Media Centre

For more information or any media enquiries contact James Hennigan on 0161 249 5034 or email james.hennigan@parliament.uk

July 2011 Releases

Local MP promotes Interfaith work


Member of Parliament John Leech MP recently took the time out to partake in a shadowing scheme that helps promote interfaith work. In total 45 university students of different faiths and beliefs from across the UK graduated from Undergraduate ParliaMentors (UP).
The scheme, recently a recipient of the UN Award for Intercultural Innovation, was set up to recruit students from the three Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) and to empower them to promote cultural and religious understanding by working together on a project. Three students, one from each faith, are then partnered with an MP who will mentor them and help with their project as well as giving them an insight into their parliamentary and constituency work.
UP tackles the need for better relations between people of different faiths and beliefs on campus, while at the same time creating a diverse network of upcoming leaders working together to address political and social issues. The initiative was established in 2007 and has so far trained more than 150 undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to work in politics and the media.
The three students that shadowed John Leech in his Manchester Withington constituency decided to help tackle education poverty in Manchester during World Book Week.
On 1st March, during World Book Week, the trio gave a presentation at Withington Girls’ School to an audience of 550 girls about educational poverty in Manchester. Andrei Constantin, Muna Abbas, and Yael Collins asked the girls to donate books to less fortunate families in the area, to be distributed by the Wood Street Mission.
During their speech, the trio pointed out that “the English education system is very developed; however there remain a proportion of children who do not have access to basic educational materials such as books. We understand that money is easily misplaced and misused and therefore we support a distribution of books as a long term solution to improving education in the area.”
Andrei, Muna, and Yael had expected about 100 books to be donated but they were greeted by a staggering 567 books. Muna feels empowered by the project she worked on and said: “This project has taught me how to use my beliefs as a tool to improving not only myself, but the world in which I live.”
John Leech who took part in the scheme for the first time this year said, “I have a wonderfully diverse constituency and this was also a chance for me to gain further exposure to and an understanding of these three widely practised faiths. I was struck by the enthusiasm of my three mentees, Muna, Andrei and Yael and am delighted they made such a positive impact on education in Manchester. “
Vincent Sharples, Head of Religious Studies at Withington Girls School, congratulated the students and said, “The three of you were very impressive speakers and the girls were clearly captivated by what you had to say, both on the importance of education generally and also in how you explained about the reality of the lives of some young people in Manchester.”
Jan O’Connor, Manager of the Wood Street Mission, also thanked the trio for all the hard work they put in to coordinating the generous donation of books. She told the trio, “Your contribution to our work really will make a huge difference to these local families. The families themselves remain very grateful for the help they receive and so it is on their behalf that we thank you for your donation and your continued support.”
Muna Abbas, a Muslim student on the programme from Manchester University, said: “This project has taught me how to use my beliefs as a tool to improving not only myself, but the world in which I live. It proves that religion and politics can come together to encourage social harmony and understanding while making a positive contribution to society.”

June 2011 Press Releases

LEECH WELCOMES GOVERNMENT FUNDING BOOST FOR CYCLING PROJECT

Speaking after the announcement of Transport for Greater Manchester’s successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund application John Leech MP commented,
“This is great news for Greater Manchester, it will hopefully kick-start a revolution in cycling and provide a boost for sustainable transport throughout the region.”

The £4.9m Government funding was announced by Liberal Democrat MP and Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker.
The Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project, designed to increase the number of people cycling to work, will provide almost 650 secure cycle parking spaces at a series of new cycle centres across Greater Manchester, and a further 450 spaces at a number of new cycle compounds.

Alongside this, a programme of local cycle information and training will also be offered to break through the barriers that currently hold people back from commuting by bike.

A specific “Bike Back to Work” scheme will also be launched, reflecting the importance of helping more local people to get back into work. This will offer people who are looking to find work the chance to borrow a bike for a trial period to help extend the distance that they can travel to a job.

The Department for Transport awarded £155.5m to 77 bids to support authorities in delivering local economic growth whilst cutting carbon emissions from transport.

A full four-year delivery programme for the Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project will now be developed following confirmation of the LSTF support.

Liberal Democrat MP’s united in support of the Syrian cause

 

John Leech MP and Mark Hunter MP at A Day for Syria

Liberal Democrat MPs John Leech and Mark Hunter delivered speeches of assurance and encouragement to the Syrian community of Manchester on Sunday at ‘A Day for Syria’ event at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Whalley Range, Manchester.

The event which was hosted by the Syrian community of Manchester was a special day for people to learn about Syrian history and culture in light of the recent unrest and to promote awareness of the grave situation in Syria.

Mr Leech & Mr Hunter were invited to talk about the events in Syria and provide perspective on what was being done by the UK Government to pressure the Syrian authorities to restrain from the use of consistent violence against peaceful demonstrators.  John Leech has already raised the issue in the House of Commons with an important Early Day Motion 1949 in support of Syrian protestors, the condemnation of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime’s violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and the need for reform in the Syria.

John Leech Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington said, “Any action needs to have the full support of the international community, such as what we have witnessed regarding Libya.  We want to see change in a peaceful manner, support peaceful demonstrations and the end of the regime”

Both John Leech & Mark Hunter stressed the importance of garnering support from the international community and take measures such as economic sanctions, allowing more foreign media to enter Syria, full investigations into the murders of Syrian citizens at the hands of the Syrian secret service, and ultimately see change happen in a peaceful manner.

Mark Hunter, Member of Parliament for Cheadle said, “It is imperative that the Syrian Government listens to the Syrian people; it is imperative that the Syrian Government acts quickly to reform its political system; and it is imperative that international governments work together to put even more pressure on the Syrian Government.”

Both Mr Leech & Mr Hunter were united in hope for the Syrian constituents in their constituencies and for the wider community in Syria and beyond in achieving a “real democracy” and “real change”.

Almost £20m blown on private surgery in Greater Manchester that never happened!

Figures obtained by a Lib Dem backbencher have revealed that under the last two years of Labour, private hospitals in Greater Manchester were paid a total of £41m for carrying out operations when in fact they only carried out £22m of work.

John Leech MP said, “Labour have been scaremongering the public over the government’s proposed Health and Social Care Bill claiming it will privatise the NHS. The figures obtained speak for themselves and show that how much the private sector made out of the NHS under Labour.  It is unbelievable overspend such as this that demonstrates the need for reform within the NHS to cut out practises such as this.”

In 2008 it was BOGOF for private health care providers, where twice as much for every operation performed!

He went on to say, “If private hospitals want to treat NHS patients then they should meet exactly the same standards and be paid the same amount.  Under no circumstances should there be any cherry picking of services which would have a detrimental impact on NHS providers.   

If the private sector involvement in the National Health Service is privatisation, it was Labour who privatised it.”

