Press Releases

Some entries in this section were written while I was a Member of Parliament.  When Parliament is dissolved there are no Members of Parliament until after the election on May 6th 2010

RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES ‘HOUSING FIRST’ RECOMMENDATIONS ON ENDING ROUGH SLEEPING

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Following the homelessness round table held at West Berkshire Council earlier this month, Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, was present at the launch in Westminster last week of a new report on tackling homelessness. Housing First outlines an ambitious new approach to ending rough sleeping.

Produced by the independent think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, co-sponsored by Richard, it urges the Government to consider a major shake-up of its housing policy to end rough sleeping permanently. Based on the Finnish model, Housing First addresses the problem by providing individuals with a stable independent home, which is combined with personalised support to gain access to mental health services, drug and alcohol support, in addition to training for employment when and if they are ready.

Richard was one of many MPs who supported the launch. He commented, ‘Rough sleeping costs the Government £1bn every year in health, drug rehabilitation and criminal justice spending. The plan to introduce Housing First in the UK would cost the Government £110 million a year, but would pay for itself within three years.

‘As former rough sleeper, Wayne Craft, said at the launch, “You don’t start a house by building a roof. Having a home gave me a base…The best thing that ever happened to me was a post code.”

‘I am delighted that Sajid Javid, the Minister with responsibility for homelessness, has confirmed he is interested in adopting a Housing First programme in the UK. This tallies in many ways with the MEAM approach that we were discussing at the round table at West Berkshire Council and could see a similar model put in place for those people with multiple and complex needs here in Newbury.'

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BUSINESS RATE RELIEF FOR NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed the Chancellor’s budget as a budget that “builds on the economic success of the last seven years and delivers for business in Newbury.”

A key issue that it addressed was the business rates revaluation. Richard has long campaigned for reform to the ratings system and has been critical of the Valuations Office Agency and others for the way in which business rates valuations have been carried out and implemented.

Richard commented: “I am pleased how much this Government has done to support small business. When we came into Government in 2010 corporation tax was at 28% now it’s 20% and set to fall to 17% by 2020.

“But the latest business rate revaluation has exposed serious flaws in how the system works. That is why I am delighted by the Chancellor’s commitment to conduct a full review into the ratings system before the next round of valuations.

“It is also good news that the Chancellor has committed to much-needed transitional relief for those businesses affected now by the current revaluation. Businesses coming out of Small Business Relief will have their increases capped at £50 per month in 2017-18.”

In addition, pubs with a rateable value of under £100,000 – 90% of all pubs – will see a £1,000 discount on their 2017 business rates bill; and local authorities will receive a further £300 million to help businesses that are struggling due to the revaluation in their areas.

The Government had already committed to double Small Business Rate Relief, increase the threshold, give 100% relief to businesses with properties with rateable value of up to £12,000 and taper relief for businesses with properties with rateable value between £12,000 and £15,000. 

Richard said, “It is clear that the Conservatives in Government are the party that is supporting small business and these measures will go further towards helping businesses like those in Newbury and West Berkshire.” 

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RICHARD BENYON MP: “GREAT NEWS FOR HUNGERFORD AND KINTBURY”

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, said he was delighted by Great Western Railway’s confirmation this week that new bi-mode trains, capable of running on both diesel and electricity, will mean that direct services will continue to operate to Hungerford, Kintbury and Bedwyn from 2018.

With electrification of the main line extending as far as Newbury there were fears that stations on the line to Bedwyn would lose a direct service. However, these new trains will ensure that passengers will not have to change trains at Newbury.

Richard said, ‘I have been pushing for an uninterrupted service to the west of Newbury ever since the Government made the decision to electrify this line. Places like Kintbury and Hungerford will have a better service on better trains. This decision means everyone is a winner.’

The new services will require a small extension of the sidings at Bedwyn station to be able to operate.

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PRIVATE RENTING SOLUTIONS FOR HOMELESS AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, yesterday led a debate in Westminster Hall on private renting solutions for homeless and vulnerable people.

In his speech Richard said: “The private rented sector is an increasingly important route out of homelessness. When renting works for homeless people, it can be life changing. It is often a huge step towards finding a job, reconnecting with family and rebuilding lives.”

The serious problem in housing supply was highlighted in the Government’s Housing White Paper on Tuesday which also outlined changes that would make the private rented sector more affordable and more secure. But Richard said that additional support was needed if private renting was to work for the homeless and vulnerable.

He praised the work of Crisis, the homelessness charity, in this field and outlined two potential solutions. The Help to Rent scheme matches tenants with landlords and provides financial guarantees for deposits and rent, with ongoing support for both parties. Landlords have the reassurance of a named point of contact if something goes wrong and tenants receive support including help with budgeting and getting and maintaining employment. The 8,000 tenancies set up under this scheme in recent years, saw a sustainment rate of 90% which represents an incredible achievement.

Crisis is also calling on the Government to establish a national rent deposit guarantee scheme. This would provide help-to-rent projects with greater financial security with landlords safe in the knowledge that their property is protected, and free up help-to-rent schemes to support tenants, working in a similar way to the Help to Buy scheme for those who are just about managing and for whom purchasing a home is just not realistic.

Richard also highlighted the issues around mental health and vulnerable people. He said: “Mental health problems can cause homelessness and homelessness can cause mental health problems. In this place we think of things only in silos. We have a very good Minister here from one Department, but if we really are to deal with this problem we ought to have a whole range of Ministers from the Department of Health, the Ministry of Defence and Education plus people from all the organisations who care for people … so that we can do so in in a much more cohesive way.”

Richard closed by saying: “I am pleased that the Prime Minister has made housing a priority in her wish to lead a Government that helps those people left behind who have not benefited from recent economic growth.”

Marcus Jones, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, responded to the debate.

He confirmed that the Government had made a significant investment of £14 million working with Crisis to develop a programme for single people to access private rented accommodation. He agreed with Richard that there should be a line of Ministers to respond to the issues, saying, “In that spirit, I chair a ministerial working group that brings together various Departments and Ministers to see what more we can do to deal with the underlying issues that relate to homelessness. “

“We have also set up aprivate rented sector affordability and security working group. On that working group, we have Shelter, Crisis, Generation Rent and landlord and letting agent representatives, and it is in the process of finalising its report. We have asked those organisations to work with us to see how we can reduce the costs and barriers people face in accessing private rented accommodation.”

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RICHARD’S ARTICLE ON POLITICSHOME ON PRIVATE RENTING SOLUTIONS FOR HOMELESS AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE

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The Private Rented Sector is an increasingly important route out of homelessness. When renting works for homeless people it can be life changing - it’s often a huge step towards finding a job, reconnecting with family and rebuilding lives.

Yet finding a home in the PRS can be difficult and we all know, despite the welcome move from the Government to ban letting agent fees, upfront costs often act as a barrier for many people.

Research shows when renting to homeless people, 16% of landlords reported increasing the deposit, 12% increased the rent required in advance, and 15% increased the contractual rent. 55% of landlords say they are unwilling to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefitand the number unwilling to rent to homeless people is even higher at 82%.

However, I believe there are ways to make the PRS work for this group and there are innovative solutions now being delivered by which homeless and vulnerable people are being helped and guided into the market and most importantly, being given the tools and support needed to sustain lengthy tenancies.

From 2010 to 2014, with funding from the DCLG, the homeless charity Crisis ran the ‘Private Rented Sector Access Programme’. This funded specific Help to Rent schemes across the country which enabled homeless and vulnerable people access affordable and secure accommodation in the PRS.

It matched tenants with landlords, providing financial guarantees for deposits and rent, with ongoing support for both parties, including help for the tenant in budgeting and in gaining and sustaining employment. During the programme, more than 8,000 tenancies were created with a 90% sustainment rate which is an incredible achievement for this particular group.

As well as calling for funding for these Help to Rent schemes, Crisis is also proposing a Government funded National Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme. This would provide Help to Rent projects with greater financial security, with landlords safe in the knowledge their property is protected and that the help-to-rent projects are providing the right support to help tenants maintain rent. There is already a national mortgage guarantee which helps struggling first-time buyers with the cost of a deposit and this would be a similar scheme for those who are just about managing and for whom purchasing a home is just not realistic.

Both the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association believe that with the right support in place, financial risks can be reduced and letting to this group can be a viable business model. We can and should be actively encouraging landlords to work with these schemes.

The rationale to Government is that these policies are cost-effective and will provide stability in the private rented sector for the most vulnerable, helping to prevent and tackle homelessness. Independent analysis commissioned by Crisis estimates that if access were available to all households approaching their local authority for homelessness assistance, some 32,000 people could receive support annually. Assuming that if 60% of people leave temporary accommodation as a result of the scheme being available, savings from one year of the scheme would amount to between £175-595 million. Investing in PRS access support fits with Government’s wider agenda on Universal Credit and homelessness prevention and would build on the recent announcement for Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers and the PM’s welcome commitment to put prevention at the heart of a new approach.

By changing perceptions, we can make a private rented sector that works for all.

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES NEW MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS IN NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has welcomed new measures to transform the approach to mental health in West Berkshire so that more children and young people receive support and care.

Every secondary school in this area will be offered mental health first aid training to increase awareness and help to tackle the unacceptable stigma around the issue. To support this initiative, new proposals will outline how mental health services for schools, universities and families can be improved, so that everyone in the community is supported, at every stage of life. There will also be a review of children and adolescent mental health services in West Berkshire which will help to identify what is already working and what can be improved, so more children and young people get the mental healthcare they need and deserve.

These proposals are part of a wide range of measures to improve mental health care across the board, including improved support in the workplace, and increased help in the community, so that everyone can access the best support for their needs. More online services will be provided and the system will be made fairer for people suffering from mental health problems.

Richard Benyon commented:

“For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental healthcare in this country. I am aware of the problems faced by people in West Berkshire suffering from mental ill health and I am helping launch Brighter Berkshire 2017 next week which is a community-led initiative to address this issue across the county. I am delighted that the Government is prioritising the need for change. Bringing this out into the open, challenging the stigma that still surrounds it and dealing with the injustices that people with mental health problems face will help to ensure that we live in a country where everyone gets the support they need. Improving mental healthcare in our schools, workplaces and universities is a vital first step and these new proposals will mean that children and young people in West Berkshire will receive the compassion, care and treatment they deserve.“

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HAVE YOUR SAY ON WHAT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SUBJECTS MPS SHOULD HEAR ABOUT

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The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has created an open opportunity for the science community, schools, colleges, and the wider public to suggest science and technology areas for scrutiny.

The cross-party committee MPs exists to examine government policy on science and technology issues, and wants to gather suggestions for topics for its next inquiry.

Newbury MP Richard Benyon said:

“This is a great opportunity to get involved with setting the science and technology agenda in Westminster. If there’s an area of science that you think isn’t getting the attention it deserves or where the Government needs to do better, then this is an easy way to let politicians know about it. I would be delighted if the people of Newbury where to take part in telling MPs about important science issues.

Chair of the Committee Stephen Metcalfe MP said:

“My committee is looking forward to learning about areas of science that we might not otherwise consider. We’ve held inquiries into many fascinating topics recently and have more planned for 2017—but we want to hear your ideas too. I’m keen to open up this part of the process and get fresh input. We’re encouraging scientists and the wider public to get involved by sending us 200 words or a 1-minute video. I am particularly keen to hear ideas from schools and colleges.”

The Committee is asking for suggestions either in the form of a written submission via its website or a short video tweeted with the #MyScienceInquiry hashtag. A selection of the proposals will be shortlisted for an opportunity to give a 10-minute pitch to the Committee in person at a public 'Dragons' Den'-style session to be held in the New Year.

Proposals should outline in less than 200 words the nature of the issue that the Committee should explore, why it deserves attention, and how Government policy in this area could be developed or improved.

Recently the Committee has looked at topics ranging from anti-microbial resistance to science communication, and will shortly begin work on gene editing and ocean acidification. In 2016 it has also published reports on the impact and implications of Brexit for science, the science budget, and digital skills.

Written suggestions can be submitted online via www.parliament.uk/myscienceinquiry or by tweeting a video with the hashtag. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday 4 January 2017.

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POSTAL WORKERS DELIVERING FOR NEWBURY THIS CHRISTMAS

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Today Richard Benyon MP went to the Royal Mail sorting office in Newbury to meet the postmen and women working around the clock to ensure letters and parcels are delivered in time for Christmas.

Richard said:

“The team at the Newbury sorting officer are doing a sterling job.  Christmas is the busiest time of year for the postal service. But what I saw was a well-oiled machine of enthusiastic workers who are delivering for the people of West Berkshire.”

Royal Mail say that the last day to ensure you post is delivered before Christmas is 20th December for 2nd Class post and 21st December for 1st Class. 

 

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BRIGHTER BERKSHIRE EVENT

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Thank you for being here and for those who will be presenting today, particularly those who are going to share some very personal stories.

It isn’t news to any of us that mental health problems are on the rise

None of us can be unaffected by this. Indeed that is why with almost no notice you have all made space in your busy diaries to be here today.

There are many here much better informed than me but it is not hard to see that this is one of the most pressing challenges facing us all  today – in both my personal and public life I see the impact that mental health – poor mental health that is – can have.

From days off work lost to stress and depression right through to the ultimate tragedy when someone feels that they have no option but to take their own life and the awful devastation that this leaves behind.

We know from The Mental Health Foundation’s 2016 report Fundamental Facts about Mental Health:

·        Every week, one in six adults experiences symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression.

·        One in five adults has considered taking their own life at some point.

·        Nearly half of adults believe that, in their lifetime, they have had a diagnosable mental health problem, yet only a third have received a diagnosis.

Nationally, the biggest killer of women in the first year after giving birth is suicide

The biggest killer of young men in this country is suicide. This week a young man known to me, in a rural part of West Berkshire, has taken his life leaving his loved ones devastated.

Here in Berkshire, the number of suicides by people already in contact with MH services almost doubled in the year to April 2016

Stats from The Mental Health Foundation:

·        In 2015, common mental health problems (eg anxiety, depression and stress) and more serious mental health problems were the third most important cause of sick leave.

·        In 2015, mental-health-related issues were found to lead to approximately 17.6 million days’ sick leave, or 12.7% of the total sick days taken in the UK.

·        In 2015, an estimated 93,100 people were out of the labour force because they were caring for someone with a mental health problem.

·        A further 27,800 people were working reduced hours in order to care for someone with a mental health problem.

·         It has been estimated that the cost to UK GDP of workers either leaving the workforce entirely, or going part time in order to care for someone with a mental health problem, was £5.4 billion in 2015, with over 91% of this amount being due to those leaving the labour force entirely.

According to calculations by Oxford Economics, it is estimated that the UK GDP in 2015 could have been over £25 billion higher than what it was if not for the economic consequences of mental health problems to both individuals and businesses.

The 2013 Chief Medical Officer’s report estimated that the wider costs of mental health problems to the UK economy are £70–100 billion per year – 4.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). However, estimating this figure is very complex and an earlier study carried out by Centre for Mental Health found that, taking into account reduced quality of life, the annual costs in England alone were £105.2 billion.

This is a massive problem on both an emotional and economic level.

Many mental health problems are preventable – with better awareness and earlier intervention. The Mental Health Foundation is calling for a ‘prevention revolution’ in thinking about mental health - where help is more clearly and easily available to reduce the incidence of people developing mental health problems and to support effective and long term recovery.

More people are affected by mental health problems than any other health problem and the numbers are predicted to rise. And of course as we all know - poor mental health increases poor physical health. Dealing better with the former is bound to have a positive knock-on effect on the latter – saving the sufferer much anguish and saving valuable time and money for hard-pressed NHS services.

So how do we do it? 

I am aware from cases that come to my surgeries that ignorance, shame and isolation make mental health illness far, far harder to cope with. Using all our networks to connect people – in the work place, in the media, in schools and colleges, at the gym, the school gate, with our neighbours and our families – we can get people talking about this – reducing the stigma – bringing this issue out into the open – giving people ‘permission’ to talk about their problems sooner - helping them access the help and support they need – building happier and more resilient communities.

Great work has been done by celebrities and those in public life. I hugely admire people like Stephen Fry and Alastair Campbell for their courage in facing up to their own mental health problems and I have seen huge advances in Parliament as some of my colleagues have been open about mental health conditions they face. This in turn, is felt across the 10,000 people who work on the Parliamentary estate.

The aim of Brighter Berkshire is to bring us together to work to change the culture around mental health – to encourage that ‘big conversation’ and drive it up the agenda not just as far as the statutory agencies are concerned but out there in the community. And also to spread the word about the resources that are available already and to share good practice.

This is all about networking and working together and this is why we are all here today – to commit to making a difference to mental health in Berkshire over the next 12 months.

There is great commitment to Brighter Berkshire from all my Berkshire colleagues from Fiona McTaggart in the east to here in the west. The Prime Minister is also very supportive and wants to be involved in such a good endeavour from her Maidenhead constituency.

The response to today has been fantastic and I would like to pay tribute to Ali who set this ball rolling. Thank you too to all of you. Many of you have come with ideas to make this happen and others who could not be here today have made commitments to support it in other ways. I look forward to hearing more about your plans and, I hope, playing a small part in getting out there and spreading the word.

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES THE NEWS THAT MORE CHILDREN IN WEST BERKSHIRE ARE BEING TAUGHT IN GOOD OR OUTSTANDING SCHOOLS

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New figures from Ofsted show that 9 more schools in West Berkshire have been judged good or outstanding in their most recent inspection compared to 2015.

In total, 13 schools in West Berkshire were rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted at their last inspection, and 57 were rated ‘Good’. None were rated ‘Inadequate’. This means 22,100 pupils in the area attend schools that are rated good or outstanding.

Across the South East,234more schools have been rated as good or outstanding.

Across the country the proportion of all schools judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection was 89 per cent – the highest proportion ever recorded – with both the proportion of primary and secondary schools judged at these ratings continuing to rise in every region of the country. As a result almost 1.8 million more children are now in good schools compared to 2010.

The Government has set out plans to make more good school places available and to harness the resources and expertise of universities, independent and faith schools.

Richard said:

“It’s great news that the latest figures show that 70 schools in West Berkshire are now rated good or outstanding.

We are working to make sure every child can access high quality education, so that they have the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them, regardless of their background.”

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RICHARD BENYON SUPPORTS BASS CAMPAIGN

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Former Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP has thrown his weight behind the combined Angling Trust, BASS and Save Our Sea Bass campaign for a ban on bass netting.

Across Northern Europe sea bass stocks are in deep trouble because of commercial overfishing and the repeated failure of politicians and fishery managers to follow scientific advice and introduce the necessary conservation measures. The Angling Trust and Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) have pressed hard for ban on bass netting and are campaigning in full support the EU Commission’s proposals for 2017 for a sustainable and well managed recreational and commercial hook and line only bass fishery. 

They have launched a national petition which has attracted nearly 6000 signatures in just a few days: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172441

Richard Benyon said:

“Scientists tell us that bass stocks are crashing in UK waters. The EU has said that there should only be a recreational and commercial hook and line bass fishery with a ban on all netting. We need this proposal to be upheld.

“I am proud to have been made a ‘bass champion’ by the Angling Trust. This amazing species could be part of a regeneration of coastal communities if a proper sporting fishery was allowed to thrive alongside robust conservation measures.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said:

"We are delighted but not at all surprised that Richard Benyon is backing the campaign to protect our threatened bass stocks from over fishing. In his time as our Fisheries Minister Richard was the one person who took this issue seriously and was prepared to act on the warnings of scientists rather than looking for short term political fixes."

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ROADS MINISTER JOHN HAYES CONFIRMS ROAD INVESTMENT STRATEGY INCLUDING THE OXFORD TO CAMBRIDGE EXPRESSWAY

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES AUTUMN STATEMENT SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES IN NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon has welcomed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and how it will benefit the people of Newbury.

On Wednesday, presenting the first Autumn Statement since the vote to leave the European Union, the Chancellor said it tackles the “economy’s long-term weaknesses such as the productivity gap, the housing challenge, and the damaging imbalance in economic growth and prosperity across our country. We resolve today to confront those challenges head on, to prepare our country to seize the opportunities ahead, and, in doing so, to build an economy that works for everyone—an economy where every corner of this United Kingdom is part of our national success.”

He confirmed that the Government is committed to ensuring an economy that is robust enough to meet the challenges ahead post Brexit and create an economy that works for everyone.

The measures in the Autumn Statement that will affect people in Newbury:

·         Help for low earners:

o   Raising the personal allowance to £11,500 in April and £12,500 by the end of the Parliament

o   Increasing the living wage from £7.20 to £7.50 and a further £4.3 million per year to strengthen Minimum Wage enforcement.

o   Universal Credit taper rate to be cut from 65 to 63%. This will mean those on low income will keep more of what they earn and encourage individuals to progress in work

·         Helping people get on the housing ladder

o   £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure fund to provide 100,000 new homes in high demand areas

o   £1.4 billion to provide 40,000 more affordable homes

o   Banning upfront charges by letting agencies

·         Backing business in West Berkshire

o   Cutting corporation tax to 17% by 2020

o   Reduce the business rate burden by £6.7 billion over the next 5 years

o   This will help the nearly 9,000 businesses registered in the Newbury constituency

·         Road infrastructure

o   Commitment to the Oxford  to Cambridge expressway, which will see improvements for traffic on the A34

o   A £220 million scheme to help free up pinch points on key parts of the road network

In response to the measures, Richard Benyon said:

“The measures announced in this Autumn Statement will help local people who are just about managing, and ensure that our economy is fighting fit as we begin the process to leave the European Union. 

“Increasing the National Living Wage, building more homes that local people can afford, ending tenants’ fees and continuing the fuel duty freeze for the seventh successive year will help families across Newbury make ends meet.

“By backing businesses, investing in our transport networks and securing world-class digital infrastructure, we will keep Britain moving and support our economy for the future.  

 “This is about putting working families in Newbury first, and building an economy that works for everyone.”

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RICHARD BENYON BACKS HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION BILL

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, spoke in support of the Homelessness reduction Bill on Friday 28th October.

The Bill was a Private Members Bill introduced by Bob Blackman MP, which sought to aid those single homeless people who currently do not qualify for housing. The Bill would ensure that all those who are ‘at risk’ of becoming homeless would be eligible for support from their local authority.

Speaking in the debate, Mr Benyon said that the Bill will help “tackle what is one of the most shaming features of modern society.”

“Homeless cases are some of the most troubling we see in our surgeries because they bring with them many overlapping aspects of human misery.”

The Government also signaled its support for the Bill. In summing up, Marcus Jones (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government) said: “this Government are committed to preventing homelessness. The number of people found to be homeless is down by 58% from the 2003-04 peak, but the Government remain absolutely clear that one person without a home is one too many.”

“I am honoured and very proud to say that the Government will give their full support to this Bill.”

In his speech, Mr Benyon praised the work of homeless charities based in Newbury.

He said: “We are assisted in our work as Members of Parliament by fantastic organisations in our constituencies, of which I will list two: Loose Ends and Two Saints, a hostel.”

My Benyon also spoke of the work undertaken by “the DePaul Nightstop UK service provides free, safe, secure emergency accommodation for single young people, predominantly aged between 16 and 25. The homes are vetted and have trained volunteer hosts. That is an extraordinary service which we could roll out across our constituencies. A web-based solution could deal with many of the problems that have been raised.”

The Homelessness Reduction Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons with unanimous support from all Parties. It will now progress to committee stage. 

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A34 DEBATED IN PARLIAMENT

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Safety on the A34 was highlighted in Parliament today as the subject of a Westminster Hall debate. Richard Benyon and Ed Vaizey, two of the MPs campaigning for improvements following the horrific accidents on the road during the summer, had pushed for this debate and were delighted to see it on the agenda.

As well as speaking about the increasingly urgent issue of safety on this road, Ed Vaizey also raised the economic case for improvements, quoting from the Local Enterprise Partnerships and from the Road Haulage Association confirming that delays and accidents are costing British business millions of pounds in time and goods every year.

He said, ‘The A34 is a strategic and crucial part of our transport network which is not fit for purpose.

First, it is extremely dangerous.  There have been 2,040 accidents in the last 22 years.  In the last 4 months there have been 2 fatal accidents. One of these claimed the lives of 4, including 3 children. Action is long overdue.

‘The need to urgently improve road safety would alone justify significant investment and time from the Department for Transport and Highways England. But the second point I wish to make is that the pressure on the A34 is having a significant impact on our economy.’

He quoted from a joint letter from Thames Valley Berkshire and Oxfordshire LEPs which states that problems on the A34 are significantly impacting economic growth in the region: ‘We believe that the existing A34 highway infrastructure is not fit for purpose now, let alone for the medium term. In this regard, we urge the DfT to identify a funding stream to support immediate investment.’

Richard Benyon, unable to attend the debate in person as he is abroad on Parliamentary business this week, commented, ‘This road is a major north-south arterial route and is overloaded and unsafe. With the number of new houses and new jobs planned for this area, the volume of traffic is set to increase exponentially over the next decade. It is time to take action now.

‘I am pleased that this issue is being aired in Parliament and we will continue to put pressure on all the relevant authorities to get something done as soon as possible.’

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CONSERVATIVE MPS ENCOURAGE THE PM TO PUT HER 'PERSONAL STAMP ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

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Richard Benyon’s letter, co-signed with 35 other Conservative MPs, encouraging the Prime Minister to put her ‘personal stamp on Environment Policy’:

Dear Prime Minister

Conservatives have always been in the vanguard of environmental protection. Conservatives first created the great, reforming Department of the Environment in 1970. Conservatives delivered the landmark Clean Air Act in 1956, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act in 1981. Conservatives published the UK’s first comprehensive environmental strategy This Common Inheritance in 1990.

Our 2015 manifesto commitment to establish a network of giant marine reserve in partnership with our overseas territories amounts to the single biggest conservation measure of any Government, ever. We committed to a continued crack-down on the illegal wildlife trade, to continued support for the Climate Change Act, and to cutting emissions as cost-effectively as possible.

Integral to Conservative philosophy is a deep cultural commitment to handing on a better world to our children. Lady Thatcher gave voice to this, “The core of Tory philosophy and for the case for protecting the environment are the same. No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease.”

Over the coming months, you will be expanding your vision for the nation. As with previous Prime Ministers, we urge you to put your own personal stamp on Environment policy. We hope that as part of your vision, you will set out an ambitious plan for restoring the natural environment at home and around the world.

In particular, we urge you to:

  • Reaffirm our manifesto commitment to creating a Blue Belt of protected waters around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories, including as a first step around the Pitcairn Islands and Ascension Island.
  • Commit to continued and thorough application of the EU’s Birds, Habitats and Bathing Water directives until equivalent UK legislation is enacted. We should incorporate in a new Nature Act the protections and powers we need.
  • Take advantage of the repatriation of the Common Agriculture Policy by shifting subsidies in favour of paying farmers for delivering services for the environment and public good.
  • Restate our commitment to fishing to maximum sustainable yield: a hard-won, UK-led reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Leaving the European Union poses risks and opportunities. With determined leadership the Government can overcome the risks and take full advantage of the opportunities to ensure our living environment flourishes for future generations. This will demonstrate that it is Conservatives who will deliver on prosperity and environmental protection. We have every expectation that you will provide that leadership.

Yours sincerely

Zac Goldsmith, Richard Benyon, Alex Chalk, Andrew Mitchell, Anne Main, Ben Howlett, Bernard Jenkin, Caroline Spelman, Charlotte Leslie, Cheryl Gillan, David Warburton, Derek Thomas, Flick Drummond, Heidi Allen, James Gray, Jason McCartney, Jeremy Lefroy, Jo Churchill, Kevin Hollinrake, Kit Malthouse, Marcus Fysh, Maria Caulfield, Matthew Offord, Neil Carmichael, Neil Parish, Nicolas Soames, Oliver Colvile, Paul Scully, Peter Bottomley, Richard Graham, Sarah Wollaston, Scott Mann, Stephen Hammond, Tania Mathias, Victoria Borwick, Will Quince

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES NEW JOBS FIGURES SHOWING A STRONG ECONOMY IN NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed this month’s record-breaking employment figures showing that there are more people in work than ever before, with 320,000 more people in work across the South East.  Since 2010, there are over 2.7 million more people in work across the United Kingdom. 
 
In Newbury, the number of people claiming the key out of work benefits has fallen by 992 - a 72% drop – since 2010.
These figures show that the record high employment rate has been fuelled by full-time work, which has accounted for three-quarters of the employment growth since 2010, and that average wages grew by 2.4 per cent over the last year.  
 
Richard said:
 
‘I am delighted by the recent employment figures, and how more people than ever are finding work in Newbury. The figures show that employment is growing across all the regions and nations of the United Kingdom as we build a Britain that works for everyone not just the privileged few.  
 
‘The number of people in Newbury relying on the key out of work benefits has fallen by 992 since 2010 – a 72% drop.  Nevertheless, we aren’t complacent which is why we’re pressing ahead with welfare reforms like Universal Credit making sure that it always pays for people to be in work.  
 
‘With the employment rate at a record high, the unemployment rate at its lowest level in over 10 years, and wages up whilst inflation has remained low, the Government is making sure that everyone can share in the country’s wealth.’
 

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RICHARD BENYON MP BACKS TRIDENT AND AWE

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has supported the Government in the renewal of the delivery system for the Trident nuclear missiles. 
 
He gave his backing during the debate on the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the House of Commons on Monday 18th July. 
In his speech, Mr Benyon made particular reference to the work of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston.  He said: “The nuclear deterrent is my constituency’s largest employer, and it brings many advantages, not least to the supply chain of 275 local companies and 1,500 supply chain organisations nationally.” 
 
He went on to praise the work of AWE’s civil nuclear work and its role in advising the Government on counter-terrorism, the effect it has on nuclear threat reduction, on forensics—not least in the recent Litvinenko inquiry—and on non-proliferation, together with its second-to-none apprenticeship scheme and its academic collaboration with the Orion laser.
 
But he said, “None of that would matter one jot if the decision we were taking today was wrong. The decision we are taking today is right.” MPs voted by 472 to 117 votes in favour of renewal.
 
Following the debate, Mr Benyon also highlighted the ongoing concerns relating to proposed changes to the AWE pension scheme. In a statement he said: 
 
“Whilst employees of AWE are not necessarily paid as well as their counterparts in wider industry, what makes AWE such an attractive employer is the quality of its pension scheme. It ensures that very talented individuals are retained by the organisation and will continue to make a valuable contribution to both the civil and military work done there. I would urge the Minister to take note of the very genuine concerns that the proposed changes to the pension scheme will damage morale and will see talent leaking away.”
 

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RICHARD’S SPEECH IN THE TRIDENT DEBATE 18 JULY 2016

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Watch Richard's speech here

 
Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con)
 
That was one of the most courageous speeches I have heard during my time in the House.
 
