Letter from Parliament - Jim Dobbin MP
Date published: 26 December 2011
Before the Parliamentary recess, I took part in a three hour debate in Westminster Hall, in defence of the Remploy Factories and their workers. Remploy is a Government sponsored Company that provides employment for individuals who have a disability. The Remploy Factory of Heywood and Middleton is situated in Heywood Distribution Park. Recently, on Disability Day, I was delighted to have a chance to meet with the people who work there. The work they do is complex and highly skilled. They provide a service to a number of Government Departments including the Department of Work and Pensions. Some Local Authorities and private sector companies also receive a service. The work involves cleaning up and repairing laptops and computers and re-assembling for use again. They export these products to other countries. It is therefore worrying that the Government is considering closing these factories that provide such a service to the community. A large number of mainly Labour MP’s attended and spoke in the debate. We are pressurising the Government to change its’ mind on these closures which would put a large group of workers with a disability amongst the rising number of unemployed.
As we enter a new year, the economic situation continues to deteriorate and we haven’t yet seen a hint from Osborne about plan B. In fact, he continues to dig us deeper into recession. Some Local Councils are using their ingenuity to protect your services, adopting a Co-operative or ‘mutual’ model. That makes me happy and proud to be a sponsored Co-operative and Labour MP. As a Rochdale Borough MP, I support the Co-operative Movements’ encouragement to develop mutual models across Council Services. It is essential that each co-op model is sustainable and safe from those financial vultures poised to take advantage of any weaknesses. Three steps have been advocated by Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.
The first is Recognition. For Co-operative enterprise to provide a level playing field for Co-operatives and mutual businesses.
Secondly, a financial services sector that serves people instead of banks with an unequivocal policy commitment that promotes mutual financial institutions.
Thirdly, putting democracy into public services to ensure they are directly accountable to the people they serve.
We now see the beginning of Co-operative Housing models, Co-operative Trust School models, Mutual Financial Services and the growth of Co-operative Financial services. There are also possible moves to enter the home-care arena. It is important to keep as much democratic control as possible.
David Cameron’s misplaced criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent statements on Government policy left me cold. He describes himself as a ‘vague Christian’. The comments had the air of ‘Bulingdon Club Toff’ who believes he was born to rule. I am sure we shall return to this theme in future articles.
I attended St. Joseph’s Primary School Assembly just before they broke up for Christmas. It was brilliant and it was good to see so many mums, dads, grandmas and grandads, which I understand is a regular feature of their weekly assembly. I was able to present the School Community Partnership with a certificate recognising their close relationship and support for the school.
Sunday was Carol Service Sunday with the annual visits to St. John’s, Rochdale, where Father Christmas appeared and gave every child a small gift. It was coffee and mince pies afterwards before moving on to St. Michael’s, Middleton. I read a lesson at their candle light service. St. Michael’s looked spectacular with hundreds of candles surrounding the body of the church. A quick dash to Middleton Parish Church for the Mayor’s Civil Service and the reception later in the Old Grammar School. There was a large attendance and it was good to see the Mayor move the Civil Service around the Borough.
Have a better New Year and let’s hope that the economic situation improves.
Heywood Civic Centre is closed over the festive period and so my Heywood Surgery will be cancelled for that time. My Heywood Office will open from 9 January although your letters and phone calls will continue to be processed.
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