Welcome to this week’s newsletter.
There has been a lot of discussion this week about Free School Meals. I want to make sure people are aware of the facts as there has sadly been a deliberate attempt to mislead people about the governments approach to score political points.
Firstly, the majority of schools are closed over the holidays, so it was not a question of stopping any child from going to school and having a healthy cooked meal. It was a question of whether supermarket vouchers would be given to people.
The cost to extend the vouchers into the holidays for each child would have been £15 each and cost the government £20 million. What many people aren't aware of is that the government has already increased universal credit by £20 a week (£5 more than this would have cost) and given £63 million to local councils to support families in need. So this isn't a question of a government not wanting to spend money to help people. Cheshire East has decided it will support children on free school meals over the holiday with the money they have been given. This gives councils the freedom to act in the way they think best meets local needs. They haven't given any details yet but I hope they work with local community organisations to deliver this help.
I personally welcome the focus on tackling poverty but what I want to see is more done to work with families and tackle the root causes. I think the better approach to vouchers is extra support as part of activity clubs where not only do children definitely get a nutritious meal but they get contact with community organisations and a chance to do activities that help disadvantaged children close the gap. It gives community organisations to chance to meet with and talk to their parents and hopefully build relationships and help them more generally.
Of course that doesn't capture the media headlines like saying we want children to starve.
I hope people have got to know me enough by now to understand that is just ridiculous. Ahead of Christmas I will be working hard to make sure government makes sure there are the resources available to support families, but I just do not think making it a permanent job of schools to distribute welfare vouchers in holiday times is the right way to go.
If as a result of this campaign we see funding and support for children during holidays increased that will be very positive. I also strongly welcome local businesses choosing to help people as well with packed lunches and free meals. At a time of national crisis it is not only the government that can play a role. We all can.
In other news, this week an outline of Leighton Hospital’s redevelopment plans were published, which gives us all an exciting glimpse at what Leighton Hospital could look like if we secure it a place on the multi-billion-pound building programme. Following the publication of the Leighton Hospital’s redevelopment plans, I met with Prime Minister to discuss getting support for these proposals.
The Leighton Hospital petition has been signed by hundreds of people across Crewe and Nantwich. At this stage every signature counts, so if you haven’t already, please add your signature: https://www.drkieranmullan.org.uk/news/leighton-hospital-new-build-campaign
Equally as exciting, was the news that the Royal Arcade development has finally been signed. The Chair and other members of the Crewe Town Board have worked tirelessly to get a deal that puts Crewe residents first. It is fantastic to see their hard work has paid off and they all deserve a massive thank you.
This week also saw the Chancellor announce extra financial support for individuals and businesses across the country. The changes include making the Job support Scheme and 3rd Self-Employed Grant more generous as well as providing grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in Tier 2, worth up to £2,100 per month. Earlier this week, I called on the Treasury to consider additional support for Tier 2 hospitality businesses and I am incredibly pleased that the Chancellor has announced this extra support.
In the House this week I gave a speech in the Pet Theft Petition Debate and voiced my support for some of the many ways we can get stricter on pet theft in the UK. Pets are more than just property, they are party of the family, and sadly over lockdown there has been an increase in pet theft cases. We need to make it clear to criminals that pet theft is a serious offence and anyone caught commenting this crime will be punished accordingly.
Have a read of this week’s newsletter to see all the other key announcements and stories from this week.
Dr Kieran Mullan
MP for Crewe & Nantwich
LEIGHTON HOSPITAL REDEVELOPMENT PLANS
NEW SUPPORT FOR JOBS AND BUSINESSES IN TIER 2 AREAS
ROYAL ARCADE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED!
CAMPAIGN: THIRD PARTY INSURANCE LOOPHOLE
PET THEFT DEBATE
MEETING WITH NANTWICH ELIM CHURCH CONGREGATION
SUDEP ACTION DAY
SAVE £140 OFF YOUR ENERGY BILLS
ENERGY PRICE CAP EXTENDED
HMO's IN CREWE
CHESHIRE VIRTUAL JOBS FAIR
LEIGHTON HOSPITAL REDEVELOPMENT PLANS:
It was exciting to see an outline of the plans for the redevelopment of Leighton Hospital ahead of the meeting with the Prime Minister this week aimed at gaining support for the proposals. This meeting follows my meeting with Leighton Hospital CEO, James Sumner, last week to discuss the campaign.
