanced by attractive belts of countryside. This makes the region a very pleasant place to live and work. The area boasts an interesting stock of over 6,000 listed buildings and I am pleased to see that the Society’s website has a section on local attractions, walks and events taking place throughout the year. The website also includes historical details about each of the parishes which will interest history enthusiasts. I am a firm supporter of the Society’s work and I hope that my constituents will visit its website and support its cause.


Constituents Beware!

August 14, 2014

I wanted to draw the attention of my constituents to a scam which is in operation at the moment and has defrauded people of significant amounts of money. The scam involves someone ringing up a person pretending to be from a computer company offering a fix for an alleged virus that the person has and then demanding a fee for the fix. Scammers have also been responsible for convincing people of the need to fix a problem on their computer, and having gained access to the computer remotely, they have installed a virus which feeds back information to the hacker about personal banking details which are then used to abstract money from peoples’ accounts. I urge my constituents to be wary when they receive phone calls from people offering computer services and never to reveal bank details or provide remote access to their computer to the caller, unless they are a trusted source.


Website launched to gather evidence from NHS workers: www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk

August 8, 2014

This week I was pleased to hear that a website called http://www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk has been launched as part of the Freedom to Speak up Review which is looking at encouraging an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS. This website enables people working in the NHS who have raised a concern whilst at work to provide feedback about how their concern was handled and whether they thought it was dealt with appropriately. This Review follows the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Public Enquiry and the information provided by people online will feed into the Review. It is clear from the findings of the Mid Staffordshire public enquiry that there were chronic failings in the NHS during the Labour years about the ability to raise concerns about the NHS and I encourage constituents who work within the NHS to respond to the Website providing details of their experiences. I understand the closing date for submissions online is 10 September.


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