Archives for: June 2011
©Yorkshire Evening Post
As reported in the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post today, Rachel has urged senior government ministers to end the "limbo" and make a decision about including a new rail station at the Kirkstall Forge development.
“The Department for Transport needs to make it clear where we stand, and whether it will back this scheme.
“We’ve been left in limbo for months now – people in Kirkstall will rightly want to know what the future holds for the forge.
The development of the forge site is really important for the future of our area.
The promise of jobs and homes is a great opportunity, and better, sustainable
travel into leeds city centre is vital too.
I will be highlighting the benefits of the plans, their widespread support
in the local community and the significant private capital that has gone into the station.”
The Kirkstall Forge campaign will take another step forward on Wednesday after Rachel secured a debate on the future of the station.
Rachel will use the debate (at 11am on Wednesday) to ask the Government what plans it has for the station.
Rachel said: "I am in favour of the station and this is the next step in the campaign. It offers a substantial economic opportunity for our area, making use of a large brownfield site currently lying empty. Crucially, it will also offer a quick, sustainable journey into Leeds city centre. I will be highlighting the importance of this for our area. I will also be making clear the significant efforts that have gone into making this affordable, with a large contribution from the scheme’s developers towards the costs of the station.
The station is the key to the success of the development. The economic benefits are clear, and the potential of the site huge. I hope to get some answers from the Government about the future of the station – and what we can hope for in Kirkstall."
Rachel hosted a fundraising film night in aid of SHELTER in the Victorian Cinema at Armley Mills Industrial Museum on Friday 24th June 2011. The audience were treated to a special screening of “Brassed Off”, followed by a question and answer session with the film’s Director, Mark Herman. The event raised almost £600, which SHELTER will put to good use in their campaign to secure a decent home for everyone.
After the event, Rachel said, “I am really grateful to the management and staff at Armley Mills for providing this fabulous venue for us, for the guests for coming along and making it a success and especially to Mark Herman, the film’s director, for giving us a unique opportunity to hear about the story behind the movie.”
Last week was Leeds Learning Disability Week. As part of the week, Leeds MPs hosted a group from Leeds in Westminster.
Rachel joined the group in the Jubilee Room for a discussion on engagement in politics and democracy, and what we could do to make sure that everyone gets involved in local and national democracy.
The visit followed a 'take-over' of Leeds City Council, organised by the Council with Tenfold, the Leeds Learning Disability Forum.
You can find out more at Tenfold.
Watch Rachel on BBC Question Time in Huddersfield with panelists David Mitchell, John Redwood MP, Norman Baker MP and Fern Britton.
This morning, Rachel joined local volunteers to launch the Community Day of Action, with the aim of renovating the Fairfield Community Centre in Bramley.
Community activists were joined by the community development team from Aramark UK and American College students working as part of the City Force initiative.
Rachel told the volunteers, "Now, more than ever, community centres like the Fairfield need the support of the whole community. The hard work and dedication of people like you, as well as the volunteers who keep the doors open day in, day out, makes a real difference to this whole neighbourhood, and I applaud all of you."
The Yorkshire Evening Post have covered the Bramley Baths Public Meeting, hosted by Rachel on Thursday 16th June 2011.
AN emotional and heated meeting about the future of Bramley’s historic swimming baths ended with locals voting to put together a plan for community ownership.
There was anger and frustration that the situation had been forced on the community by the Government’s cuts programme.
Leeds faces a £90 million budget cut – and the century-old Grade II listed building could be one of the casualties.
The meeting was told the baths are costing the council almost £250,000 per year to run, but do not make a profit.
Campaigners recently won £38,000 in funding to help the baths run on reduced hours until March next year, but its long-term future is still in doubt...
Today is the second reading of the government’s Pensions Bill and the first chance for MPs to vote on the controversial plans surrounding the state pension age. The issue has appeared widely in the media this morning ahead of the crucial debate.
Rachel, as Shadow Pensions Minister, has written for Left Foot Forward to explain how Moving the goalposts on pensions is unfair and unjust.
You can also read The Daily Mail’s article, Don't punish women': Ministers demand rethink on pensions that will cost 500,000 up to £15,000 each, by clicking here.
In the Yorkshire Post today there is an opinion piece written by Rachel entitled, MPs must protect these women who face an unjust wait for their pension. Click ‘Read More’ below to read the full text of this article.
MPs must protect these women who face an unjust wait for their pension.
Today MPs will vote on the Government’s plans to accelerate the increase in the state pension age. MPs from all parties have the chance to stand up for constituents who are affected by proposals that unfairly target women in their mid and late fifties.
The Government’s plans mean 4.9 million people having to wait longer before the can draw their state pension. Amongst them, 500,000 women will have to wait more than an extra year, while 33,000 will have to wait exactly two years. No men will have to wait for more than a year. In Yorkshire, 43,000 women will be hit by more than a year with 3,000 women in the region waiting two years longer.
Along with Labour leader Ed Miliband, I will be leading the charge in Parliament against these unfair and unjust plans. They are unfair because they target a group of women who have, on average, just one sixth of the savings built up by men of the same age. 40% of them have no savings at all. Many of the women will have taken time off to bring up families. They have received lower pay throughout their career: in 1980, when these women were in their mid 20s, the pay gap was 30%. Many of these women worked part time and would have been prevented from saving for a pension because companies did not have to provide occupational pensions for part time workers until the mid 1990s.
An Age UK survey released last week revealed that many of the women affected don’t even know about the potential changes. One fifth weren’t aware of changes made in 1995 to increase their pension age beyond 60. So to give just five years notice of further changes is of great concern.
