Barbara Keeley

LABOUR CANDIDATE FOR WORSLEY AND ECCLES SOUTH

Policy

Pavement Parking can be a real problem and can cause a great deal of frustration for pedestrians and road users. It can be even more problematic for those who are blind or partially sighted and for people who use wheelchairs.

The current laws on pavement parking are confusing for motorists, they can be dangerous for vulnerable road users and they are costly for councils who are having to repair damaged pavements. Progress needs to be made on this issue.

There are ways that local councils and the police can act to tackle on-street and pavement parking under the legislation governing obstruction and dangerous parking. They can designate limited areas of ‘pavement parking’ or establish special parking areas for commuters and residents in busy areas.

In 2015, the Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill progressed to the Second Reading stage. During the debate, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister with responsibility for buses, cycling and walking, Daniel Zeichner MP, said that “Vehicles parked on pavements are an issue particularly for vulnerable pedestrians—especially for older people, families with pushchairs, wheelchair users and people with visual or mobility impairments. We need better legislative intervention”. I was disappointed that the Bill did not progress further due to time constraints as it could have given local councils greater powers to manager parking on pavements.

The current rules are unsatisfactory for people who, like me, would like to see laws in place that would help local councils to make decisions about pavement parking more simply, with reduced costs. We need to be able to protect vulnerable pedestrians and all those who use our roads and pavements.

Pavement Parking

Pavement Parking can be a real problem and can cause a great deal of frustration for pedestrians and road users. It can be even more problematic for those who are...

I am concerned by Age UK's estimate that over 1.2 million older people say they are chronically lonely.

Tackling loneliness is a vital issue. Too often loneliness can go undetected, as many people put up with it in silence. According to Age UK there are 200,000 older people who have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month and 3.9 million older people who say that the television is their main form of company.

Recent evidence suggests that loneliness can have a serious impact on the physical and mental health of older people. It can be associated with increased rates of depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. I have learned that loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

I believe that loneliness is a public health issue and that more could be done to treat it as such. I also believe there is a role for Government in recognising the impact of loneliness.

Working with 13 charities including Age UK, the Jo Cox Commission aims to shine a spotlight on the different aspects of loneliness and to look at positive ways to tackle the issues. I support the work of the Commission - a cross-party coalition of MPs, charities and campaigners working to take action on loneliness in my late colleague's memory.

I would like to see a system of safety checks for older people who are vulnerable, identifying risks to their health and preventing problems such as loneliness and depression from escalating.

Locally, I am continuing the work of the Commission by looking at how loneliness is affecting people in Salford and at finding ways we can tackle the problem.

Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – help for older people experiencing loneliness

I am concerned by Age UK's estimate that over 1.2 million older people say they are chronically lonely. Tackling loneliness is a vital issue. Too often loneliness can go undetected,...

In July 2016 the Government confirmed that NHS bursaries for training nurses, midwives, and Allied Health Professionals will be abolished and replaced with student loans from August this year. I understand how strongly NHS staff and many people in Worsley and Eccles South and across the country, feel about this issue. The 'Keep the NHS Bursary' petition was signed by more than 162,000 people. I share these strong feelings about this policy change

Nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals work long hours, often in difficult circumstances. They work hard to make our health service one to be proud of, and deserve our respect and support. It is therefore disappointing that rather than investing in healthcare students and protecting their bursaries - which help with living costs and tuition fees - student nurses are now being asked to pay to train to work in the NHS.

I am worried that Conservative-led Government cuts to nurse training places during the last Parliament have left hospital wards understaffed. I also believe that placing the burden of the cost of education on nurses is wrong and that these plans risk discouraging nurses from working in frontline nursing roles.

A UNISON survey of student nurses found that almost 91% would not have applied for their degree without access to the bursary and in February the House of Commons Library revealed that the admissions organisation UCAS received 10,000 fewer applications for nurse training compared to last year.

Last year I supported a Labour motion in the House of Commons which called for the Conservative Government to drop the proposals and instead to consult on how it could best fund and support the future healthcare workforce. Unfortunately the motion was defeated. I and my Labour colleagues have continued to pressure the Conservative Government on this issue.

In January, there was a debate in Westminster on the ‘Agent for Change: NHS Pay Restraint’ petition. During the debate my shadow health team colleague, Justin Madders MP, said that Labour believed “the disastrous policy of having tuition fees for student nurses will almost certainly make the position (of the NHS) worse, not better. The Royal College of Nursing warned at the time that the policy could act as a disincentive for students from some backgrounds—particularly mature students and those on lower incomes—and early indications are that applications to study are down by at least 20%. If that turns out to be an accurate reflection of the position, the pressure on existing staff can only increase.”