I am very sad that the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) is not here. When we last debated the matter in 2007, he was in his place and I was sitting on the Opposition Benches. He swept his arm to his right and said that we in the home counties could not understand what it was like to have such a powerful weapon on our doorsteps. I pointed out to him that if he came into my bedroom and looked across the Kennet valley, he would see the rooftops of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston; if he looked slightly to his left, he would see the rooftops of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Burghfield; and if he climbed on to my roof, he could probably see the missile silos at Greenham common. In my part of Berkshire, we need no lessons from anyone about the impact or the effect of living close to the nuclear deterrent. He replied as consummately as clever politicians do, that that was the first and last time he would ever be asked into a Tory MP’s bedroom.
 
The point is that the nuclear deterrent is my constituency’s largest employer, and it brings many advantages, not least to the supply chain of 275 local companies and 1,500 supply chain organisations nationally. Add to that its role in advising the Government on counter-terrorism; the effect it has on nuclear threat reduction, on forensics—not least in the recent Litvinenko inquiry—and on non-proliferation; its second-to-none apprenticeship scheme; and its academic collaboration with the Orion laser. None of that would matter one jot if the decision we were taking today was wrong. The decision we are taking today is right.
 
Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
 
I have listened with great interest to what the hon. Gentleman has said about the situation of nuclear materials and weapons in his constituency. Does he agree that there is one big difference between his constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara)? The hon. Gentleman’s constituents—witness his election—want nuclear weapons. The constituents of my hon. Friend, and those of all my hon. Friends, do not want nuclear weapons.
 
Richard Benyon
 
There are many polls that conflict with the information that the hon. and learned Lady provides. I was elected on a resounding majority, but who knows how much of that decision was about nuclear weapons being based locally? I think it was about a wide variety of issues.
 
The truth is that the nuclear deterrent has saved lives—this is a point that has not been made enough tonight—over the past few decades, because aggressors have been deterred. We have to ask ourselves how predictable future conflicts are. The leader of the SNP said that we are talking about deterrence today. We are not; we are talking about deterrence for 20 years, 30 years or 40 years. The SNP may have a crystal ball, and SNP Members may be able to say that there will be no threats to us in that time. I do not have a crystal ball, however, and I want to ensure the protection of future generations in this country.
 
Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP)
 
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what role these nuclear weapons played in the catastrophes in Libya and Syria? What contribution did they make?
 
Richard Benyon
 
That was a totally ridiculous intervention, which is not worthy of a reply. The hon. Gentleman might like to consider what kind of aggressor we might face in the future. We are not just talking about a resurgent Russia. What about groups of nations or individual nations? We know that nuclear weapons have proliferated in recent years. As we have reduced our arsenal, others have increased theirs. He needs to think not just about today, and not just about himself and his 
constituents, but about the future generations whom we are talking about protecting.
 
Ian Blackford
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Richard Benyon
 
No, I will not take any more interventions.
 
We have to think through the recent conflicts in our lifetime: not conflicts in which nuclear retaliation would ever have been appropriate, but the Yom Kippur war, the Falklands—mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis)—the invasion of Kuwait, 9/11 and even last week’s coup in Turkey. We did not know that they were going to happen. Who can say that we would be any the wiser in the event of a coup de main operation that might not have happened if the potential enemy had been deterred by our possession of weapons that made them sit up and think? We need potential enemies to hold in their mind the fact that there is no advantage to them in aggression.
 
I have spoken tonight about our constituents and about future generations, but let us also talk about the concept of using nuclear weapons. There is a good, honest and decent concept, which goes back many generations and which I can respect, of disarmament and pacifism in this country. I happen to think that in this context it is wrong, but we can respect it. When people talk about using nuclear weapons, they need to understand the doctrine that governs them. Our nuclear deterrent has been used every single day of every single year for which it has been deployed. It does what it says on the tin; it deters.
 
I am sorry to say it, but no one believes that an independent Scotland would suddenly start to invest in Type 26 destroyers, fast jets and all the other paraphernalia ​of a nation that somehow wants to engage in the world in the way that Britain does. SNP Members’ sudden attraction to the idea of massive defence spending is complete nonsense.
 
Ian Blackford
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Brendan O’Hara (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
 
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
 
Richard Benyon
 
No, I will not give way.
 
The nature of regimes in a more dangerous world is what we need to consider today. Although we have reduced our arsenal of nuclear weapons by 50% in recent years—the Leader of the Opposition completely ignored the fact that we have reduced our arsenal so considerably—the number of states with nuclear weapons has increased and the number of tactical nuclear weapons in the world is now over 17,000.
 
On the question of cost, I would just state that all this—the £31 billion over 35 years, plus the contingency—translates to about 0.2% of total Government spending. That will be reduced if we take account of the advantage for the supply chain of developing this suite of replacement submarines.
 
I will finish by saying that we need to listen to our allies on this issue. We have an agreement with the French—the Lancaster House agreement—and we have a long-standing agreement with the United States. Our nuclear defence is networked into our other allies as well. We need to think about their response to what we are debating as much as about the future generations that we will protect through our decision tonight

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NEWBURY MP WELCOMES LATEST ONE-YEAR CANCER SURVIVAL STATISTICS

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By 2020, almost half of the UK population will receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime1. Cancer survival rates in the UK are among the worst in Europe – not least because many people are diagnosed too late when their cancer is advanced. Richard Benyon MP is supporting the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer’s call for this to change.
 
The latest published figures show that the percentage of people in England surviving at least one year from their initial cancer diagnosis has risen from 69.3% to 70.2%. However, this is still well behind comparable international rates – in Sweden, for example, one-year cancer survival is around 82%. The figure for the local NHS Newbury and District CCG is 69%2, up from 68.4%3.
 
Commenting on the figures, Richard Benyon said, “The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of surviving at least one year and surviving cancer generally. The publication of these local one-year survival rates should therefore encourage the local NHS, with the support of the wider cancer community, to promote earlier diagnosis.
 
“In the Newbury CCG area, 69% of people are living for a year or more after a cancer diagnosis. Yet in Sweden, the figure is 82%. More work is needed through earlier diagnosis to increase this number, as the UK has among the lowest survival rates in Europe. I have written to our CCG asking for feedback on initiatives they may be exploring such as better screening uptake, diagnostics within Primary Care, public awareness and GP training.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP SUPPORTS THE BRITISH LEGION’S ‘COUNT THEM IN’ CAMPAIGN

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Richard Benyon is supporting the Royal British Legion’s campaign to press for the inclusion of questions about the Armed Forces community in the next national census in 2021.
 
Commenting on the ‘Count Them In’ initiative, Richard said, ‘Apparently, after the 2011 census we knew more about the Jedi population of the UK than about those who have served in our Armed Forces. Despite an estimated 1 in 10 of the UK population being members of the Armed Forces community, there's very limited information about where they are or what their needs might be.’
 
‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this. By adding new questions to the 2021 census we can improve our understanding of this community and ensure that politicians, charities and service providers fully meet the needs of our serving personnel, veterans and their families.’
 
The British Legion is working with its sister charity, Poppyscotland, in publicly calling for the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly to commit to this addition to the 2021 census.

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RICHARD BENYON MP BACKS ‘SEND MY FRIEND TO SCHOOL’ CAMPAIGN

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On a visit to St Gabriel’s School this week, Richard Benyon heard Year 7 and 8 students speak about the right to education for children everywhere in the world and was presented with over 90 messages pressing for change. 
 
The students were taking part in the ‘Send my friend to school’ campaign, sponsored by the Global Campaign for Education. St Gabriel’s is one of over 4,000 UK schools supporting this campaign to highlight the fact that 37 million children are missing out on education in crisis-affected countries across the world.
 
Richard Benyon said, ‘I was very impressed by how passionately the pupils viewed education. They saw it as a universal human right which should be accessed equally across the globe. Many of them admitted that at times they had taken their education for granted and recognised the inequalities of education in less developed countries.
 
‘I was able to tell them about my recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where in some provinces 42% of children never attend school and, for those who do attend, it is common for students to walk over ten miles to get there.
 
‘I will be forwarding these messages to the Minister of State at the Department for International Development to urge him to continue to support this campaign. The UK is already at the forefront, having pledged £30 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund set up by world leaders with the aim of helping children whose education has been disrupted because of conflict, natural disaster or health emergency.’
 
Richard Benyon being presented with ‘Send my friend to school’ messages by Year 7 and 8 students at St Gabriel’s School

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CROSS-PARTY SUPPORT FOR REMAIN

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Normal party politics were put to one side this week in Newbury as mainstream politicians came together with local MP Richard Benyon in a display of cross-party support for Britain to remain a member of the European Union.

Former Reading West Labour MP Martin Salter has come out of retirement to campaign for the Remain side in the referendum to be held on June 23rd. Also present with Mr Benyon were the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates for Newbury in last year's General Election, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts. West Berkshire Councillors were represented by Council Leader Roger Croft and the Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition Alan Macro.

The cross-party group came together ahead of a public meeting in Thatcham last Friday evening (June 3rd) with Richard Benyon, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts sharing a platform in support of the Stronger In campaign.

The meeting turned into a lively debate with standing room only. Richard Benyon, Judith Bunting and Jonny Roberts talked openly about the powerful reasons for remaining in Europe for the benefit of West Berkshire and for the future of our children and the country as a whole.

Richard Benyon said: “It was good to see so many people engaging in this vital debate and I know from feedback from those who came along that they appreciated the cross-party consensus. This issue is way above party politics. It is not like a General Election when we would have another chance to vote after five years or so. This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision which will have huge implications for the future of this country.”

“For me, the main issues are the economy and our security. The consensus across business, backed up by independent economic bodies such as the Institute of Fiscal Studies, is strongly in favour of Remain. Businesses in West Berkshire, such as Xtrac in Thatcham, benefit enormously from access to the single market – the largest trading bloc in the world – and our local economy benefits accordingly. When it comes to security, I sit on the Defence Select Committee and lead the UK’s delegation to the NATO Assembly and have frequent opportunity to hear from some of the best experts on defence and security as well as our allies. There is an almost universal view that Britain leaving the EU would be bad for European security and therefore bad for Britain.”

Martin Salter added: “I’ve long been a supporter of Britain’s membership of the EU as there's an overwhelming economic case for remaining in an institution that has helped deliver an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. However, we should also remind ourselves of how the EU has delivered many important protections for our quality of life including rights at work, consumer protections, cleaner rivers, improved sewage discharge standards, better bathing beaches, wildlife habitat and water framework directives – in fact there is a long list of environmental achievements that have come from Brussels rather than Westminster. That's why I'm so pleased to be campaigning alongside Richard Benyon, my former parliamentary neighbour and Minister for the Natural Environment, and representatives from other parties for Britain to remain inside the EU.”

Judith Bunting said: “I recognise this is a difficult decision for many, but any vote to Leave could result in a horribly impoverished future for our children and our grandchildren. For me, the most worrying aspect is unemployment. Many large employers are indicating that if we leave they will reduce operations in Britain or relocate entirely. Those businesses remaining will not be able to pick up the slack. Too much is at risk if we lose this referendum on the 23rd June. I urge all supporters to take the time go and vote Remain on June 23 rd . I really don’t want our country or our children to face levels of unemployment, again, of two and a half million or more.”

Cross-party support in Thatcham for Stronger In: Councillor Alan Macro, former Labour MP Martin Salter, Labour candidate Jonny Roberts, Lib Dem candidate Judith Bunting and Councillor Roger Croft

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EU REFERENDUM: Q&A in Thatcham

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There is another opportunity to hear the case for remaining in the EU this Friday 3rd June. Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, along with Jonny Roberts, the Labour candidate in last year’s General Election, will be at the Burdwood Community Centre in Thatcham (RG19 4YA), for a Q&A session starting at 6.30pm.

Richard commented, ‘This is a momentous decision for us all, of every party political persuasion and none. It will affect the future of this country, and the future of our children and grandchildren. There is so much at stake and I am pleased that so many people are keen to engage in the debate and find out more.’ 

 

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RICHARD BENYON: NO WE'RE NOT AHEAD OF THE PACK ON TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE

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NO, WE'RE NOT AHEAD OF THE PACK IN TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE. BUT WE SHOULD BE. HERE'S HOW TO DO IT

From conservativehome, May 28:


A familiar refrain is that Britain is ahead of other European Union countries in introducing measures to tackle climate change – but that we should not be.

The assertion raises two questions.

First, how credible is the idea that are we are unilaterally forging ahead of the rest, when you think of France’s extensive nuclear reactor fleet, or consider that Sweden already gets half of its total energy, not just electricity, from renewable sources?

And, second, if we are ahead, is that really damaging the competitiveness of British businesses and our economy overall?

These concerns are misplaced. It turns out that we are not “ahead of the pack”. Which means that we need to look again, in turn, at claims that climate policies are holding back British businesses.

Consider for a moment the fact that all EU member countries share the same ambition – a cut of carbon emissions by 80-95 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, and an energy system that is secure, efficient and cheap.

These countries are starting from very different circumstances: the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, for example, were acutally within the Soviet Union itself, not just in the Soviet bloc, in 1990. Some economies are intrinsically more efficient than others. And some have historical advantages. The UK began the 1990s with the dash for gas, and the then newly-united Germany by using the wealth of the old West Germany to clean up the dirty industry of the old East Germany. So it is not surprising that if one looks only at emission cuts since 1990, both do relatively rather well.

If you try to compare countries based on individual measures, therefore, you will fail to obtain a realistic comparison.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a think-tank on whose Advisory Board I sit, has just published a more comprehensive analysis of countries’ progress towards the common EU goal. It looks at a “basket” of seven measures, incorporating both historical achievements and the current rate of progress. These measures cover emission reductions, energy efficiency and the build-out of renewable and nuclear energy.

And on this basket, the UK is just about average. We are near the head of the pack on some, but woefully behind on others. This holds true whether the UK is compared with our closest equivalents in terms of size and GDP (Germany, Italy, France and Spain), or with the entire 28 member states. We are amidst the pack – not out in front.

Both George Osborne and Amber Rudd have observed in recent times that the UK should “cut our carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe”, and that is important to “travel in step” with our competitors. The ECIU analysis shows that this ambition has been achieved; we are already travelling in step.

Looking ahead, the Government must decide within the next month whether or not to accept the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)’s recommendation on the level of the fifth carbon budget, covering the period from 2028-32. The Government’s response will give a vital signal to investors. As the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee found recently, confidence has been “spooked” by the recent raft of policy changes, which they see as abrupt and opaque.

Unequivocal acceptance of the CCC’s fifth carbon budget advice – with no ifs, buts or caveats – is an ideal opportunity to reassure investors by providing certainty about the UK’s direction of travel, and to unlock the investment that the UK’s energy system sorely needs at the lowest possible costs. The ECC Committee has also recommended unequivocal acceptance of the CCC’s advice as the most cost effective way of meeting our long-term goals and providing certainty to investors.

If the UK is going no faster than its EU counterparts, the notion that our policies are driving British industry into the dust cannot, logically, be true. It was raised during the recent steel crisis, with certain media commentators claiming that unilateral UK climate policies were driving up energy prices and making British manufacturers uncompetitive.

In reality, energy policy costs make up around one per cent of steel production costs. The precise structure of levies and compensation can be amended to give manufacturers some relief – as the Government has done. But the real problems are beyond the capacity of government to solve: excess capacity, collapsed prices worldwide, and a global glut of cheap steel.

The reality is, as the Prime Minister himself has said, that supporting the low-carbon sector is not just good for the planet, but good for the British economy. The low-carbon sector is worth £46 billion per year and employs nearly a quarter of a million people – more than double the size of our car manufacturing industry. Low-carbon industries have revitalised communities in such places as Hull and Grimsby, and are creating new business opportunities for innovative British manufacturers.

As I and a number of my Conservative colleagues recently said in a letter to David Cameron, early and full acceptance of the CCC’s recommendation for the fifth carbon budget will give investors the confidence to act, and so maintain this government’s proud record of lower emissions combined with sustained economic growth.

The Prime Minister has also said that the UK is in a “global race” and that “the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient.” He may well be right; but if the UK is to be among the winners of this global race, it needs to keep its foot on the accelerator, because it is not yet out in front.

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EU REFERENDUM Q&A

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Richard Benyon is inviting anyone interested in the EU debate to come along to a Q&A session at Newbury Rugby Club on Friday 10th June.

‘This is a momentous decision for all of us and will affect the future of this country, and the future of our children and grandchildren. There is so much at stake and I am pleased that so many people are keen to engage in the debate and find out more.’

Doors open at the Monks Lane venue (RG14 7RW) at 6.45pm and the evening will start with a short talk at 7pm, followed by questions from the floor. Entry and parking free, no need to book. A cash bar will be available from 6.45pm. 

 

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DAVID RENDEL

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Following the announcement of the death of David Rendel, Richard Benyon said:

“I have known David Rendel for over 25 years.  While we were long-time political opponents I always had respect for him as an individual and for what he achieved as Member of Parliament for Newbury.  I send my deepest condolences to Sue and the family.”

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES FOR NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon MP has welcomed the recent jobs figures showing that unemployment is at a record low in Newbury.

In the Newbury constituency, unemployment claimant level has dropped by 76% since 2010. It is 20% down on this time last year and a claimant number at 378 is a historic low.

This comes on top of great news for the South East as whole, with employment at 4.46 million, up 266,000 since 2010.

Mr Benyon said, “I am delighted employment figures remain at this record high and that unemployment for Newbury continues to fall.”

He went onto say: “this is very good news indeed but we must not get complacent – West Berkshire must continue to be the best place to start and grow a business.”

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RICHARD BENYON SEEKS VIEWS OF LOCAL BUSINESS ON THE EU

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Richard has posted a short survey on his website asking for the views of the local business community on the forthcoming referendum.

‘As MP for this busy and thriving area, I know there are many businesses in my constituency which make a huge contribution to both the local and national economy.

‘As we approach the date of the referendum on 23 June, I am keen to know their views on Europe. To this end I have posted a short survey on my website. You can access it here or via the get involved/surveys tab on www.richardbenyon.com.

‘Answering the survey will only take a few minutes and I hope to reach as many businesses as possible. This is a momentous decision for all of us and I look forward to hearing the views of this important section of our community.’  

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES GOVERNMENT POTHOLE FUND

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new dedicated funding from the Government to fill nearly 1 million potholes across the UK. This includes £217,000 to fill an estimated 4,094 potholes in West Berkshire.

Local motorists will benefit from the dedicated funding after the Government announced that nearly £50 million of funding will be made available to local councils over the next 12 months.  This is part of a wider move to fill 157,282 potholes across the South East, with over 100 councils in England receiving funding. 

The funding has been made available to councils as part of the Government’s £250 million Pothole Action Fund included in last month’s budget, which will see over four million potholes fixed by 2020/21, and is part of the Government’s plan to invest in infrastructure to secure a better future for our economy. 

The local area stands to benefit from overall road maintenance funding of almost £4 million. The Department for Transport confirmed that, ‘In total, West Berkshire will receive £3,955,000 in 2016/17 as part of the government’s £6.1 billion investment for local road maintenance by 2020/21.’

Richard Benyon has welcomed the news saying, ‘The state of the roads in and around Newbury has been an issue for some time now and remains a great source of frustration for drivers.  This new funding is great news for West Berkshire.  I’ve been campaigning for a long time for greater investment in road repairs, and will be encouraging the Council to make full use of their allocation locally. 

‘I’m glad that the Government is investing both nationally and locally to improve the standard of our local roads.  It shows that we are delivering on our commitment to invest in infrastructure to attract businesses and secure Britain’s future.’

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COURT CLOSURES DEBATE

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In a Parliamentary debate on Thursday 24th March, on the closure of magistrates’ courts, Newbury MP Richard Benyon raised a number of points.

He asked the Minister to ensure that technology such as video conferencing is available for witnesses to give evidence in towns like Newbury where the court is closing, thus saving them making the journey to Reading or beyond.

He also raised the importance of the listing of cases in Reading by geographic area. He said that West Berkshire cases should, where possible, be listed on the same day. This would ensure that some parts of ‘local justice’ are maintained. Not least, this would allow local media to report convictions as well as crimes.

Later in the debate, he raised the concern that according to Ministry of Justice figures, less than 15% of the population of West Berkshire will be able to reach the court in Reading by public transport in under one hour.

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RICHARD BENYON RAISES VACANT SEE OF OXFORD IN PARLIAMENT

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In Parliamentary questions to the Second Estates Church Commissioner, Caroline Spelman MP, on 17th March, Newbury MP Richard Benyon raised the indecision of the Church of England to appoint a new Bishop to the Diocese of Oxford.

Richard apologised for his “Trollopean” question, but registered people’s astonishment at the length of time it has taken to make an appointment.  He even quipped, “People are starting to wonder if Sir John Chilcot has been involved in the appointment process.”

Mrs Spelman replied that she believed a short list of names was likely to be brought forward in May. 

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RICHARD BENYON NAMED AS IWA’S PARLIAMENTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2015

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Newbury MP and former Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon, was named as IWA’s Parliamentarian of the Year 2015 at a function held at the House of Commons on Tuesday 3rd November.

The MP who was Minister during the transfer of more than half the country's navigations from British Waterways to Canal & River Trust, has retained a strong interest in the inland waterways and was recently elected as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways. He is also Chairman of the UK Water Partnership.


Presenting the award, IWA National Chairman Les Etheridge, said, ‘The support our inland waterways get from so many politicians always makes this a difficult decision and this year has been no different. Transferring inland waterways from government to charity control with an appropriate funding package was a brave and wise decision which recognised what volunteers bring to the waterways, and it is this as well as Richard’s continuing involvement in the waterways that make him this year’s IWA Parliamentarian of the Year.’

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MP WELCOMES NEW COUNCIL LEADER

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With the retirement of Gordon Lundie as Leader of West Berkshire Council, the ruling Conservative Group has elected Councillor Roger Croft to replace him.  On hearing the news Newbury MP, Richard Benyon said,

“I warmly congratulate Roger on his election to be Leader. He has the vision to see what is needed in the years ahead and the determination to carry forward the manifesto commitments on which the Conservatives were elected. On a personal level I find Roger really easy to work with and am looking forward to working with him and his team in the coming years”

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RICHARD BENYON: NEW ENTERPRISE ALLOWANCE HELPING PEOPLE IN NEWBURY START THEIR OWN BUSINESS

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures that show 20 people in the Newbury constituency have been helped off benefits and supported to start their own business, thanks to the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme.

The allowance, which supports people on out of work benefits to start their own business, has helped more than 73,000 people nationwide since its introduction in April 2011.

Richard said: “I want everyone in Britain to benefit from the opportunities being created by our growing economy. Supporting small businesses is an important part of backing working people. This scheme rewards vision and hard graft. I congratulate all those who have benefited in the Newbury constituency”.

He continued: “More broadly, corporation tax has been lowered to 20 per cent and will reach 18 per cent by 2020, red tape continues to be cut and the Employment Allowance, which reduces employers’ National Insurance bills and makes it cheaper to take on staff, will also increase to £3000 next year. These are all bold measures designed to ensure Britain keeps growing”.

NOTES

·         The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) helps people on out of work benefits start their own business. The scheme, launched in April 2011, aims to help unemployed people claiming out of work benefits who wish to start up their own business. Participants in the NEA work with a business mentor to develop their business idea. Once they have started trading and left benefits, they receive a weekly allowance worth a total of £1,274 over 26 weeks to help them get their business going (DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         More than 73,000 people have started a business under the scheme since it was introduced. Over the past year nearly 1,500 businesses a month have been started by people moving off benefits and becoming their own boss

o    17,140 businesses started by people aged 50 and over

o    5,440 businesses started by people under 25

o    14,530 businesses started by people with a disability

(DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         Businesses have created almost 2.5 million new jobs since Labour were in power. The private sector has created over five jobs for every one job lost in the public sector since 2010(ONS, MFZ2, 16 September 2015, link).

·         And 703,100 fewer people are claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit-not in work (ONS, Regional Labour Market, 16 September 2015, link; nomis, accessed 16 September 2015, link; DWP, Universal Credit: 29 Apr 2013 to 3 September 2015, 16 September 2015, link).

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RICHARD BENYON: CONSERVATIVES’ HELP TO BUY POLICY HAS HELPED 225 PEOPLE BUY A NEW HOME IN THE NEWBURY CONSTITUENCY

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures which show that the Government’s flagship ‘Help to Buy’ policy has aided 225 people in buying their own home in the Newbury constituency.

Help to Buy was introduced by the Conservatives to help working people achieve the aspiration of buying their own home. Nationally, the scheme has now enabled 120,000 families to realise this dream, less than three years since its launch.

Richard said: “This policy has clearly been a huge success in the Newbury constituency. I am even more pleased that, nationally, 80 per cent of those helped are first-time buyers”.

He continued: “As of 1 December, the Help to Buy ISA will start supporting those who are working hard to save up for a deposit for their first home. This is a further incentive from Government to help the next generation of home owners”.

NOTES:

·         Help to Buy has helped nearly 120,000 families buy their own home. More than118,000 people have been helped to buy a home through the three parts of Help to Buy: the Equity Loan, Mortgage Guarantee and New Buy schemes (HM Treasury press release, 9 September 2015, link).

·         Most of the people benefitting are first-time buyers.80 per cent of sales have been to first-time buyers, helping to create a new generation of homeowners (Ibid.).

·         Help to Buy is supporting responsible lending.The average price of a house purchased through Help to Buy is £186,000 - well below the UK average price of £277,000. In addition, 95 per cent of sales have been outside of London, with the highest number of homes bought through the mortgage guarantee scheme in the North West (Ibid.).

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BENYON TO MEET MINISTER OVER PROPOSED COURT CLOSURE

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, is to meet Shailesh Vara, Minister for Courts and Legal Aid next week, following the start of a consultation period which proposes the closure of West Berkshire (Newbury) Magistrates’ Court.

Richard, who successfully campaigned against potential closure in 2010, has already made representations to the consultation and has requested this meeting to enforce the case for local justice.

Richard said: “I am grateful to the minister for granting me a meeting. I maintain that our court has been purposely run down by the Courts Service with this very aim in mind. I am deeply troubled that the concept of local justice is being lost”.

He continued: “It is vital that the Ministry of Justice is made aware of the detrimental impact this potential closure will have on our local community and I would urge all interested parties to make their feelings known to this consultation, which is to close on 8th October”.

Richard’s forthcoming meeting follows discussions with the Law Society earlier this week.

Notes:

·         Richard’s consultation response and correspondence with the Ministry of Justice are available on his website: http://www.richardbenyon.com/news/letters

·         The consultation can be accessed here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposal-on-the-provision-of-court-and-tribunal-es

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RICHARD BENYON ‘CONCERNED’ AT ATOMIC WEAPONS ESTABLISHMENT JOB LOSSES

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has reacted with concern to the news that the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) is reducing certain roles within the business.

Richard said: “I am of course concerned at the news of 500 job losses at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. My first concern is for any of the employees who may be offered redundancy. I want to ensure that the AWE works with agencies such as Jobcentre Plus to provide the best opportunities for retraining and employment in the area. I am also determined to ensure that there are no compromises on safety or security at both sites”.

He continued: “The sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield have benefitted from huge investment in recent years; the AWE remains a valued local employer and have a considerable supply chain across the local economy. Skills taught in the AWE school for apprentices and in the fields of science and engineering are transferable across the economy. The benefits of the AWE are seen across the UK”.

[ENDS]

Notes:

1.       The Aldermaston site is situated within the Newbury constituency. Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Burghfield, is situated within the constituency of The Rt Hon John Redwood MP. Many employees at AWE live within close proximity to the site in communities such as Tadley, which is in the constituency of North West Hampshire, whose Member of Parliament is Kit Malthouse.

2.       Last month the claimant rate for jobseekers in the Newbury constituency was 0.6% of the working age population. While no one is complacent, this does mean that the chances of finding employment for any staff made redundant are high.

 

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RICHARD BENYON: “A BLOW FOR LOCAL JUSTICE”

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has described the decision by the Ministry of Justice to consult on the closure of Newbury Magistrates’ Court as a “blow for local justice”.

Richard said: “I believe that the court service has run down the use of Newbury Court to claim that the level of usage warrants its closure. Decades ago, justice was delivered in Lambourn, Hungerford and Newbury, now victims face travelling to Reading to give evidence”.

He continued: “I have already held discussions with the Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council to see if their video link could be used by the court service and I will be making representations to the consultation to keep the court open”. 

Richard has previously fought a successful campaign to stop the closure of the court in 2010.

 

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES SUPERFAST BROADBAND PHASE 2

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has welcomed Phase 2 of Superfast Berkshire’s broadband project, which will see up to 99% of West Berkshire’s premises covered.

Gigaclear, who have been awarded the contract and are responsible for the deployment of ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premise technology to more than 11,700 premises, will afford homes and businesses access speeds of 50Mbps and up to 1000Mbps.

Richard said: “With Phase 1 of this project to complete shortly and with Phase 2 now signed off and due to start imminently, this is a really exciting time.”

He continued: “Broadband is so vital to the rural economy, as well as our quality of life. We are well on course to becoming one of the best connected counties in the country and we must all be patient when we come across roads being dug up – it is all for a good cause.”

Richard at the signing alongside (L) Matthew Hare, Chief Executive of Gigaclere and (R) Roger Croft, West Berkshire Council’s Broadband Lead. 

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RICHARD BENYON MEETS WITH FIRST GREAT WESTERN TO DISCUSS ELECTRIFICATION AND SERVICE PERFORMANCE

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has met with First Great Western’s Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, to discuss issues ranging from the electrification of the Great Western Mainline to the performance of services affecting constituents in West Berkshire.

Following an announcement from the Government that Network Rail’s planned upgrade programme for 2014-2019 will take longer than originally scheduled, Richard received firm assurances that the electrification of the Great Western Mainline was an absolute priority. 

He also discussed his determination to see electrification extended beyond Newbury to Bedwyn, thereby servicing Kintbury and Hungerford stations respectively.

On electrification, Richard said: “I am pleased that the Transport Secretary classified electrification of the Great Western Mainline as a ‘top priority,’ a view endorsed by First Great Western. I remain committed to ensure the extension of electrification and following yesterday’s announcement I will be writing to the Department for Transport.”

On other issues, Mark informed Richard of new rolling stock, which will be serving constituents. This will help in addressing issues of overcrowding. What is more, First Great Western will be working to ensure more parking provision as part of the redevelopment of Market Street. 

Richard alongside Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of First Great Western

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GOVERNMENT SUPPORTING PEOPLE IN NEWBURY TO CREATE JOBS AND GROWTH

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures showing the Conservatives’ Start-Up Loans and New Enterprise Allowance schemes are supporting people in Newbury to set up their own business.

Figures released last week, show that Start-Up Loans have helped 14 people in Newbury to set up a business with £81,702 worth of loans since the scheme launched in 2012. The New Enterprise Allowance has also helped another 20 people to launch their own business.