The previous Labour government had manipulated the market in favour of private hospitals in the Independent Sector Treatment centres by guaranteeing them fixed payments for taking NHS work, regardless of the number of operations they actually did.

Figures in Greater Manchester saw an average difference in money paid to provider and the value of procedures performed  from 2005 – 2010 of £5.85m per year with the total difference coming in at £35,148,000 from 2005 – 2010. 

John Leech & Geri Halliwell have strawberry tea to raise awareness of Breast Cancer Care

John Leech MP joins Geri Halliwell for strawberry tea for Breast Cancer Care

A sweet treat for Manchester Withington MP as he raises awareness of Breast Cancer Care’s Strawberry Tea

John Leech joined Geri Halliwell for a special Strawberry Tea party in the House of Commons last week.

Arranged by Breast Cancer Care, the event was a chance for John to find out more about the charity’s work supporting people affected by breast cancer and the issues that are important to the 50,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year.

And as well as sampling a superb selection of mouth-watering strawberry treats, John also had the chance to meet some of the charity’s volunteers, who are instrumental in delivering its free support services in communities across the UK.

Commenting on the event, John said: “I know that there will be countless families across my constituency who have been affected by breast cancer, either personally or through the experience of a friend, family member or work colleague.

The Strawberry Tea was a great way to find out more about the impact breast cancer can have on the lives of people affected and to learn about the free support services Breast Cancer Care provide. By hosting your own Strawberry Tea event this summer you can help Breast Cancer Care to continue to be there for anyone affected by this disease. I have worked closely with many cancer charities over the years and in Manchester Withington we have one of the best, The Christie Hospital, and it is campaigns like this that can help support The Christie and the thousands of patients fight this terrible disease.”

Geri Halliwell, Breast Cancer Care’s Patron, urged anyone interested in supporting the charity to host their own Strawberry Tea.

“A Strawberry Tea with my best friends – how fabulous! And all to help Breast Cancer Care, what could be more fun?! Get all your guests to kindly make a donation, which helps Breast Cancer Care to support over 1.7 million people every year. Breast Cancer Care provides world class support, help and information to anyone affected by breast cancer.”

• To find out more about Breast Cancer Care’s Strawberry Tea this summer, visit http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/strawberry or call 0870 164 9422.

May 2011 Press Releases

MP throws weight behind families’ campaign to end waste of NHS funds

John Leech MP and Lynne Featherstone MP with Sir Bert Massie CBE

Manchester Withington MP, John Leech, has pledged to back local families affected by devastating muscle-wasting disease in their fight for specialist services, which they say would change lives while saving the NHS £millions in costs.

The health service is wasting £31million each year on distressing emergency hospital treatment for muscle-wasting disease patients that could have been entirely avoided through proper access to specialist care and equipment, according to a report published on Wednesday (11 May) in Parliament by a national charity.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s report Invest to Save estimates that nearly 40 per cent of the £81million annual cost of emergency hospital care for the UK’s the 70,000 people affected by muscle-wasting diseases is unnecessary and is a direct result of failure to invest adequately in ongoing treatment to manage the conditions.*

It is estimated that as much as £13million is wasted each year in the North West region alone.

This week John Leech MP met local patients and family members living with muscle-wasting diseases as they gathered at Westminster to present the report to Health Minister Paul Burstow and to call for immediate action to address the waste.

John Leech MP said:

“I was shocked to hear about difficulties faced by patients and families in accessing the specialist muscle-wasting disease care they so clearly require. I am offering my full support for improvements in health care for people in my constituency and across the country, which would save the NHS money while changing lives.”

John Leech has tabled a motion in Parliament which welcomes the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s report and calls on the Government to publicly announce a neuromuscular service strategy as a matter of urgency.

Vivek Gohil (20), who was at the report launch, has the severe, debilitating muscle-wasting disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He says that the failure of health professionals to recognise a health issue related to his condition led to a month of hospital treatment:

“There was a period two years ago when I found it very difficult to eat, and began to get weaker and weaker. As my health deteriorated I caught a chest infection and was taken into hospital, where they tried to uncover problems with my diet. I had consultations with a dietician and was even given an operation so that I could be fed by a tube into my stomach. When I was final discharged and came home, I was rushed back into hospital within hours after having something to eat and drink.

Eventually it was realised that my difficulties eating were because there were problems with the muscles I use to swallow – a problem connected to my condition that could have been fairly easily dealt with through physiotherapy.

A care advisor or a specialist physiotherapist would have known this. Had I been able to see someone who fully understands my condition, I might have been saved weeks of hospital treatment and a painful operation.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Director of Care, Support and Campaigns, Nic Bungay, said:

“We are delighted to have the support of John Leech MP in our campaign for investment in services to improve health care and save money. He is a powerful voice in Parliament for local patients and families living with muscle-wasting diseases.”

Backed by a group of leading clinicians**, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign argues that investing as little as £65 per patient each year***, in frontline health services and equipment would significantly reduce critical care on hospital wards costing up to £1,925 per day. The charity is now calling for a full national audit of emergency care for people with muscle-wasting conditions, to address the wasted funds.

The Invest to Save report follows major reviews of muscle-wasting disease care in Scotland, Wales and England, where existing services were criticised as “inadequate and unacceptable”****. It has found that a lack of ongoing specialist support including access to expert care advisors, consultants and specialist physiotherapy is having a significant impact on
both the length and frequency of hospital visits. The key findings include:

 Patients’ muscle-wasting disease conditions have been significantly and permanently worsened by lack of timely access to appropriate treatment
 Nearly 40 per cent of patients admitted to hospital in emergency circumstances said that this could have been prevented through specialist treatments
 Patients report that a lack of understanding of their conditions among general health professionals is putting their health at risk
 Patients are being put at risk by a postcode lottery on specialist respiratory care

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is the leading UK charity focusing on muscle-wasting disease. It has pioneered the search for treatments and cures for more than 50 years, and is dedicated to improving the lives of all children and adults affected by muscle disease.

We fund world-class research to find effective treatments and cures; provide practical information, advice and emotional support for individuals, their families and carers; campaign to raise awareness and bring about change; award grants towards the cost of specialist equipment; and provide specialist education and development for health professionals.

– ENDS –

JOHN LEECH PRAISES GOVERNMENT ACTION ON LANDLORD’S RENTING INEFFICENT HOMES

John Leech MP, member for Manchester Withington, has applauded Chris Huhne for announcing an end to the scandalous misery of those who live in dangerously cold rented homes. He went on to praise the campaign run by Friends of the Earth and the Association for the Conservation of Energy as part of a coalition of 37 organisations.

John Leech, a member of the All Party Group on Fuel Poverty had tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to ensure that all rented homes meet a basic level of energy efficiency from 2016.

“This is a great result” he stated. “The Government is committed to preventing landlords renting out homes that are scandalously inefficient and that are a hazard to health by 2018. This is good news for some of the most vulnerable in our society and it is good news for the environment.”