Labour’s opposition to the cut was repeated again during the March debate on NHS pay. In that debate, the Shadow Health Minister criticized the Conservative Government for “driving an NHS workforce crisis, forcing people out of health professions and putting others off starting in the first place”.

I and my colleagues in the Shadow Health team will continue to stand up for local NHS staff in Parliament and we will continue to press for these changes to be reversed.

Cuts to NHS Bursaries

In July 2016 the Government confirmed that NHS bursaries for training nurses, midwives, and Allied Health Professionals will be abolished and replaced with student loans from August this year. I...

NHS workers do a great job in difficult circumstances and I believe that a pay rise is overdue for them. I and my Labour colleagues support a return to public sector pay being agreed through the evidence of pay review bodies.

The determination, professionalism and compassion of staff continues against the backdrop of years of pay restraint, and in March the NHS Pay Review Body recommended a further 1% pay increase for NHS staff from 1 April 2017.

In 2015 the Government announced a maximum pay increase of 1% in public sector pay lasting until 2019-20. I do not believe that this is sustainable. The report from the NHS Pay Review Body claims that the pay cap is "coming under stress" and highlights that staff have "concerns about the quality of care they can give, and feel that they are not valued."

Health unions maintain that since 2010 there has been a real-terms drop in earnings of 14% for its members and have said that some nursing staff are now relying on foodbanks and second jobs to make ends meet. I appreciate the big personal impact the pay freeze is having on some of those affected in our area.

I am concerned that pay restraint has caused severe problems in health recruitment, as young people are put off joining health professions and others simply cannot afford to continue. The NHS's dependency on agency staff has also strengthened the case for a pay increase.

I believe it is time that the NHS pay cap was lifted so that the nursing staff, paramedics, midwives and other key NHS workers, in our constituency and across the country, are paid at a level which recognises the skill and dedication which they bring to their jobs.

Time to talk about NHS pay

NHS workers do a great job in difficult circumstances and I believe that a pay rise is overdue for them. I and my Labour colleagues support a return to public...

It is important that anyone who has been the victim of a road traffic accident is able to claim compensation for injuries they have suffered due to negligence. This must be balanced against the need to ensure insurance premiums are affordable for responsible motorists and that people are not able to make frivolous or fraudulent claims.

The Conservative Government has said that it will not remove the right to damages for minor soft tissue injuries. Instead, it will create a tariff for claims for an injury lasting up to two years. The Government has plans to increase the small claims limit for road traffic related personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. It also intends to ban offers to settle whiplash claims before medical evidence is given.

These changes will be taken forward in the Prisons and Courts Bill, which had its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 20 March.

I understand several organisations have expressed concern about these proposals. While they affect the victims of road traffic accidents, I am concerned that the proposed reforms to whiplash will affect others, including those people who are injured at work.

I am also concerned that the proposal to increase the small claims track for non-RTA claims to £2,000 will harm access to justice in a range of cases, including employer's liability. In his 2009 Review of Civil Litigation Costs, Lord Justice Jackson opposed any increase in the small claims limit until inflation justified an increase to £1,500.

In any case, I would like the insurance industry to guarantee that all savings will be passed on to consumers in reduced premiums. The Prisons and Courts Bill will provide an opportunity for these proposals to be debated and scrutinised and I and my Labour colleagues working on the Bill will bear in mind the concerns being raised with us.

Changes to Personal Injury Claims under the Prisons and Courts Bill

It is important that anyone who has been the victim of a road traffic accident is able to claim compensation for injuries they have suffered due to negligence. This must...

The Woodland Trust is dealing with an unprecedented number of threats to Ancient Woodland and has been campaigning for some time for planning policy to be changed to try to address these threats.

In 2005, the previous Labour Government published a statement of policy for England's Ancient and Native Woodland. This set out a vision to maintain and increase the area of Ancient Woodland to improve its ecological condition and to protect and conserve the cultural heritage associated with it.

However, Ancient Woodland is currently not a statutory designation in law and this sets it apart from many other precious habitats. This also means it is liable to suffer from a lack of protection.

In February, the Conservative Government published a Housing White Paper which proposes to clarify which policies provide strong reasons to restrict development when preparing plans. The proposed changes would amend the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to protect Ancient Woodland further.

A consultation on the Housing White Paper is currently being carried out and as part of this views are being sought on specific proposals to amend the NPPF, which includes protections for Ancient Woodland and aged or veteran trees. The consultation is running until 2nd May 2017.

You can view and comment on the proposals here.

Protect our Ancient Woodland

The Woodland Trust is dealing with an unprecedented number of threats to Ancient Woodland and has been campaigning for some time for planning policy to be changed to try to...