Richard said: “Small businesses are an essential part of our thriving community in West Berkshire, creating jobs for local people and growing the economy. This support is giving people a chance to fulfill their ambitions, and the Government is committed to increase the number of Start-Up Loans to 75,000 nationally, as we work to create opportunities for everyone in Britain.”

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors

·         Start-up Loans are helping new business across Britain. The Start-Up Loans scheme provides loans and mentoring support to people wanting to set up a business. 30,000 Start-Up Loans, worth £155 million, have now been awarded. We are committed to increase the number of loans to 75,000 (Start Up Loan Company data, as at 30 May 2015).

·         A five week national tour has been launched to help boost the number of businesses started this year to a record 600,000. The Prime Minister helped launch the StartUp Britain campaign tour – which will see start-up experts and champions travel to 25 different places across England, Scotland and Wales to support tens of thousands of people looking to start a business (StartUp Britain press release, 23 June 2015).

·         70,000 businesses have been set up as a result of the New Enterprise Allowance. The scheme, which launched in 2011, provides business mentoring to help benefit claimants with a business idea to develop a business plan, and if it is approved seed funding up to £1,274 over 26 weeks. It is available to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, people who are claiming Income Support as lone parents or who are sick, people on Employment and Support Allowance, and eligible Universal Credit claimants (DWP press release, 24 June 2015, link).

·         Small businesses are an essential part of the economy. Over99 per cent of British businesses are small in size, with fewer than 50 employees.Small businesses account for one third of private sector turnover and are responsible for 48 per cent of private sector employment (BIS, Business population estimates 2014, 26 November 2014, link).

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Visit to Yattendon Primary School

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Year 5 and 6 pupils at Yattendon Primary School were thrilled to receive a visit from local MP Richard Benyon on Friday 12th June. Mr Benyon arranged a special visit to the school to find out more about their challenge to ‘Make a Difference’ to their local community by entering the Go Givers citizenship project.

The pupils recently drew up an action plan to improve the safety of both pedestrians and drivers using the narrow lane immediately next to Yattendon Village Stores in Yattendon Village square.

The pupils were able to show Mr Benyon a scrapbook packed with photographs and documenting all their work on the project including data analysis in the form of graphs and charts; letters to local businesses and representatives; a press release resulting in coverage in the Newbury Weekly News; and much more.

They were also able to update Mr Benyon on the outcomes of a meeting with a representative from the Highways Department of West Berkshire Council who had also come to visit them at the school on the same day as Mr Benyon’s visit.

Mr Benyon commented, “I am really impressed with the children’s efforts to make a difference to their local community and create a safer environment in the village centre. They have obviously put a lot of effort into this project and deserve some successful outcomes.”

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RICHARD BENYON STANDING FOR ELECTION AS CHAIR OF DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE

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Newbury’s Member of Parliament is putting himself forward to be elected as Chair of one of the most influential Select Committees in the House of Commons. Select Committees have become much more powerful in recent years and the position of Chair is highly sought after. Richard will face an election, which includes at least two other high calibre candidates, Dr Julian Lewis and Colonel Bob Stewart DSO.

Richard has set out his stall in a letter to MPs of all Parties, in which he outlined the need for structured and effective Armed Forces to combat the ever-changing threats facing our country.

Richard said: “I have set out clearly why I want this post. I believe Britain faces a more dangerous world than at any time since the Cold War. I want to make sure we can defend this country and its interests around the world and we can only do that if we have a clear understanding of what threats we face. We need to show how, with our allies, we can deter and, if necessary, defeat our enemies and make the world more stable and prosperous as a result.”             

Richard in Iraq

Richard in Mali

Richard’s interest in defence stems from his service with the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s. He serve in Northern Ireland for two years and studied counter-insurgent warfare in the Far East. He was a Founder-Trustee of the military charity Help for Heroes, which has raised over £230 million since 2007. He has campaigned for veterans and the welfare of servicemen and their families. Richard also sits on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The text of Richard’s letter to MPs is as follows:

Select Committees have become an increasingly important in recent years. They succeed in holding the Government to account when they operate as a team with an independent minded and determined Chair. The best Chairs are those who do not see the role as an opportunity to “grandstand” but in public utterances seek to reflect the collective view of the Committee whenever possible. Committees need a Chair who is not looking for ministerial office but who cares deeply about its areas of responsibility.  I hope to convince you that I have these qualities as a Chair of the Defence Select Committee.

This is an important time for the security of this country and the protection of our interests around the world. We need Armed Forces that are structured and equipped for the fast changing threats and challenges we face. The Government’s promised Strategic Defence and Security Review needs to be a thorough and comprehensive study of these threats. It must not duck the tough resource issues that flow from such an analysis. As we examine our ability to influence world affairs post Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to accept that if Britain wants to play a part in shaping a better world it will need strong armed forces. Our Select Committee will be more important than ever in holding the Government to account for the defence of this country.

A word about my experience in Defence matters. I served in the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s.  My service included two years in Northern Ireland and some time studying counter insurgency warfare in the Far East. More recently I have taken a great interest in veterans’ affairs.  I was a founding Trustee of Help for Heroes, a charity that has raised over £230 million (and spent or allocated over £200 million) for those injured in recent conflicts. Kings College London estimate that there could be around 75,000 veterans who have or could experience health problems as a result of conflict in the post 9/11 period. Help for Heroes “Hidden Wounds” project needs to be supported by the MOD and across Government. Veterans and the welfare of our wounded are a priority for me.

I served on the Defence Select Committee during the last Parliament and I hope my colleagues on that Committee will attest to my ability to work across party lines to produce robust reports and to ask the questions that need asking. With a number of colleagues I sit on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and am an active member of its Economics and Security Committee.

I am particularly interested in looking at how we can be better served through a smarter model of intervention in troubled regions. This emerging thinking shows how early intervention using many different agencies, particularly soft power, could be so much more effective than the high cost military interventions we have seen in recent decades.  This could be a better, and less costly, way to help stabilise vulnerable regions, with the intention, wherever possible, of avoiding any conflict at all.

The replacement of the nuclear deterrent will be decided in this Parliament. I represent an area which is closely associated with the deterrent. The Atomic Research Establishment at Aldermaston is my constituency’s largest employer. I believe the Committee must openly examine the critical issues relating to the replacement submarine fleet so that the country is confident the right decision is reached.  

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RICHARD BENYON ‘INCREASINGLY HOPEFUL’ OF RAIL ELECTRIFICATION EXTENSION TO KINTBURY AND HUNGERFORD

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Richard Benyon and the newly appointed Rail Minister, Claire Perry, have this week met in the House of Commons. Richard requested the meeting to raise wider concerns about the rail service and to seek assurances about the new trains and the electrification of the Great Western Mainline.

The Minister, who is the Member of Parliament for neighbouring Devizes, told Richard:

·         The ‘refresh’ of the decision to electrify the line as far as Newbury will conclude over the summer, after which a decision will be made as to whether to run electrification to Bedwyn.

·         The economic review which Richard and Claire pushed for with the previous Rail Minister has concluded that there is an overwhelming economic case to extend electrification to Bedwyn. A ratio of 2.43 (£2.43 of economic benefit for every £1 spent) is a better economic case than HS2 and much of the electrification work taking place in Wales.

·         If electrification stops at Newbury it would almost certainly mean another platform at Newbury Station for smaller shuttle trains running west of the town. The estimated cost for this is £3 million.

·         A decision on new bi-modal trains (trains which can run on electricity or diesel) will be taken within the next 6 weeks. The new rolling stock will offer an improved travelling experience for commuters.

Following the meeting, Richard said: “The Minister was receptive to my questioning of the £75 million cost of extending electrification from Newbury to Bedwyn. It assumes a stand-alone contract, rather than an extension of the existing works where scale and procurement would keep costs down. I am increasingly confident that electrification beyond Newbury, to serve constituents in Kintbury and Hungerford, will be realised.”

He continued: “I am determined to ensure the best service possible for the many thousands who commute from West Berkshire, and I will be raising matters related to performance when I meet with First Great Western shortly.”

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RICHARD BENYON: 1,090 UNEMPLOYMENT FALL MEANS A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR WORKING PEOPLE IN NEWBURY

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Richard Benyon has today welcomed new figures showing that 1,090 fewer people in the Newbury constituency are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance compared to 2010 – a 71 per cent drop.

What is more, the Office for National Statistics has this morning published unemployment figures for April 2015. These statistics highlight the total number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in the Newbury constituency was 437 people, a fall of 259 people from this time last year.

Richard said: “The Conservatives are committed to full employment, so everyone who wants to work can have the security of a regular pay packet. Supporting local businesses will ensure more good jobs across our region and will serve to renew our country as a place where ambition and hard work is rewarded”.

He continued: “I am pleased, but not complacent with today’s unemployment figures for Newbury. However, an unemployment rate of 0.8 per cent – 621 highest of the 650 constituencies in the UK – highlights the growth of our local economy and the success of our Conservative policies. I said throughout my campaign for re-election that I wanted everyone to feel the benefits of this recovery, and it is important we continue to support those out of work find a job”.

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RICHARD BENYON “DELIGHTED TO BE RE-ELECTED AS THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR NEWBURY”

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Richard Benyon has been successfully re-elected as Newbury’s Member of Parliament, following a six week period of hard campaigning.

Richard was declared the victor in the early hours of this morning with an increased majority of 26,368.

Speaking after the declaration, Richard said: “I am incredibly grateful to all those who voted for me and the Conservative Party. It has been a great honour to represent the people of Newbury over these past ten years and I am now excited to get back to work, representing this wonderful constituency”.

He continued: “I would like to thank my team of volunteers, fellow Conservative candidates and of course, my family. Without their efforts and support, this would simply not have been possible. I would like also like to pay tribute to my fellow candidates for the good natured spirit in which this election has been fought”.

ENDS

Notes:

1.       Richard was re-elected with 61 per cent of the vote and a majority of 26,368.

When Richard was selected to fight the Newbury constituency in the 1990s, it had a Liberal Democrat majority of over 22,000.

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RICHARD BENYON: 1,900 BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM TAX CUT SUPPORTING JOBS AND FINANCIAL SECURITY IN THE NEWBURY CONSTITUENCY

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New figures released today show that 1,900 businesses in the Newbury constituency have benefited from the Government’s Employment Allowance since its introduction a year ago, making it easier for small businesses to hire staff and create new jobs.

Richard Benyon, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, said: “The Conservatives are the party of business. These figures highlight the impact that this Conservative-led Coalition has had in providing business with the tools necessary to take on more staff, ensuring more people have financial security.”

He continued: “Our economic plan is working, which is why it is so important that we stick to with the Government’s plan. All this would be put at risk next week if Labour got into power, propped up by the Scottish Nationalists – we would all pay the price with higher taxes and fewer jobs.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

·         1.1 million businesses have benefited from the Government’s Employment Allowance, which takes up to £2,000 off employer’s National Insurance bills and supports jobs. The allowance, introduced on 6 April 2014, cuts the jobs tax for every business and charity by up to £2,000. Businesses will be able to hire one extra person on £22,400 pa, or three people working full time on the minimum wage, without paying any National Insurance (HM Treasury, Budget 2013, 20 March 2013, link; HM Treasury press release, 6 March 2014, link; HMRC, Employment Allowance take-up: 2014-15 full year estimates, 30 April 2015, link).

·         Employment is up by 2 million since the election. In the three months to April 2010, there were 29.048 million people in employment. In the three months to February 2015 there were 31.049 million people in work. That’s 2 million more people with the security of bringing home a regular pay packet (ONS, MGRZ,17 April 2015, link).

·         Businesses have created over 2.3 million new jobs. The private sector has created 5 jobs for every 1 lost in the public sector since 2010(ONS, Labour Market Statistics, 17 April 2015, link).

Regional statistics:

·         Estimates for number of employers benefitting from lower Employer NICs already by region (HMRC, Employment Allowance take-up: 2014-15 full year estimates, 30 April 2015, link).

 

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES LOCAL SUPPORT FOR THE CONSERVATIVES ECONOMIC SUCCESS

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Richard Benyon, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, has welcomed the launch of the Conservative’s Small Business Manifesto this lunchtime, which follows 5,000 small firms endorsing the Conservative Party’s plans for the economy.

Today’s announcement includes commitments to keep Employment Allowance until 2020, ensuring 450,000 small businesses will pay no jobs tax as a result. We will also support fast-growing small businesses in accessing the finance they need, with our innovative Help to Grow scheme. We will cut another £10bn of red tape and help the self-employed by commissioning an urgent review into the disadvantages they face in accessing Statutory Maternity Pay, building up a pension and accessing mortgages.

Richard said: “The economy matters more than anything and that is highlighted through the large number of firms from the South-East acting as signatories to our letter. Without a strong and vibrant economy you cannot have good schools, or a strong NHS. The Conservative-led Government has been committed to making sure that Britain is open for business.”

He continued: “Despite the creation of 103,900 more businesses in the South-East than in 2010, and the number of people claiming unemployment benefits falling by 70 per cent in Newbury since 2010, no one should take economic stability and economic security for granted. Rest assured, the Conservative Party never will.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Text of the Conservative Party letter run in the Daily Telegraph reads as follows:

SIR – We run small businesses right across the country.

We work hard, make sacrifices and invest our own money to help our businesses grow and succeed.

It was tough during the recession, but we kept going.

This Conservative-led Government has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business.

They've managed to get the economy moving again by tackling the deficit, helping to keep interest rates low and inflation down.

We've been helped by their steps to lower taxes, reduce red tape, simplify employment law and get the banks lending.

The good news is that businesses like ours have helped to create 1,000 jobs a day since 2010.

We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started.

A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years.

 

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES CONSERVATIVE MOVES TO TAKE THE FAMILY HOME OUT OF INHERITANCE TAX

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Richard Benyon, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that a Conservative Government would take the family home out of Inheritance Tax.

Richard said: “Taking the family home out of Inheritance Tax is absolutely the right thing to do and is a policy which was blocked by the Liberal Democrats in Coalition. Why should those that have worked and saved, not be able to pass their family home on to their children?”

Under Conservative plans the maximum Inheritance Tax allowance for married couples will increase from £650,000 to £1 million. This will be funded by reducing the tax relief on pension contributions for people earning more than £150,000.

Richard added: “Today, the Inheritance Tax threshold stands at £325,000, placing a quarter of homes in Britain at risk. People pay tax on their earnings first time round, they then pay tax on the home when it is purchased, people shouldn’t be paying tax again.”

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RICHARD BENYON WELCOMES ANNOUCEMENT THAT CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT WILL FREEZE RAIL FARES

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Richard Benyon, the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, has this morning welcomed the announcement that a future Conservative Government will freeze regulated rail fares in real terms for the whole of the next Parliament.

Speaking on the doorstep in Aldermaston, Richard said: “The cost of commuting is one of the largest household bills that families in West Berkshire face. I have made numerous representations to the Department for Transport over the course of the previous Parliament, following feedback from many constituents, and I am delighted with this announcement.”

He continued: “The freezing of regulated rail fares is only possible because of the difficult economic decisions the Conservatives have taken to repair our economy. I do not want to go back to inflation busting rises – a trademark of a Labour Government.

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RICHARD BENYON MP READY TO HIT THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has this morning kicked off his campaign for re-election, ahead of the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March.

Richard said: “I feel incredibly privileged to have represented our community over the past ten years. Over the course of this Parliament, this Conservative-led government and Conservative-controlled West Berkshire Council have together taken the tough economic decisions, which have resulted in higher living standards than when we came to office.”

He continued: “I intend to run a positive campaign. I have never believed in talking down our community. Unemployment stands at 0.9%, more businesses have set up shop and by 2017 95+% of Berkshire, will be able to access Superfast Broadband. Health expenditure is to rise by 7%, crime is at a record low and more affordable homes are being built. These are the stories I look forward to discussing with local people and will be on as many doorsteps as I can in the coming weeks.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP HEARLDS SUCCESS IN CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER ACCESSIBILITY AT NEWBURY STATION

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has this afternoon welcomed news from Network Rail’s Chief Executive, Mark Carne, that the footbridge at Newbury Station will be rebuilt as part of the electrification programme. The designs, which are currently being created, also include lift provision, subject to funding.

Richard said: “I am delighted that one of my final acts of this Parliament is to welcome this move by Network Rail. I have long campaigned for better access at Newbury Station and I am delighted that I and all those constituents who have made representations to the specification consultation and my recent survey are to receive better access.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES NEW APPRENTICESHIPS, WITH YOUNG PEOPLE ACQUIRING THE SKILLS THEY NEED TO SUCCEED

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures showing that 460 new apprenticeships were started in the Newbury constituency between August 2014 and January 2015.

In total 3,510 new apprenticeships have been started in the Newbury constituency since 2010.

Richard said: “These figures underline the great strides that this Conservative-led Government has taken in ensuring that as many young people as possible acquire the skills they need to get on in life and make the most of their talents.”

He continued: “Over the course of this Parliament I have been fortunate enough to visit businesses of all sizes and industries, who operate first-class schemes. All of them speak passionately about how young people are adding lasting value to their respective businesses.”

In England, over 2.2 million apprenticeships have started since 2010, with a future Conservative government committing to go even further by delivering 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES FURTHER INVESTMENT IN WEST BERKSHIRE’S INFRASTRUCTURE

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has today welcomed a new franchise agreement with First Great Western – resulting in the most significant upgrade of infrastructure and rolling stock to the Great Western Mainline for a generation.

The agreement will ensure a major increase in capacity, with 3 million extra seats a year by 2018 and 4,000 more seats a day into London during the morning peak. New state-of-the-art trains will help deliver more frequent and faster services.

Richard said: “I am pleased that the Department for Transport has listened to the wishes of Newbury constituents, which I outlined out in my submission to the public consultation to inform the specification of this franchise.”

He continued: “As my recent rail survey suggested, commuters do not feel that they are receiving a value for money service. While the level of investment allowing for rolling stock and service enhancements is to be welcomed, I will continue to campaign for better access for disabled commuters and to ensure the community benefits from more frequent services to our stations, in line with modern working and leisure demands.”

What is more, the Transport Secretary has also announced £275 million of funds for road maintenance, including a scheme to help improve the long term condition of the A339.

Richard said: “This Conservative-led Government’s investment in our infrastructure is a crucial component of our economic recovery in West Berkshire. I am delighted that the condition of the A339 is to be improved, as it is to play a crucial role in future prosperity.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Other infrastructure investments being made in the Thames Valley include:

  • The Great Western Mainline is to be electrified through to Newbury.
  • First Great Western are to work closely with Transport for London and the new Crossrail operatorto ensure seamless transfer of stations and introduction of new services.
  • A new rail link, will give passengers a direct rail service from Reading via Slough, to Heathrow airport.Currently, passengers wishing to access Heathrow by rail have to travel into London Paddington station before changing to dedicated airport services.
  • The Highways Agency is utilising the latest technology to improve journeys by monitoring traffic flow and setting speed limits to keep traffic moving accordingly on the M4 motorway between Junctions 3 and 12.
  • Over the past four years, West Berkshire’s Highways Team have resurfaced around a quarter of the 800 mile road network.
  • Conservative run West Berkshire Council has been ranked in the top 25 per cent of 148 local authorities in England for pothole repairs and has been allocated £22.5 million from central government towards repairing our local roads.

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RICHARD BENYON MP CHAMPIONS BERKSHIRE’S NUCLEAR ENGINEERS IN PARLIAMENT

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has been championing Berkshire’s nuclear engineers in the House of Commons this week.

Speaking at Defence Questions yesterday, Richard asked: “As civil nuclear developments expand the market for skilled nuclear engineers, what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that we maintain the skills levels of the hundreds of nuclear engineers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire?”

Defence Minister, Philip Dunne, replied: “The facility in Berkshire is extremely important—part of it is in [the Newbury] constituency—and I have led cross-Government talks to consider how we ensure that demands for nuclear engineering skills across defence and civil sectors are successfully managed by recruiting, training and retaining appropriately skilled engineers. Next week, I will host an event in Downing Street to raise awareness of degree courses in nuclear engineering.”

Following Defence Questions Richard said: “I was delighted to learn that the Minister is championing nuclear engineering at the highest levels of government. The Atomic Weapons Establishment is a large and valued employer in West Berkshire. The skills developed here have wider benefits across the nuclear engineering and science sectors.”

Richard also asked the Secretary of State about the Government’s plans to assist Iraqis in the face of the threat from Islamic State and spoke of Brimstone missile integration.

ENDS

A full transcript of Defence Questions can be accessed by clicking here

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RICHARD BENYON MP SCRUTINISES BRITAIN’S INVOLVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has today spoken in Parliament, assessing the lessons that should be learnt following British involvement in Afghanistan between the years of 2001-2014.

Richard, a former soldier and a member of the influential Defence Select Committee spoke of a lack of clear campaign objectives, poor political scrutiny and the effect of additional security challenges in the wider region.

He additionally spoke of his former platoon, and the role they played throughout this conflict, signalling out Sergeant Moncho, who has since been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

Following his speech Richard said: “This debate is so important. With the delay in the publication of the Chilcot Report into British involvement in Iraq, the media and public’s attention in respect of Afghanistan is already waning. Let us not forget, this was a conflict that spanned longer than both the First and Second World Wars combined.”

Richard concluded his speech by stating that ‘common sense’ would have suggested that better governance, some development objectives and sustainable security were always highly unlikely in Southern Afghanistan and were never going to be achieved within a three year time-scale.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

A copy of Richard’s speech is available by clicking here.

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RICHARD BENYON MP AND LEADER OF WEST BERKSHIRE COUNCIL WELCOME ENGLISH BACCALAUREATE RESULTS

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Richard Benyon MP and Leader of West Berkshire Council, Gordon Lundie, have today jointly welcomed the news that more students in the Newbury constituency are studying core academic subjects, enabling them to have the best possible start in life and compete in a global market place.

The new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is awarded when students achieve A* to C grades in five core GCSE subjects, including English, Maths, Science, Humanities and Languages.

Conservative Leader of West Berkshire Council, Gordon Lundie, said: “The Newbury constituency is one of the leading areas for EBacc adoption. In 2014, results placed our students in the top fifth of performing constituencies – a fantastic achievement by our young people.”

Richard said: “As an employer I would always look to see if an applicant has achieved an EBacc, as it shows a rounded education has been achieved. These figures show real success in local schools and build upon the excellent data showing West Berkshire’s primary schools are in the top 25% nationally.”

Notes to editors:

The English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) is a performance measure, rather than a qualification, awarded when students achieve A* to C in five core GCSE subjects: English or English Language and English Literature (either at grade C or above), Maths, Science - two A* to C grades in either Science A or Science B plus Additional Science or two out of three of Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Computer Science, Humanities, i.e. Geography, History, Languages, i.e. French, German, Spanish, Polish, Urdu, Mandarin.

The English Baccalaureate has been brought in to encourage the take-up of core academic subjects. School league tables now record the proportion of pupils who achieve the EBacc, so that parents can see which schools are providing a fully rounded academic education. The EBacc is part of this Government’s commitment to deliver the best schools and skills for young people. By encouraging schools to enrol pupils for GCSEs in these core academic subjects, and restoring rigour to our National Curriculum, we are raising standards and making GCSEs more ambitious, putting them on a par with the best in the world.

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES £10.2 MILLION EXPANSION OF GROWTH DEAL FUNDING FOR THE THAMES VALLEY

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed the announcement of additional funding to support businesses and infrastructure for the Thames Valley, helping to create jobs and support businesses.

Thames Valley Berkshire, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been allocated £10.2 million. This is in addition to the £96.9 million of funding committed by the Government in July 2014. Thames Valley Berkshire estimates that up to 20,000 new jobs could be created, 12,000 new homes built and that it has the potential to generate £40 million of public and private investment.

Richard said: “This is fantastic news for our region and is testament to the hard work of the LEP. It is absolutely right that decisions on how money is spent, is being made by local people who are best placed to ensure it makes a difference.”

He continued: “This money will help to ensure the increase in broadband coverage to 95 per cent and will support a new junction and road for the London Road Industrial Estate in Newbury, to support future redevelopment.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP HOSTS EVENT IN PARLIAMENT TO CHAMPION VODAFONE’S SURE SIGNAL INITIATIVE

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has hosted a reception for Vodafone in the Houses of Parliament to champion their efforts in providing mobile connectivity to rural communities. 

Joined by Jeroen Hoencamp (Vodafone UK CEO) and Ed Vaizey (Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy), Richard made the case for increased mobile connectivity and broadband services in West Berkshire. 

Richard said: "With its roots in Newbury, Vodafone first piloted this scheme in East Garston, with great success and I am delighted that they have since rolled this out to more communities."

He continued: "For a community of nearly 500 people an improved mobile signal has made a dramatic difference. Safety for rural workers, opportunities for new businesses and the ability for families to keep in touch, are just three examples of the benefits of greater connectivity.” 

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RICHARD BENYON MP TAKES RURAL FAIR SHARE CAMPAIGN TO THE TREASURY

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Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, has taken the case for fairer funding of rural Local Government to Treasury Minister, Priti Patel MP. The delegation was led by Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, and included former Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson MP and colleagues from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.

Following the meeting, Richard said: “Rural areas are getting a raw deal. Although rural residents pay £80 more per head in Council Tax than their urban counterparts and earn less on average, urban local authorities receive 50% higher central Government funding. In a time of tight budgets, this unequal settlement is putting rural services under significant strain. I will continue to pressure the Government to address this unfair situation for my constituents.”

Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, said, “Richard has done a fantastic job in lobbying the Government on this issue. I have been impressed by his dedication and efforts on behalf of the Newbury constituency. The Rural Services Delivery Grant for rural areas has increased every year since it was introduced. We want to go further. We won’t stop campaigning until rural areas are treated with equal fairness to those in our cities.”

Notes to Editors:

 

The Rural Fair Share Campaignbrings together Members of Parliament and Peers, on a cross-party basis, along with organisations, community groups, and individuals concerned about the welfare of rural communities, in order to work towards fairer funding settlements that better reflect real needs. The Rural Fair Share Campaign supports impartial, objective, needs based policy which is equitable to all.

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES WEST BERKS RENAL DIALYSIS PROJECT

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has welcomed the news that a project to locate a renal dialysis unit at West Berkshire Community Hospital, is on track.

Richard said: “This is great news for West Berkshire. The Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust informs me that they are to construct the building within the next calendar year, which will be fitted out on the ground floor with a renal dialysis unit providing 10 stations.”

He continued: “As Vice-Chair of the All-Party Kidney Group, I know just how vital these services can be for local communities. The Newbury and Thatcham Hospital Building Trust will be running a public campaign for donations as soon as contractors start on site and I will be playing my part in raising funds.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP CHAMPIONS COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS IN PARLIAMENT

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon MP, is championing the work of Community Christmas in the run up to the big day.

Richard has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM), a Parliamentary mechanism designed to draw attention to an event or cause, with fellow MPs registering their support by signing individual motions.

Richard’s EDM reads as follows:

That this House recognises that current research shows that around 489,000 people will be alone on Christmas Day; particularly recognises that loneliness adds to health challenges for many elderly people in communities around the country; and applauds Community Christmas for its attempts to ensure that all who wish to will have a welcoming place to enjoy Christmas lunch.

Richard said: “I would not like to think of anyone alone on Christmas Day, unless through choice. As my EDM states, I applaud Community Christmas for its attempts to ensure that all who wish to, will have a welcoming place to enjoy Christmas lunch.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 

·         Richard’s EDM and fellow signatories can be found at this link; http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/551

·         For more information concerning Community Christmas contact Caroline Billington at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES BOOST FOR RIVER KENNET

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The Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has today welcomed the news that abstractions are to be reduced from the River Kennet, following an announcement that Thames Water is due to install a £25 million drinking water pipeline.

Since the early 1990s, Thames Water have abstracted water from a borehole in Wiltshire, to supply both homes and businesses in Swindon and the wider Kennet valley. Whilst the water used locally is returned to the Kennet, following treatment at sewage works, the water going to Swindon is never fed back to the Kennet.

However, this new pipeline will significantly reduce the amount of water currently being taken from the River Kennet.

Richard said: “I have been working on this issue both as a constituency MP and also in my previous role as the Environment Minister and this is good news. Credit must go to Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and other campaigners, including the Angling Trust, who have tirelessly campaigned to get abstractions reduced.”

He continued: “As a result, the future is brighter for one of Europe’s most precious rivers and fragile ecosystems”.

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Benyon Estate exits New Era Estate

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The Benyon Estate has informed tenants today that it is selling its shareholding in the consortium which owns the New Era Estate in Hoxton, and is withdrawing from the management of the property.  

The New Era Estate, in Hoxton, was purchased in March 2014 by funds managed by Westbrook Partners, an institutional investment manager.  The Benyon Estate was awarded the management contract for the estate and agreed to take a minority interest of less than 10% in the property.  

Edward Benyon – the Benyon Estate’s manager – who today informed tenants that the family would be selling its shareholding back to Westbrook said:

“New Era residents have made it clear that they do not welcome our involvement in the future of the estate.  They made it clear that they wanted us to pull out, and this is what we have reluctantly decided to do.  With a stake of less than 10% we already had only limited influence over decision making and policy. Our withdrawal means that the future direction of the estate will now be wholly a matter for Westbrook Partners.”

The Benyon Estate confirmed that its contract with Westbrook does not allow it to sell or transfer the share ownership to a social landlord or housing cooperative.

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RICHARD BENYON MP BIDS FAREWELL TO THE HOPSON FAMILY

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Following today’s announcement that Camp Hopson, the independent retailer which has been part of Newbury life for 93 years, has been sold to Morleys Stores Limited, a London department store chain, Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, said: “I am sad that the era of the Hopson family owning one of Newbury’s leading landmarks has come to an end.”

He continued: “However, I recognise that the high street is a competitive market place, and this move is good for our town and for all the employees concerned.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP ELECTED TO DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon MP, has been elected by his fellow Members of Parliament to serve on the Defence Select Committee.

The Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.

Following his appointment, Richard said: “I am delighted to have been elected to this Committee by my colleagues and look forward to getting to work in holding the Ministry of Defence to account.”

Richard brings particular experience to this role. He served as an Infantry Officer, he was a founder Trustee of the charity Help for Heroes and is a Member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. What is more, the Newbury constituency’s largest employer is the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston and is home to the Denison Barracks in Hermitage. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP MEETS BUSINESS LEADERS

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Richard Benyon has today met with members of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce to discuss the outlook for businesses in West Berkshire.

High on the agenda for members of some of the West Berkshire’s leading firms were worries over the Eurozone and the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

In addressing members concerns, Richard said: “West Berkshire is booming but no one should be complacent. Risks to continued business growth in the Thames Valley include the election of the most anti-business Labour opposition in living memory, the threat to airport expansion in the South East and issues beyond our borders, namely a sluggish Eurozone and the ongoing security situation in the Middle East.”

