November 29, 2013
On Wednesday I had an interesting meeting with the Chair of the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group Maureen Donnelly about the Older People’s Procurement process which is currently out to tender. I am particularly interested in this matter because there are a few surgeries in my constituency which refer patients to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge which will be affected by the new measures to be introduced under the Older People’s Programme. It is very important that proper provision is made for the care of people over 65 given concerns about current forms of care available to those in this age range in this region and Maureen brought me to date with the latest news on the Older People’s Procurement process contract. Talks are ongoing between the CCG and those organisations in the shortlist to roll out the contract so that the most suitable care provider can be selected next year. I understand that the criteria required by the CCG for the shortlisted organisations is determined by their ability to provide certain outcomes. It is up to the organisation in question with the budget available to decide on the best way of delivering care in order to provide such outcomes.
I realise that there are some in my constituency who have reservations about the provision of care in this way and have likened it to a form of privatisation. What I took away from the meeting is that unlike in industries which have been privatised there can be several tiers of contract provision thereby detracting from the level of care provided, the organisation which is chosen next year by the CCG will only allowed to be a primary contractor and will not be able to subcontract services out. They will also be required to utilise current over 65 care services and incorporate them in their care provision plan. It is important to note that despite the care provision programme being a 5 year plan, after the first year, there will be targets which will need to be achieved by the provider in order to receive the greatest amount of funding available. I look forward to seeing how the talks between the CCG and shortlisted parties progress over the coming months.
November 22, 2013
I am delighted to hear that Royston will be hosting an ice rink on 7 and 8 December. The ice rink funded by Royston First, is being staged as part of the Royston Christmas Fayre and the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights on 7 December. On 7 December there will also be a Santa’s Grotto, a Children’s Fun Fair, a Christmas Market and festive food and drink.
The event is being arranged by the local group Royston First which is a representative body of local businesses that is seeking to promote the town’s business interests and organise events. After the period of economic uncertainty that we have been enduring, it is good news that there is a local group with members who are positively working together to advocate the town. More details about the event can be found on Royston Means Business facebook page and I look forward to having a turn on the ice rink in December!
November 21, 2013
Next week I am going to the Isabel Hospice Lights of Love Service which is being held at Buntingford Manor in Buntingford. During the ceremony there will be a short service of remembrance for those loved ones who cannot be with us to celebrate Christmas, the singing of carols, and a countdown to the lighting of the tree. In advance of the event, people can go online and make a donation for a light in memory of a loved one (details for which can be found here) and their name will also be entered into a Book of Love which will be located at the nearest Isabel Hospice shop. I go to the Lights of Love Service every year and think it is very important that we have the chance to remember our loved ones in the run up to Christmas. I am very much looking forward to the event.
November 18, 2013
I think our Fire and Rescue Service does a good job in Hertfordshire. Last week 2 other Hertfordshire MPs Richard Harrington, James Clappison and I had a meeting in Parliament with representatives of the Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Union. The main issues raised were the proposed pensions’ changes, early retirement of firemen on health grounds and their fitness to work to age 60 years. A number of Fire Brigade constituents have written to me about these matters and it was very helpful to hear first hand concerns about them. I will raise their points with the relevant Minister and give his response to the FBU in due course.
The background is that we are all living longer and many private sector firms as well as the public sector have had to make future changes to pension scheme benefits to reflect this. Lord Hutton the former Labour Cabinet Minister advised the Government and suggested reforms to public sector pensions and there have been negotiations since for each scheme.
November 7, 2013
This weekend I am attending the Herts at War Opening Event. With the centenary anniversary of the start of the First World War coming up next year, this project coordinated by local historian Dan Hill has been set up to give recognition to the Hertfordshire Regiment and Hertfordshire Yeomanry both of which served in the First World War and suffered substantial losses.
The project will document the lives of those in the county who served in the Hertfordshire Regiment and Yeomanry between 1914-18 and the effect this had on those left at home. As part of plans for the project, permission has been granted by the village of St Julien in Belgium for the erection of a memorial at the place where the Regiment suffered the greatest loss of lives in one day. Christine and I have visited this spot with Dan and the memorial will be a poignant reminder. It is hoped that it will be erected by 31 July 2017, one hundred years after the Battle of St Julien.
Amongst, the project’s other aims are a pop up museum, educational workshops and teaching resources for schools in addition to live events where schools can put on plays based on the true stories of those with relatives in the county who served in the war. The scheme’s website http://www.hertsatwar.co.uk which is extremely informative will serve as an archive for the research carried out and gives details of future events proposed.
November 1, 2013
This week I had a meeting with Clova Fyfe from BT, who is a Senior Manager dealing with Broadband issues. Clova came to brief me on BT’s plans to roll out superfast broadband to Buntingford and Puckeridge, both of which are in my constituency, but where there have been technical problems. The superfast broadband roll out is part of a two year plan during which time Buntingford and Puckeridge should receive it if the technical issues can be sorted out. I know that my constituents are eager for this to happen and I am hoping to hear with the next two to three weeks what the position is. It was a very positive meeting and I hope it will be possible for Puckeridge and Buntingford to see the benefits before too long.