“There are thousands of people living in privately rented accommodation in Manchester who are cold and who are in poor health because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly. I am delighted that Chris Huhne and the Government are acting to help these people.”

“I have been delighted to be part of the campaign run by Friends of the Earth and the Association for the Conservation of Energy. “We called on the Government to prevent these properties being rented out by 2016. The announcement today that landlords would be unable to rent out the most inefficient properties after 2018 is a fair compromise and a huge step to reducing fuel poverty and to reducing carbon emissions.”

Key statistics on rented homes
• Of the 3 million homes in England rented from a landlord or an agency, 655,000 are so cold that they are officially classified as a health hazard.
• Consumer Focus research shows more than 150,000 tenants could escape fuel poverty – meaning they can’t afford to heat their home properly – if a minimum energy efficiency standard for the worst insulated rented homes were enforced.
• 37 per cent of rented homes could be improved for less than £900 through cheap measures like loft and cavity wall insulation and draught proofing, while the average cost of improvements is around £2,5353.

Notes to Editors

1. The announcement was made today (10th May) as part of the second reading of the Energy Bill (HL) that is currently going through the House of Commons.
2. The minimum standard would mean that the coldest homes – those with a bottom-of-the-scale Energy Performance Certificate rating of F or G – would have to be improved to an E rating or above before they could be re-let.
3. The 37 organisations supporting the campaign are:
All Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group, Age UK, Association for the Conservation of Energy, Blackpool Residents Federation, Brent Private Tenants’ Rights Group, Brent Council, Bristol Council, Camden Council, Camden Federation of Private Tenants, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Citizens Advice, Consumer Focus, Crisis, Disability Alliance, End Fuel Poverty Coalition,
Federation of Private Residents Associations, Friends of the Earth, Housing Law Practitioners Association, Islington Council, Macmillan Cancer Support, Manchester City Council, National Childbirth Trust, National Energy Action, National Home Improvement Council, National Pensioners Convention, North West Tenants & Residents Assembly, People & Planet, St Helens Community Empowerment Network, Scarborough Private Tenants Rights Group, Stop Climate Chaos, Town and Country Planning Association, UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy, UK Public Health Association, UNISON, WWF -UK, 38 Degrees.
4. For more on the average costs of improvements and how much tenants could save on bills if rented homes were improved, see: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/insulating_rented_02012011.html
5. For more on the health costs of cold homes, see: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/cold_homes_nhs_costs_07042011.html
6. 175 MPs have signed the Parliamentary petition for a new law to protect tenants tabled by John Leech MP – Early Day Motion (EDM) 653.

April 2011 Press Releases

ODDEST WINS TRAFFORD & HULME CAMRA PUB OF THE SEASON

Nichola Clark (Oddest Manager), Beverley Gobbett (Chair of Trafford & Hulme CAMRA), John Leech and Heather Airlie (Trafford & Hulme CAMRA member who nominated Oddest).

Oddest bar in Chorlton has won the highly acclaimed Pub of the Season award from the local Campaign For Real Ale branch due to its dedication to real Ale and hard work integrating itself into the community.
Last night John Leech MP alongside Chorlton Cllr Paul Ankers presented the pub manager Nichola Clark with the award.
Oddest is a shining example of how pubs can still succeed in the current climate, even when 25 are closing nationally per week. The pub’s commitment to stocking beers from local breweries is second to none, with manager Nichola Clark being a fervent supporter of CAMRA’s LocAle scheme since opening. The result is that much of the money spent on beer in the pub benefits the local economy and provides further jobs in Manchester and its immediate surrounds.
John Leech, an active member of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and a fan of real ale said, “Oddest has done exceptionally well since it came to Chorlton and is a shining example of how pubs can play an invaluable role in community life. I often pop into Oddest for a quick pint and celebrated my 39th birthday there last year with friends. It is great to see venues such as this bucking the trend in this tough climate.”
John O’Donnell Press Officer for Trafford & Hulme CAMRA commented, “One of the problems the industry faces currently is large pub companies charging their pub tenants high rents and high beer prices. The Odd Group are showing the industry just what can be achieved when licensees are set free.”

John Leech takes Save Barlow Moor Library Campaign to Parliament

05 April 2011
Manchester Withington MP John Leech will today be speaking in a Westminster Hall debate secured to raise the issue of Library provision in South Manchester.
John will be using the debate to kick-start the community of Barlow Moor into rallying behind the campaign to save the much loved library on the Merseybank Estate.
The Labour run Manchester City Council has recently voted to close Barlow Moor library, voting down a Liberal Democrat budget amendment to keep open local libraries. Mr Leech believes things could have been done much differently, “The budget settlement handed Labour in Manchester the opportunity to make politically motivated front line cuts including the axing of a number of front line services including libraries and leisure centres.”
The Barlow Moor Library is situated in an area that falls into the top 5% of deprivation in the country, had its opening hours cuts in the 1990s and was then burnt down in 2001. The library wasn’t rebuilt, and instead was relocated to a shop unit on the other side of the road.
When the library was burnt down both John Leech and other Lib Dem Councillors agreed that the Council should delay the rebuilding of the library while discussions continued about the revamping of the shops and the opportunity for a joint service centre on the Merseybank Avenue.
However that promise was never fulfilled, with the leader of the Labour Party in Manchester stating it was “not a priority” of the council; ten years down the line the Council has now decided to close it.
John Leech went on to say that, “When the library hours were cut we warned that this would ultimately lead to the closure of the library and we have been proved right. The Labour party in Manchester has put politics before people and embarked on making unnecessary politically motivated front line cuts, which could have been avoided”. He went on to mention their astonishing u-turn over the Levenshulme Baths campaign to demonstrate that the front-line cuts in Manchester weren’t the only choice.
“They said there it was ‘unavoidable’ and informed the people of Manchester ‘it’s all the Government’s fault’. The Manchester budget proposals included the closing of a popular swimming baths neglected by the council for years, thousands of residents got behind the campaign resulting in the council getting cold feet and performing a huge u-turn and keeping the baths open.“
The short adjournment debate entitled “Library services in south Manchester” will take place Tuesday 5th April 2011 in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm.

Government listens and changes plans to remove the Mobility Component of DLA to residents of care homes

04/04/11

John Leech MP, member for Manchester Withington, today praised the Government for listening to charities and fellow Liberal Democrat colleagues about their concerns over proposed changes to the rules governing DLA.

“I must praise the Government for listening to Lib Dem MPs and charities about this issue” he stated. He went on to say: “This shows that this Government is willing to listen. The proposed changes would have had terrible unintended consequences and once this was realised the Government moved quickly to protect the most vulnerable and isolated in our society”.