Following his meeting, Richard said: “I have this morning told the members of the Chamber that they should be incredibly proud of what they are achieving. They need the recovery to continue and this means getting rid of the deficit to reduce regulation still further”.

He continued: “Our long-term economic plan has seen business taxes cut and new incentives to invest. This has helped deliver an unemployment level of 0.9% in West Berkshire, a record number of start-ups and record levels of investment.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES PRIME MINISTER’S PLEDGE TO CUT TAXES FOR THE HARDWORKING PEOPLE OF WEST BERKSHIRE

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Richard Benyon has welcomed the Prime Minister’s final speech to the Conservative Party Conference, before next year’s General Election.

In his speech, the Prime Minister announced that a future Conservative government will give 30 million people a tax cut. He pledged that, by the end of the next Parliament, the tax free Personal Allowance will increase from its current level of £10,000 to £12,500. He also announced the Higher Rate Threshold, at which people start paying 40 per cent tax, will be increased from £41,865 to £50,000.

Following the Prime Minister’s speech, Richard said: “Over the past few years, I have witnessed at first-hand the constraints the economic downturn placed on families and businesses in our community. That is why I am pleased that the Prime Minister has today offered a specific commitment to cut taxes.”

He continued: “Raising the tax-free Personal Allowance will ensure 1 million more of the lowest paid workers pay no income tax at all, whilst giving 30 million people a tax cut. Therefore, if you are working a 30 hour week on minimum wage, you will pay zero income tax.”

He concluded by saying: “I have always been clear that the 40p tax rate should only be paid by those with the broadest shoulders. It was never intended to be paid by those who offer the vital front-line services our community depends on. This will ensure that hardworking people keep more of the money they work so hard to earn.”    

Other notable policies include a new British Bill of Rights and the abolition of Labour’s Human Rights Act, the protection of the NHS budget for the next Parliament and a pledge to deliver English votes for English laws. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP OUTLINES HIS POSITION ON JOINING A COALITION AGAINST ISIL

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Prior to today’s debate in Parliament, Richard spoke of his position in respect of the United Kingdom joining a coalition to tackle the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq.

Richard said: “The decision to commit British forces in any shape or form is not something anyone in Parliament takes lightly. I am therefore in Parliament to listen to the debate and hopefully contribute myself. As things stand I am convinced it is right to support the Government’s motion.”

He continued: “ISIL are involved in some of the most brutal outrages I have ever encountered. These include mass killings of women and children and the beheading of a UK citizen. We will be operating at the express request of the Iraqi Government. With other colleagues I have spoken with the Attorney General this morning, and am satisfied of the legality of the proposed deployment.

I believe that the solution to this has to be a local one but limited airstrikes may just make it possible for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to control this brutal threat. I am also very aware that ISIL pose a threat to us in the UK and to British nationals abroad.”

He concluded: “My default position is not to intervene in wars. I come from a generation of politician who were deeply affected by the Iraq war, the so-called “dodgy dossier” and the wider implications it has had around the world. So I don't approach decisions like today's lightly or in a "gung-ho" manner. I will listen to the debate and if the motion is passed will continue to hold the Government to account for how United Kingdom forces are tasked and deployed.”

Notes:

Today’s Motion is as follows:

IRAQ: COALITION AGAINST ISIL

That this House

Condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognizes the clear threat ISIL pose to the territorial integrity of Iraq and     the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support;  further recognizes the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq, including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens, and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this   campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations;  offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

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RICHARD BENYON MP TO CHAIR COMMUNITY MEETING PROMOTING INTEGRATION AND GREATER UNDERSTANDING

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Richard Benyon MP is to chair a public meeting at Newbury Town Hall, on 8 October from 18:00 – 19:30,alongside the All2gether (West Berkshire Minority Ethnic Forum), to promote greater cultural understanding amongst communities in West Berkshire.

Following Richard’s previous public meeting concerning the crisis in Gaza, members of the audience raised issues of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on the streets of Britain and a spoke of the importance in improving relations between communities, here at home.

Richard said: “Following positive feedback from the last public meeting and the clear appetite from our community to debate the issues of the day, it is right and important that local people meet to discuss the matters they care about the most.”

He continued: “The last thing any of us want is for particular individuals, or groups, to feel isolated from the rest of society. I have lived in West Berkshire all my life and our community has always been welcoming to all peoples from all parts of our world.”

There is no need to RSVP, although a great deal of interest has already been expressed so an early arrival is essential to avoid disappointment.

ENDS

Notes:

Following previously successful open surgeries in Newbury and Thatcham, Richard will be hosting the following for constituents, who wish to make their views known or may require help with a particular issue(s). 

Waitrose Newbury– 10 October 2014 – 10:00-12:00

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RICHARD BENYON MP ADVISES CONSTITUENTS RESPOND TO COUNCIL’S HOUSING SITE ALLOCATION CONSULTATION

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Following the launch of West Berkshire Council’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan, which is now out for consultation, Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, has moved to ensure concerned residents make their views known.

Richard said: “I would underline that this process is at consultation phase and as such no decisions have yet been taken. All those who may be effected should respond to the council’s consultation and make their views known.”

He continued: “Many constituents have been in touch regarding a number of sites, situated all over the Newbury constituency. Planning matters are the responsibility of local government and MPs have no direct responsibility for planning decisions. However, I am following this consultation very closely and am grateful for the concerns that have been raised with me.”

He concluded by stating: “I remain in close contact with relevant ward councillors and West Berkshire Council’s Planning Department, both of whom are keeping me informed.”

The consultation is due to close on Friday 12 September 2014.

Notes:

Following previously successful open surgeries in Newbury and Thatcham, Richard will be hosting the following for constituents, who wish to make their views known or may require help with a particular issue(s).  

TESCO Hungerford– 16 September 2014 – 09:00-11:00

Graham Jones Pharmacy, Lambourn– 19 September 2014 – 13:00-15:00

Waitrose Newbury– 10 October 2014 – 10:00-12:00

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RICHARD BENYON MP TO HOST AN OPEN SURGERY AT SAINSBURY’S, NEWBURY

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Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, will be holding an open surgery for constituents at Sainsbury’s supermarket in Newbury, this coming Friday from 10:00 – 12:00.

Richard said: “Open surgeries are a great way for people who have an issue, or an opinion on a particular topic, to voice it without having to pick up the ‘phone, type an e-mail, or book for a more formal appointment at my office.”

He continued: “Sainsbury’s are a large local employer, offering a vital service to our community. I would like to thank them for hosting me and look forward to discussing matters with their customers, this Friday.”

This surgery follows a similar successful surgery at Waitrose in Thatcham, last month.

Details of the surgery are as follows;

Venue: Sainsbury’s Newbury, Hectors Way, Newbury RG14 5AB

Date: Friday 8 August 2014

Time:10:00 – 12:00

For those requiring a formal appointment, surgeries can be booked by contacting Richard’s office on 01635 551070 or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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RICHARD BENYON MP SET TO DISCUSS THE GAZA CRISIS WITH CONSTITUENTS

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Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, will be hosting a public meeting, open to all constituents, this coming Monday at Newbury Town Hall, to discuss the ongoing situation in Gaza.

Announcing the meeting, Richard said: “The crisis unfolding between the Israelis and the Palestinians is utterly deplorable and one which my constituents and the nation care deeply about.”

He continued: “This will be an informal meeting for me to hear views from all sides. I will listen carefully to the concerns raised by our local community and will be passing them on to ministers.”

 

Details of the meeting are as follows;

Venue: Newbury Town Hall, Market Place, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5AA

Date: Monday 11August 2014

Time:18:00 – 19:00

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES THE OPENING OF SSE’S WARM HOME DISCOUNT SCHEME

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Richard Benyon has welcomed the news that SSE’s Warm Home Discount scheme is now open for applications from those on low incomes, and vulnerable customers, to receive assistance with their winter fuel bill, including credit towards winter fuel bills, debt relief, free energy efficient appliances and benefit entitlement checks. 

Following the opening of the scheme, Richard said: “The Warm Home Discount scheme will act as a real help for those most in need this coming winter. I would urge those who may be eligible to visit SSE’s dedicated website http://www.sse.co.uk/HelpAndAdvice/ExtraHelp/PriorityPlan/, or visit the Government’s pages at https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/overview.”

He continued: “To ensure pensioners are made aware of services available to them this winter, I will be holding a Pensioners’ Fair at Fair Close Day Centre on 12 September from 14:30-17:00, where I am bringing together key organisations to ensure the older members of our community are as best prepared as possible.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP OPENS ENGLISH PROVENDER COMPANY’S INNOVATION CENTRE

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Richard Benyon has officially opened English Provender Company’s new Innovation Centre, situated on Greenham Business Park.

The food manufacturer, who moved to Greenham in 1995, employs over 400 people and is one of Newbury’s largest employers.

Following the opening Richard said: “This is a fantastic business story for Newbury. EPC have committed to our local economy through their expansion plans, highlighting what a great place West Berkshire is to do business.”

He continued: “It was great to be given a tour around the factory to witness the manufacturing process in action and I wish the company all the best as they continue to grow in the years ahead.”

 

Richard speaking at the opening of English Provender Company’s new Innovation Centre

Richard discussing all matters food related with chef, Aldo Zilli.

 

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Statement from Richard Benyon

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In light of the recent media coverage concerning me and my family, I would like to clarify a couple of important points relating to the recent change of ownership of the New Era Estate in Hackney.

Firstly, I would like to stress that I am a Member of Parliament, a full time job to which I am totally committed and I am not involved in the management of either The Benyon Estate (my family’s property company in Hackney), or the New Era Estate.

Secondly, after two years of being for sale the New Era Estate was recently acquired by funds managed by Westbrook Partners (a U.S. fund management firm which has been active in Europe for over 15 years). The Benyon Estate, which is managed by my brother, Edward Benyon, has been appointed to manage the 96 flats for Westbrook and is taking a minority interest (less than 10%) in the properties.

The Benyon Estate and Westbrook are fully aware of their legal obligations to the tenants and Westbrook has been open in explaining to the tenants their proposals for carrying out much needed improvements at the Estate, combined with the need to increase rents of the assured shorthold tenants to reasonable levels to fund these improvements.  I am certain that Westbrook fully appreciates residents’ concerns about these changes and is willing to discuss individual cases, whilst also trying to work constructively with other local stakeholders.

For more information on the Benyon Estate, please contact the Edward Benyon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RICHARD BENYON MP RESPONDS TO THE GREAT WESTERN SPECIFICATION CONSULTATION

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Richard Benyon has responded to the Great Western Specification Consultation by reaffirming the improvements that rail users in the Newbury constituency wish to see.

Richard’s key requests were:

·         Electrification beyond Newbury Station to Bedwyn, key for rail users using Kintbury and Hungerford stations.

·         In the event of electrification to Bedwyn not going ahead in the current program, a guarantee that direct services to Kintbury and Hungerford stations will continue and that current services that change at Reading, do not require a second change at Newbury.

·         More direct services to Thatcham Station.

·         Better access to platforms at Newbury Station, with a lift linking platforms 1 and 2.

·         More frequent and regular services to cope with our growing population, increased economic activity and greater leisure demands.

Following the consultation period, which has now ended, responses will be considered and the Rail Executive will produce a summary of the outcomes, which will be published later in the year. 

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DELAYS AT THE PASSPORT OFFICE

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Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) are currently experiencing a very high volume of applications.

The result of which, is that many constituents have been in contact with my office in respect of outstanding applications.

Whilst my office has had some success in dealing with HMPO over the past few weeks, I can offer no guarantee that I will be successful in every case.

My advice is therefore twofold:

·         If you have submitted your application to HMPO, refrain from continually contacting HMPO as this is exacerbating the situation. Once logged, your application will be processed.

·         If you are travelling within the next 10 days and have not heard from HMPO, please contact my office and my team and I will do all we can to ensure that your application is processed in time.

The Home Secretary has ensured that HMPO have employed more staff to help with the high volume, whilst processes have been put in place for those applying for passports overseas on behalf of their children, with Emergency Travel Documents being issued. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP ELECTED VICE-CHAIR OF ALL PARTY KIDNEY GROUP

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Richard Benyon has taken an interest in health issues surrounding kidney disease and transplants and is an active member of the All Party Group, which saw him elected Vice Chair at last week’s AGM.

Richard said: “I got involved with this issue on entering Parliament out of affection and respect for one of my predecessors as MP for Newbury, Michael McNair-Wilson. He carried on as our MP despite suffering kidney failure and having dialysis treatment.”

He continued: “Like many, I have friends with kidney disease and want the best possible treatment and research to be carried out. The All Party Group is a good way for MPs and Peers to be kept informed about this issue and how we can improve life chances for kidney disease sufferers.”

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Speech on Health following the Queen’s Speech

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I made the following speech in the House of Commons on Monday 9th June, in response to the Queen’s Speech.

Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): It is a great pleasure, but a daunting prospect, to follow the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), who is a model of dignity for the House and has shared some truly horrific experiences with us. I want to talk mainly about public health, but before I do so, I should like to raise an issue that is not unrelated to what the right hon. Lady has mentioned.

I have been fascinated by the fact that the Mid-Staffs issue has not resonated as a major concern with the vast majority of people in this country. Perhaps I missed it; perhaps it is there just under the radar. To me, it should be seared on our collective conscience as a nation. If 1,200 had wrongfully died, say, in police custody or in some other area of direct Government responsibility, there would be crowds of people out on the streets. Yet this was a collective failure and a national failure. Irrespective of what has been said in certain journals by certain Members, this was not a local issue, but a national one in which neglect, incompetence and something called cognitive dissonance was allowed to fester—and people died in large numbers.

 

We rightly revere the NHS. As with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire (Sir Peter Luff), I have had recent experience of a close relative being treated in the NHS, and I have nothing but praise for the staff who treated him. Where there is failure, and when people are treated in the sort of way mentioned by the right hon. Lady and dignity and care fall by the wayside, we have to act. I believe that the implementation of the Francis report is a major step on that road. I applaud the Secretary of State for his determined approach to put patients first, by putting in place measures, individuals and safeguards so that Mid-Staffs does not happen again.

 

As I said, I want to talk about public health, which I believe is so important to how we are going to be able in the long run to afford a national health service. So much of that is about diverting people away from needing it. It is also about addressing inequalities. I have worked hard with other Members to make sure, for example, that rural areas are not left aside. When I was the Minister with responsibility for rural affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr Stuart) raised the issue of stroke treatments in his constituency. It is, of course, much quicker and easier for a stroke therapy consultant to spend all their time in Hull, dealing with many more cases in one day, rather than getting out into the rural areas. Addressing those health inequalities is now, however, for the first time a statutory requirement. That is a major step forward. It does not just involve national bodies such as NHS England and Public Health England; local care commissioning groups and local authorities are ensuring that inequalities are addressed.

 

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab): I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is a specific need in rural communities. Does he support the Government’s action in taking need out of the assessment for public health funding, which has meant that areas such as mine in the north-east have lost funds that have been redistributed to wealthier areas in the south?

 

Richard Benyon: I do not know what happens in the hon. Gentleman’s part of the north-east, but I can tell him that there is now a real drive to deal with the problems in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness. My hon. Friend felt that his constituents were getting a raw deal under the old system, and there is now a statutory requirement for that to be addressed.

 

The new responsibility for public health means a great deal to us as constituency Members. The West Berkshire health and wellbeing board, ably led by Councillor Marcus Franks, is taking the initiative locally, not just dealing with massively important issues such as reducing smoking but encouraging, through a partnership approach, lateral thinking and the tackling of disease and illness before they happen. We must ensure that that happens at local level as a result of legislation that has been introduced in the past.

 

I was pleased to be one of the authors of the natural environment White Paper. We worked closely with the Department of Health, with the aim of helping people to understand the healing benefits of nature and the great outdoors. Initiatives such as Walking for Health have created a virtuous circle. Improved health has led to greater companionship and less isolation, and organisations such the University of the Third Age have improved the quality of life for lonely and, in some cases, elderly people—and, of course, there is the additional benefit of a lower health care bill for the taxpayer. All that is crucial to our objective of diverting people from health services.

 

About 20 years ago, a health service manager said to me, “The trouble is—from my point of view—that clever people keep inventing expensive new cures which we have to fund. People survive longer as a result, and that means yet more costs, because they will need the NHS at a later stage.” I think that he was being light-hearted, but it was probably just a half-joke. His point was this: if we, as a society, are to be able to afford the NHS that we want in the future, whichever party is in government, we must continue to divert people from it by keeping them healthier. The lateral thinking to which I referred earlier has never been more important.

 

I applaud the housing association that, working with its local health and wellbeing board, identified a large number of elderly people who were being admitted to hospital following accidents in the home. Simply employing a handyman to do some work in their sheltered accommodation resulted in a reduction in the number of injuries, particularly serious injuries such as broken hips, from which many people do not recover.

 

Another initiative in my area is “brushing for health”. Good oral health is vital, and my local health and wellbeing board has launched a programme involving Sure Start and other children’s centres, encouraging children to adopt diets that are lower in sugar and to brush their teeth more regularly, and ensuring that they will have access to a dentist. Promoting that initiative will mean that less national health dentistry will be required in the future.

 

On Saturday, I was delighted to launch the Newbury dementia action alliance. We know that 800,000 people in this country are living with dementia, and that it is costing the country £23 billion a year. It is great to hear that the G7 world leaders are getting together and making dealing with dementia one of their priorities, but what does that mean in our constituencies? It means, at local level, stimulating the minds of dementia sufferers, supporting their carers, ensuring that healthy living is part of the norm and involving organisations such as the fire service and the police.

 

That was a very quick canter around the importance of public health. I am running out of time, but let me end by saying that when we talk about health, we must not just talk about the important factors that surround the core of the National Health Service. We need to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place, and that is why the Government’s concentration on public health is so welcome. There is, of course, much more to be done, but a very important change has been made.

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RICHARD BENYON MP ‘ENCOURAGED’ FOLLOWING MEETING WITH TRANSPORT SECRETARY

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Following a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to discuss the electrification of the Great Western Main Line beyond Newbury to Hungerford and Bedwyn, both Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, and Devizes MP, Claire Perry, were encouraged that the Secretary of State would consider their argument going forward.

Richard said: “Whilst I accept that much has been done by this Government to overhaul our rail network, it makes complete sense to continue the electrification process beyond Newbury Station. I am pleased that the Secretary of State accepts the recent review which highlighted a positive return on investment and I will continue to work with Claire and others to ensure constituents beyond Newbury are included in the new electrification project.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP CHAMPIONS BRUSHING FOR LIFE INITIATIVE

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Richard Benyon has championed the Brushing for Life initiative at its launch at Thatcham’s Children’s Centre, this morning.

Richard said: “I am delighted to support this initiative. It will provide a solid foundation for good oral health, encompassing themes of brushing, a low sugar diet and encouraging attendance at the dentist, which is so important.” 

Richard continued: “The problem of poor dental health impacts in far wider ways than the obvious. Sleeplessness and time out of education to receive treatment, are but two examples. The Local Authority’s new Health and Well Being Team are to be commended for this project.”

Richard was joined by Marcus Franks, Executive Portfolio Holder for Health and Well Being, Pip Dhariwal of the Berkshire Dental Committee, Dr Paul Batchelor of Public Health England and Lesley Wyman, Public Health lead at West Berkshire Council. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES ENHAM FUTURES

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Richard Benyon, today welcomed the launch of Enham Futures, a new employment skills programme which aims to support people with disabilities into sustained paid jobs. Enham Futures marks the start of a new partnership between the Enham Trust and Remploy.

Following his visit, Richard said: “I find it staggering that more than half of working age people out of work in the UK are disabled. Everybody deserves the dignity of employment. A pay packet and the independence that comes with it is vital for people’s wellbeing.”

Richard continued: “It is still difficult to help disabled people find jobs, but with the combined expertise of the Trust and Remploy, more employers will see the value of employing disabled people.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP HOLDS PRODUCTIVE TALKS WITH THAMES WATER EXECUTIVES

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Last Friday, Richard Benyon met with senior Thames Water representatives and the Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council, Nick Carter, to discuss the utility firms’ response to last winter’s severe flooding.

Following a large postbag, feedback from flood forum meetings and constituent surveys, Richard held Thames Water to account over poor communication and a deficiency in following up complaints.

Speaking after the meeting Richard said: “I fully appreciate that the weather we saw last winter was unprecedented, however by their own admission Thames Water did not always communicate and respond satisfactorily to my constituents.”

He continued: “Operations Director, Bob Collington and his team have given me assurances that local liaison procedures have, and are continuing to be improved. In the event of another incident on this scale, or worse, Thames Water are well prepared to engage with all our communities, no matter how rural.”

The meeting also heard from Thames Water about their survey work on sewers in the Lambourn and Pang Valleys.

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RICHARD BENYON MP CHAMPIONS THE RIGHT OF RECALL

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Richard Benyon has used his weekly blog to champion a right of recall of Members of Parliament in the most serious of circumstances.

Richard said, “I strongly believe that we have one of the cleanest and least corrupt systems of almost any democracy. However, I find it disappointing when 649 of us can be besmirched by one wrongdoer.”

He continued, “The electorate can hold politicians to account at least once every five years, but in certain cases this is insufficient. With the right sort of safeguards, recall makes it possible to petition an MP who has lost the trust of his or her electorate to submit themselves to a by-election. I hope we see this provision in the Queen's Speech, so that it can become law before the next election.

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RICHARD BENYON MP CHAMPIONS WEST BERKSHIRE’S RURAL CRIME STRATEGY

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Richard Benyon has spoken of the importance in tackling rural crime at a Westminster Hall Debate, attended by the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green MP.

In his speech, Richard outlined the important role played by Police and Crime Commissioners’ (PCC) in ensuring that rural crime is not ignored, and praised Thames Valley’s PCC, Anthony Stansfeld, who has ensured that rural crime is one of his three key priorities.

In the Thames Valley, rural crime has now been defined and has been reduced by 20 per cent. What is more, Thames Valley Police now attend every rural crime reported under the new definition.

Following the debate, Richard said “The message to government is that good things are being done by the police, Police and Crime Commissioners and local people to defeat rural crime. It is vital that everybody recognises that rural crime can have a huge impact on communities, individuals and businesses and we must ensure the pressure is kept up at every level.”

ENDS

Text of the full debate can be found here, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140409/halltext/140409h0002.htm

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RICHARD BENYON MP TO JOIN BERKSHIRE TEENAGER BEFORE HIS THAMES CHALLENGE

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This Saturday, Richard Benyon will be joining intrepid teenager, Andy Kedar, at Adventure Dolphin, Pangbourne, on one of his last training sessions before his 130 mile canoeing challenge along the River Thames.

The sixteen year old, who has autism, will start his official journey on 12 April at Cricklade and is due to finish in Teddington, on 19 April.

Richard said, “I am looking forward to seeing Andy in action and to pass on my best wishes. Autism is a lifelong condition, which affects more than 1 in 100 people in the UK. All of Andy’s fundraising will enable people living with autism to cope with day-to-day challenges and will serve as inspiration to others to achieve their full potential.”

To date, Andy has raised over £1,000 for the National Autistic Society and you can sponsor Andy through his website, http://www.justgiving.com/AndyKedar.

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RICHARD BENYON MP OPENS NEW AMEC OFFICES

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This morning, Richard Benyon cut the ribbon and officially opened AMEC’s new offices situated in Newbury Business Park.

AMEC have recently co-located several elements of their Southern UK business to Newbury. The firm are suppliers of consultancy, engineering and project management services to clients in the world’s oil and gas, mining, clean energy, environment and infrastructure markets.

After officially opening the new premises Richard said, “It is great to have such a renowned firm co-locating its business to Newbury, which can only be good for our local economy. The offices are state of the art and I was highly impressed with the staff, who are all undertaking highly complex engineering that keep the UK’s electricity supply flowing, helps our defence capability and grows our economy.” 

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RICHARD BENYON MP OPENS WEST BERKS JOBS AND CAREERS FAIR

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This morning Richard Benyon opened the West Berks Jobs and Careers Fair at Newbury College.

Richard said, “I am delighted to see such a large number local businesses exhibiting, ranging from the very small to multinational firms, all offering exciting opportunities to our local people who are seeking work.”

He continued, “It was great to be able to speak to owners and employees about the local business environment, with the vast majority saying that things are improving all the time. I hope that the attendees at this year’s fair benefit from the advice and support on offer.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP: ADVICE ON CONCERNS ABOUT TB OUTBREAK IN GREENHAM AREA

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A Public Health England (PHE) press release about two cases of bovine TB (bTB) in humans was released yesterday. It concerns cases of transmission from cats in cases that were diagnosed in the Greenham area last year.

Richard said, “Although there have been no further cases of TB in cats reported in Berkshire or Hampshire since March 2013, we have always known that bTB is a Zoonosis (a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals) and so the Government’s wide ranging strategy to eliminate bTB across England has to be the right approach.”

He added, “Particular credit should go to Carl Gorman, the vet who initially raised concerns about the cats, it makes you wonder how much more of this disease is evident in pets across the country.”

ENDS

For more information please visit:

http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Tuberculosis/TBUKSurveillanceData/Enhanced
MycobacteriumBovisSurveillance/TBMbovis01countryregion/

http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/files/AG-TBYP-01.pdf

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/

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RICHARD BENYON MP VISITS TRINITY SIXTH FORM AND ACE UNIT

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This morning Richard Benyon visited Trinity School to speak with the sixth form and to visit the ACE unit, which specialises in aiding pupils with dyslexia and learning difficulties.

The students raised local concerns including the price of train fares, future career prospects and the recent flooding.

Of his visit Richard said, “I always enjoy these events and I was impressed with the quality of questioning.”

He continued, “I was thoroughly impressed with the ACE unit. It is clear that the staff hold a real passion for their work and it was excellent to talk to the students, who are making real progress. My visit is timely as I am holding an event in Parliament next week on behalf of the Dyslexia Sp-LD Trust, which aims to brief politicians ahead of the implementation of SEN reforms, later this year.”

Notes:

The ACE (ACcelerated Education) Unit is a fully funded dyslexia unit supported by the Local Education Authority (LEA).

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RICHARD BENYON MP TALKS TO KENNET SCHOOL SIXTH FORM

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Last Friday, Richard Benyon attended a question and answer session with sixth form students at Kennet School.

Pupils were offered the chance to quiz Newbury’s Member of Parliament on any topic of their choosing. Questions ranged from the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum, to the current situation in Crimea. Closer to home Richard was asked for his thoughts on higher education and outlined the importance of voting.

Richard said, “I was highly impressed by the range of questioning and the level at which these students are politically conscious. It is always a pleasure to visit Kennet School, which has a great reputation for academic excellence.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP PAYS A VISIT TO FAIR CLOSE DAY CENTRE

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Last week, Richard Benyon paid a visit to residents at the Fair Close Day Centre in Newbury.

Fair Close Day Centre is an independent charity that was established to encourage, promote and organise direct services appropriate to the needs of individual or groups of elderly people.

Of his visit, Richard said, “I really enjoyed being able to come and speak with the many people who frequently use this centre. The services on offer at Fair Close are excellent and it serves as a real focal point for our elderly community.”

He continued, “The volunteers do a wonderful job and deserve the utmost credit. They should be proud that they are making a real difference and I look forward to my next visit.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP PRAISES VOLUNTEERS AND LOCAL AGENCIES IN PARLIAMENTARY FLOODING DEBATE

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Earlier this week, Richard Benyon spoke in a parliamentary debate on managing flood risk and praised the many local agencies and volunteers who have and continue to work tirelessly to help those West Berkshire neighbourhoods hit by flooding.

Richard used his speech to remind fellow Members of Parliament of the importance of listening to experts and called for attention to be switched to focus on land use, agricultural policy reform, drainage and river management.

In his speech he singled out two local people in particular for praise. One is West Berkshire Council’s Civil Contingency Manager, Carolyn Richardson, who has done so much to prepare and respond to the floods in West Berkshire. The other is Dick Greenaway, the retired Surveyor to the Thames Conservancy who has given an informed insight into the folly of poorly thought through dredging of rivers such as the Thames.

Richard’s full speech can be accessed by following this link to Hansard, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140303/debtext/140303-0002.htm

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RICHARD BENYON MP AND LEADER OF WEST BERKSHIRE COUNCIL WELCOME INCREASE IN BROADBAND FUNDING

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Richard Benyon and Gordon Lundie, Leader of West Berkshire Council, have today reacted positively to the news that Berkshire has been allocated an indicative £3.56 million in Superfast Broadband funding.

The additional funding, which nationally totals £250 million, will enable business start ups and job creation in some of the most rural parts of the Newbury constituency. The nationwide rollout of Superfast Broadband is an essential component of the Government’s long term economic plan to secure Britain’s future.

Richard said, “This is great news. I hope that this additional funding will allow for Superfast Broadband to be taken to communities who may have originally missed out. Gordon and I are not complacent however and will keep pushing the Minister to ensure that we continue to secure further funds.”

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RICHARD BENYON MP CALLS UPON WEST BERKSHIRE BUSINESSES TO BECOME DEMENTIA FRIENDLY

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Richard Benyon has today called upon businesses in West Berkshire to become dementia friendly.

Following the Prime Minister’s challenge to support people with dementia at a local level through developing dementia friendly communities, West Berkshire Council commissioned the Alzheimer’s Society to deliver this project in Newbury and as a result Newbury Dementia Action Alliance (Newbury DAA) has been formed.

The Alliance will see a group of local stakeholders work together to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

Richard said, “1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will develop dementia during their lifetime and in less than 10 years time, over 1 million people in the UK will be living with the condition. I call upon all local businesses to show their support by becoming members of the Newbury DAA.”

He continued, “It is entirely right that people with dementia wish to remain independent and play an active role in society and I wish to pay tribute to Sue for all the work she is doing to raise awareness and promote understanding in our community.”

For more information on how your business can be involved in working towards a dementia friendly community in Newbury, contact Sue Butterworth on 07717 343048 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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RICHARD BENYON MP CORRECTS DAILY MIRROR

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With a front page lead and a two page article inside today’s edition, the Daily Mirror attacked Newbury MP Richard Benyon for receiving “… £625,000 from his tenants’ benefits”.

This has been proved to be incorrect.

Richard’s family company does receive rents from tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit but the figure given by West Berkshire Council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request was to quote a Council official, “over estimated by a significant amount”.

Richard said, “I am proud that my family’s business provides housing for those on low incomes. Since changes made in 2008, in all but a few cases landlords are not made aware that tenants are in receipt of housing benefit. So when I was told by the Council that the figure related to just 29 properties I knew that the figures stated in the Daily Mirror were wrong. The actual figure is still not available from the Council but I have asked for the correct figure to be made public tomorrow.”

He added, “I hope that the Daily Mirror and the GMB Union who are behind this story, can explain what they expect me to do when I discover that a tenant, for whatever personal reason, claims housing benefit. The logic of their argument is that my family business should seek to end the tenancy. That is not something that we would ever do.”