I have great sympathy with anyone who has lost their job, or who may be at risk of losing their job, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I am also concerned that reductions in funding at the Commission since 2010 and related redundancies will make it more difficult for the Commission to carry out its vital work.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission was established in 2007 to protect people against discriminatory treatment and to hold organisations such as businesses and Government to account for what they do. I believe it is important that there is a strong, independent organisation to enforce equality and human rights legislation.

In June 2010, the Conservative Government reduced the Commission’s annual budget from £62 million to £55 million. The budget in 2016-17 was £20.4 million and it has now been confirmed that this will fall further, with £19.3 million allocated for 2017-18, £18.3 million for 2018-19, and £17.4 million for 2019-20. This will mean a reduction of 68% between 2010 and 2020.

The Conservative Government believes that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is receiving sufficient funds to enable it to fulfil its statutory functions. However, I am concerned that the Commission is unable to focus on the work it needs to deliver because of these cuts and I believe that the Government should halt any further reductions to the Commission’s budget.

I oppose further cuts to the budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and I and my Labour colleagues will continue to press the Government on this funding issue.

Support for sacked Equality and Human Rights Commission staff

I have great sympathy with anyone who has lost their job, or who may be at risk of losing their job, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I am...

A great deal of concern has been expressed locally and nationally about status of EU nationals in the UK following the EU referendum and I share those concerns.

It is important that we now work towards securing the best exit deal for our country, but the result of the referendum has raised uncertainty over the future rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK.

EU nationals in the UK should not be used as part of the negotiation process. The Conservative Government should immediately end uncertainty for EU nationals by unilaterally guaranteeing their legal status.

I supported a number of attempts to amend the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act during its consideration in Parliament. Unfortunately, the Conservative Government successfully blocked any amendments to this legislation.

On the 29th March the Prime Minister triggered Article 50, starting the formal process of leaving the EU. While I still believe the Government could guarantee the rights of EU nationals already in the UK straight away, the Government has stated that securing their status in the UK is one if its "early priorities" for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

This is a very important issue and I hope it can be resolved at the earliest opportunity.

Rights of EU citizens living in the UK

A great deal of concern has been expressed locally and nationally about status of EU nationals in the UK following the EU referendum and I share those concerns. It is...

Organisations such as British Cycling are calling for an update to the Highway Code to introduce a universal duty to give way to people going ahead or crossing a junction, including people cycling and walking.

In December 2016 the Transport Secretary said that the Conservative Government has no further plans to carry out a revision of the Highway Code. However, the Government has committed to undertake a consultation on proposed changes when it does carry out the next revision.

Labour has called for dedicated separate safe cycling routes, a Cycle Safety Assessment to cycle-proof new road schemes, and the reintroduction of national road safety targets to cut deaths and serious injuries.

The recent increase in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads is extremely concerning and greater attention must be paid to road safety. I believe that national road safety standards should be reinstated and that we must have the cycling and walking infrastructure that will make road users safer.

I hope that the Conservative Government will carefully consider the proposals that have been put forward by British Cycling when it next reviews the Highway Code. Current updates and smaller changes can be found on the gov.uk website here.

Turning the Corner and the British Cycling campaign

Organisations such as British Cycling are calling for an update to the Highway Code to introduce a universal duty to give way to people going ahead or crossing a junction,...

The Equality Act 2010 made it a criminal offence to refuse carriage to an assistance dog at no extra cost, unless drivers have a medical exemption.

While this Act was an important step forward in tackling discrimination, the Guide Dogs charity has highlighted that there are still cases where guide dog owners are being refused access. This is not only illegal, but can also damage people's confidence and independence. It is clear there is still more to be done.

In May 2014, the Law Commission recommended that holders of taxi and private hire driver licences should be required to comply with the Equality Act as a condition of the licence. After nearly three years since the Law Commission's review of taxi and private hire services it is time for the Conservative Government to respond on this important issue.

I supported my colleague Andrew Gwynne MP when he introduced a Bill on Disability Equality Training in relation to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. This Bill was debated on 18 November 2016 but unfortunately Government MPs talked out the Bill, and it will make no further progress.

However, the Conservative Government has stated that there will be a consultation on revised best practice for licensing authorities and this will include strengthened recommendations on how authorities respond to alleged instances of assistance dog refusal.

I will continue to follow developments on this and I and my Labour colleagues will press for action to improve enforcement of the Equality Act.

Accessibility of Taxis for Guide Dogs

The Equality Act 2010 made it a criminal offence to refuse carriage to an assistance dog at no extra cost, unless drivers have a medical exemption. While this Act was...

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