He explained why DLA is so important to those who live in residential care: “This money is vital to those who are in residential care. It provides them with the help they need to be able to visit family and friends, to go to the shops or the cinema or to church, to work and to be part of their communities – in short to lead a full life.”

Earlier in the week, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, a charity with which John Leech has close links praised Mr Leech for handing in a petition to Parliament opposing the proposed changes. Manchester campaigner for the charity, Ben Dale, said: “It’s fantastic that John Leech is taking a stand on these plans and has helped us to get our argument against the cuts across in Parliament”.

Nic Bungay, Director of Policy for Muscular Dystrophy Campaign had said: “We applaud Mr Leech for backing our campaign against these cuts, which will strip many disabled people of their ability to play an active role in society”.

Notes to Editors:
• Under its initial plans laid out in the Welfare Bill the Government had planned to remove payments of the Mobility Component of DLA to those who live in care homes in October 2012. Mobility Component of DLA payments are paid to those who need extra help with transport to lead a normal life.
• In theory, the care home should provide this support but it has become clear that in most cases whilst they may provide wheelchairs or similar items for mobility WITHIN the care home, many do not provide help with taxis or other costs to enable the resident to leave the home to go shopping, visit family and friends or religious services, or to go to work.
• On 22nd March Maria Miller, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Disabled People announced that these payments would no longer be removed.
• Residents in Care homes are not just elderly but also include those of all ages who are disabled or who have debilitating illnesses such as Muscular Dystrophy and who need extra care.
• The whole structure of DLA is being revised by the Government and this is currently under consultation, eventually leading to a ‘Personal Independence Payment’.
• At the Liberal Democrat Conference a motion was passed calling on the Coalition Government not to remove the Mobility Component of DLA.
• On the 8th March Mr Leech presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy Campaign calling for the Government to think again about the proposed changes to DLA Mobility for those in Care Homes.
• On the 9th March he spoke in the Welfare Bill debate again calling on the Government to think again, pointing out the extent to which many of the most isolated and vulnerable people in our society rely on the money in order to participate in society. He has spoken out on the subject numerous times since expressing his grave concern and calling on the Government to change its proposals.

John Leech MP backs ivory surrender to save elephants

John Leech MP & Rowan Healey of the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit

Manchester Withington MP John Leech has shown his support for elephants by backing the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s ivory surrender.

John attended IFAW’s campaign launch at the House of Commons and posed with huge elephant tusks. He is calling on members of the public to send in any unwanted items of ivory they may have to IFAW to ensure they do not end up back on the commercial market, and to highlight the illegal ivory trade.

John Leech MP said: “I am pleased to be backing the ivory surrender, and urge my constituents to send in unwanted items of ivory to IFAW and back their campaign for greater protection for elephants.”

Shockingly, new Ipsos MORI polling shows that more than four in 10 adults in the North West are unaware that elephants have to die before their ivory can be obtained, while almost four million British residents are owners of ivory[i].

Robbie Marsland, Director of IFAW UK, said: “Every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant. We are therefore very grateful to John Leech for showing his commitment to elephant protection. That is why we are holding a UK-wide ivory surrender to help raise awareness of the threats facing elephants and to encourage the UK Government to push its pledge to press for a ban of ivory sales internationally.”

The global illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to be worth £12 billion annually, second only to the illicit trade in drugs and arms. Ivory forms a significant part of this. Seizures of illegal ivory are skyrocketing and recent stockpile sales to Japan and China sent a signal to poachers that it is open season on elephants.

Anyone who would like to donate ivory to the surrender can email ivory@ifaw.org or call 020 7587 6709. Further information about the campaign can be found at http://www.ifaw.org/ivory

About IFAW – With offices in 15 countries, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. We rescue and provide veterinary care to individual animals and advocate for the protection of entire populations. For more information visit our website http://www.ifaw.org

Technical note
Ipsos MORI interviewed a nationally representative quota sample of 2,023 adults in GB aged 15+. Interviews were carried out face-to-face, in home, using CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing Laptops), as part of the Ipsos MORI Omnibus (Capibus). Fieldwork was conducted from 11-17 March 2011. The results have been weighted to reflect the known profile of the adult GB population. They are weighted on age, social grade, region and work status-within gender. The data are also weighted on housing tenure and ethnicity.

For Ipsos MORI please contact Bob Worcester on 020 7347 3000
[1] Using ONS 2009 mid-year estimates, the GB population aged 15+ is 49,564,800. A total of 8% say they own items made of ivory, equating to nearly 4 million people. Based on a confidence interval of approx +/- 1.3% and the sample size of 2,023 the actual number could vary between c3.3 and 4.6 million adults aged 15+.

March 2011 Press Releases

Local Politicians get stuck into cleaning up Merseybank!

28 March 2011
Last Saturday’s Merseybank clean up was bigger than ever before with an estimated 20 tonnes of rubbish shifted from the Merseybank estate in Chorlton.
The cleanup was run in partnership with Southway Housing Trust and the local councillors for Chorlton Park Ward and resulted in rubbish collected that filled three refuse wagons.
Residents are encouraged to leave any unwanted waste for collection outside their homes, a refuse wagon then travels around the estate picking up the material.
Saturday’s clean up saw local politicians Cllrs Tony Bethell, Norman Lewis and John Leech MP getting stuck in alongside local residents cleaning up the estate.
John Leech MP said, “I’ve helped out a number of these events over the years, but this is the first time we have had to empty the bin wagon before 10am! The clean-ups are really useful in helping blitz the area and residents on the estate can see a noticeable difference after we’ve been.”
The clean up took place on Saturday 26th March on the Merseybank Estate from 8.15am to 3.30pm.
Local Councillors in Chorlton Park Ward have been helping organise and take part in the clean ups for the last 6 years. Cllr Tony Bethell commented, “The clean ups are a great way for local residents to get rid of any unwanted rubbish and help clean the place up. We help organise a number of these events all round the Ward every year to keep the place tidy”.

John Leech MP walks for clean water

Hundreds of thousands walk around the world

John Leech MP taking part in Wateraid 2011

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Manchester Withington MP John Leech walked for water at Westminster on Tuesday as part of a global campaign to raise awareness for the world water and sanitation crisis.

Marking the United Nations World Water Day, John Leech joined hundreds of thousands of people across the globe who walked in solidarity with the almost 900 million people worldwide who still have no access to safe drinking water, and the 2.6 billion people without a toilet. The event, called World Walks for Water, was organised by global campaign group End Water Poverty.

International development organisations WaterAid and Tearfund hosted today’s event in London which saw John Leech and 40 other MPs, get a taste for the daily reality for millions of people by carrying water containers on a short walk near the Houses of Parliament.

“Lack of water and sanitation traps some of the world’s poorest people in a vicious circle of disease, lost life chances and poverty,” said Leech. “The burden of this crisis largely falls on women and children, and so I wanted to highlight the critical need for these basic services in the developing world.”