To see the apology from West Berkshire Council click here: http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=29322

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RICHARD BENYON MP WELCOMES FALL IN UNEMPLOYMENT AND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR EXPORTS

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Richard Benyon has praised the Government following another fall in unemployment. The number of those out of work nationally now stands at 2.34 million, a fall of 125,000 in the three months to December. Meanwhile average earnings have increased in the year to December, with more women now employed than at any time since records began.

Richard said, “I welcome the national figures, but the local statistics are just as striking. This constituency is now ranked 618thout of 650 (650 being the lowest) in respect of claimants of Job Seekers Allowance. Claimants have fallen by 39.1% over the past year. What is more, 210,000 more people are employed in our region, than before this Conservative-led Government came to power in 2010.”

He continued, “I am additionally delighted to learn that the Chancellor has promised to deliver a Budget next month, which supports a Britain that exports. This is welcome news to all West Berkshire businesses who are looking to grow, many of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the export seminar I hosted in January.”

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RICHARD BENYON WRITES TO THANK 4TH BATTALION THE RIFLES FOR THEIR HELP DURING THE FLOODS

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On hearing the news that 4th Battalion the Rifles are being stood down from flood relief work in West Berkshire, Richard Benyon, wrote the following letter to their Commanding Officer, Lt Col Tom Bewick.

“Dear Tom,

I write on behalf of the whole community in West Berkshire to send our sincerest thanks to you and all 4 Rifles for the hard work everyone put in to help us during the floods.

The Battalion won many friends in communities large and small and you made one Rifleman, me, very proud to have you in my constituency.

Best Wishes to all,

Yours sincerely,

Richard Benyon”

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Latest Flood Announcements for affected homeowners and businesses.

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Detail of floods announcements

‘Repair and renew’ grant for all affected homeowners and businesses

·         The £5,000 grant will provide financial support for households and businesses to pay for repairs which improve a property’s ability to withstand future flooding.

·         DCLG will shortly come forward with details of eligibility and how homes and businesses can apply.

Business taxes

·         All affected businesses will be able to apply to their local authority to get business rate relief for three months.

·         Further detail will be announced by the end of next week on the application process and eligibility.

·         HMRC will also set up a new hotline for those who have been affected by flooding and may have difficulties in meeting their tax liabilities.

·         In all cases HMRC will look to offer up to 3 months additional time to pay. This will cover all taxes owed to HMRC, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax.

£10 million fund for farmers suffering water-logged fields

·         The Government will make available up to £10 million for a one-off grant scheme designed to support farm businesses to restore flooded agricultural land and bring it back into production as quickly as possible. 

·         The fund will also help farmers introduce lasting and sustainable flood prevention measures to help secure future production once land is restored.

·         Grants will provide up to 80% of the cost of removal of flood debris from agricultural land, improving drainage, restoring access tracks, restoring grassland, longer-term planning and design of prevention measures.

·         The fund will be open for applications by the end of February. We will keep the application window open for as long as possible given uncertainty around flood water levels receding.

·         The scheme will be open to all farm businesses that require support but will be targeted at those areas most affected by the flood crisis.

·         DEFRA will announce further details and a single point of contact (for email, post and telephone) shortly. 

A total commitment in excess of £750 million from the major banks to provide financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods

·         The packages include a mixture of repayment holidays, reduced or waived fees, loan extensions, increased flexibility of terms, and additional specialist support teams deployed on the ground.

·         This support is being made available to businesses, farmers and individual customers in affected areas.  

·         RBS have announced a £250 million interest free loan fund for affected businesses, and have extended this with an offer of repayment holidays for mortgage customers. Lloyds and Barclays have announced financial packages of around £250 million each. HSBC, Santander and Nationwide have also announced extensive programmes of support for their affected business and individual customers. 

Transport announcements

·         Rail resilience projects: The Department for Transport will provide £31 million to fund 10 rail resilience projects in the South West to improve resilience to flooding, including works at Cowley Bridge in Exeter. Network Rail will undertake work at the following locations: Cowley Bridge Junction; Chipping Sodbury; Hinksey; Whiteball Tunnel South; Athley – Cogload; Hele Bradninch; Flax Bourton; Patchway up Tunnel; Earthworks strengthening at Honioton and Crewkerne. Network Rail will also install rainfall, river flow and groundwater monitoring around Cowley Bridge Junction and Chipping Sodbury.

·         Funding for local authorities: The Department for Transport will provide £30 million of additional funding for local authorities in England affected by the severe weather for road maintenance, including pothole repairs. This is in addition to the £3.5 million transport element of the £7 million flood recovery package announced on 17 January.

·         Industry resilience meetings: The Prime Minister has tasked the Transport Secretary to work with bus and coach industry and other public transport operators to ensure that all necessary extra services are in place for the areas currently affected, and to plan for any further capacity required should the severe weather continue and affect other parts of the country.

Cabinet Committee

·         The Prime Minister chaired the first meeting on Thursday. The Committee’s Terms of Reference are ‘To provide strategic ministerial oversight of policy on flood recovery and long-term resilience’.  

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RICHARD BENYON MP PRESENTS WINCHCOMBE SCHOOL WITH UNICEF AWARD

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This morning, Richard presented students at Winchcombe School with the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Award.

Over the past 18 months, staff and students have used various events to raise awareness of UNICEF and the Rights of the Child. UNICEF representatives were so impressed with the schools efforts, that they were graded as ‘outstanding’ at Level 1, the highest accolade.

After presenting the award, Richard said, “I am so impressed at how far this school has come since my last visit. To be the first school in West Berkshire to become a rights respecting school is a fantastic achievement and all those involved should be really proud.”

He continued, “I have travelled to places in the world where children are literally dying for an education. Through learning about the many challenges that their fellow children face globally, the children will no doubt hold a greater appreciation for their education and the world around them.”

Presenting students at Winchcombe School with the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Award. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP CALLS FOR AN END TO IVORY POACHING

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Over the past week, Richard Benyon has been highlighting the issue of ivory poaching. Last Thursday, Richard jointly hosted a debate on International Wildlife Crime in the House of Commons, whilst this week, Richard joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as the charity crushed hundreds of unwanted items of ivory and tonight he is to attend the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade.                                                                                                                                                  

In the Commons last Thursday, Richard said, “I will never forget the image of President Moi setting fire to Kenya’s stockpile of ivory in 1989. That sent a message around the world that the trade in ivory is wrong, that it is illegal and that it must stop.”

He continued, “The message is that we have to bring an end to this trade. We must not miss the opportunity given by the conference in London.”

Today’s conference, hosted by the UK Government, will bring together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from threats of extinction. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP PRAISES THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY AT THE OPENING OF NEWBURY’S FLOOD ALLEVIATION SCHEME

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This morning, Richard Benyon opened Newbury’s new multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme that will protect more than 450 properties and critical infrastructure.

The joint scheme, led by the Environment Agency, with support from West Berkshire Council, Newbury Town Council and local businesses aims to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Kennet.

Richard later visited Shaw and Eastbury to talk with residents who are at flood risk and some who have been flooded.

Richard said, “This scheme is great news for the people of Newbury and I want to go on record as praising the work of the Environment Agency. Not only have they aided in the delivery of this scheme, but they have been top drawer in keeping me informed of the latest developments in the constituency over the last few weeks.”

He continued, “In the communities I have visited today, I have been encouraged by residents’ resilience. I remain in constant contact with all agencies and will do everything within my power to assist flooded communities in the coming days.”

Opening the Newbury Flood Alleviation Scheme with Julia Simpson, Area Manager at the Environment Agency.

Being interviewed by the BBC in Newbury 

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RICHARD BENYON MP SECURES DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR MINISTER NOT TO FORCE COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY UPON WELL RUN COUNCILS

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This afternoon, Richard Benyon hosted a Westminster Hall debate on the Governments plan to replace current Section 106 regulations with a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Richard raised concerns with Communities and Local Government Minister, Brandon Lewis, following discussions with West Berkshire Councillors and officials.

Following his debate, Richard said, "It seems nonsensical that the Government wishes to mandate well run Councils, like West Berks, to implement the Community Infrastructure Levy. The current system has proven its worth over the years, winning praise from the Audit Commission and costing nothing to the taxpayer."

He continued, "I am glad to have been able to put the case to the Minister and ask that he consider removing the implementation date of 6 April 2015. I will continue to follow this matter closely."

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RICHARD BENYON MP VISITS ST GABRIEL’S SCHOOL

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On Friday, Richard Benyon visited St Gabriel's School in Newbury to meet students over lunch, and discuss his role as a Member of Parliament. Later, Richard answered questions on lowering the voting age, women in politics and industry and a future European Referendum.

Of his visit, Richard said, "I always enjoy visiting St Gabriel's, which is a high performing school. I was impressed by the degree of questioning from the girls and also their passion to see more women in politics and in our board rooms, which I fully support."

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RICHARD BENYON MP HOSTS EXPORT SEMINAR FOR WEST BERKSHIRE’S BUSINESSES

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This morning, Richard Benyon jointly hosted an export seminar, entitled Boosting Exports, Unlocking Growth at Reading’s Green Park business centre.

Richard joined forces with neighbouring MP, Alok Sharma, to give local businesses a platform to help them develop export markets. They were joined by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, UK Trade & Investment and Sir Timothy Clark, President of Emirates Airline.

Following the seminar Richard said, “UKTI supported 32,000 businesses to export in 2012-2013 and are on track to support at least 40,000 in 2013-2014. I have seen at firsthand what UKTI offer to British companies at home and abroad and I want to ensure that all those businesses in West Berkshire who want to grow have all the necessary tools at their disposal to do so.”

He continued, “I was delighted with the number of interested parties here today, asking key questions of important stakeholders. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have worked hard promoting British business abroad and I am proud to have played my part in championing West Berkshire.”

Richard speaking at the export seminar

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RICHARD BENYON MP & COUNCILLOR IRENE NEILL DISCUSS RURAL SCHOOL FUNDING

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This morning, Richard Benyon and West Berkshire Lead Member for Education, Councillor Irene Neill, met with senior officials at the Department for Education to discuss the funding of small, rural schools. The meeting follows concerns raised by governors concerning the impact of a national funding formula for schools.

Richard, Irene and senior departmental officials also held a brief discussion with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP.

Richard said, “We had a really good meeting. It was good to be discussing these matters with officials as they wrestle with mechanisms for implementing fair funding.”

He continued, “I attended a small rural West Berkshire primary school myself, and I feel very strongly that such schools should continue to thrive in our education system.” 

With Cllr Irene Neill at the Department for Education where they discussed Rural Schools with senior officials.

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RICHARD BENYON MP HELPS OUT WITH BIKEABILITY AT HUNGERFORD PRIMARY SCHOOL

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This morning, Richard Benyon attended a Level 2 Bikeability class with students from Hungerford Primary School.

Bikeability is a national cycling programme designed to provide young people with the skills and confidence to cycle on Britain’s roads. The programme is administered by Cycling England and is based on the National Standard for Cycle Training, run by the Department for Transport.

After watching the kids being put through their paces, Richard said, “I am really impressed with Bikeability training, which takes cycling proficiency into the twenty-first century. As a cyclist myself, I fully appreciate the importance of learning how to be safe on our roads.”

He continued, “I was really impressed with the children. They were all really enjoying themselves and looked comfortable undertaking set manoeuvres.”

For more information on Bikeability, please visit www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=24883 or contact Caroline Lane, Cycle Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With students of Hungerford Primary school undertaking Bikeability training. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP WALKS THE RIDGEWAY WITH THE RAMBLERS

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This morning, Richard Benyon joined The Ramblers Association, including its Chief Executive, Benedict Southworth, for a walk along The Ridgeway, near Streatley. Richard discussed matters pertaining to biodiversity and to marketing the National Trails, ensuring the incorporation of local businesses.

Following his ramble, Richard said, “We should all feel very fortunate to have this stunning part of the country, virtually on our doorsteps. I would encourage everyone to find the time to spend a few hours in the great outdoors. Not only are there clear health benefits, but it is highly enjoyable.”

Richard continued, “I look forward to continuing my relationship with The Ramblers, assisting them in promoting some of the most beautiful parts of the constituency to a wider audience.”

With Chief Executive of the Rambles Association, Benedict Southworth on the Ridgeway. 

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RICHARD BENYON MP TALKS WITH THE DOWNS SCHOOL SIXTH FORM

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This morning, Richard Benyon visited The Downs School in Compton, to talk to sixth formers about his day to day role as a Member of Parliament and to discuss key issues including voting, the environment, reform of the European Union and Scotland's independence referenda. 

Richard said, "It is always an enormous pleasure to visit The Downs and to discuss current affairs with students. It was also a chance to congratulate the school on being rated as Outstanding by Ofsted and this was reflected in the intelligence of the student’s questions."

Talking to sixth form students at the Downs school in Compton

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RICHARD BENYON MP DISCUSSES LOCAL HISTORY ON BBC RADIO 4

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This afternoon, Richard joined historian Jeremy Seabrook and Dr Stephen Davies, Education Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, to discuss the Speenhamland system, devised at the Pelican Inn, Speen, in 1795.

The system was devised by a number of local magistrates to alleviate the distress caused by high grain prices. Essentially, families were paid extra to top up wages to a set level, during periods of high inflation, with the level varying depending upon the number of children in a family and the price of bread, used as a wage stabiliser.

Richard said, “It was a great pleasure to be able to discuss local history, not least because of the Speenhamland system’s importance - so much so that William Pitt the Younger attempted to pass the system into legislation.”

Richard continued, “There are many analogies that one can draw, but what really strikes me is that employers paid lower wages in the late 18th Century, in the knowledge that the system subsidised income, whereas at the beginning of the 21st Century the parallel is with tax credits and the minimum wage. Many of us want to see the minimum wage rise, as currently people on low incomes are subsidised through increasingly unaffordable tax credits rather than being paid a higher wage.”

Richard’s contribution can be heard on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 21st January at 9:00am.

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RICHARD BENYON MP INSPECTS BERKSHIRE’S RIVERS FOLLOWING FLOODING

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This afternoon, Richard visited numerous locations in the Newbury constituency to examine water levels and talk with concerned residents.

In Streatley, Richard visited The Swan, a bar, restaurant and hotel situated on the riverside, to discuss the potential for future flood defences with management.

In Compton, Richard surveyed the village, and inspected Horn Street, the scene of previous flooding. He was relived to discover minimal flood water and to learn that Thames Water are keeping residents abreast of developments.

Following his visits, Richard said, “I have been in constant contact with Thames Water and the Environment Agency since the rains started. Whilst the River Thames is very high in Streatley, the community is really rallying round to ensure it is business as usual.”

He continued, “I am relieved that the River Pang has not flooded in Compton. Groundwater levels are rising and concerns are raised about a repeat of last year’s problems. From speaking to residents I know they are vigilant, and I urge all residents to sign up to the free flood warnings available from the Environment Agency at

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx

Following discussions with Newbury Station and West Berkshire Council earlier in the week, water is continuing to be pumped from Station Road, with a view to reopening Platform 1, as quickly as possible.

Richard would urge any constituent who is concerned by flooding to get in touch with his office. 

With the owner and landlord at the Swan at Streately which is open despite being flooded 

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RICHARD BENYON MP VISITS BRITISH GAS TRAINING ACADEMY IN THATCHAM

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This morning, Richard visited the British Gas Training Academy in Thatcham for a tour of the facilities and to meet with local apprentices.

British Gas has a long and proud history of training apprentices through their six academies and will be supporting National Apprenticeship Week 2014, from 3-7 March.

Of his visit, Richard said, “I am highly impressed with the academy and the apprentices. It is encouraging that so many young people are benefiting from this scheme and are learning a trade to enhance their future prospects. I am confident that the nation’s boilers and central heating systems are in safe hands.”

He continued, “With Government putting employers in the driving seat over the design of apprenticeships, firms such as British Gas, can take ownership of the skills agenda for their industry ensuring young people are equipped with the skills needed to get on.”

A record number of apprenticeships have started under this Government, with half a million created last year alone. 

On a visit to the British Gas Training Academy meeting Joey Waldron, a Service and Repair apprentice.

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RICHARD BENYON MP TO HOST SEMINAR FOR BERKSHIRE’S EXPORTERS

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Since the financial crisis, businesses have had to restructure their balance sheets, and for those wishing to export goods and services, the support offered by government has never been better, reflecting the new and emerging market places open to British business.

UK Trade & Investment supported 32,000 businesses to export in 2012-13 and are on track to support at least 40,000 in 2013-14. In addition, £4.3bn worth of financial support for British exports was supplied through UK Export Finance in 2012-13, the highest in 12 years. These figures, in addition to the numerous trade missions led by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, stress the importance government is placing on overseas trade.

Richard and his colleague, Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, are therefore jointly hosting a timely seminar, Boosting Exports, Unlocking Growth, aimed at firms which are exploring the opportunity to export for the first time, as well as those looking to grow their exports.

Richard said; “The economy is on the road to recovery, but we as politicians have a duty to enable our fantastic firms to reach their potential and compete in the global race. I would strongly urge local firms with an interest in exporting goods and services to join me and debate issues with renowned business personnel and UKTI officials.

The seminar is free to all attendees and has the full support of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) and the UKTI, who are also sponsoring the event. The details are listed below.

Details of the Seminar on “Boosting Exports, Unlocking Growth” are as follows:

Date: Friday 31st January 2014, Time: 07:30am – 10:00am

Location: The Conference Centre, 100 Longwater Avenue, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6GP

Programme:

07.30 - 07.50: Registration, tea and coffee

07.50 - 07.55: Welcome from Alok Sharma MP and Richard Benyon MP

07.55 - 08.05: Tim Smith, Business Director for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP

08.05 - 08.15: Rob Lewtas, Strategic Partnerships Manager, UKTI

08.15 - 08.30: Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline

08.30 - 09.20: Small Business Case Studies

09.20 - 10.00 Q&A, Plenary and Networking

Spaces are limited, so if you are interested in attending, I would be grateful if you could RSVP to Jennifer Ruddick by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or phone on 020 7219 7131.

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MP and Leader of Council raise broadband concerns with Minister

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, and West Berkshire Council Leader, Gordon Lundie met with the Minister responsible for the £1.5 billion Government broadband roll-out, Ed Vaizey. While pleased that West Berkshire is getting a decent share of the money allocated to Berkshire, both Gordon and Richard are disappointed that this mean only 79% of households will have super-fast broadband connections.

The key to filling in the areas that won’t get super-fast is to access some of the £250 million that was recently announced to get the whole of the UK at 95% coverage.

Richard said;

“It was a really positive discussion. The Minister listened to our concerns and recognises West Berkshire’s case. He made an instant call to BT to ensure they are assisting the Council to find the best and most cost effective solutions for the remaining areas.”

Gordon Lundie said;

"I was delighted to get a supportive hearing from the Minister and believe we have a great chance now to bring forward a proposal that will see West Berks get to 90% coverage. Thanks to Richard Benyon for driving this forward"

ENDS

Notes

The first phase of the super-fast roll-out in West Berkshire will see communities like Lambourn, Kintbury and West Ilsley being connected by December 2014. The next phase will see communities like Great Shefford, Chaddleworth and Bucklebury being connected by September 2015.

The so-called “white areas” where no super-fast broadband will be delivered unless West Berkshire can access the extra tranche of funding includes communities such as Compton, Hampstead Norreys and East Garston.

There will always be some communities or households who will be hard to reach and the Council want to start conversations with other providers about how to connect them. This requires and open conversation with BT about their scheme. The meeting with the Minister has made this happen

Richard met with BT’s Chief executive of New Generation Access on the same day.

Photo:   “Gordon Lundie and Richard Benyon showing broadband Minister, Ed Vaizey, a map showing coverage in West Berkshire”

 

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Tesco customers set to help hungry families this Christmas

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Tesco customers set to help hungry families this Christmas

Customers at Tesco in Hungerford were invited to donate food in store between Friday 29 November and Sunday 1 December, as the retailer again geared up to hold the biggest ever food collection in the UK.

Tesco teamed up with foodbanks charity the Trussell Trust and food redistribution charity FareShare to hold the third Neighbourhood Food Collection.

Customers at the Hungerford Tesco were given a special shopping list when they entered the store and were asked to pick up an item of food such as long-life milk, cereal, tinned foods and tea and coffee before donating it at the end of their shop.

The food will now be distributed to the local foodbank or FareShare depot before being given to people in times of need.

The store manager at Hungerford Tesco said: “In the run up to Christmas we wanted to do our bit to feed those in need and the volunteers we had in the store from the two charities were fantastic.  Our customers were incredibly generous and I would like to thank them all for their support.”

The volunteers were also joined by the Richard Benyon MP for Newbury.

Richard said:

“I was glad to support this excellent initiative by Tesco in Hungerford.  It was noticeable how generous shoppers were in supporting the foodbank which will bring comfort to families on low incomes this Christmas.”

Tesco will be topping up all total donations by a further 30%.

Richard with staff from Hungerford Tesco and Hungerford Town Councillors collecting food for the local Foodbank.

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RICHARD BENYON MP SUPPORTS LIFESAVING EDUCATION PROGRAMME

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon showed his support for the Anthony Nolan ‘Register and Be A Lifesaver’ (R&Be) education programme at an information session for MPs in Parliament this week. The event was an opportunity for MPs to meet with R&Be volunteers who deliver inspiring presentations to 16-18 year old students about the importance of bone marrow, blood, and organ donation.

Mr Benyon met Hungerford resident and R&Be volunteer, John Mawhood, to learn more about the programme. John had a bone marrow transplant many years ago and now uses his personal experience to inspire young people to join the register.

Register and Be a Lifesaver has reached over 100,000 students since it was established in 2009. 4,622 young people have joined the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register as a result, and so far three people recruited through R&Be have donated lifesaving stem cells.

The R&Be programme also works in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant to recruit to the blood and organ donor registers. 7,415 have joined the blood donor register and 2,396 have signed up as organ donors.

Mr Benyon said, ‘It is wonderful to hear that such a programme exists to dispel the myths about donation and inspire young people to join the bone marrow, blood and organ donation registers. I’m delighted to hear that John has been helping to raise awareness in local schools and colleges.’

Katie Day, R&Be Programme Supervisor added, ‘It is fantastic have Mr Benyon’s support for our education programme. We’re looking forward to working with Mr Benyon to help us reach  students both in his constituency, but also to see R&Be become part of every young person’s education.’

Meeting constiteunt, John Mahwood, in support of the Anthony Nolan ‘Register and Be A Lifesaver’ programme.

Ends

Key messages

  • Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.
  • We need more young men aged 16-30 to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 12% of the register.
  • We urgently need people from Black, Asian and other Ethnic Minority backgrounds to sign up, as they are currently under-represented on the register.

 

Key statistics

  • Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer
  • Around 1,800 people in the UK need a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant each year.  This is usually their last chance of survival
  • 63% of UK patients will not find a matching donor from within their families; instead they turn to us to find them an unrelated donor
  • We can only find a suitable donor for around half the people who need a lifesaving bone marrow transplant
  • White Northern Europeans have a 90% chance of finding a suitable bone marrow donor. This falls to just 40% for people from black, Asian, and ethnic minority backgrounds
  • 90% of donations take place via PBSC(peripheral blood stem cell collection).  This is an outpatient appointment and is similar to donating blood
  • To join the register, you must be aged between 16 and 30, weigh more than 7st 12lbs (50kgs) and be in general good health. For more information about our work or to sign up online, please visit www.anthonynolan.org

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Park House Students Question Local MP Richard Benyon and are Encouraged To Vote in 2015

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Park House

Summary
 
  • Mr Richard Benyon, MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs attended Park House to talk to students who will be eligible to vote in the 2015 elections about the importance of voting. 
  • Mr Benyon took ‘an impressive range and quality of questions’ from Park House Sixth Form Students 
  • The students at Park House found the opportunity very engaging. 
 
On Wednesday 25th September Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury visited Park House School in Newbury where he spent time with 200 Sixth Form Students, discussing the importance of exercising their democratic right to vote.
 
It was in 1992 that the country last saw an election turnout above 75% and the 2010 general election saw just 65% of the electorate exercising their democratic right to vote. It is therefore no surprise that with just under 2 years to the next general election responsible MPs and political parties are looking at how more young people can be encouraged to exercise their democratic rights. 
 
Richard Benyon, Local Conservative MP for Newbury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs teamed up with Park House School to educate students in the Sixth Form about the significance of their right to vote. Mr Benyon talked about his role as MP and took questions from Park House students on current, local and national issues ranging from the state of Victoria Park to the environmental impact of Fracking and the role of the media in Politics.
 
Mr Benyon said that he was “very impressed by the range and quality of questions” that the Park House students put to him. 
 
Deputy Head Boy and A Level Politics student Tom Graves said "I think it's important that young people do not become disillusioned with politics. Having an MP talk to us shows that they still care about what young people think" and that "Hearing Mr Benyon discuss the importance of young adults voting was particularly engaging, I believe we have all taken something on board from the talk." 
 
Headteacher Derek Peaple added, 'Mr Benyon's visit gave our students an invaluable insight into current political thinking on key issues and was greatly appreciated by the Sixth Form.'
 

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Newbury MP praises local Priory hospital’s ‘dedication, expertise and quality of care’

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has spoken out in praise of the staff and services provided at the local, Thatcham based, Thornford Park Hospital following a visit to the site on Wednesday 28th August.

During a visit to the site Mr Benyon was able to see firsthand the care and services provided at Thornford Park to support people with mental health conditions. In the company of Priory Chief Executive, Tom Riall, and Hospital Director, Paul O’Connor, Mr Benyon was taken through the breadth of services utilised in the assessment and treatment of patients who often arrive at Thornford Park with histories of offending and previous failures in placement programmes.

Specialising in providing assessment and treatment programmes for adult males, patients undergo personalised care plans underpinned by the promotion of independence and wider social inclusion – an ambition which resonated strongly with Mr Benyon.

Commenting on his visit Mr Benyon said: “The dedication, expertise and quality of care shown by Thornford Park’s staff was apparent throughout my visit.  There is a real selfless approach to care, working in the best interests of patients and encouraging their voice to be heard.”

Speaking about some of the projects led by the site, Mr Benyon added: “Working in partnership with the local community towards the development of educational and employment opportunities is an incredibly positive initiative.  Pooling the resource, expertise and professionalism which is already ingrained through many of the services the community offers can only enhance the integration of patients back into the community and instil a new found confidence in their personal development.”

Tom Riall, Chief Executive of the Priory Group, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Richard Benyon to Thornford Park and show him the high quality care and support patients are receiving, including the use of partnerships for patients with the local community to promote greater social inclusion. As Richard has commented on his visit today, the commitment of staff under Paul O’Connor’s leadership is evident in all aspects of care patients are receiving and in the hospital’s excellent reputation.”

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Newbury MP welcomes decisive result in Hungerford by-election

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The MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has spoken of his delight at the election of James Podger as Councillor for Hungerford following the sad death of David Holtby.

Richards said,

“This was a clear result and a credit to our excellent candidate, James Podger. He fought a superb campaign and will be a really great champion for Hungerford. David Holtby’s legacy is safe in the hands of James and his fellow Councillor, Paul Hewer”

ENDS

Notes:     The result of the by-election held yesterday for the vacant seat in Hungerford on West Berkshire Council is as follows.

Denise Gaines, Liberal Democrat, 751 votes.  James Podger, Conservative, 810 votes.  Gary Puffett, Labour, 86 votes. Andrew Stott, United People's Party, 28 votes.

James Podger is therefore elected as ward councillor for Hungerford on West Berkshire Council.

The turnout was 38.2%.  The electorate was 4,420.

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Marine Conservation Zones

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Richard Benyon has responded to an article in the Times by stressing that we cannot designate all proposed 127 Marine Conservation Zones without the evidence we need.

The letter that was published in the Times today reads:

Sir, What is banal is the call to designate all proposed 127 sites as Marine Conservation Zones (“Minister rejects ‘banal’ campaign for marine conservation zones”, Aug 5). We know how important it is to get this right, and scientists, including Professor Callum Roberts, have advised that the evidence for lots of them simply is not there.

I have invested more than £3 million to get the evidence we need for further designations of these sites. Claims that I have “caved in to the fishing industry” are just absurd. I do, however, believe that if you are going to stop someone from making a living, you have to have a good reason for doing so.

Richard Benyon Fisheries Minister

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MP vows to find out cause of Kennet pollution

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Newbury MP and Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, is determined to get to the bottom of a major pollution incident in the River Kennet. It appears a chemical called chlorpyriphos was released into the river close to Marlborough. This organophosphate is very damaging to aquatic invertebrates and has resulted in damage down a significant stretch of the River Kennet.

Richard Benyon said:

“This would be a major concern for me whatever river was affected but I am particularly angered that it has happened in the Kennet. We will find out how this happened and those responsible will be held to account. Most importantly we must ensure that everything is done to make sure it never happens again.”

The River Kennet is a Site of Scientific Interest and one of England's finest chalkstreams. This incident is one of the largest ever and has wiped out around a third of the river. 

The Environment Agency's chemical analysis has shown that the chemical is a pesticide, and the EA and Thames Water are working to identify its source.

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MP receives Shark Champion Award

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The Shark Trust recently awarded Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury and Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, a coveted Shark Champion Award in recognition of his personal commitment to shark conservation and the UK government’s tireless resolve to end the removal of shark fins at sea.  The European Council of Ministers have recently adopted the best practice for finning ban enforcement: requiring sharks be landed with fins still attached.


The EU banned shark finning throughout the EU fleet in 2003, but a loophole permitted the provision of permits for the removal of shark fins at sea, requiring the retention of the carcasses under an excessive and complicated ratio system.


Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust was quoted as saying: “At long last, we are mere weeks away from seeing the EU convert its shark finning ban from an embarrassment of loopholes to a model of best practices. Implementation of the new ‘fins-attached’ regulation, particularly in the EU’s far-reaching, high volume shark fisheries, represents a momentous step forward for shark conservation.”

Ms Hood went on to comment,  “The Shark Trust has been campaigning for tighter EU shark finning regulations for over a decade, both independently and as a founder member of the Shark Alliance. Throughout this campaign the UK government has listened to the debate and been ardent in its engagement.  It gives the Trust huge pleasure to be able to present the Minister with a Shark Champion Award for his personal involvement in this campaign.” 
Commenting on the final adoption of the fins-attached policy the Richard said: "This is a great success for the UK. We have long been pushing Europe to tighten controls on shark finning and it will now become a reality. The agreement will bring the rest of Europe in line with what the UK has been doing for years - landing all sharks with their fins naturally attached."

ENDS

Photo is Richard Benyon receiving the award from Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust

For more information see:  http://www.sharktrust.org/en/news/article/372/minister-champions-sharks.html.

