Monday, 29 November 2010

Sarah Newton MP joins the campaign to combat domestic violence

On Thursday 25th November Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton joined the White Ribbon Day launch in Westminster.  The White Ribbon Campaign is men working to end violence against women.  As the campaign states:

“Most men are not violent towards women, but many of us ignore the problem, or see it as something which doesn't have anything to do with us.  We need to join women and women’s organisations in taking action to end the problem.”

Commenting on the day, Sarah says: “I recently visited the Cornwall Women’s Refuge Trust out-reach team in Truro and met with local women who have benefitted from the help and support that they have received.  Violence against women is more widespread than we like to admit personally and as a community.  It affects not only the men and women involved but their families and society as a whole.  I am delighted to support this campaign that will raise awareness of this important problem.”

Sarah went on to say: “I welcome the Home Secretary’s commitment to eradicating domestic violence against women.  The Government will provide over £28 million over the next four years for specialist services for victims of domestic and sexual violence.  We must tackle both the root causes of this type of violence but also the devastating effects that it can have.”

Consumer Focus joins forces with Sarah Newton MP over Falmouth Post Office

The fight to stop the relocation of Falmouth Post Office has received a shot in the arm as the consumer champion group and Post Office Regulator, Consumer Focus, has lent a hand to Sarah Newton MP.

Consumer Focus will be sending a representative to Falmouth where they will ‘walk the ground’ and establish precisely how unsuitable the proposed site on Market Strand would be for the Post Office.

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, informed Consumer Focus of the relocation plans and that the premises would be difficult and indeed dangerous for elderly and disabled customers.  Sarah said: “I am delighted that Consumer Focus will be investigating this matter further.  I am sure that once they have examined the site they will share my view, and that of local people, that this relocation is completely unsuitable.”

“I am disappointed that the Post Office is asking elderly and disabled customers - customers who are loyal to and rely on the Post Office – to negotiate the route to Market Strand.  This route involves using a very narrow pavement and puts people dangerously close to fast moving traffic.”

Sarah continued: “I will continue to campaign alongside Consumer Focus and I will keep local residents informed of any further developments.”

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sarah Newton MP welcomes new ‘Active at 60 Community Agents’ to Cornwall

Today the Government announced a new fund of £1 million to help older people stay active and make the most of their later lives.  The money is available for local community groups or organisations within 30 areas of England to bid for small grants of between £250 and £3,000.

Each local community group within the selected areas will recruit at least one Active at 60 Community Agent who will volunteer their time to help motivate, encourage and organise people within their communities to become more physically, socially and mentally active.  Active at 60 Community Agents will be from the communities they are helping, and will have the flexibility to design innovative ways of encouraging and inspiring activity to improve people’s later lives.

Through the Active Community Agent initiative those people who are more at risk of social isolation in their later lives will be supported in becoming more active, independent, and positively engaged with society.

In welcoming this new initiative, Sarah Newton commented: “Today a very important new report was launched, demonstrating the need to reach out to isolated, older people in our communities.  It is not just the job of Cornwall Social Services and the NHS to provide help, but each of us must do what we can to help.  I am aware of the valuable work that a great number of volunteers do to help older people in their communities but there is more that can be done.”

According to the new study carried out by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an increasing number of older people are being left without children or partners to help care for them.  They said a rise in family breakdowns is having a “ripple effect” throughout society, with high divorce rates and the collapse of long-standing relationships diminishing the bond between older people and their children.  Although the report does celebrate the fact that many older people are “the heartbeat of volunteering and civic participation” in communities, it also tackles the uncomfortable truth that far too many face serious challenges.  Consequently, there is a very real danger that many older people will be left behind and could be forgotten by society entirely.

The report estimates that the number of older people in the UK in need of care and support is expected to increase by 1.7 million over the next 20 years, while the number with dementia could double by 2040.

The immediate impact, the report said, has been a sharp rise in the burden on the estimated six million unpaid carers who do look after a family member, with more than a fifth now providing 50 hours or more care a week.

Commenting on the report, Age UK’s Director said: “People are becoming increasingly isolated in later life for diverse reasons, including bereavement, ill-health and a poor physical environment.  With changing demographics and family patterns, we estimate that the number of people aged 75+ living alone will increase by over 40 per cent over the next 20 years.”

Sarah Newton is also supporting Age Concern Cornwall’s “Spread the Warmth” campaign, which aims to help alleviate the needless suffering older people face in winter.  Aiming to help older people live safer, healthier, more fulfilling lives through practical advice and support services, the campaign focuses on helping older people stay warm as well as reminding neighbours and friends of what they can do to help.