Globally, campaigners walked for water in over 50 countries from Nigeria to Nepal, London to Las Vegas. In many countries, people walked for six kilometres to demand an end to the global water and sanitation crisis, representing the average distance women and children walk to collect their water for their basic needs.

Highlights included: a walk which took place at Everest Base camp; a circus-themed extraordinaire featuring Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, USA; 15,000 children from 75 schools in Belgium who walked to meet politicians; and over 30,000 campaigners talking part in both Nepal and Nigeria. 

It is estimated that in the world’s poorest countries, women and girls spend a staggering 40 billion hours every year fetching and carrying water.  Households in rural Africa spend an average of 26% of their time fetching water, carrying water containers weighing as much as 20kg, the same as the average baggage allowance on most airlines. The lack of safe water and toilets has a huge impact on a woman’s ability to earn a living, get an education and spend time with her family.

“Water and sanitation are essential for improving health, education, gender equality and economic growth,” said Margaret Batty, WaterAid Policy and Campaigns Director. “While the world waits to take action on the global water and sanitation crisis, 4,000 children die every single day from related illnesses. Today hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have demanded that the world wakes up to this deadly emergency. The billions without these basic services can’t wait any longer.”

/ENDS

For more information please contact James Hennigan on 0161 249 5034 or Chloe Irvine, WaterAid on 020 7793 4909, chloeirvine@wateraid.org

 

Notes to Editor:

  • Photo attached of John Leech MP outside parliament 22 March 2011
  • More information on World Walks for Water can be found at: http://www.worldwalksforwater.org/eng
  • This global campaign event is organised by End Water Poverty, The Freshwater Action Network, WASH United, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

Coalition shows red card to Premiership stars’ Tax Avoidance

23 March 2011
The coalition has continued a crack down of tax loopholes with today’s announcement of the closing of a further £1 billion worth of tax loopholes for the very rich.

Lib Dem MP, John Leech said, “It was just not fair that footballers on their massive salaries could pay a lower proportion of their income in tax than people on the lowest incomes. They can more than afford to pay their fair share.”

It has been well reported in national and local press that footballers such Manchester United player Wayne Rooney, Manchester City player Gareth Barry and Chelsea player Ashley Cole have been employing tax avoidance methods to reduce the amount of tax they pay.

This loophole has now been closed in the budget.

Next month will also see the £1000 extra tax free allowance come into effect. The tax cut will mean that 23 million low and middle income earners will pay less income tax from next month when the amount people can earn before they pay income tax is raised to £7,475 a year.

Manchester Withington MP, John Leech, added, “One of the four key general election promises by the Liberal Democrats was a fairer tax system. 880,000 of our lowest earners will no longer have to pay income tax from next month. The Chancellor has today announced the second stage of the delivery of that fairness promise which will mean that, by next April, 1.1 million of the lowest paid will not pay ANY income tax.”

John Leech MP welcomes measures to help ‘First time buyers’

Manchester Withington MP John Leech has welcomed the announcement in today’s budget by the Coalition Government that first time buyers are to receive financial help to get on the property ladder.
This financial assistance will apply to 10,000 first time buyers earning less than £60,000 jointly and be looking to purchase a new build. It will mean that any first time buyer needing to save for a 25% deposit on a £150,000 home will only have to save £7,500 rather than the current £35,000.
John commentated, “Because of the positive measures introduced by this Coalition Government, hundreds of first time buyers across Manchester will be now able to realise their dream of getting onto the property ladder”.
Around 10,000 buyers who have previously struggled to get the deposit together will now have the chance to take up a five year, interest free loan of up to 80% of the deposit.
The announcement is part of a range of measures get Britain working again, to create jobs and growth in the economy. It has been estimated that this will create up to 40,000 jobs in the house building industry alone.

Leech welcomes £2bn boost for Green Investment bank

23 March 2011
Following the Chancellors announcement in the Budget today John Leech has welcomed the government’s tripling of funds directed to the Green Investment Bank to bring the opening a year earlier than expected.
The Green Investment Bank will begin operation in 2012-13, a year earlier than expected, with £3bn of capitalisation, delivering an additional £18bn of investment in green infrastructure by 2014-15. The Budget also commits to introducing a carbon price floor and increasing the proportion of tax accounted for by environmental taxes.
The coalition government has fulfilled their commitment to be the greenest ever, in October 2010’s comprehensive spending review they announced the introduction of the Green Investment Bank and today announced it will get a further £2bn which will mean it will be introduced a year earlier than expected.
Britain is set to be a world leader in a green economy with funding for a Green Investment Bank giving a radical new contribution to financing green infrastructure and kick-start the low carbon economy.
John Leech said today, “The further announcements on the Green Investment Bank clearly show that the government is placing the green economy at the top of their agenda, Britain is set to be a world leader in the green economy. I am very pleased that they have found the capital to open it a year earlier.
In the run-up to the 2010 General Election we promised to invest in a green economy and today we are delivering it in government, this is part of the fair agenda will ensure sustainability for future generations.”
There was also an announcement for the Carbon Price Support – a carbon price floor for electricity generation will be introduced from April 2013. Starting at £16 per tonne; moving in a straight line to £30 per tonne in 2020. This will drive investment in the low carbon power sector. The impact on customer bills will be modest – 50p per month in 2013
The Budget launches a consultation on reform of air transport services. The consultation will propose extending to business jets. APD will be frozen this year, with RPI increases deferred to April 2012. The Government will encourage and incentivise take up of the Green Deal before it is introduced in 2012. The Government also announced to hold firm to its commitment to increase the proportion of taxes raised through green taxation.

Manchester a fitting place to launch the campaign for fairer votes

17 March 2011
Speaking ahead of the Liberal Democrat Yes to Fairer Votes Campaign launch tomorrow John Leech expressed his delight at the decision to launch it in Manchester.
At the last election more than two thirds of MPs in the North West were elected with less than half the votes cast.
He said, “Manchester has been the centre of radical reform in Britain in the last two hundred years. It has a track record of activists challenging the status quo to deliver fairness and is a fitting place to launch the campaign for fairer votes”.
Alongside John Leech MP the campaign launch will feature speeches from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, Party President Tim Farron MP, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat Peer Floella Benjamin, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and Sarah Harding Spokesperson the Liberal Youth.
The Yes to fairer votes campaign is urging the public to vote yes in the voting referendum on 5th May for the opportunity of electoral reform meaning fairer votes.
Currently 68% of MPs in the North West failed to get a majority of the votes cast in their area, nine MPs received less than 40% of the votes cast with one MP having a mandate of just 35.8% of the votes.
The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign believe that under AV MPs would have to work harder to get elected and stay elected and it will lessen the current culture of jobs for life in Westminster.
The Liberal Democrat Yes to Fairer Votes campaign launch will take place in Manchester City Centre 11am – 12 noon on Friday 18th March.