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Richard Benyon: Labour would take £234 from 19,410 pensioners in West Berkshire

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Research by Richard Benyon has shown that Labour’s plan to cut pensions would hit 19,410pensioners in the Newbury parliamentary constituency, many of whom depend on their Basic State Pension to pay their bills and put food on the table.

 

Labour have chosen to cap pensions rather than benefits, meaning the Basic State Pension would be £234 less a year by 2017/18.

 

Richard said:

 

“Now we know that when Labour say they would cut welfare, what they really mean is they would choose to cut the Basic State Pension over capping benefits.

 

“This would take £234 a year away from 19,410 pensioners in West Berkshire – people who have worked hard all their lives.

 

“This is about a simple choice: the Conservatives want to reward pensioners. Labour want to punish them”.

 

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

 

·         Labour voted against accelerating the State Pension Age. Labour voted against the Pensions Bill at second reading, which accelerated the State Pension Age (Hansard, 20 June 2011, col.128, link).

 

·         Ed Miliband has repeatedly opposed our State Pension Age rises.‘I totally understand why there is such anger about this issue of people having to work until they are 68, it’s incredibly hard, back-breaking work’ (Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2012, link).

 

·         Rachel Reeves has attacked the State Pension Age rises. ‘There is strong and vocal opposition to these unfair pension changes across the UK. It's not too late for David Cameron to think again’ (Channel 4 News, 20 June 2011, link).

 

·         Labour want to include pensions in their welfare ‘cap’. Speaking on the Sunday Politics, Ed Balls said:‘George Osborne is going to announce his cap in two weeks' time. I don’t know whether he will exclude pensioner spending or include it. At the moment our plan is to include it’ (Ed Balls, Sunday Politics, 9 June 2013,link).

 

·         So Labour would have to reverse the ‘triple lock’. The triple lock ensures the Basic State Pension rises by the highest of inflation, earnings, or 2.5 per cent.

 

·         Labour refuse to confirm Labour would protect the triple lock. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, refused to confirm Labour would protect the triple lock (Douglas Alexander, Daily Politics, 12 June 2013):

 

AN: Let me try one more time. I don't understand how you can say, "We will cap welfare spending and pensions will be included, but we will also increase pensions by 2.5% even if it means breaking the cap”

 

DA:  Well, in what circumstances did Ed say even if it means breaking the cap? What he said is hold on to the triple-lock at present.

 

AN: At present?

 

DA: Well, that remains our policy.

 

AN: The next three years?

 

DA: We will set out our policy position in the manifesto.

 

·         Pensions would be £230 lower by 2017/18 without the triple lock. Earnings are forecast to outstrip inflation or 2.5 per cent from 2015/16. The level of the basic state pension would be £234 lower without the Triple Lock Guarantee (HM Treasury, Budget 2013, 10 June 2013).

 

·         Labour’s pension increases were as low as 75p.In April 2000, the basic state pension rose from £66.75 per week to £67.50 per week, an increase of just 75p (Watson Wyatt, UK Basic State Retirement Pensions, link).

 

·         Labour have already opposed three welfare caps worth £14 billion:

 

HOUSING BENEFIT CAP: opposed by Labour. ‘Other people will pay the price for his cuts. Is it not time that he thought again on housing benefit?’ (Ed Miliband, Hansard, 27 October 2010, link). COST: £2.6 billion over 5 years.

 

£26,000 BENEFIT CAP: opposed by Labour. The Labour Party, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, voted against a deferred division on introducing the benefit cap as recently as 21 November 2012 (Hansard, 21 November 2012, Col. 689, link).COST: £850 million over 5 years.

 

WELFARE UPRATING CAP: opposed by Labour. Labour MPs voted against the Bill at its second reading in the House of Commons (Hansard, 8 January 2013, Col. 721,link). COST: £10.6 billion over 5 years.

 

·         Constituency statistics of basic state pension claimants (NOMIS, accessed 12 June 2013): 

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, encourages constituents to sign up to help improve phone signal in their constituency

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The Countryside Alliance is asking people to become phone detectives this summer and help it map real phone reception rates across the UK and Richard Benyonis behind the cause.

Richardsaid: “Everyone pays the same for their phone package but phone reception is very variable and many people are not getting a good deal.  The Government is spending £150m improving mobile reception but this app will be a great help in assessing mobile coverage locally.”

The Countryside Alliance is asking people to download the free RootMetrics app onto their smartphone or tablet and use it while they are at home as well as while they are out and about.

The app tests the strength of their signal and automatically records the result. It can also be used to check which company provides the best service in an area.

The information will be used to make the case to phone companies and the Government to improve mobile reception, especially in isolated rural areas.

Richard added:  “I would ask everyone to consider downloading the app and make use of it this summer so the Countryside Alliance can have the best possible information to help inform the mobile coverage plan.”

For further information on how to use the app and to see results so far, visit www.rootmetrics.com/uk/

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Richard Benyon MP welcomes new rights for park home residents

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New rights giving park home residents the protection they need from unscrupulous site owners came into force last week.

Park homes offer many people an affordable opportunity to escape to the country, but some dishonest park home operators abuse their position to make a profit at their residents’ expense. In some cases, site owners have lied to prospective purchasers about the conditions of homes and even dug holes around homes to make them unsaleable.

The new laws will make these underhand tactics a thing of the past. The rules:

  • Remove site owners from the park home buying and selling process, meaning that residents cannot be forced to, or prevented from, selling their park homes to fill the landlord’s pocket;
     
  • Make it harder to impose unexpected charges or changes of rules; and
     
  • Give local authorities more power to enforce breaches, making it easier to prosecute a site owner who harasses residents.

The Government has also launched a new national helpline, operated by the Leasehold Advisory Service, for residents to get advice on their rights when selling or gifting their home.

Commenting, Richardsaid:

‘I’m delighted that the Government is safeguarding park home residents in West Berkshire. For too long, some unscrupulous operators have made residents’ lives a misery, intimidating people and manipulating the rules to turn a quick profit.

‘These new protections will close the loopholes to root out the rogue operators and ensure those who run an honest business will continue to flourish. West Berkshire Council will also now have the powers to protect the vulnerable, so park home residents will be able to enjoy their rural retreats in peace.’

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The Mobile Homes Act 2013 gives more rights to people who live in a park home on a residential pitch. Changes include:

  • a modern reformed local authority licensing regime for park home sites, to ensure local authority are properly funded for exercising their powers and have sufficient tools for enforcement action;
  • a new regime for selling and purchasing park homes, which excludes the need to seek the approval of the site owner;
  • certain site rules to be banned and all remaining rules to be re-made in consultation with residents, to prevent site rules being used inappropriately to block sales etc.;
  • reform to the pitch fee review process to ensure greater transparency and reduce the opportunity for exploitation; and
  • changes to the criminal law (relating to park homes) to make harassment easier to prove and to create an offence of providing false information when a home is sold (DCLG Press Release, 28 May 2013, link).

There are approximately 85,000 owner occupied mobile homes (commonly known as ‘park homes’) on 2,000 sites in England (ibid.).

 A new Park Homes advice line, run by the Leasehold Advisory Service is available on 0207 383 9800 (ibid.).

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Richard and Zoe Benyon raise over £9,000 for Help for Heroes

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Richard and Zoe  cycled from Tidworth in Wiltshire to London as part of the 2013 Hero Ride to raise funds for the charity Richard helped found, Help for Heroes.  In London they joined around 1400 other cyclists who had come from around the country including 350 who had cycled from Paris through the battlefields of northern France. Richard said,

"It was an incredible experience cycling into the centre of London. Some of those we were with were double amputees from injuries received in Afghanistan or Iraq. Recent events in Woolwich had really focused people's minds, particularly as Lee Rigby had been wearing a Help for Heroes hoody when he was murdered.  Zoe and I are so grateful for everyone who sponsored us. Their money will be well used."

Richard and Zoe can still be sponsored via  http://www.bmycharity.com/RichardandZoeBenyon

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Marine Conservation – the facts

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My commitment

 

I have invested many years of hard work (starting long before I became a Minister) to see meaningful marine conservation introduced into UK waters. I am on the side of those who want good evidenced based decisions that protect our seas for the future.

 

Evidence

 

It is vital that Ministers are informed in their decisions by independent scientific advice. The Science Advisory Panel told me that many of the 127 sites that the regional stakeholder groups came up with were very lacking in the necessary evidence. That is why I delayed the process and allocated an extra £3million from Defra's hard pressed resources, to find more evidence.

 

31 is a start

 

We are now able to designate 31 sites, subject to the consultation which has just ended, without the whole process being buried in the courts. In our legal system, if you are going to stop people doing activities like fishing in certain areas, you have to have the necessary evidence. I just cannot sign off all 127 sites without risking falling foul of legal challenges. Also, we have to get EU backing for the many of these sites that are outside our 6 nautical mile limit. If we don't get this backing foreign trawlers could be dragging their nets through waters from which our UK fishermen are excluded. That would bring the whole project into disrepute.

 

Progress is being made

 

I may sound as if there are problems at every turn. I am actually optimistic that over the coming years we will see good progress. I confess I do get irritated by the banality of the 127 campaign because it is not recognising the realities of the situation. I am on the side of those who want as many MCZs as possible to be designated but my message to some campaign groups is, "get real". Help me rather than shouting at me. I don’t mind taking flack from some parts of the fishing industry and other socio-economic interests and I am happy to take more to get the UK to be the leader in Marine Conservation. But we need to get this right.

 

Part of a network

 

From some of the conservation lobby’s statements you could get the impression that MCZs are the “only show in town”. We already protect 23% or our seas out to 12 nm.  Off the English coast alone there are 37 Special Areas of Conservation, 42 Special Protection Areas, over 300 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and many other areas closed to fishing. With 31 MCZs we will add an area three times the size of Cornwall. Not a bad story. We can feel real pride that the UK is leading the way.

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Richard Benyon welcomes new steps to control immigration

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has welcomed new steps set out by the Prime Minister to ensure we have an immigration system that favours people who work hard and want to get on in life. Tough reforms of all the routes of immigration to the UK have already been implemented by the Conservatives and have seen net immigration fall by almost a third since the last general election.

 

Richard said:

 

‘Many people in West Berkshire, are concerned about the issue of immigration and, after thirteen years of open borders under Labour, it is no wonder. Conservatives in Government have implemented a comprehensive policy of reform to our immigration system to make it more robust and more selective. These reforms have seen net immigration cut by a third since the general election.

 

‘I welcome the new steps which the Prime Minister has set out to ensure that everyone who comes here pays their way and gives something back. By changing the rules on benefits and NHS treatment we will stop our system from being a ‘soft touch’. Making entitlement to public services something migrants earn and not an automatic right will stop the ‘something for nothing’ culture which grew up under Labour. These are common sense reforms and they will make a difference for people in West Berkshire’

 

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

·         On 25 March 2013 the Prime Minister made a speech where he outlined plans for a cross-Government immigration system that seeks to favour those who work hard to get on in life. The speech outlined Government plans to do this by:

 

o   stopping our benefits system from being such a “soft touch”;

o   making entitlement to our key public services something migrants earn – not an automatic right;  and

o   bringing the full force of government together to crack down on illegal working (No.10 Press Release, 25 March 2013, link).

 

Immigration cut by a third

 

·         Net immigration cut by a third since 2010. The Government’s tough policies are working – net migration down by almost a third since the general election.Official statistics published on 28 February 2013 showed that net migration fell to 163,000 in the year to June 2012; down from 235,000 in the year to June 2010 (ONS, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, 28 February 2013, link).

 

New steps to control immigration

 

·         Cutting access to benefits for non-UK nationals after 6 months. To ensure people cannot claim benefits indefinitely, the Government will change the law so that after six months a European national can no longer keep their status as a job seeker and continue to claim benefits, unless they can demonstrate they have actively sought work throughout that period and have a genuine chance of finding work.

 

·         Cracking down on those who have no right to work in the UK from claiming contributory benefits
At the moment some immigrants are exploiting a loophole which allows them to claim contributory benefits based on their National Insurance contributions even though they do not have the right to work in the UK. This can happen when someone has overstayed their visa. Closing this loophole will prevent payment of contributory benefits to those with no right to work in the UK.

 

·         Stopping ‘Something for Nothing’ in social housing. Local councils will be expected to introduce a local residency test when deciding who should qualify for social housing. This would mean someone would have to live in an area for say two or five years before they could even go on the waiting list. This will stop someone from turning up and immediately gaining access to social housing.

 

·         Stopping health tourism. The Government will stop the expectation that our health service is free to the entire world and will take new steps to ensure the NHS can claim back money that is owed for NHS treatment provided to those not entitled to it. What we have is a free National Health Service, not a free International Health Service.

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Richard Benyon: Equitable Life justice for pensioners in Newbury

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The Government will make ex-gratia payments of £5,000 to Equitable Life policyholders who bought their annuity before 1992, last Wednesday’s Budget has revealed.

The Government will also make an extra £5,000 available to those on the lowest incomes who are on pension credit. There is no legal obligation to make either of these payments.

Richard Benyon welcomed the news, saying:

‘I am proud that two years ago Conservatives in Government set aside £1.5 billion to help so many of my constituents who had been let down when Equitable Life failed.

‘Now we are helping another 9,000 people across the country.

‘It took nearly a decade for the last Labour Government to own up to their responsibilities. We acted immediately. This will make a huge difference to the many older people who were affected in Newbury.

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Richard Benyon to stand again for Newbury

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On Friday, West Berkshire Conservatives gave their unanimous support to Newbury’s MP in his bid to be returned to Parliament again in the next General Election. Members of the local Conservative Association met at their AGM under the chairmanship of their President, Dudley Fishburn, who asked them to ratify Richard Benyon’s reselection.

In May 2010, Richard Benyon was appointed Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries. His Defra job has taken him all over the world but he still finds time to work hard for West Berkshire on many issues such as: improving the rail service to West Berkshire, boosting local apprenticeships and helping those who have suffered from flooding. He told the meeting that he is grateful for the opportunity to continue to represent his constituents at Parliament.

After the meeting, Association Chairman Sir Nigel Burney said:

“I am delighted that Richard has agreed to stand again for Newbury. He is an exemplary constituency MP and we are fortunate to be represented by him”.

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Rail News

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, today joined Managers from First Great Western at Newbury station for a “Meet the Manager” session with rail users.   The event was organised at the request of Richard following concerns by commuters on a number of rail related issues.  Richard was also keen to give rail users an opportunity to discuss concerns about the Easter closure of Reading Station with FGW Managers.

Richard said:

“It was useful to talk with local rail passengers and I want constituents to know that I will always take up their concerns with rail operators and will fight for a good service to our area.

 

I would urge anyone wishing to travel over the Easter weekend, and during the following week, to check the First Great Western website for details of changes to their service.”

 

On a related matter, Richard met with Arup earlier this week to discuss proposals for extending electrification further down the railway line.

Richard said:

“I had an excellent meeting with Arup, who are putting together a report for the Department of Transport on the economic viability of extending electrification past Newbury.  It was attended by MP’s, Claire Perry, Andrew Murrison and Duncan Hames as well as a variety of passenger groups and local Councils.

 

I am pushing hard to get a positive outcome on this report, which will be complete by the end of April.  I will continue lobbying Ministers to ensure that services to Kintbury, Hungerford and beyond are maintained following electrification.”

 

ENDS

1)      Details of Easter changes on FGW: http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/readingredevelopmentreading

2)      Photo attached at Newbury railway station.

joomplu:228

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MP welcomes reprieve for Hermitage base

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, welcomed the news announced yesterday that Denison Barracks in Hermitage will continue in military use.  Richard campaigned against the decision by the last Government to close the base following the relocation of the Royal Engineer units currently stationed there.  Following Tuesdays announcement of the closing of bases in Germany, it has been announced that £10m will be invested at Hermitage in order that it can locate the Military Stabilisation Support Unit, the Defence Cultural Specialist Unit, Land Intelligence Fusion Centre and 15 PsyOps Group.

 

Richard said:

 

“This is superb news for Newbury and West Berkshire.  I am delighted that there is still going to be a military presence here and that the MOD are investing for the long term.  Like many, I remain sad that we are losing the Royal Engineers as they have formed such a close bond with the local community, but we welcome these new units and look forward to building a long term relationship with them.”

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Richard Benyon: Cutting taxes for 42,237 people in West Berkshire and capping increases in benefits

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New research has revealed that the Government are cutting taxes for 42,237 people in the Newbury parliamentary constituency in April next year. The Government will lift 1710 people out of tax altogether.

 

The Government is reforming Labour’s ‘something for nothing’ welfare culture, by capping the amount one household can get in benefits and capping the amount benefits are increased next year. Labour opposes these reforms.

 

Richard Benyon commented:

 

“In West Berkshire, if you want to work hard and get on, the Conservatives are on your side. Your taxes will be cut so you keep more of the money you have earned. And we are capping the increase in benefits so that benefit increases don’t outstrip increases in earnings.

“Labour want benefits to go up more than the earnings of people in work. This isn’t fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

  • Increasing the personal allowance. To support those on low and middle incomes we will increase the personal allowance by a further £235 in April 2013, taking it up by £1335 to £9,440. This will benefit 24.4 million people, with most basic and higher rate taxpayers gaining an extra £47, with a total cash gain of £267. In total 2.2 million people will have been taken out of income tax altogether.

 

  • Introducing a Welfare Uprating Bill to uprate benefits by 1 per cent. We need a welfare system that is fair to the working people who pay for it. For the next three years, Government will uprate most working age benefits and tax credits, excluding disability and carers benefits, by 1 per cent. We will introduce primary legislation to deliver this – the Welfare Uprating Bill.

 

  • Protecting those with the greatest need. Disability Living Allowance, Attendance allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance are all protected. These benefits will be uprated by the CPI rate of inflation as normal.

  • Putting welfare spending on a sustainable path. These measures will save £2.8 billion by 2015-16. This puts welfare on a sustainable path and restores fairness for the people that pay for it.

 

  • Most benefit levels have risen twice as fast as average earnings. Most benefit levels have risen by 20 per cent since the financial crisis, compared to average earnings which have gone up by only 10 per cent (HM Treasury Internal Briefing, 5 December 2012).

 

Labour oppose our welfare reforms and voted AGAINST the benefit cap to end the something for nothing culture of the welfare system. The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, voted against a deferred division on introducing the benefit cap on 21 November 2012. Labour MPs also voted against the Government’s plans to cap benefits at £26,000 in February. They voted against overturning a Lords’ amendment which would have effectively wrecked the cap (Hansard, 21 November 2012, Col. 689, link; Hansard, 1 February 2012, Col. 902, link).

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MP comments on withdrawal of Energy from Waste (EfW) facility application

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Commenting on the announcement by Grundon Waste Management that they have  shelved plans for  an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at the M4/A34 junction at Chieveley Member of Parliament for Newbury,  Richard Benyon said:

“ It is due to the tenacity of local campaigners that Grundon have decided not to pursue this application and I am delighted that public opinion has resulted in this proposal being withdrawn. I pay tribute to all those who have taken an active role in the campaign.”

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Richard Benyon: Superfast broadband is one step closer to West Berkshire

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Today, West Berkshire is on track to get the superfast broadband it needs to help deliver jobs and boost growth after the EU gave the roll out of high speed broadband across rural areas the green light. After several months of delay in Europe, Government pressure has resulted in the EU approving the UK’s £530 million investment in rural broadband. This means West Berkshire District Council and its partner councils across Berkshire can now focus on delivering their new broadband infrastructure project, with £1,430,000 being made available by the Government – a project that will have huge benefit over the coming years for both communities and businesses.

 

Commenting, Richard Benyon said:

 

“This decision is great news for West Berkshire.  Britain is in a global race and we cannot allow rural areas to get left behind because of bad infrastructure. West Berkshire will now get the infrastructure to match its aspiration, providing local people and local businesses with the tools they need to get on and prosper.

 

“It also demonstrates how much Conservatives in the Government want to support the rural economy. We are working hard to make sure rural areas are not left behind as the Coalition strains every sinew to help create growth, jobs and future prosperity”.

 

ENDS

 

 

Notes to Editors

 

The Government is committed to the roll out of superfast broadband.

 

  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport defines ‘superfast broadband’ as broadband with potential headline download access speeds greater than 24 Mbps (ibid.).

 

Delay while waiting for State Aid approval

  • The roll out of superfast broadband was delayed as the Government waited for State Aid approval. State Aid is a form of assistance from a public body, or publicly-funded body, given to selected undertakings, which would otherwise run the risk of distorting competition between member states of the European Union (ibid.).

 

  • The European Commission monitors and controls State Aid in the EU.  Member States are obliged to notify and seek approval from the Commission before granting State Aid. This gives the Commission the opportunity to approve or refuse to approve the proposed measure (ibid.).

 

  • The EU’s decision follows a direct intervention from the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, in Brussels last week, after several months of delay in Europe (ibid.).

 

  • The approval means that work can commence laying the cables for local authority broadband projects all around the UK. Local authorities can now sign procurement contracts with contractors and begin delivery work on their new broadband infrastructure projects.   Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has planned a ‘pipeline’ of local authority projects which are currently going into procurement at a rate of one a week (ibid.).

 

Projected timeline for implementation

  • The projects which will be affected first by this clearance are Wales and Surrey. Projects in Cumbria, Rutland and Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are expected to follow shortly afterwards (ibid.).

 

  • Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and Highlands & Islands are still progressing their procurements.  North Yorkshire’s project began implementation in July as it already has State Aid approval. Lancashire’s project has completed procurement and is with the Commission for its own State Aid clearance (ibid.).

 

  • A further eight projects are currently undertaking their procurements using the Broadband Delivery Framework (Norfolk, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Devon & Somerset, Northamptonshire, Kent & Medway, Lincolnshire, and Hampshire).  The first four of these launched their invitations to tender at the beginning of July and are now nearing the point of agreeing a contract with their supplier (ibid.).

 

  • Shropshire will launch its procurement next week (ibid.).

 

  • All the remaining rural broadband projects are expected to complete their procurements by summer 2013 (ibid.).

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MP hears of possible extension to the electrification of the Great Western main line

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News of the possible extension of the electrification of the Great Western main line was revealed at a meeting between local MPs and the Rail Minister yesterday.  The Minister announced that he was looking into the viability of extending electrification down to Westbury and would be reporting on this review in the New Year.

Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, and colleagues, Claire Perry MP and Andrew Murrison MP, met with the Rail Minster, Simon Burns MP to discuss concerns of constituents that the new rail franchise would, following electrification, lead to a downgrading of services west of Newbury.

Richard said:

“I was very forceful in stressing that any downgrading of the service would have a serious impact on the area as a whole, it would not only affect commuting time, but would put pressure on the roads, impact businesses and voluntary groups and those wanting to travel for leisure purposes.

 

I am pleased to say that the Minister was very receptive and the meeting was productive.   I felt that he listened to, and understood, our concerns.

 

Whilst the review into franchising is continuing, the Department won’t be making any changes to the ITT (Invitation To Tender).    It is the Governments policy not to be too prescriptive in franchises but the Minister did accept that there was a need to have some safeguards.  He did also confirm that before the ITT was put on hold he had already added two direct peak services in each direction to the specification, which is a positive commitment.   It is not as many as we would like, but it is a step forward and, because this is specified, it will be easier to encourage the franchisee to add more direct services.

 

The most positive part of the meeting was learning that the Department has instigated a Review into electrification beyond Newbury and the viability of extending it to Westbury.  This is something I have been pushing for for over a year.  This is good news and we must hope that this will happen as it could mean a much better service for stations west of Newbury than they have now.”

joomplu:222

Photo is Richard Benyon, Andrew Murrison MP, Simon Burns MP and Claire Perry MP

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Westminster Diary 5th November 2012

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Trees at risk

Great spruce bark beetle, red band needle blight, acute oak decline, plane wilt, chestnut blight, phytophthora ramorum, Asian long-horn beetle and now ash dieback. It seems that every few weeks another apocalyptic warning of some new disease or organism has arrived on our shores to attack our most loved trees. For all who share my love of trees it is easy to talk ourselves into a pit of despair when we see the combined effects of all these predictions and how they could decimate populations of oak, corsican pine, horse chestnut, larch and sitka spruce and a number of other species that form the diverse and beautiful backdrop to our countryside. And now we have the big one: the chalara fraxinea fungus which threatens that staple of our ancient and semi-natural woodlands, the ash. This is one of my favourite trees. I love it for its clean bark and its delicate pale leaves. It also has a light but hard wood that makes wonderful furniture or a variety of tools. When seen in woodland alongside the dark leaved oak it makes a stunning canopy to so much of our woodland in the south of England.  This fungus has devastated ash populations in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe and its arrival in the east of England is bad news.

However despair is the wrong emotion. In Defra there is a strong sense of determination to nail this outbreak and to turn the tide in favour of our countryside. For all the threats we face from climate change and an increasingly mobile population bringing nastys in on their shoes or in their luggage, there is a better understanding of how to combat them than there was at the time of Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s. Defra ordered the destruction of 100,000 saplings earlier this year. COBRA is the emergency meeting room in the bowels of the Cabinet Office that is usually activated for reasons of national security. Last week it was used to focus a cross-Government assault on this disease. It builds on crucial work earlier in the year when the disease was first identified here back in March. We’ve been tracking down affected trees and destroying them, and last week we banned imports and imposed movement controls ahead of the planting season. There is more to do across all the risks we face but with this determination we can protect our countryside.

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Local MP, Richard Benyon, congratulates Marketing Hungerford Committee in their success at being signed up as a Town Team Partner

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Richard Benyon has this week welcomed the announcement of the application results of the Town Team Partner scheme, which was set up by the Government to help towns - like Hungerford - which were unsuccessful in their application to be a Portas Pilot, a Government scheme to regenerate the High Street.

 

This means a £10,000 injection and a package of support to help put the town revitalisation plans of Marketing Hungerford Committee in action.

Making the announcement this week, Mark Prisk, housing minister, said: "Becoming a Town Team Partner is our commitment that no town who applied to be a Portas Pilot will be left behind."

Town Team Partners will receive £10,000 backing from a multi-million pound Government support programme to help put key elements of their innovative town regeneration plans into action. They will also have access to a support package of shared learning and best practice with help from retail experts - through the Association of Town Centre Management - and an online community to receive advice and information

Richard said,

 

‘I am delighted at the news of Marketing Hungerford Committee becoming a Town Team Partner. This is a huge vote of confidence from the Government in the work being done by all in Hungerford who have worked so hard to get this Government support.’

Being a Town Team Partner is a fantastic opportunity and will enable development in the area. This is fantastic news and I applaud everyone concerned.

 

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Apprenticeships up by 60 per cent in the Newbury Constituency

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has welcomed the increase in the number of apprenticeships in the Newbury Constituency.

The Conservatives have delivered a record number of apprenticeships in England, with half a million people starting an apprenticeship last year. Thanks to the Government’s investment, 142 more young people in England are starting an apprenticeship every single day.

In the Newbury constituency:

770 people started an apprenticeship last year.

  • That’s an increase of 290 apprentices compared to Labour’s last year in power.
  • The number of people starting an apprenticeship has increased by 60 per cent.
  • Richard said:

“It is fantastic that 770 people in my constituency started an apprenticeship last year. More people are now benefiting from apprenticeships thanks to the Conservatives.

“We are getting behind people who work hard and want to get on in life. Apprenticeships are a great way to help people get the skills they need to make a better future for themselves.

“I want many more people to have the chance to earn and learn at the same time as an apprentice. I would urge everyone to think about whether they can benefit from the many apprenticeship opportunities that are now available.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

Official statistics on the number of apprenticeships have been published by the Data Service (The Data Service, Quarterly Statistical First Release: Post-16 Education & Skills: Learner Participation, Outcomes and Level of Highest Qualification Held, 11 October 2012, link).

 

The national picture

 

The release includes provisional statistics for the academic year 2011-12 for England. They show:

 

  • A record half a million people started an apprenticeship last year. 502,500 people in England started an apprenticeship in 2011-12. This is a record number and the first time ever that more than half a million people have started an apprenticeship in one year.

 

  • An 80 per cent increase in apprenticeships under this Government. 222,800 more people started an apprenticeship in 2011-12 compared to 2009-10, Labour’s last year in power. This represents an 80 per cent increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship under the Coalition.

 

  • 142 more young apprentices every single day. The number of people aged under 25 starting an apprenticeship increased by 52,000 between 2009-10 and 2011-12. This is equivalent to an extra 142 young apprentices every day.

 

  • Advanced and Higher apprenticeships see the biggest increases. More than double the number of people are now starting Advanced and Higher apprenticeships. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the number of people starting an Advanced apprenticeship increased by 105 per cent, while the number starting a Higher (or degree-level) apprenticeship increased by 133 per cent.

 

Although these provisional statistics are subject to revision, the official release states that ‘revisions are typically upward’.

 

What the Government is doing

 

  • Investing in more apprenticeships. Over the lifetime of this parliament, we will fund 250,000 more apprenticeships than the last government planned (Hansard, 23 March 2011, Col. 961).

 

  • Cash bonuses for small companies taking on young apprentices. We are offering employers with 50 employees or fewer up to £1,500 for taking on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24. This will support up to 40,000 new apprenticeships in 2012/13 (BIS Press Release, 7 February 2012, link).

 

  • Investing in degree-level apprenticeships. At the moment, there aren’t enough opportunities for progression to further learning for apprentices. That is why we have established a £25 million Higher Apprenticeships Fund, to support up to 10,000 degree-level apprenticeships in areas such as aerospace and renewable energy technologies (BIS Press Release, 22 July 2011, link).

 

  • Making it quicker and easier for employers to take on an apprentice. The National Apprenticeships Service and training providers will be required to ensure that every employer is able to advertise a vacancy within one month of deciding to take on an apprentice (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

 

  • Targeting apprenticeships where they are needed. We are renewing the programme’s focus on younger adults, new employees, higher level qualifications and particular sectors where apprenticeships can make the greatest impact (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

 

  • Equipping apprentices with basic skills. Apprenticeship providers are now required to offer all apprentices teaching in English and Maths up to the standard of a good GCSE (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

 

  • Cutting bureaucracy. Coalition measures to cut red tape for employers taking on apprentices include: piloting a ‘payment by outcomes’ system to eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements; providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers; streamlining contracting arrangements; committing to no ‘in year’ changes to contracting arrangements, introducing a more proportionate approach to audit and inspection, reducing preparation time for employers; greater use of electronic information to reduce paperwork; and a more streamlined certification process (BIS Press Release, 6 September 2011, link).

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Local MP, Richard Benyon, welcomes new definition of domestic violence

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Richard Benyon has this week welcomed a new Government initiative to tackle domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence and abuse aged 16 and 17 will be recognised under a new cross-government definition.

The Government will also raise awareness that domestic violence and abuse does not just encompass physical abuse by including in the new official definition coercive and controlling behaviour - like intimidation, isolation, or depriving victims of their financial independence - which can add up to abuse.