Sarah would like to hear from any of her constituents who would like to find out how they can get involved with the Active at 60 Community Agents.  She can be reached on 01872 274 760 or

Sarah Newton MP speaks up for radical housing reform

Sarah Newton MP has secured a 10 Minute Rule Motion to introduce a Bill into Parliament on 8th December that would enable Cornwall Council, the London Borough of Wandsworth and Stockport Metropolitan Council to be pathfinders in a radical reform of council housing.

The Coalition Government agreed to end the redistributive system of financing council housing in England. Currently, councils are required to pay the council house rents and the majority of receipts from the sale of land and homes to Whitehall, where it is then decided how best to redistribute the funds back to local authorities - known as the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system.

In October, Grant Shapps the Housing Minister committed to changing the rules so councils will be able to keep all the rents and sales receipts that they collect. In return for these greater freedoms, some councils would be required to take on additional housing debt - but no council will take on a level of debt that is not sustainable for the long term.

Details will be introduced in the Localism Bill before Christmas to enable the new system to start in 2012. Sarah Newton has been working with Mike Owen of Cornwall Council to develop the pathfinders and comments:

“By working through the very complex and detailed processes that are required to transform authorities in this way, valuable lessons will be learned to minimise the risks of unforeseen problems when the legislative deal is done for the whole sector and 160 plus authorities exit in 2012.”

An agreement would need to be signed on a voluntary basis between each of the authorities involved and the government.

Grant Shapps said:

"For far too long councils have been left hamstrung in their efforts to meet the housing needs of their residents by a council house finance system that is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. The Housing Revenue Account subsidy is in urgent need of reform.

"That's why I can confirm that we intend to scrap the current system, and instead replace it with something more transparent that will serve the needs of local communities without interference from Whitehall.

"Subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review we will offer councils the opportunity to keep the rents they collect and the receipts from any house or land sales. This is a key step to transfer powers to councils and communities, so they are free to improve their local services in a way that best meets the needs of local people."

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said that the Government is committed to giving councils more financial freedom to deliver a better deal for the 4 million people living in council housing.

Describing the current system of council house finance as a mess Mr Shapps said the Coalition Government would review the unfair Housing Revenue Account subsidy system. The Minister said he wanted to see a more transparent system that devolved more power to councils to better meet the housing needs of the communities they serve.

Sarah Newton MP Keeps the Railways on Track

Sarah Newton, Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth, gave her support to the Exeter to Plymouth railway in a debate in Westminster.

The railway line connects Cornwall to London and one section in particular runs alongside the coast itself.  With rising seas levels and coastal erosion, the line is in need of continued investment so ensure that it can be maintained and remain operational.  Over the next two years, Network Rail expects the number of passengers increase by 19% and this cannot be sustained without the necessary capital.

Cornwall is dependent upon the rail link to ensure that tourism can come to the region and help to support the economy.  In addition, the use of public transport helps to improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions that would otherwise be created by cars.

Speaking in Parliament, Sarah urged the Government to make sure that the maintenance of the railway was treated as a priority.  Sarah said, “The Cornish economy relies upon the railway to connect small businesses with markets across the rest of the UK.  I am sure that the Government will treat this as a matter of great importance and will ensure that the railway gets the financial support that it needs.”

Sarah also said “I am greatly encouraged by the assurances I have received from the Transport Minister that this railway will be the main rail link between Cornwall and London and one which will continue to serve local people in Cornwall.  I am sure that it will receive the continued investment that it needs to maintain and improve the service.”

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sarah Newton MP joins local residents in opposing Falmouth Post Office relocation plans

Following a public meeting held on Friday, Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton has asked the Post Office to reconsider their proposals to relocate Falmouth Post Office to the former Spar shop on Market Strand. 

The public meeting, chaired by Falmouth Mayor Geoffrey Evans, saw local people express their unanimous opposition to the proposed move. Residents felt strongly that the busy and dangerous road, combined with the narrow pavements, adjoining the site on Market Strand would prove dangerous to customers trying to access a Post Office on that site.

After the meeting Sarah Newton accepted the challenge of regular Post Office user Les Clarke, a visually impaired gentleman, to walk from the Moor to the site whilst blindfolded and reliant on Mr Clarke’s guide dog.

Commenting on the experience, Sarah Newton said:

‘Frankly it was a frightening journey. The narrowness of the pavement, and the speed and quantity of traffic on the adjacent road, combined to make me deeply concerned for my personal safety. I felt far from safe.’

‘I find it unacceptable that the Post Office are prepared to ask elderly and disabled people to negotiate that route on a regular basis.’

‘I have therefore written to the Post Office requesting that they abandon their proposals and look for a safer alternative site.   I would encourage all concerned Falmouth residents to do the same by passing their objections to the Post Office consultation team’.

The Post Office Consultation team can be contacted on the below details:

 National Consultation Team
PO Box 2060.
WD18 8ZW.

The consultation closes on the 16th November.