Leighton Hospital bosses have published an outline for how the site could be made fit for the future in a multi-million pound rebuild to replace buildings and reconfigure the site.
Earlier this month I launched a petition to secure Leighton’s place as one of the final 8 new hospital build sites in the recently announced final round of a multi-billion-pound hospital building programme
The new hospitals will be built by 2030 backed by £3.7 billion as part of the biggest hospital building programme for a generation. Eight additional sites are yet to be chosen.
Leighton Hospital was built in the 1970’s and was never planned to still be in use today. It has benefited from a number of big investments in new theatres and other facilities. £15 million will be put into A&E this year and next year. But the reality is, add on blocks and new facilities can only take you so far. Leighton needs a fundamental rebuild and this funding opportunity is a unique one we need to grab with both hands. It is great that the public can now get a better understanding of what this would look like by looking at the proposals released this week by Leighton.
We had an enormous response from residents as part of our campaign to get Leighton funding for it’s A&E, with thousands signing the petition. Now we need peoples help again to get behind Leighton!
Please sign my petition to get Leighton hospital this brilliant redevelopment:
NEW SUPPORT FOR JOBS AND BUSINESSES IN TIER 2 AREAS:
The Government has announced new grants for businesses and the self-employed, and changes to the Job Support Scheme.
The business grants should be open from November and backdated, so I encourage local businesses to prepare to apply.
These new measures include:
Changes to the Job Support Scheme so that employers contribute less, and the Government more
Grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in Tier 2 worth up to £2,100 per month
Doubling the 3rd Self Employed Grant
I understand these are tough times for many local businesses. These measures will give them some greater flexibility and support for the winter months ahead.
Can I thank The Hop Pole, Hickory's Smokehouse Gresty Green, Pillory House Coffee Shop & Gallery Nantwich, Gio's Crewe, Eight Farmers Crewe, and other local businesses who spoke to me and helped me make the case to Government for more support locally.
I am incredibly pleased that the Chancellor has announced this extra support! Below is the Chancellor confirming
ROYAL ARCADE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED!
It has finally happened! The demolition works at the Royal Arcade site will start to take place this month. The eagled eyed will have seen people visiting the site and signs going up. This will see the final services disconnected and asbestos removed ahead of machinery arriving on-site – leading the way for the site to be clear by May 2021.
A planning application is now expected to be submitted next year, with a partially completed bus station expected by summer 2022, with the plan to deliver the full facility and new car park in spring 2023.
I want to thank the Chair and other members of the Crewe Town Board who worked so hard to ensure this agreement was one that took into account the uncertainties in the commercial realm we now face and so prioritised getting the bus station and car park built first.
This means we know that whatever happens, people in Crewe finally see progress. It is great the developer remains confident in the commercial side of things though; it shows yet again what potential Crewe has.
I and other Crewe Town Board members wanted a deal that put the needs of Crewe residents first. The changes we secured with others have done this.
We are going to carry on building on this success and others we have had with the Lyceum Square funding and the market reopening to build a really bright future for Crewe. Watch this space. I know people will need to see it to believe it!
CAMPAIGN: THIRD PARTY INSURANCE LOOPHOLE:
Last week I spoke on BBC Radio 4's Money Box program to talk about a loophole in the third-party insurance system that has been an issue for one of my constituents (You can listen to full Money Box episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000nbzb
I was joined on the program by my constituent, Rob, who I have been working with on this issue since he came to one of very first surgeries to tell me about it.
A bit of background:
It is becoming common practice for car insurers of someone at fault to agree to take over the handling of a case for the third party. Under normal circumstances, if a person's own insurer deals with something then the insured would have a right to go to the Financial Ombudsman to get an independent review of their service.
But, if an individual has an issue dealt with by someone else’s insurer, as they don’t have a commercial contract with them, the ombudsman will not take up their case.
Personally, I think either the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules should allow Ombudsman to make a judgement on this matter or insurers should be required to tell people they will not have recourse to the ombudsman should they go down the route of the insurer of the person responsible for the accident dealing with it.
This week, I had a meeting with the Minister responsible for the insurance industry, John Glen MP, to discuss this matter and possible changes that could be made to the current guidelines for insurers surrounding third-party insurance claims.
I have made the Minister aware of this problem and I hope that he has agreed to start talks with the industry regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to tackle this loophole.