The Government will also work with a new panel of young people set up by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) on domestic violence policy and wider work to tackle violence against women and girls.

Richard Benyon has taken a particular interest in domestic violence issues following the horrendous Pemberton murders in his constituency that highlighted systematic failings in support for victims. He has also given his support for innovative ideas to help victims such as locally-based Vodafone’s TecSOS mobile alert aid for Domestic Violence victims.

Richard said,

‘Domestic violence is much more complex and much more widespread than people often realise. Suffering at the hands of people who are meant to care for you is horrific at any age. But it can be especially damaging for young people – the scars can last a lifetime.

‘I am pleased that the government is extending the definition of domestic violence. This will increase awareness that young people experience domestic violence and abuse and encourage more of them to come forward and access the support they need. This follows other welcome steps, such as criminalising stalking and forced marriage.’

 

Notes to editors:

West Berkshire recorded a total of 1755 Domestic Incidents for the period April 2011 to March 2012. For comparison reasons, in the year April 2010 to March 2011 they recorded 1795.

This is not a change in the law, but a change to the definition the government uses of what crimes are classed as domestic violence. Individuals will not be prosecuted for coercive control, just as they are not prosecuted for domestic violence, because neither of them are criminal offences. But if coercive control amounted to harassment an individual could be prosecuted for that and it would be recognised as domestic violence.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

The new definition will be implemented by March 2013. It replaces a previous cross-governmental definition which was drawn up in 2004.

The decision to create a new definition for domestic violence follows a 15-week consultation which took views from the public, victims, charities and frontline agencies.

The consultation found that excluding 16 and 17-year-olds from the definition left young victims without the help they need to change their situation and escape abusive relationships.

Andrew Flanagan CEO of the NSPCC said:

‘We strongly support these changes for young people who have suffered physical or emotional abuse and urge anyone in abusive relationships, male or female, to come forward and seek help. The NSPCC’s young ambassadors are helping the Home Office to make sure these changes make a real difference for young people.’

For the full text of the new definition see the Home Office press release – link.

The Government has already:

  • Ring-fenced nearly £40million of funding up to 2015 for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, rape crisis centres, the national domestic violence helplines and the stalking helpline.
  • Announced that forcing someone to marry will become a criminal offence in England and Wales (Home Office press release, 8 June 2012, link).
  • Provided £225,000 of funding to be shared among 12 organisations tackling and developing domestic violence services for men (Home Office press release, 19 September 2012).
  • Launched pilots of ‘Clare’s Law,’ the domestic violence disclosure scheme, to test a process for enabling the police to disclose to the public information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner where this may help protect them from further violent offending (Home Office press release, 16 July 2012, link).
  • Created under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 two new stalking offences and additional police powers to investigate these offences (Home Office press release, 8 March 2012, link).

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Emma the Elephant hands over a trunk of mail to the UK Government Over 50,000 petitions given to DEFRA to save elephants

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Emma the elephant and friends today (12th July 2012) handed over a trunk full of mail to the UK Government showing strong public support for elephant conservation.

Over 50,000 people in the UK joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to call for an end to illegal trade in ivory and the brutal killing of elephants for their tusks.

Emma the Elephant and IFAW staff handed over petitions and postcards to Richard Benyon MP, Environment Minister.

IFAW has been garnering support from the public using a variety of means, including a virtual elephant march on facebook and postcards calling for action to ensure that elephants are protected.

“Until all elephants are safe from poaching and illegal trade there should be no trade in ivory,” said Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW. “We urge the UK Government to listen to our supporters and take action at the highest level to help save elephants from the grave threat of the ivory trade.”

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “These magnificent creatures are suffering horrific deaths at the hands of poachers, and if we don’t act now they may not have a future.

“We have funded a number of conservation projects across the world to protect these endangered animals, including Interpol’s Project Wisdom, which is working to tackle the illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos.

“Alongside this we need a global effort to ensure the world’s remaining elephants are protected and I can assure IFAW and its supporters that the UK will lead the way, doing everything it can to put a stop to poaching and trafficking.”

The handover was one of several taking place around the world ahead of the meeting in July of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva. Next month’s meeting will address issues of elephant conservation including illegal killing of elephants and the ivory trade.

“IFAW’s petitions give a voice to hundreds of thousands of concerned elephant lovers,” said Marsland. “Pledges from around the world are being presented to the national delegates who make up the Standing Committee and others whose opinions inform decision making. They need to know the public is watching and that they care deeply about the fate of elephants and stopping the illegal ivory trade.”

In 2011, more than 23 tons of illegal elephant ivory was seized by law enforcement officers worldwide.

The results of IFAW’s investigation into ivory trade in China, released in June 2012, found that since 2008, when CITES gave the go-ahead for the legal sale of ivory stockpiles to China and Japan, there had been an extraordinary surge in the numbers of elephants being killed for their ivory.

“The CITES stockpile sales were supposed to reduce the illegal trade and the slaughter of elephants by saturating the market with legal ivory; in fact, the exact opposite has occurred in China,” said Marsland. “Legal ivory sales have made it possible for criminals to filter black-market ivory into legal markets.”

joomplu:212

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“EXPORTING FOR GROWTH” SEMINAR A GREAT SUCCESS

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Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West and Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury held a seminar on “Exporting for Growth” on Friday 29th June 2012, to offer practical advice and assistance to local businesses interested in growing their exports or starting to export for the first time.

The event which was sponsored by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) was held at the Madejski Conference Centre and was attended by around 100 people representing more than 70 local businesses in Reading and West Berkshire.

The seminar was opened by Alok Sharma and Richard Benyon, who welcomed attendees and outlined their vision for an export led recovery.

The first presentation was given by Steve Lamb, Chair of TVB LEP and Senior Director at Oracle and Emma Gibson, Director at TVB LEP and a Partner at Shoosmiths who spoke about the local Berkshire economy, the priorities of the Local Enterprise Partnership and how businesses could get involved with the local business community to “Collaborate for Growth”.

Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment, who is responsible for the Government’s agenda for increasing exports, then spoke to attendees about the need to reform the economy away from a reliance on consumption fuelled by debt towards a more sustainable model based on trade and inward investment. Lord Green also answered questions from business leaders on what the Government was doing to improve access to finance.

Rob Lewtas Strategic Partner Manager for UK Trade & Investment South East set out what support is available to businesses looking to explore overseas markets, with advice on key target markets to approach.

Chris Dodson OBE, Chair of the Institute of Directors South region and Chairman of the Torftech Group gave a firsthand account of his experience of working with export licences and gave practical best-practice advice.

Speaking after the event, Alok Sharma said: “There has been a great response from the business community to this event and I was delighted with the turnout for the seminar. The speakers represented a huge amount of business experience and they set out some good practical advice for attendees.”

Alok continued: “We want to build on this seminar and hold further events in the coming months where attendees get to hear the experiences of other local firms which are successfully exporting to the growth economies and learn from these case studies.”

Richard Benyon said: “I was delighted to see so many local businesses represented at this excellent event and to see their enthusiasm for increasing exports as a way to grow their businesses. I hope that the seminar has inspired some of our local companies to start exporting and that they can now do so equipped with up to date knowledge on what assistance is available.”

Steve Lamb said: “The Thames Valley is the engine of the UK economy, and ensuring SMEs grow their businesses is one of the TVB LEP’s top priorities, in order to maintain our competitive environment. We are always keen to facilitate and signpost local businesses and exporting for growth is one of the key ways in which we believe business can increase their profitability and thereby grow the economy.  It was great to see so many Thames Valley businesses at today’s seminar, and we look forward to meeting many more at future events.”

joomplu:208 joomplu:209

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MP “thrilled” at local Farmer’s award

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, made the following statement on hearing the award of an OBE to Bradfield farmer, John Bishop.

“I am thrilled that John has received this award. He has touched so many lives through his work with young people and his commitment to help those in need. I have known John for about 35 years and know how thoroughly he deserves this award”

Richard has also written to congratulate Sovereign Housing Association Chief Executive, Ann Santry on her CBE.    He said  “Ann has led this highly successful housing association with vision and professionalism for many years and I am delighted that this has been acknowledged at the highest level.”

Richard has also written to congratulate others who have received  awards in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2012.

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Richard Benyon: Red Tape Ticker tracks scrapped regulations

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Richard Benyon has today launched the ‘Red Tape Ticker’ on his website to celebrate the Government’s achievements so far in reducing regulation – with 887 regulations already being scrapped or substantially improved. The ticker will help local businesses find out more about what the Government is doing.

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, commented:

“I’m today proud to launch the Red Tape Ticker on my website, www.richardbenyon.com.  This Government is working steadily to free businesses in West Berkshire from the stranglehold of regulation that built up during 13 years of a Labour Government.

“Latest figures show there are 744,975 of private sector businesses in the South East, employing 3,449,000 people altogether. This Government is taking action to help each and every one of them.

“From tackling major regulations, like reforms to environmental red tape saving business £1 billion over 5 years, to abolishing small rules like the requirement for bicycles to be sold with bells, this Government is determined to do away with unnecessary and burdensome red tape”.

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Benyon: Time running out to respond to consultation on new rail franchise

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Benyon: Time running out to respond to consultation on new rail franchise

MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, today submitted his response to the Department of Transport’s Great Western franchise replacement consultation and urges everyone who would like to have a say in the specification of the new franchise agreement to get their thoughts in before the closing date of 31st March 2012.

Richard Benyon said;

“This is an opportunity to have your say on what you would like to see as part of the specification to be provided to shortlisted bidders for the next Great Western franchise.   Time is running out to get your response to the Government, so if you have not already responded and want to have a say, please don’t delay.     I have posted my response on my website in the Press Release section including  the details of where to reply to.

In addition to this consultation, a further one on Rail Fares and Ticketing  has recently been announced.  Again, I urge everyone with concerns in this area to respond to this consultation.   I will be responding in due course.”

pdf Response to the Great Western Franchise Replacement Consulation

ENDS

Notes:

1)      Details on the Great Western franchise replacement consultation can be found here : http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-36/ and responses should be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

Department for Transport,
Great Western franchise replacement consultation,
Franchise Consultation Manager,
Zone 3/14 Great Minster House,
33 Horseferry Road,
London.
SW1P 4DR

 

2)      Details on the Rail fares and ticketing review can be found here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-09/ and responses should be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

Department for Transport
Rail fares and ticketing review
3/15 Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 4DR

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MP welcomes launch of new website to help small businesses

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, welcomed the launch of the online Small Business Finance Directory  http://www.smallbusinessfinancedirectory.co.uk/

 

The Small Business Finance Directory covers leasing and hire purchase, commercial mortgages, asset-based finance and invoice discounting and factoring.  It was developed by the Finance and Leasing Association and the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (with the support of the Asset Based Finance Association) and allows businesses to search finance providers and brokers by postcode. There are nearly 1,000 sources of finance listed and the directory is simple and free to use.

Richard said:

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.   The Government is providing a good deal of support to small businesses, and this directory will be another helpful tool in accessing finance.  The scheme has a target to help 60,000 businesses in the next 12 months and I wish them every success.”

It is the first comprehensive Directory of its kind to cover the UK as a whole. It includes a search facility based on the region, town or postcode of local sources of finance and brokers.

Businesses may need finance for a variety of reasons, including short-term cash flow or working capital, asset purchases, business development, the purchase of stock, and the financing of imports or exports.  Research shows that most small businesses have some awareness of the types of commercial finance available, but often do not know where to find them.

The Directory aims to help them do just that. The independent advisors listed in the directory can also help to match business needs with affordable finance.

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Richard Benyon: Securing the future of our Post Offices in West Berkshire

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury has welcomed the news of a 10-year deal between Royal Mail and the Post Office, securing the future of services without resorting to the failed closures programme which dominated Labour’s time in government.

The deal follows the Government’s other measures to protect Post Office services including additional funding, new local and national contracts, a successful piloting scheme to transform many local post offices and improvements in the services offered.

Commenting, Richard Benyon said:

‘In opposition Conservatives campaigned tirelessly to overturn Labour’s cuts to our Post Offices, which saw them close over 6,500 in a decade. The Government’s announcement means the future of the Post Office is secured guaranteeing this valuable service for millions of people.’

ENDS

 

Notes

More than 6,500 post offices closed in a decade under Labour. Between March 2000 and March 2010, a total of 6,573 post offices were closed. This included 3,777 urban post offices and 2,796 rural post offices (House of Commons Library, 5 December 2011, link).

Securing the future of the Post Office with £1.34 billion in additional Government funding. Ed Davey, Postal Affairs Minister, confirmed that ‘this government have been clear that there will be no programme of post office closures, and is providing £1.34 billion of funding over the spending review period to 2015 to modernise the Post Office network and to secure its future. As part of that funding, Post Office Ltd must maintain the network at around its current size with at least 11,500 branches’ (Hansard, 28 November 2011).

For more information on the Government’s announcement please go to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Press Release - link.

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Richard Benyon MP supports the International Diabetes Federation and Bayer in raising awareness of diabetes in Parliament

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, today gave his support to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), local employer Bayer and Novo Nordisk to raise awareness of the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the UK today.

Diabetes is a significant and growing health issue, affecting over 300 million people worldwide.  The IDF believes that, unless action is taken, this could rise to 500 million within a generation. The IDF and its member organisations – which include Diabetes UK – is working to improve the political and public awareness of the diabetes pandemic and the critical interventions that are necessary to counter it.

Around 2.9 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, but it is estimated that a further 850,000 people may be living with the condition without realising it. This means that around 1 in 16 people in the UK are living with the disease – or approximately 5,770 people in a constituency such as Newbury.  If diagnosed early, diabetes can be actively managed to help mitigate the serious consequences of the disease.

Richard Benyon MP lent his support to a special event in Westminster enabling parliamentarians to find out more about the disease from healthcare professionals.  The event was held with the support of healthcare companies Bayer and Novo Nordisk.

Richard Benyon said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the work of the International Diabetes Federation in raising awareness of diabetes in Parliament.  Diabetes is a growing health problem both in the UK and around the world, but if it is detected early then it can be actively managed. I would encourage anyone who is concerned about diabetes to speak to their GP about having a blood glucose test.  It only takes a few minutes, but it could save you years of illness.”

Sir Michael Hirst, President-Elect of the IDF said: “We welcome the support of Richard Benyon in raising awareness of diabetes through our parliamentary event.  Last November millions of people around the globe came together to mark World Diabetes Day.  We hope that today’s event helps create further awareness in the UK of the condition and its consequences.”

A Bayer spokesperson said: “As a market leader in the field of blood glucose monitoring systems, Bayer is delighted to be involved in the International Diabetes Federation awareness day. Diabetes is an issue that affects people across the UK. By working closely with Members of Parliament, we hope they will take the message back to their constituents and aid in raising awareness.”

 

Notes to editors

1.    The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organisation of over 200 national diabetes associations in over 160 countries.  It represents the interests of the growing number of people with diabetes and those at risk.  The IDF has been leading the global diabetes community since 1950.

2.    Diabetes UK is a member of the International Diabetes Federation.  It is the largest organisation in the UK working for people with diabetes, funding research, campaigning and helping people live with the condition.  The charity’s comprehensive website, www.diabetes.org.uk, provides a wealth of information about the condition.  The charity also has a support helpline – Careline – for anyone with diabetes, their friends, family and carers which can be contacted on: 0845 120 2960*, Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm, or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Or if you are in Scotland: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*The cost of calling 0845 numbers can vary according to your provider, your tariff and when you are calling.  Check with your own provider for details.  From BT domestic landlines the call may be free or may cost up to 7.6p per minute with a set up charge of up to 11.5p.  From landlines on a standard BT business tariff with no special call package, calls cost 3.36p+VAT.  Calls to 0845 numbers from mobiles cost considerably more.  Alternatively, you may wish to call 020 7424 1000 and ask Reception to transfer your call to the Careline.

3.    Bayer Diabetes Care is an arm of Bayer HealthCare dedicated to providing blood glucose meters and support materials designed to simplify the lives of people with diabetes and their healthcare professionals. For more information about Bayer Diabetes Care’s work please go to: www.bayerdiabetes.co.uk.

4.    Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 88 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. For more information, visit: www.novonordisk.com.

References

International Diabetes Federation, World Diabetes Day – key messages, November 2011. Available at: http://www.idf.org/worlddiabetesday/2009-2013/key-messages

Diabetes UK, What is Diabetes, January 2009. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Introduction-to-diabetes/What_is_diabetes/

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Richard Benyon launches the “let’s create some competition” Fuel price campaign

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Richard said:

“ I recently wrote to filling station owners to highlight the fact that fuel was more expensive in West Berkshire than in areas such as Reading and East Berkshire. They replied that this was due to a lack of competitive pricing incentives in this area.  I have therefore today launched the “let’s create some competition” Fuel  price campaign.

I have uploaded to my website (www.richardbenyon.com ) a list of the best places to buy petrol and diesel locally and am encouraging my constituents to vote with their wallets and create a real incentive for filling stations to compete for our custom.   If anyone can find cheaper petrol or diesel locally than listed, please let me know and I will update my website accordingly.

I appreciate that for some constituents it will not be worth travelling a longer distance for cheaper fuel, but they may wish to fill up at a cheaper station if passing.”

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MP Congratulates Newbury Racecourse

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, congratulated his local racecourse on, once again, winning the Racecourse of the Year at the Racehorse Owners' Association awards last night.

Richard said:

“Newbury provides a fantastic experience for race-goers of all ages.  It is a huge asset to our town, playing an integral part in our local economy and in the future prosperity of this area.”

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RAIL PASSENGERS GET EXTRA SEATS BOOST

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Commenting on the announcement today, Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury said:

“I am delighted with the announcement today by the Rail Minister, Theresa Villiers, that there will be an extra 4500 seats available for train passengers in the Thames Valley and West Country.   This shows how the Government is listening to the needs of commuters and I am pleased to have been involved in lobbying for this outcome along with First Great Western.

From February, commuters will begin to see the High Speed trains grow from 7 carriages to 8, giving 84 more seats per train and the smaller turbo trains increase from two to three carriages.   All the changes will be in place by September next year.

This follows a pattern of successes in improving rail services we have seen which has been achieved through a close working relationship with First Great Western, and effective lobbying of Ministers in this Government and the last.”

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Good news on Apprenticeships

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New data shows that 660 Apprenticeships were delivered in Newbury in the 2010/11 academic year, an increase of 40% on 2009/10.

Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, said:

‘This is great news for the businesses and young people in Newbury. The record rise in apprenticeship numbers, particularly in Advanced ‘A’ level equivalent qualifications shows the Government’s commitment to helping employers train the skilled workers they need to build a stronger economy and sustainable growth.

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

"This Government is putting practical learning at the centre of our national life, restoring the purposeful pride that builds successful careers, drives prosperity and forges strong communities.

“But I am determined to do more, by stripping away bureaucracy for small firms, continuing to drive up standards and working with firms to create even more apprenticeship opportunities in coming years.  And to help young people who currently lack basic skills make the grade for an apprenticeship, our Access to Apprenticeships programme will provide 10,000 work experience and training opportunities every year."

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A Great Day for Newbury

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, attended the celebrations of the opening of Parkway Shopping Centre in Newbury today;

Commenting on the event he said;

“This is a £150m investment in our town – a huge vote of confidence in Newbury and West Berkshire.  This will bring a 100 new jobs and a wider prosperity to this area.  I have huge respect for the courage of those behind the project and I know that it’s going to bring good times for Newbury in the years ahead.”

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Richard Benyon: Keep your home warm this coming winter

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Untitled Document

UPDATED 8TH October 2012

Concerned about the rising cost of heating and lighting homes, Richard Benyon has today launched a new summer campaign to encourage his constituents to look at ways to reduce costs this coming winter.

Richard said:

“30% of West Berkshire residents do not have access to mains gas and rely on heating oil or LPG to heat their homes.  Over the last two years the price of heating oil has increased by over 60% and the trend is upwards.  Constituents using mains gas have recently seen rises of up to 18%.  On top of this, electricity costs have gone up around 8% in the last couple of months.

I am very concerned that more people will find it harder than ever to keep their homes warm this coming winter and I am encouraging everyone to look at ways to reduce costs before the weather turns.   I have put together a ‘Tips list’ that I will put up on my website which I encourage constituents to read.

 

I will continue to monitor heating and energy costs and work with my colleagues in Parliament to find ways to reduce the impact of fuel poverty.   Furthermore, the Off Grid Energy study was published  by the Office of Fair Trading last October, which includes their recommendations on how to best help those in rural areas.  I will also be watching the progress of the Green Deal Bill which will enable consumers, by the end of 2012, to switch or apply for assistance to switch, to green energy without upfront costs.”

Notes

For more details on the energy study by The Office of Fair Trading  see http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/markets-work/off-grid#named2
For more details on the Green Deal see: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/tackling/green_deal/green_deal.aspx

 

Energy Saving Tips

TIPS for all

 

Insulate your homes:   Government grants are available to insulate your loft and cavity walls, for pensioners and those on benefits, through the Warm Front Scheme.  For more information see:http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/On_a_low_income/DG_10018661?CID=MTB&PLA=warmfront&CRE=lowincome

 

Check your supplier’s offers. At the moment, British Gas are offering free insulation to all its customers (it does not matter if you have gas and/or electricity through them as long as you have one or are over 70).  See http://www.britishgas.co.uk/freeinsulation for more information.(Note that this offer ends on 30th November 2012)  They are also offering Home Energy Plan (British Gas Green Deal Go Early) which is an opportunity to  install measures like new efficient boilers and solar panels at no upfront cost with repayments being paid over the next five, ten or fifteen years.  The scheme is a forerunner to the Government’s energy efficiency policy, the Green Deal.     Other companies may be doing similar, so do check.

 

No Heating? You may be eligible for a grant to install a heating system in your home, particularly if you are on benefits or are elderly.  Check out the Warm Front scheme on this link  for more information. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/On_a_low_income/DG_10018661?CID=MTB&PLA=warmfront&CRE=lowincome

 

The Council. West Berkshire Council works in partnership with United Sustainable Energy Agency (USEA). USEA has an impartial freephone advice line that can give you information about all aspects of energy efficiency around the home. USEA also run schemes on the Council's behalf that offer discounted, and sometimes fully granted, energy efficiency measures.   You can contact United Sustainable Energy Agency on 0800 512 012.   More information can be found here http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=709

 

General Grants: There are many different grants you can apply for so, if you are not sure, look at the Energy Savings Trust Grant Database, http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Find-a-grant This could point you in the direction of many different grants, not just Government ones.

 

The Warm Home Discount Scheme, which will run for four years from winter 2011/12, offers a rebate to pensioner households on low-incomes and to some vulnerable and low income households.  Not all energy suppliers are participating in the scheme, but most of the big companies are.  Contact your energy supplier if you think you should be on the scheme. More information can be found here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/Benefits/BenefitsInRetirement/DG_185940

 

TIPS for Off-Grid consumers

 

Shop around. There is no requirement to buy your heating oil or LPG from the same supplier (unless you are in a contract), so before you fill your tank check the internet and phone around for prices.

Start a Syndicate. It is likely that if your home is off-grid so will your neighbours be.  Talk to your neighbours and see if you can join together in Oil or LPG clubs to do your buying.   If a tanker fills five or six tanks in the same area in one trip the costs to the oil or LPG company are much less and therefore you can negotiate a discounted price.  All you need is one neighbour to act as the co-ordinator and negotiator.

Replacing your Boiler If you are looking to replace your boiler, you may want to look at Renewable Heat Premium Payment.   This is a Government Grant towards installing green energy systems into your home, specifically for off-grid homes.  More details can be found here:  http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Renewable-Heat-Premium-Payment-Phase-2

 

TIPS for On-Grid customers

Shop around. There are many price comparison websites including http://www.uswitch.com andhttp://www.moneysupermarket.com where you can check if you can find a cheaper deal than you are on now.  Remember you are usually tied in for a year to a particular energy company, but after the contract ends you should always look around.   Check out: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/you-switch-gas-electricity for an independent view on when is a good time to switch and when isn’t.

Direct Debit / dual fuel You can usually get cheaper deals if you pay for your fuel by direct debit and if you take a package that includes both gas and electricity.

Finally

It is worth everyone reading these Top Ten Tips for saving energy
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Start-saving-money
all simple measures which will help you save energy and money.

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Richard Benyon: Boost to local pubs in West Berkshire

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, enthusiastically supports the Government’s review which will boost the number of local pubs. As part of its commitment to the Great British pub, the Government this week launched a review of restrictive covenants, a legal clause that can be used to prevent community pubs reopening as public houses following a sale.

In just 5 years under Labour - between 2004 and 2009 - some 572 pubs are said to have been permanently lost following a sale with a restrictive covenant, potentially depriving thousands of regulars of an important community asset.

Richard said:
‘Pubs are hubs of community life, as important to the local social scene as they are to the local economy here in West Berkshire. But time is being called at too many of our ‘locals’, depriving people of treasured places to get together in the community.

‘We are putting the people back in charge, giving them the power to step in and save their much-loved community assets. By reviewing this restrictive red tape we will enable people to use their collective powers to ensure that their locals remain local and continue to thrive at the heart of every community’.

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Richard Benyon MP sees benefits of learning outdoors at The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham

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On Friday (24 June), The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham hosted a visit from Parson's Down Junior School and Richard Benyon MP as part of a UK-wide initiative to get every child outdoors.

The event was in response to a call from teachers for more outside facilities to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to learn outdoors and have contact with nature.

Richard Benyon MP saw first-hand the benefits contact with nature brings and heard from teachers how valuable these experiences are educationally.

He said: ““Last week the Government announced a major new policy which will encourage outside learning and an increased connection between young people and the natural environment.

“I was therefore delighted to see how RSPB and the Nature Discovery Centre worked together to provide an excellent outside classroom for local schoolchildren.”

Pupils and teachers from Parson’s Down Junior school literally got stuck into a cross-curricular programme  (covering aspects of the Science, Geography, Citizenship, Literacy and Numeracy curriculum) enjoying  lots of  practical,  innovative activities such as pond dipping and mini-beast investigations in the reserve’s rich and varied  habitats.

They used orienteering and map-work skills to negotiate a bird migration route,  played food chain games,  and even designed and made their own bird ‘des res’ nest using natural,  found materials!

The initiative comes in response to new research, commissioned by the RSPB, from Ipsos MORI, that asked teachers what would encourage them to do more of their teaching outdoors (note 1).

After additional funding, primary teachers said that the thing they need to do more of their teaching outdoors was greater access to outside classrooms and outdoors facilities.

This initiative, a partnership between the RSPB, Field Studies Council and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, sees them open the doors to all their teaching sites and centres.

Between them each year they welcome nearly a quarter of a million children and young people to their centres providing outdoor learning facilities to schools and universities.

At the Nature Discovery Centre they provide opportunities for  nearly  1,5000 children who take part in the field teaching programme each year.

The centre also holds the (enhanced Route 2) Council for Learning Outside the Classroom’s Quality Badge – a kite mark recently introduced to demonstrate the high quality of outdoor learning that takes place as well as their health and safety procedures (note 2).

Despite all the evidence about the positive impacts contact with nature brings to a child’s education, health and wellbeing, many children are still missing out on these crucial experiences.

The RSPB, Field Studies Council and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust believe that every child should have regular contact with nature, whether in their school grounds, local environment, further afield, or with family and friends.

Teresa Verney-Brookes, RSPB Education Officer, said: “Here at Thatcham we offer a wide range of ,  fun, practical, hands-on  outdoor learning experiences – all of which really do help  bring learning to life.  They are all closely linked to the national curriculum and are designed to get children close to nature, to inspire a sense of awe and delight and unlock some of the wonders  of the natural world  - which is literally on their doorsteps.”

eco

With children from Parson's Down Junior School at the RSPB Every Child Outdoors day at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre – June 2011

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MP comments on the independent investigation report into the AWE fire

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, is pleased to hear that AWE is acting on all the findings and recommendations of the independently led investigation into the fire at its Aldermaston site in August last year.

On the evening of Tuesday 3 August 2010, a solvent fire broke out in an explosives production building on the Explosives Licensed Site at AWE Aldermaston. A comprehensive, independently chaired investigation was commissioned to determine the circumstances which led to the fire and to make recommendations for improvement. It concluded that an electrostatic discharge was the most likely cause of the fire.

Richard Benyon said “I have noted the 11 recommendations and will work with AWE and West Berkshire Council to ensure that they are implemented. I am satisfied that safety remains an absolute priority on this site.”

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MP Opens Newbury Job Fair

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, opened the Newbury Job Fair at Newbury College.  In his speech, he thanked employers, Newbury College and the West Berkshire Enterprise and Skills Partnership, for organising the event.   He reaffirmed his confidence in the local economy and said that the number of employers with vacancies offered great opportunities for local people.

Following the event, Richard said:

“It was really useful to me to meet so many employers and job seekers and I came away optimistic that many of those seeing work would find it soon. This event comes at a time when the Government are seeking to increase the number of apprenticeships and work placements to drive down the number of youth unemployment.”

A number of initiatives have been announced.  These include: Early support schemes for the most disadvantaged, funding for up to 250,000 more apprenticeship places over the next 4 years, funding for 100,000 new work placements over the next two years and a particular emphasis on job opportunities in the hospitality and retail sector, for which there is great demand in West Berkshire

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Richard meets Long Run

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon visited Seven Barrows, the home of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run and its Trainer, Nicky Henderson.

Richard said, “It was a privilege to congratulate the staff at this Yard and to pat this remarkable horse that had given racing fans such a thrill just a few hours before”

Racing is a key industry in Richard’s West Berkshire constituency. Training Yards have suffered through the recession but a number are now reporting a noticeable upturn. Success like Nicky Henderson’s benefits the whole of the tight-knit racing community in the Lambourn Valley.

longrun

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Richard Benyon: You’ll spend 20 days this year just paying Labour’s credit card bill

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New research has shown that someone on average earnings in the Newbury constituency will spend 20 days just paying the interest on Labour’s debts.

Labour left the country with an annual overspend of £156 billion, greater than at any point in our peacetime history. Money spent just paying the interest on their £790 billion debt bill is money that could otherwise be spent on front line services.

Commenting, Richard said:

“Labour’s addiction to debt means each and every taxpayer now has to spend weeks of the year working just to pay the interest bill.

“If we listened to Labour the debt would be £100 billion higher. They must never be put in charge of our public finances again.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

New research has shown that someone on average earnings in the Newbury constituency will spend 5 days just paying for Labour’s debt interest bill. Labour left office with the country owing £790 billion, more than at any time in our peacetime history (HM Treasury, Public Finances Databank, Table Key M, link).

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts debt interest spending of £42.7 billion in 2010-11 (OBR, Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Table 4.14, link). There are 30.5 million taxpayers, so on average each taxpayer will pay £1,400 in debt interest (HMRC, Number of individual income taxpayers, link).