JOHN LEECH LAUNCHES WORLD BOOK DAY IN MANCHESTER WITHINGTON

9 March 2011

John Leech MP, Author Geraldine McCaughrean, Cllr James Hennigan

Manchester Withington MP John Leech and Levenshulme Cllr James Hennigan launched World Book Day last Thursday at Barlow RC High School in Didsbury.
John and James talked to pupils and teachers about the importance of reading to pupils and parents last week, John even brought his favourite childhood books along.
The event concluded a weeklong of activities for pupils at Barlow RC High School all arranged to promote World Book Week and encourage reading for parents and pupils alike. Parents were also invited in for breakfast to promote families reading during breakfast.
John Leech said “As a youngster I was inspired to read by a rather eccentric English teacher who happened to be American, he encouraged me to read a book by Iain Banks and I read all but one of his 23 books with the only one left going with me on my summer holiday this year.
I think it’s worth making the point that some youngsters may be put off from reading because of the challenging language of some books. My advice to them would be to not be put off by that and put the book to one side and try and find the one that’s right for you, I did just that and finally finished Lord of the Rings 16 years after I first opened it!”
Cllr James Hennigan also took part in the activities and said, “I was delighted be involved in World Book Day and to talk to pupils about the importance of reading. One of my favourite books whilst at school was To Kill a Mockingbird, a book centred around stepping in someone else’s shoes and understanding their feelings.”
World Book Week took place 28th February to 5th March culminating in World Book Day on 3rd March. World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

John Leech MP supports young people to stand on their own two feet

9th March 2010

Manchester Withington MP calls for children in care to be provided with the financial assurance they need to help them enter further education or employment.

Manchester Withington MP John Leech has pledged his support for Barnardo’s and Action for Children’s joint campaign, asking the Government to establish savings accounts for children in care and make payments into those accounts to help build their future.

Under the proposals, funding will be provided based on the Junior Savings Account (ISA) which the Government intends to introduce in 2011. The Government would open and administer the account, and the scheme is designed to complement – not replace -existing financial support.

John Leech MP commented “These young people do not have families to either help them financially or to provide them with the advice and support that so many of us take for granted. So many young people leave care at age 16,17, or 18 with ambition and drive but without the means to help establish their lives and we owe it to them to help them build a future for themselves.”

He added “It’s an example of a small amount of money spent at the right time being a real investment. The ultimate aim of Government must be to give all the support and help that people need to help them stand on their own two feet.”

He added: “We are the corporate parents of these young people. Once they have to leave our care, too many are entering a life of unemployment and homelessness. Giving them this support provides financial responsibility, increases social mobility and lowers the barriers to education and employment. But this isn’t just a pay off. This must build on existing help for care leavers and on local authorities to support and mentor those previously in care. This way, the young people will get the maximum benefit from their savings – improving their lives and benefiting society.”

Ends

Notes to Editor:
• Under the scheme all those in care for at least three months would have a Junior ISA created with £250 in it. For every year that they are in care for at least six months out of the year, they would have an extra £100 added. Foster families, friends and voluntary organisations could also add into their savings account.
• The scheme would only costs around £6.6m per year.
• This would not only help young people when they leave care but would also help with their financial education. Ownership of an asset not only provides economic security, but can also encourage self-reliance and responsibility. Evidence also suggests that holding a modest asset is associated with a range of positive welfare outcomes.
• Around one quarter of adults in prison spent some time in care.
• In 2010 only seven per cent of care leavers went to university.
• In 2009–10 in England, 33 per cent of 19 year old care leavers were not in education, employment or training.
• The proposals come amidst research that displays the severe reduced life chances of those who grow up in care and are required to be independent much younger than their peers. Over the last year in England, 33 per cent of 19 year old care leavers end up outside of employment, education or training.

<h3>All aboard with John Leech MP and Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign</h3>
Thursday, March 3rd 2011

Manchester Withington MP calls for buses and coaches to have audible and visual announcements about the next stop and final destination

Manchester Withington MP John Leech has pledged his support to a campaign aimed at making bus travel easier and safer for blind and partially sighted passengers, and other sensory impaired people, at an event organised by the charity and hosted by John Leech MP.

He hosted the parliamentary event in support yesterday and urged parliamentarians to sign his Early Day Motion 12 “Talking Buses Campaign” now the 20th most popular EDM in this current parliamentary session.

John Leech signed up to support Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign to get audible and visual (AV) information systems – which clearly tell passengers the next stop and final destination – installed on new buses not only in their own constituency, but across Britain.

Guide Dogs has found that many disabled and elderly people find it very difficult or impossible to use buses independently and with confidence for fear of being stranded at the wrong stop. They are often left feeling anxious and unsafe, and some give up using the bus altogether.

The charity is calling on the Government to make it a requirement for all new buses in the UK to have on board audible as well as visual information systems, as is already a requirement for trains and trams. It is also encouraging councils and bus operators to look at providing systems on existing vehicles to improve the accessibility and quality of service for local people.

In a YouGov survey, 66 per cent of respondents said they thought it would make bus travel easier if there were on-board announcements about where the bus is going and what stop is coming up.

Sue Sharp, Guide Dogs’ Head of Public Policy and Campaigns, says: “A lack of information undermines the confidence and independence of vulnerable people who rely on buses to get around. Blind and partially sighted people, for example, cannot see where they are, and others including wheelchair users who face backwards on vehicles may not easily be able to identify their stop. These people risk ending up at the wrong stop.

“As well as disabled people, Talking Buses would improve travel for all passengers – including visitors to an area – hopefully encouraging more to leave their cars at home.”

John Leech MP said, “I was delighted to host the event and promote the talking buses campaign. I raised this issue in parliament by laying down an Early Day Motion and I urge people to contact their local MP and urge them to sign it.
This is a very important issue, having audible and visual announcements on every bus would mean that blind and partially sighted people would enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.”

Companies including Transport for London, Reading Transport, Trent Barton Buses (Nottingham and Leicester) and Thamesdown Transport (Swindon) have successfully rolled out AV systems on their buses.

Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign has the support of 35 national disability organisations including Mencap, RNID, Campaign for Better Transport and Leonard Cheshire Disability. People can find out more about Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign, and lend their own voices, by visiting www.guidedogs.org.uk/talkingbuses

For further media information on Guide Dogs or the campaign, please contact Annabel Williams in Guide Dogs’ Press Office on 0118 983 0183, or email annabel.williams@guidedogs.org.uk

Notes to Editor
For more information contact James Hennigan on 0161 249 5034
Photos attached:
• John Leech addressing audience at Talking buses event
• John Leech MP with Transport Policy Officer John Welsman &amp; guide dog Sorrel
• Guide Dogs wants a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
• Guide dogs are not the only service we provide. We also provide other mobility services such as long cane training and sighted guiding; we campaign to break down barriers preventing blind and partially sighted people getting about on their own; and we fund ophthalmic research.
• This year, Guide Dogs is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the very first guide dog partnerships in Britain.
• The guide dog service receives no government or social services funding – it is supported entirely by the generosity of the public.
• There are around 4,500 guide dog partnerships in the UK.
• More information about the mobility journey and Guide Dogs’ strategy can be found at: www.guidedogs.org.uk/aboutus/strategy-2010-2020/

February 2011 Press Releases

18 Febraury 2011

MANCHESTER STUDENTS AND RESIDENTS JOIN FORCES TO SLEEP ROUGH TO HIGHLIGHT PLIGHT OF DESTITUTE ASYLUM SEEKERS

Students in Manchester are joining forces with representatives from the Boaz Trust and MRSN (Manchester Refugee Support Network) to sleep on the steps of Manchester University Student Union on Thursday February 24th to raise awareness of the destitution faced by thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK. The sleepout is part of the National Student Action Week, organised by Amnesty International and STAR (Student Action for Refugees).

Campaigners are calling on the government to get behind more sensible rules for permission to work for asylum seekers. Currently, once an appeal has been rejected, asylum applicants are left homeless, without any recourse to public funds or services. Allowing people to work and support themselves if they have been waiting for more than six months for their cases to be concluded, or have been refused asylum but cannot be returned, would reduce the burden on the taxpayer and allow them to support themselves and their families while contributing to the economy, say campaigners.

John Leech MP, Liberal Democrat MP for Withington, Manchester, is joining the group on the steps of the Student Union on Oxford Road. He says: “I have chosen to sleep out for one night to highlight the plight of thousands of destitute asylum seekers, many of whom are now forced to sleep rough every night of the week. This is an unacceptable situation in a democratic, western society.”

 

Dave Smith, director of local charity the Boaz Trust, the largest organisation in the UK providing accommodation for destitute asylum seekers, offers a reality check about the situation: “This winter our night shelter has been full almost every night with men who had nowhere else to go. Some nights it has been as cold as minus ten. Denying them access to accommodation and food is the equivalent of signing a death warrant.”

Georgia Tate, spokesperson for the sleepout, said: “The way that refused asylum seekers are being treated in this country is disgusting. These men and women are being reduced to penniless poverty. They are forced to sleep on the streets. This is happening in our towns and cities here in the UK, yet many people simply don’t realise. For us, enduring a night in the cold is the least we can do if it helps bring some attention to their situation. We’re calling on MPs to support a declaration calling for this small group of vulnerable people to be allowed to work and support themselves, until they are granted protection here or can safely return home.”

For many refused asylum seekers who cannot return home or are too scared to leave the UK, all support is cut off and they are denied the right to work to support themselves. They are then left destitute. While shelter and payment cards for food are available to those on so-called “hard case” support, to qualify people must enter into agreements to return “voluntarily”, even if their country of origin may not be safe. Many refused asylum-seekers are fearful of such agreements, not least as they are from countries – such as Zimbabwe or Somalia – torn apart by conflict or where human rights abuses are rife. Moreover, in practice it is extremely difficult to forcibly remove people to countries where there are serious safety concerns, difficulties in obtaining travel documents or where there is no safe flight route.

The policy would not attract economic migrants to the UK, argue the campaigners, as only a small percentage of asylum seekers would be in the system long enough to apply for permission to work. The number of people claiming asylum in the UK is at its lowest point for 20 years. The Home Office would also still have the discretion to refuse anyone permission to work, if they were responsible for delaying a decision on their claim. Many EU countries already allow asylum seekers to work for up to six months after making their asylum application and these countries do not receive more asylum applications than the UK.

Take action at www.amnesty.org.uk/asylum, or support the sleepout at http://boaztrust.org.uk/get-involved/events.

Still Human Still Here is a coalition of more than 40 organisations, including Amnesty International, STAR and the Boaz Trust, campaigning to end the destitution of refused asylum seekers: http://stillhumanstillhere.wordpress.com

STAR (Student Action for Refugees) is the national network of student groups working to improve the lives of refugees in the UK: www.star-network.org.uk.

The Boaz Trust is a charity working to relieve the suffering of destitute asylum seekers in Greater Manchester through accommodation, advocacy and support: www.boaztrust.org.uk

MRSN (Manchester Refugee Support Network) is a grass-roots organisation focused on the development of refugee organisations, advocacy, campaigns, advice and orientation: http://www.mrsn.org.uk.

January 2011 Press Releases

Education Maintenance Allowance Debate

20th January 2011
John Leech MP today explained his difficult decision to vote with the Labour motion to rethink the Government’s decision to scrap EMA on Wednesday 19th January.

Mr Leech described the unusual position he found himself in:
“It was a strange scenario. I absolutely believe that the reforms to EMA need to be re-examined and that far greater support needs to be provided for students from poorer backgrounds and yet I find the head-in-the-sand calls from the Labour party that EMA must be maintained in its current form both opportunistic and hypocritical.

“We all know that EMA is unsustainable in its current form and that an alternative way must be found to target the support to those who really need it. My reason for voting with the motion was not an endorsement of the Labour Party’s ridiculous posturing but instead to urge the Government to provide more resources and a more clearly laid out plan as to how they will ensure that all young people who would benefit from Further Education are able to do so.

“I do accept that EMA needs to be reformed. However there are large numbers of students both in Manchester and throughout the country who would be denied the life-changing opportunity of Further Education unless they receive sufficient help from the Government. It is absolutely essential that the funds are provided to ensure that they receive this help and it that is why I supported the motion to re-examine the Government’s plans.”

He added “There needs to be a transition period when those who are midway through a two year course will continue to receive EMA. I would like to see the Government amend its plans to ensure that those who started a two year course
with the expectation that they would receive EMA continue to receive support.”

Mr Leech called on the Government to do the following:

1. extend EMA for a further year for those who are midway through a two year course
2. extend the provision of free meals for those who qualify to Further Education Colleges, a provision that already exists in schools
3. enforce the rules that already exist that mandate Local Authorities to provide help with travel costs to those who need it and to provide extra money for this should it be necessary.

Mr Leech commented that whilst some excellent speeches and comments were made on both sides of the house, he was disappointed with the Labour Party’s attitude to the issue.

“During almost six hours of debate yesterday, although I heard some highly rhetorical and emotional criticisms from the Labour Party, I did not hear one alternative suggestion as to how we can provide support to young people from low income families during the current economic crisis. It is becoming an all too familiar scenario – opportunistic criticism from Labour as the Coalition Government grapples with the mess that Labour left behind, without any credible alternatives being offered. It was clear before the election that the Labour Government was planning to replace EMA with a less expensive alternative which makes the howls of opposition that we heard from the Labour front bench even more hypocritical than normal”.