I am under no illusions about the demand on the system from increasing life expectancy. But there is an alternative. I have backed a plan that would equalise the state pension age for men and women by 2020 and then increase the pension age for both men and women from 65 to 66 between 2020 and 2022. This would achieve the aim of reaching a state pension age of 66 more quickly, but would affect 1.2 million fewer people than under the Government’s plans. It would affect an equal number of men and women, no one would have to wait for more than a year longer for their pension, and women in their mid fifties would not be singled out for harsh medicine.
People approaching retirement need time to plan for change. The Government’s proposals do not allow for that, even though Pensions Minister Steve Webb said last year that “whatever changes we make, we need to do make them in a way that is fair. Fair across the generations. Fair between men and women.” Indeed, the Coalition Agreement promised that the state pension age would not “start to rise to 66 for women before 2020”. The proposals MPs will be voting on today breach that promise, and start the rise to 66 for men and women in 2018.
The women affected don’t want handouts from the state. They have paid into the pensions system, brought up children and many are now caring for elderly parents or young grandchildren. What they want is their pension protected, certainty and time to plan.
One woman, who has worked since she was fifteen and is facing the prospect of an extra two years before she can retire told me: “I have osteoarthritis in my thumbs and wrists, which makes the lifting and cleaning work in my job harder. The basic state pension will be my only retirement income, and I have no extra means of coping financially. I will have no option but to try and carry on working.” These changes are unfair and disproportionate, and hundreds of thousands of women do not deserve to have the goalposts moved again.
Today’s vote will be a chance for MPs to show that they have listened to their constituents and that they are willing to act to protect them, and for coalition MPs it is a chance to stick by their coalition agreement and vote down these unfair proposals.
Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Minister for Pensions
Last night almost 100 local residents attended a public meeting, hosted by Rachel, to discuss the future of Bramley Baths. Bramley Councillor Ted Hanley and Mark Law, CEO of local charity BARCA Leeds, were on the panel of speakers, while the Sport Operations Manger from Leeds City Council also attended to answer questions and collect people’s feedback.
During the meeting the panel explained why Leeds City Council was no longer in a financial position to be able to continue running the Baths at full time opening hours, due to the cuts imposed on Leeds City Council by the government, and how a potential Community Asset Transfer could be the only way to save Bramley Baths in the long term.
Mark Law discussed other pools that had successfully undergone a Community Asset Transfer, such as the Jesmond Community Pool in Newcastle and Camberwell Baths in London and what new services they have provided to their communities. Mark explained that if run differently and marketed properly Bramley Baths could be a success story as a pool in community ownership and the residents of Bramley would be able to save this valuable piece of local history.
There was an extensive Q&A session where residents questioned the panel on issues concerning how a CAT would work, what the process would involve and if it would be sustainable. Although a few attendees were opposed to any alternative outside of Council ownership, the majority voted to investigate all the options available that could potentially save Bramley Baths, including a CAT. At least 20 local people volunteered to get more involved and become part of a working group to explore these options and to move this process forward.
There was also an ‘ideas wall’, on which people were invited to place suggestions on how to improve the Baths and make it sustainable for the future. The wall was covered with ideas by the end of the meeting and suggestions. You can click here to view, or right click to download, the ‘Bramley Baths – Ideas Wall’ document, which sets out the range of suggestions that were given by local residents.
‘It was fabulous to see so many people at the meeting, the strength of community feeling towards the Bramley Baths campaign has been phenomenal and the turn-out at the meeting reflected this. I am glad that so many people came to put forward their ideas and suggestions and these will all be given serious consideration.
I was pleased to see how many people were keen to explore the possibility of a Community Asset Transfer and delighted that so many people volunteered to be a part of this process. I know that some people are frustrated that the Council cannot simply continue to run the Baths at the current opening hours and don’t want to see any other route pursued but, as was explained at the meeting, this is unfortunately no longer a option. The Council simply do not have the funding available to keep running the Baths full-time, due to the budget cuts imposed on them from central government. Of course, it would be ideal if the Baths could remain open full-time under Council control but this is just not the situation that we are currently in and if we don’t look at the alternative options Bramley Baths would be unlikely to survive.’
As reported in today's Yorkshire Evening Post, Rachel has enlisted the support of Olympic Gold Medalist Duncan Goodhew in the campaign to secure a long term future for the historic Bramley Baths.
Rachel is hosting a public meeting for local residents to discuss the future of Bramley Baths which will take place tomorrow, Thursday 16th June, 6pm - 7pm, at the Bramley Community Centre on Waterloo Lane.
Rachel Reeves has increased the pressure on the Tory-led Government to put a stop to its unfair plans to accelerate the increase in the State Pension Age.
Under plans contained in the Pensions Bill, which will be debated soon in the House of Commons, the speed at which the State Pension Age is equalised will increase. 500,000 women will have to wait more than an extra year to receive their state pension, 33,000 of them will have to wait for exactly two extra years.
In a debate in the House of Commons yesterday Rachel said the State Pension Age changes were unfair.
After the debate, Rachel said:
"These plans are profoundly and arbitrarily unfair on a group of women who have had to face uncertainty over their retirement age too many times. The speed of their plans is a clear breach of the Coalition Agreement which promised that the State Pension Age would not start to rise to 66 before 2018 for women. There is growing unease on Government benches about this plan, and I will continue to fight for a fairer deal for thousands of women up and down the country."
The campaign has included a lobby of Parliament by women who will be affected and a 10,000 strong petition, handed to 10 Downing Street by Rachel and a group of women angry at the plans last month.
Read more about the issue at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/08/government-cuts-women