Pets are far more than just property. They are loved members of the family. Sadly, 5 pets are stolen every day in England and Wales by criminals who see these loved animals as a way to make a profit.
Unfortunately, pet theft has gone up since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020.
Yesterday I spoke in the pet theft petitions debate to discuss how the Government can strengthen its approach to this horrible crime. This is an issue that Crewe and Nantwich clearly care strongly about, with 600 of my constituents signing one of the two petitions on pet theft.
We are a pet loving nation and I believe our laws should reflect this. Currently, pet theft is criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968, however this act views pets simply as property. But we all know they are so much more than that.
Dr Daniel Allen, who started the Pet Theft Reform petition, found in his research that in 2018, only 1% of pet theft resulted in the thief getting charged.
This is not good enough.
We need to make it clear to criminals that pet theft is a serious offence and anyone caught commenting this crime will be punished accordingly.
In my speech I show my support for some of the many ways we can get stricter on pet theft in the UK.
MEETING WITH NANTWICH ELIM CHURCH CONGREGATION:
This week I had a virtual meeting with Senior Pastor Michelle Nun and the Nantwich Elim Church congregation to answer their questions about the Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions. I was also joined by Dr Elijah Matovu, who has been practicing medicine during the pandemic, and it was great that we were able to answer questions about the COVID-19 virus and the measures in place.
I have been calling on the Government to do more to explain their approach and I was very pleased to be able to do my bit to keep everyone up to speed!
I am always happy to meet with community groups to discuss the new measures and I would encourage anyone who wishes to organise a meeting to contact my office.
SUDEP ACTION DAY
Friday was SUDEP Action Day!
SUDEP Action Day shines a light on one of the largest causes of death in people with epilepsy, helping empower people through increased awareness. There are 21 epilepsy deaths a week in the UK, many of them preventable, and this international event helps people take small positive steps to reducing epilepsy risks; steps which could be lifesaving for some. Many people with epilepsy are not told about SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy), so do not know about its risks and what they can do to reduce them. That is why SUDEP Action day is so important – helping people with epilepsy around the world to live well.
SUDEP Action who run the day, have created free resources and information to help people get involved in raising awareness – the theme this year is #SpeakUp2SaveLives. There are also many ideas on how you can help available here: http://www.sudepawarenessday.org/
I have met and am trying to work with local people affected by this issue and am due to meet with SUDEP Action in the coming weeks to discuss what more we can do to raise awareness of this issue.
SAVE £140 OFF YOUR ENGERGY BILLS:
Fantastic news that around 1 million pensioners will be automatically receiving a £140 discount off their energy bills. The DWP have crossed checked pension credit data with energy supplier data so that instead of pensioners having to apply they get the discount automatically. This is something we should do automatically from now.
220,000 pensioners not captured by the automatic system could however still be eligible, so contact the free helpline on 0800 731 0214 to check whether you can save money this winter.
ENERGY PRICE CAP EXTENDED:
Great news that the price cap for energy prices has been extended until the end of 2021. This will continue to protect over 11 million households from being overcharged for their energy bills and save between £75-£100 a year.
While switching supplier to a better deal remains the best way to save money, this move will ensure that customers are protected and treated fairly.
HMOs IN CREWE:
Share! Have your say!
I have heard from so many residents about the problems associated with houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) in Crewe with associated environmental, economic and social issues for example increased levels of fly-tipping.
Cheshire East want to use powers that allow them to force landlords to get permission to create a HMO. I would encourage residents to give their views and support this plan. You can so online:
You have until 5pm on 30 November 2020 to respond
CHESHIRE VIRTUAL JOBS FAIR:
CheshireWorks4U are hosting the largest virtual jobs fair in the area next week. The 6-hour session will broadcast videos from over 80 companies and advertise vacancies across many industries.
Having helped organise a jobs fair in Crewe and Nantwich a couple of months ago, I know how useful they can be for local people to find new jobs in new areas of work, particularly during what is currently a difficult environment.
I encourage all who can to take part via the details below.
The following are the road closures for the coming week as reported by Cheshire East.
Warmingham Road – Closed 26th October until 30th October
Delamere Street, Crewe (Between Tower Way and Queensway) – Closed until 30th November
Westminster Street, Crewe – Closed until 2nd November
Lodge Lane – closed 27th October – 30th October
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