Notes to the editor:

1. The vote in Parliament yesterday was NOT whether to abolish EMA or not. Rather the Labour motion was a call “…on the Government to rethink its decision on EMA, retaining practical support to improve access to, interest in and participation in further and higher education.”.

2. EMA expenditure is currently £560m per year and 643,000 students receive it – around 47% of all those in Further Education. It is paid at a rate of £30 for those whose family income is less that £20,817, £20 a week for those whose family income is between £20,818 and £25, 521 and at a rate of £10 per week for those whose family income is between £25,522 and £30,810. Of those receiving EMA, 4/5 (80%) receives the higher rate. It is available to all 16-18 yr olds who are studying a full-time further education course in school or college (i.e. post GCSE), are on a course leading to an apprenticeship or a Foundation Learning Programme.

3. A recent survey commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills, under a Labour Government, found that only 12% believed that they would not be doing the course they were on if EMA had not been available. This report was considered to be accurate by the IFS and was backed up by their own research which found that the proportion of eligible over 16 years olds in further education is increased by around 4 – 7% by the introduction of EMA.

4. Nonetheless, within these numbers, it is clear that a significant minority of young people from low income families would not participate in Further Education if some kind of additional support is not provided.

5. The current Government plans are to provide an additional £50m per year to be distributed through an enhanced Discretionary Learner Support Fund. This would be distributed by headteachers / heads of colleges who would be in a far better position to ensure that it is properly targeted to those who need it most. EMA currently costs

6. Local Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that no young person in their areas is prevented from attending education post-16 because of a lack of transport, or support for it. I.e. Local Authorities must ensure that transport is available and that those who need financial assistance receive it (usually through a subsidised bus pass). However it is clear that Local Authority provision of subsidised bus passes varies greatly. There are fears that the recent cuts in Local Authority budgets mean that concessionary fares will suffer and that some routes will be withdrawn or severely reduced. This is particularly a problem in rural areas.

MP WELCOMES REDUCTION IN GREATER MANCHESTER CRIME

John Leech MP has welcomed the recent reduction in crime levels reported by the Greater Manchester.
John Leech MP said, “These figures show that the police are working harder than ever and confidence in the police is improving year on year.
Under the previous Labour government one in ten police staff were on the frontline. This just proves it takes more than just money to police, it takes strong leadership and strong community relations and improved policing methods.”

Figures up to the end of December 2010 show that crime is down by nine per cent since the 1 April. This means 17,511 fewer victims compared with the same April to December period in 2009. Domestic burglary is reduced by 10 per cent and vehicle crime continues to see a 25 per cent reduction.
• Robbery has been reduced by 20 per cent
• Violence against the person with injury reduced further down by 12 per cent reduction which is 1,886 fewer victims
• Firearms discharges for the April to December period is down by 21 per cent.

As well as falling crime rates detection rates continue to show improvements.
• Domestic burglary detections have increased by 27 per cent
• Vehicle crime detections have improved by 81 per cent
• Racially or religiously aggravated offences detections have increased by 31 per cent
• Domestic abuse detections have increased by 14 per cent to 49 per cent
• Detections for serious sexual offences have increased by 14 per cent.

Notes to Editors:
• Figures taken from GMP Force Bulletin January 2011

JOHN LEECH MP SPEAKS UP FOR RADIOTHERAPY

19 January 2011

MP calls for action after hearing how radiotherapy is a cornerstone of cancer treatment yet people are still missing out

John Leech MP speaking out for Radiotherapy

John Leech MP voiced his support for action on radiotherapy at an awareness-raising Cancer Research UK event in Parliament.

He heard how radiotherapy has a bigger impact on curing cancers each year than all the new drugs put together.

The event, held on Tuesday January 25, coincided with the Government’s launch of the National Radiotherapy Awareness Initiative to improve the public’s understanding of the importance of radiotherapy.

The Manchester Withington MP heard experts describe how a lack of awareness about radiotherapy’s importance is having a serious impact on providing world class treatment in the UK.

John also heard that the delivery of radiotherapy services differs around the country, partly due to the number of machines available and the amount of highly-skilled, sufficiently trained staff needed to deliver this complex service.

Some people are still waiting for too long before receiving their treatment and some cutting-edge radiotherapy treatments, which are available across America and parts of Europe, are not available to all people in certain parts of the country.
John Leech MP said: “Only 14 per cent of people in the UK are aware that half of all cancer patients could benefit from radiotherapy. I want all people with cancer in Manchester Withington to access world class radiotherapy when they need it.”

“I am also concerned that the UK is lagging behind other countries in making newer, more targeted radiotherapy technologies available to everyone. I urge the government to work with the NHS and organisations like Cancer Research UK to tackle the inequalities in radiotherapy treatment in this country and make the service amongst the best in Europe.”

Hilary Tovey, Policy Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Cancer Research UK believes that everyone deserves the best cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is one of the cornerstones of cancer treatment, along with surgery and chemotherapy.”

“We want dedicated radiotherapy staff in place in sufficient numbers and with the right training to deliver the best services. There have been huge advances in radiotherapy in the last decade and we want the best technologies to be available to everyone who needs them.”

“The demand on radiotherapy services is likely to grow in the future. That’s why we are putting our full support behind the work of the National Radiotherapy Awareness Initiative. Cancer Research UK is calling for an action plan for radiotherapy to make sure that all patients have access to the best radiotherapy treatments regardless of where they live.”

Mrs Tovey added: “MPs have a key role to play in raising awareness of radiotherapy and in urging the government to take action. We are very grateful to John Leech MP for helping us to spread this life-saving message.”

For further information, please contact:
Notes to Editors:
About radiotherapy:
• Radiotherapy means the use of ‘radiation’, usually X-rays, to treat illness.
• It can be given in various ways: from outside the body as external radiotherapy, using X-rays, ‘cobalt irradiation’, electrons and more rarely other particles such as protons; from within the body as internal radiotherapy, by drinking a liquid that is taken up by cancer cells or by putting radioactive material in, or close to, the tumour.
• Radiotherapy destroys the cancer cells in the treated area. Although normal cells are also affected by radiation, they are better at repairing themselves than the cancer cells.
• A course of radiotherapy is usually given over a number of days or weeks. Each treatment is known as a ‘fraction’.
• A Cancer Research UK report estimates that only 38 per cent of cancer patients in England are getting radiotherapy although research shows that up to 50 per cent might benefit.
• Cancer Research UK’s pioneering research laid the foundations of modern radiotherapy, from its earliest beginnings to the present day. And, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we continue to be world leaders in this field.
• Research into radiotherapy has declined significantly in the UK in recent years. This is why Cancer Research’s five-year research strategy provides greater investment in this area.
For more information on radiotherapy visit http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk

About Cancer Research UK:

• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research.
• The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. This work is funded entirely by the public.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org