Figures from the ONS show median earnings in Newbury Constituency are £25,638 (ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Table 10.7a, 8 December 2010, link).

This means that 5.5% per cent of an average person’s income goes on debt interest.

This works out at 20 days spent just paying for debt interest.

 

ENDS

Constituency

Median Earnings

Debt interest/Median Earnings

Days paid in debt interest

Newbury

25,638

5.5%

20

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HUNGERFORD SET FOR SUPER-FAST BROADBAND

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, is delighted at BT’s announcement that it will be rolling-out the next phase of its super-fast fibre broadband deployment in eight rural market towns in the South East, of which Hungerford will be one.

From spring 2012, over 3,000 premises served by the Hungerford broadband exchange should be able to access super-fast broadband speeds of up to 40Mb/s. This will have numerous beneficial implications upon education, business, and entertainment. BT is investing £2.5 billion to deliver fibre broadband to up to two thirds of UK homes and businesses, subject to an acceptable environment for investment. It’s the largest single commercial investment in fibre-based broadband ever undertaken in the UK, and is currently one of the biggest civil engineering projects running in Europe.

Richard Benyon MP commented that “I am really pleased that Hungerford has been chosen as one of the eight towns for this roll-out. This will bring opportunities for jobs, as well as key support for vulnerable people. Hungerford is a community with huge potential, and digital access will be at the heart of its prosperity in the future.”

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Congratulations AP!

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury today said:

“Such is the breadth of talent in West Berkshire we have produced the Prime Minister, our future Queen and now BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Congratulations to AP McCoy. He is nothing less than a living legend. In a world filled with Health and Safety edicts pushed by risk averse officialdom, National Hunt Racing is the last bastion of true gladiatorial danger.  Tony McCoy dominates a sport that brings thrills to millions. To say we in West Berkshire are proud of him is like saying the weather has been a tad cold lately.”

Merry Christmas everyone!

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A triumph for common sense

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, punched the air with delight on hearing the news that Newbury’s Court had been reprieved from the closure plans under consultation.

He said:

“I, and a great many people, contributed to this consultation and we were able to prove the value of the Court to the local community.  I pay tribute to the sensible and measured way in which the Magistrates, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Police, the local authority and many others fought this campaign.  I also think that shows a more mature form of consultation under this Government compared with the last.”

 

In order to present the full case for keeping the Court Open, Richard met with Magistrates, and others involved in local justice, on a number of occasions.  He also met with the Citizens Advice Bureau and others who are regularly involved with the Court in one way or another.  Richard himself presented a detailed response to the closure proposal that was part of a review of local Courts across the country.   He also had frequent discussions with the Minister concerned.

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Sign up for flood warnings says Benyon

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, is urging homes at risk of flooding to sign up for the free Floodline Warning Direct service  run by the Environment Agency.   On 30th November there will be changes to the flood warning codes and messages the public receive through our free Floodline Warning Direct service.

Please see the attached document for the new codes.

pdf New Flood Codes

Richard Benyon said:

“There are 2,525 properties at risk of fluvial flooding in the Newbury constituency, but only 478 people have registered with the Environment Agency to receive flood risk warnings.   I am urging anyone, whose home is at risk of flooding, to consider signing up to this vital service either through the Environment Agency’s website or by calling Floodline on  0845 988 1188”

Notes:

1: The Environment Agency’s website is:
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/124554.aspx

2: As Minister with responsibility for flooding issues, Richard recently attended the launch of Exercise Watermark (http://www.exercisewatermark.co.uk/en/homepage.aspx) which will take place next March to test the readiness of communities to cope with flooding.

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Royal Engagement

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Newbury’s MP, Richard Benyon who represents Kate Middleton’s home community of Bucklebury has sent his warmest wishes to the couple on the announcement of their engagement.

He said:

“This is a really happy day for this couple.  I am delighted for the Middleton’s and the Royal Family at this announcement, but most of all I am thrilled for this young couple who deserve to be really happy and they have the warmest support from everybody in West Berkshire.”

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Benyon: “Calling anyone involved in running a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation”

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, today called on called on anyone involved in running a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation to participate in the consultation to cut red-tape.  He said:

“This is your chance to influence the Government’s attempts to reduce the burden of red tape that saps the energy from those that run vital community organisations.

 

A task force has been set up under my Ministerial colleagues, Nick Hurd (Cabinet Office) and Mark Prisk (BIS) to investigate and recommend measures to reduce the burdens on small organisations.

 

The task force is chaired by Lord Hodgeson.  He wants to consult widely.  If you wish to contribute send your contribution to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. “.

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Newbury MP attends opening of £11 million Rehab Centre

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, attended the opening of a gym and pool complex at Headley Court in Surrey on Friday 4th June. Prince William opened the building which was funded by the Charity Help for Heroes. Richard Benyon was a founding Trustee of Help for Heroes which has now raised over £50 million for wounded servicemen and women.

Richard said, "I am overjoyed to see this fantastic facility up and running. Our wounded deserve nothing but the best and the Help for Heroes complex is world beating. It is a credit to the many people who have raised funds and those who have contributed so much for this wonderful cause"

Help for Heroes is now in the process of building Army Recovery Centres around the country. They will provide a lifetime resource for soldiers who have been wounded or who are suffering from the effects of trauma related to their service for our country.

rbhrh

 

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Richards response to the National Flood Forums Manifesto

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Thank you for sending me the National Flood Forums Manifesto for flood victims.  I have set out my answers to your questions below;

Conservative Government will ensure an early implementation of the Floods and Water Managements Act.  Whilst we were opposed to the slimmed down Bill and accepted the criticism of the legislation from the EFRA Committee we thought it was important to support the Government to get as many of the recommendations from the Pitt review on to the statute books as quickly as possible so that measures can be improved to limit the risk for people living in areas at risk from flooding.

It is my Party’s policy to build on the findings of Sir Michael Pitts review to ensure that floods and flood prevention will be given a much higher priority across Government.  We hope that the Flood and Water Management Act will end the intuitional confusion over responsibility for flood risk management, implement necessary measures recommended in the Pitt Review and ensure England and Wales are better prepared for a flooding emergency.   There are several ways we will seek to strengthen the legislation:

  1. We welcome the strategic overview role of the Environment Agency for all types of flooding but we must also ensure that the legislation does not centralise power.  The legislation must recognise the importance of local knowledge in reducing flood risk.  Local flood risk management strategies, instead of being consistent with the national strategy, should have regard to it. There should be a right of appeal against decisions by the Environment Agency to carry out work on private land. 

 

  1. Greater clarity is needed on the costs involved for local authorities.  It is important that local authorities are properly funded to fulfil their new responsibilities.
  2.  
  1. We welcome steps to develop sustainable drainage systems which are essential to reduce the risk of surface water flooding – as occurred in West Berkshire in 2007.  We must ensure the legislation fully ends the automatic right of developers to connect to the sewer network for surface water drainage.  Water companies should also be consulted on all new building developments to ensure capacity. Greater clarity is needed on the funding arrangements and responsibility for the maintenance of sustainable urban drainage systems.

Greater commitment must be given to the maintenance of rivers and watercourses and the Environment Agency must regularly publish details of work. I am aware that this is not necessarily pertinent to Thatcham but I support the work the Environment Agency has done in West Berkshire to train local communities to carry out proper weed clearance on rivers where the amount of weed in the river was a major contributory factor in flooding in 2007.  However, I will also continue to ensure that the Environment Agency does carry out weed clearance on a regular basis concentrating on the highly at risk communities on the rivers Lambourn and Pang.

I remain concerned that a number of Pitt recommendations have been slow to be implemented.

A national emergency framework, one of Pitts urgent recommendations and promised by the government by the autumn of 2008 has still not been implemented.  We will make sure that it is as soon as possible after the election.

A National Resilience Forum to facilitate multi-agency planning has still not met.

The Natural Hazards team, which is assessing vulnerable critical infrastructure, was only established in May 2009 – two years after the summer 2007 floods.  Details of their findings are expected soon.

 

In addition, nearly a year after the floods nearly 5000, many of them in West Berkshire, had not returned home and, in summer 2009, 168 families were still waiting.  Pitt called on the Government to provide monthly updates on the recovery effort but the Government failed to produce these.  A Conservative Government will regularly report on the circumstances of displaced households.

 

We have to learn from the floods in 2007 of the importance of command and control and decision-making as flooding emergency takes place.  There was a general consensus that the Council’s Emergency Control Room worked well with Silver Command and that there was general good co-ordination across agencies at a local level.  This was not always the case elsewhere but we do want to ensure that lines of communication are clearly understood. One area of concern on the day was lack of information available to schools.  Schools did not know if it was better to send the children home or find somewhere for them to remain under supervision whilst their parents were dealing with flooding in their homes.  This matter has been recognised by the Council and the LEA will have involvement in the emergency control room in future.

I have worked closely with the Environment Agency and have built up a good working relationship with their area manager, Simon Hughes.  If re-elected, I will build on this relationship to ensure that the measures they are carrying out across West Berkshire are clearly understood and are reflective of the views of local communities and local people.  I believe it is beholden on all of us in elected positions at every level and for agencies such as the Environment Agency to inform local people about the mitigation measures being carried out.  This could go a long way towards bringing peace of mind to a great many people who suffer stress and anxiety whenever heavy rainfall occurs.  It is for this purpose that I have written on a number of occasions to households in Thatcham to inform them about measures being carried out on their behalf.

At a meeting with the Secretary of State immediately after the 2007 floods, I raised concerns with the then Chief Executive of the Environment Agency about their approach towards flooding of rivers that are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  The Chief Executive more or less said to me that concerns for wildlife and the natural environment must not be compromised in order to mitigate the effects of flooding.  I believe that this was an insensitive and wrong approach at a time when huge distress was being caused to communities across my constituency.  I am glad to say that a different approach seems to apply now and while I will always be concerned for the natural environment and the maintenance of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, we cannot allow communities to live under the threat of future flooding because of a valid commitment to precise management requirements of river systems.

I am troubled by the many reports I receive about the massively increased insurance premiums and excess charges. As you will know, I have taken this matter up with the Association of British Insurers in seeking to get their members to understand that the floods that place in Thatcham and in many other parts of the Newbury constituency should not be equated to the problems suffered in places such as Tewkesbury.  In our area it was a matter of surface water flooding.  The chances of this happening again do exist but are remote.  Insurers need to take into account the many measures that have been taken by Town and District Councils and by the Government through he Environment Agency.  There should be no excuse for the kind of insurance premium hikes that have been reported in Thatcham.

I am a firm believer in keeping as much of the effort to mitigate flood risk as local as possible.  I believe elected members at every level should work closely with organisations such as the Thatcham Flood Forum to ensure that all their concerns, which will reflect the hopes and fears of many, form part of the decision making process.  I very much hope we can all tap in to the wealth of local commitment from Town Councils and interested local people to ensure that it is not just left to Government to solve problems relating to flooding.

This concept fits neatly into David Cameron’s call for a “Big Society”.  It is all about harnessing people’s natural enthusiasm to volunteer and making sure Government is there to support them wherever needed.

I hope you feel this answers the questions raised in the manifesto.  I remain willing to clarify any points made at any stage.

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Go Compare!

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The Conservative Candidate for Newbury, Richard Benyon is urging voters to compare the two campaigns being run by the main contenders in the Newbury constituency.

Richard said:

“In every leaflet that I have put out I speak only of my record and of the Conservative Party’s policies.  Compare this with Liberal Democrat literature, which is negative, scaremongering and seeks to misrepresent Conservative policy and my record at every opportunity.

Nick Clegg called for a new kind of politics.  It is just such a pity that the Liberal Democrat campaign in West Berkshire is so representative of the old sniping unpleasant politics of the past.”

The good news is that local people are not fooled by the false claims in Liberal Democrat literature”

Notes:

  1. One leaflet claimed “top Tories want to scrap our NHS”.  The NHS is the Conservative Party’s number one priority in this election.  It is our policy to protect and improve the NHS.
  2. Liberal Democrats claim “tax brakes are only for millionaires”.  Our tax policies are targeted at the poorest. Reversing some of Labour’s National Insurance tax rise will help those on low incomes and those seeking work.  We will work with Councils to freeze Council Tax for two years.  This will particularly help those on low incomes and those on fixed incomes such as pensioners.  We will end the couples “penalty” in the tax credit system that makes the poorest better off if they live apart from their partner.  Under our Inheritance Tax proposals, only millionaires’ will pay it!
  3. Liberal Democrats claim that Council Tax rises would have been lower under them, but consistently fail to mention that when they were in power they averaged a massive 7.1%, whereas under the Conservatives they have averaged a more manageable 1.9%.
  4. Unlike claims made in Liberal Democrat literature, Richard has always supported greater transparency of Parliamentary expenses.  He has been entirely open about his expense claims and publishes them in every detail on his website. Richard has never claimed for food, furniture and does not claim the second homes allowance.

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Pledge to help cancer sufferers in West Berkshire get the drugs they deserve

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Conservatives to scrap Labour’s jobs tax on NHS and use savings for cancer drugs

Cancer patients in West Berkshire will get access to drugs that they are currently denied under Labour if the Conservatives win the general election, Richard Benyon, Conservative Candidate for Newbury announced today.

Under the bold new plans, the NHS would save £200 million because Conservatives will stop Labour’s jobs tax on employers. This NHS saving would be used to pay for drugs which have been blocked by the Government’s quango, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). In Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, which employs 4,834 staff, the cost of Labour’s increase in Employers’ National Insurance contributions – the jobs tax – is estimated to be £725,100.

The Labour Government has failed to provide patients with the cancer drugs they need – drugs which are widely available in Europe. Britain has more cancer deaths per head than Bulgaria. The current system lets Ministers off the hook. They blame bad decisions on unaccountable bureaucrats in NICE, the agency which approves drugs for the NHS.

  • Under the Conservative blueprint, the money that would have been eaten up by Labour’s jobs tax would go straight to a new Cancer Drugs Fund. No cancer patient will be refused access to drugs that have been licensed since 2005 if their doctors say they need them.
  • Conservatives will also change the way that drug companies are paid for NHS medicines. Effective treatments for all conditions, not just cancer, would become available on the NHS, with drug providers paid according to the value of their new treatments.

Richard Benyon said:

“There is a clear choice at this election: Labour and their jobs tax that will take £200 million out of the NHS budget; or the Conservatives who will stop the jobs tax and use the savings in the NHS budget to create a Cancer Drugs Fund.

“The NHS is our number one priority. We are committed to helping our NHS become truly world-class. Giving West Berkshire’s patients access to cancer drugs widely available in Europe is a key part of our plan for change and making the NHS even better.”

Notes to Editors

CANCER PATIENTS NOT GETTING THE DRUGS THEY NEED

Third of cancer drugs turned down: NHS quango, NICE, has assessed 15 new cancer drugs since November 2008. A third of them have been turned down completely and the rest have only been partially recommended for use in the NHS (Hansard, 16 March 2010, Col.765WA).

Fewer cancer drugs available in the UK: An international study comparing different European countries has found that: ‘Austria, France and Switzerland are leaders in the uptake of new cancer drugs’ and that: ‘The uptake of cancer drugs in the UK is far below the European average’ (Nils Wilking et al, Comparator Report on Patient Access to Cancer Drugs in Europe, 15 February 2009).

Cancer survival rates lower in Britain: Each year around 240,000 people in England are diagnosed with cancer and around 129,000 die from the disease. In the last 20 years, the UK has seen a substantial decline in cancer mortality. But survival rates in Britain still lag behind European average levels; indeed, the gap between the average number of deaths from cancer in European countries and the UK overall has widened over the last 13 years. It has been estimated that up to 11,000 deaths from cancer in England could be prevented every year if survival rates were at the levels of the best-performing countries in Europe (Abdel-Rahman M, et al., What if cancer survival in Britain were the same as in Europe: how many deaths are avoidable?, British Journal of Cancer, vol 101, pp S115-S124, 2009). Bulgaria has 170.3 cancer deaths per 100,000 population whereas the UK had 178.1 according to the most recent comparative figures (Eurostat health data, 2007).

EFFECT OF LABOUR’S JOBS TAX ON THE NHS

Labour’s jobs tax will cost the NHS £200 million: The Labour Government’s increase in National Insurance rates would put increased spending pressure on the NHS. This is because the NHS, just like any other employer, would also have to pay the one per cent increase in Employers’ National Insurance rates. The cost to the NHS would be around £200 million – approximately £150 per employee (HM Treasury, Budget 2010; NHS Information Centre, Workforce statistics, 25 March 2010).

No new money to cover the cost of the jobs tax: Labour are not providing any extra money for the NHS to cover the cost of their tax on jobs. It will therefore have to be paid for from the NHS budget through their plans for £4.4 billion of ‘efficiency savings’ in the NHS by 2012-13 (Department of Health Press Release, 24 March 2010).

 

CONSERVATIVE PLANS

Conservative plans will save the NHS £200 million – to be spent on frontline services. Conservatives will increase NHS spending every year in real terms. On top of this, our plans to reverse the bulk of Labour’s tax on jobs will lead to savings of £200 million from the NHS budget. This money will then be available to spend on frontline services again – which is why we are able to say that we will use it to create a Cancer Drugs Fund to give all cancer patients the new drugs they need. In the longer term we want to overhaul the way drugs are assessed and priced so that all the best new drugs are available on the NHS.

Macmillan Cancer Support has supported Conservative plans saying: ‘If a clinician is saying that my patient will actually benefit from this treatment than it should be made available. People will call our helpline and say they are so desperate to get hold of this drug their physician has told them about it. They will talk about mortgaging their house, remortgaging their house to actually get hold of it, which is why we can't allow current system to continue’ (The Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2010).

Make more drugs available. We will reform the way drug companies are paid for NHS medicines so that any effective treatment can be made available through the NHS, with drug providers paid according to the value of their new treatments. These reforms – a move to a system known as ‘value-based pricing’ – will take effect by 2014 and will give cancer patients access to the kind of treatments commonplace in Europe but denied here.

Until the introduction of value-based pricing in 2014, a Conservative government will use the money Labour would have spent on Employers’ National Insurance Contributions for NHS staff to create a Cancer Drugs Fund, giving all patients access to the cancer drugs their doctors say they need if these drugs have been licensed since 2005. This will include any drugs licensed between that date and when our value-based pricing reforms take effect in 2014. We will add this money to the NHS tariff in order to pay for the extra cost of these drugs. This means that if these drugs have been licensed as being safe since 2005, doctors will be able to prescribe them without needing to apply to their Primary Care Trust for funding.

Speed up NICE approval. We will ensure that NICE appraises new cancer drugs at the same time as they are licensed as safe by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. This will mean no more delay between a drug being approved as safe and then having to be approved as cost effective for NHS use.

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Everyone across West Berkshire can get involved to solve Britain’s problems

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Key manifesto pledges to help improve West Berkshire’s quality of life and economy

Big government, high taxes and politicians up in Whitehall won’t solve Britain’s problems, Richard Benyon, Conservative Candidate for Newbury said as he welcomed David Cameron’s impressive blueprint for a Conservative Government. Its key message is that everyone across West Berkshire should get together and get involved to solve Westminster’s broken politics, fix Britain’s broken society and get our economy moving.

The Conservative plans include:

  • Supporting new entrepreneurs, helping the unemployed back into work, and stopping Labour’s new jobs tax.
  • Letting public sector workers set up co-operatives to improve the services they provide.
  • Giving voters the right to sack MPs found guilty of serious wrong-doing.
  • Allowing parents and local community groups to open up and run new schools to raise standards.
  • Helping first-time buyers own their own home through a permanent reduction in stamp duty for homes up to £250,000, and giving social tenants across West Berkshire an equity stake in their home for being good neighbours, to help them get a foot on the housing ladder.
  • Empowering local residents to stop high council tax rises.
  • Giving a locally elected representative responsibility for police budgets and strategies for Thames Valley Police force so that people’s priorities for tackling crime come first.
  • Letting local people save valued community services like local pubs, parks or post offices from closure, and help supporter groups buy into football clubs.
  • Showing how Whitehall and the District Council spend your money, by publishing detailed figures on spending and contracts online for all to see.

 

Richard said:

“We won’t get Britian’s economy moving with Gordon Brown’s jobs tax – we need to help local firms create jobs. We won’t solve our social problems with more big government from Labour – we need to build a Big Society where families are strong and our communities are safe. And we’ll never change politics if we leave it all to Westminster politicians – we need to give people across West Berkshire real power and control over their lives.

“At this election, West Berkshire’s residents face a choice: five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired government making things worse, or Conservatives who will get the country moving.”

 

Notes to Editors

The Conservative Party’s general election manifesto was published on 13 April.

http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Manifesto.aspx

 

Some of the key proposals include:

 

#1 – BE YOUR OWN BOSS

Public sector co-ops: Giving public sector workers ownership of the services they deliver is a powerful way to drive efficiency. We will support co-operatives and mutualisation as a way of transferring public assets and revenue streams to public sector workers.

 

Work for Yourself: We will support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme – Work for Yourself – which will give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial loans.

 

#2 – SACK YOUR MP

At the moment, there is no way that local constituents can remove an MP found guilty of serious wrong-doing until there is a general election. We will introduce a power of ‘recall’ to allow electors to kick out MPs, a power that will be triggered by proven serious wrong-doing. And we will introduce a Parliamentary Privilege Act to make clear that privilege cannot be abused by MPs to evade justice.

 

#3 – RUN YOUR OWN SCHOOL

We will break down barriers to entry so that any good education provider can set up a new Academy school. Our schools revolution will create a new generation of good small schools with smaller class sizes and high standards of discipline.

 

Our school reform programme is a major part of our anti-poverty strategy, which is why our first task will be to establish new Academy schools in the most deprived areas of the country. They will be beacons of excellence in areas where school standards are unacceptably low.

 

#4 – OWN YOUR OWN HOME

First-time buyers: We want to create a property-owning democracy where everyone has the chance to own their own home. That is why we will permanently raise the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers, meaning nine out of ten of them will pay no tax on their first home purchase.

 

Social tenants: We will make it easier for social tenants to own or part-own their home. We will introduce a ‘foot on the ladder’ programme to offer an equity stake to good social tenants, which  can be cashed in when they move out of social rented accommodation.

 

#5 – VETO COUNCIL TAX RISES

We want to give individuals more direct control over how they are governed. We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue if 5 per cent of the local population sign up. Residents will also be able to veto any proposed high council tax increases. We will stop Labour’s plans to impose supplementary business rates on firms if a majority do not give their consent.

 

#6 – VOTE FOR YOUR POLICE

We will replace the existing, invisible and unaccountable police authorities and make the police accountable to a directly-elected individual who will set policing priorities for local communities. They will be responsible for setting the budget and the strategy for local police forces, with the police retaining their operational independence.

 

And we will give residents the information they need to challenge their neighbourhood police teams to cut crime. We will oblige the police to publish detailed local crime data statistics every month, in an open and standardised format.

 

#7 – SAVE YOUR LOCAL PUB OR POST OFFICE

Our new ‘community right to buy’ scheme will give local people the power to protect any community assets that are threatened with closure. We also will give people a ‘right to bid’ to run any community service instead of the state; and reform the governance arrangements in football to enable co-operative ownership models to be established by supporters.

 

#8 – SEE HOW GOVERNMENT SPENDS YOUR MONEY

We will bring in new measures to enable the public to scrutinise the government’s accounts to see whether it is providing value for money. All data will be published in an open and standardised format. We will require senior public officials to publish their salaries, and publish online details of spending and contracts, and give councillors the power to vote on large salary packages for unelected council officials.

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Stop Labour’s tax on jobs and working people from killing the recovery

on .

27,300 people will save money across the Newbury constituency under Conservative initiative

Richard Benyon, Conservative Candidate for Newbury, gave his backing to new Conservative plans to stop a new jobs tax on working families and local firms across West Berkshire. Labour Ministers confirmed in the recent Budget that Gordon Brown’s Government will be increasing National Insurance on both workers and local businesses. Under Labour’s tax-raising plans, anyone earning over £20,000 a year will see their pay packet shrink. Labour will also increase the tax that local firms pay for hiring workers who earn £5,700 a year or more.

 

By contrast, a Conservative Government will stop the most damaging part of Labour’s tax on jobs by cutting government waste while protecting frontline services. The cost of Labour’s tax rise on employers will be reduced by more than half. And anyone earning between £7,100 and £45,400 – seven out of ten working people across the country – will be up to £150 a year better off than under Labour’s plans.

 

At least 27,300 working people across the Newbury constituency will be better off as a result. A typical nurse, teacher, firefighter or police officer would save £150 a year. People on lower incomes will benefit the most as a proportion of their incomes. And an estimated 7748 jobs across the South East of England could be saved by making it less expensive for local firms to hire workers.

 

The Conservative plans have been backed by leading business figures who run firms such as Sainsbury’s, Mothercare and Marks & Spencer, and who employ over half a million people between them in the UK.

 

Richard Benyon said:

“For the last 13 years, working people across West Berkshire have seen their taxes go up and up and their money wasted. Now Gordon Brown is planning a tax on jobs that will hit anyone earning over £20,000 a year and destroy 7748 jobs across the South East of England by taxing local firms more.

“Labour will kill the recovery with their tax on jobs. Conservatives will cut Labour waste to stop it. More than 27.300 working people across the Newbury constituency will be better off with the Conservatives. And we’ll cut Labour’s debt to stop higher interest rates and your mortgage going up”.

Notes to Editors

LABOUR’S TAX ON JOBS

 

Labour’s tax on workers: Labour are planning to raise Employees’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for everyone earning over £20,000. Conservatives will stop this increase altogether for everyone earning under £35,000 by raising the primary threshold at which people start paying NICs by £24 a week, and raising the Upper Earnings Limit by £29 a week.

 

Relative to Labour’s plans, everyone liable for Employees’ NICs earning between £7,100 and £45,400 – which is 7 out of 10 working people – will be up to £150 better off a year under the Conservatives. Lower earners will get the greatest benefit as a percentage of their earnings. Nobody will be worse off.

 

Labour’s tax on local firms: Labour are also planning to raise Employers’ NICs for everyone earning over £5,700. This is a tax on jobs that will undermine the recovery. Conservatives will raise the secondary threshold at which employers start paying NICs by £21 a week, saving employers up to £150 for every person they employ relative to Labour’s plans. This will reduce the cost of Labour’s tax rise on employers by more than half.

 

According to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for the Federation of Small Businesses (Small business tax increases – do the economic costs outweigh the fiscal gains?), adding 1p to employers’ National Insurance Contributions would cost 57,000 jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises alone.

Conservatives will pay for the cost of these tax reductions by cutting government waste, without affecting frontline services, such as by halting all major IT spending, renegotiating major contracts, controlling recruitment and cutting out discretionary spending. A briefing note on the savings is available at:

http://www.conservatives.com/~/media/Files/Downloadable%20Files/nic.ashx?dl=true (PDF)

 

BUSINESSES BACK CONSERVATIVE PLANS

 

Conservative plans to stop the jobs tax has been backed by the leaders of the following companies:

 

JCB, Aggregate Industries, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Kingfisher plc, Kurt Geiger, Xstrata plc, Tullow Oil plc, Carpetright plc, J Sainsbury plc, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Mothercare plc, easyGroup, Mitchells & Butlers plc, SABMiller plc, Matalan, AXA UK, Virgin Group Ltd, Whitbread Plc, Marks & Spencer plc, Diageo Plc, Harvey Nichols, Bext plc, Bestway Cash & Carry and Boots.

 

Source: Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2010.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7548508/General-election-2010-National-Insurance-rise-will-force-public-sector-cuts.html

 

LOCAL FIGURES – JOBS SAVED

 

The table below are estimates of the number of jobs that could be saved as a result of Conservative plans.

 

Working age population.

Estimate of jobs saved

United Kingdom

38,075,000

57,576

North East

1,598,000

2,416

North West

4,238,000

6,409

Yorkshire and Humber

3,246,000

4,908

East Midlands

2,743,000

4,147

West Midlands

3,294,000

4,981

East of England

3,486,000

5,271

London

5,095,000

7,704

South East

5,124,000

7,748

South West

3,115,000

4,711

Wales

1,801,000

2,723

Scotland

3,238,000

4,896

Northern Ireland

1,098,000

1,661

Basis: The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) showed that a 1p rise in employer National Insurance could cost 57,000 jobs across the UK in SME. As small and medium enterprises employ 59.4 per cent of private sector employees in the UK according to the latest official statistics, this represents around 96,000 jobs in the private sector across the UK. Hence, Conservative plans to stop more than half of Labour’s planned tax rise would save 58,000 jobs across the UK relative to Labour’s plans. The table below shows how the jobs saved could be distributed (based on the current distribution of jobs across the UK).

Data source: Conservative analysis of Office for National Statistics, Labour Market Statistics Regional Monthly Data, March 2010;Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Statistics for the UK and Regions 2008, BIS, 14 October 2009.

 

LOCAL FIGURES – WORKERS SAVING MONEY

 

The table below shows the total number of people currently employed in each constituency, the average salary and the number of people who will gain from the Conservative policy of stopping Labour’s tax on jobs.

 

Data source: Conservative analysis of data from Office of National Statistics, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) 2009; Analysis by place of residence by Parliamentary Constituency; Table 10.1a: Weekly Pay: Gross. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/ASHE-2009/2009_res_pc.pdf

Constituency

Number of Jobs

Mean Salary

Gainers under Conservatives

North East

971,000

£21,876

679,700

Berwick-upon-Tweed

26,000

£22,136

15,600

Bishop Auckland

34,000

£20,441

20,400

Blaydon

32,000

£21,393

19,200

Blyth Valley

36,000

£21,050

21,600

City of Durham

32,000

£23,811

19,200

Darlington

32,000

£20,836

19,200

Easington

30,000

£19,406

18,000

Gateshead East and Washington West

35,000

£21,211

21,000

Hartlepool

38,000

£22,651

22,800

Hexham

30,000

£30,285

16,500

Houghton and Washington East

32,000

£21,460

19,200

Jarrow

25,000

£21,523

15,000

Middlesbrough

32,000

£18,288

19,200

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

33,000

£21,216

19,800

Newcastle upon Tyne Central

32,000

£24,835

19,200

Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend

32,000

£19,786

19,200

Newcastle upon Tyne North

32,000

£20,140

22,400

North Durham

32,000

£22,318

22,400

North Tyneside

39,000

£20,067

23,400

North West Durham

33,000

£23,587

19,800

Redcar

32,000

£19,115

19,200

Sedgefield

34,000

£22,204

20,400

South Shields

26,000

£20,701

15,600

Stockton North

34,000

£21,731

20,400

Stockton South

43,000

£25,605

25,800

Sunderland North

26,000

£21,242

15,600

Sunderland South

27,000

£20,275

16,200

Tyne Bridge

33,000

£19,874

19,800

Tynemouth

38,000

£25,371

22,800

Wansbeck

34,000

£21,991

20,400

North West

2,557,000

£23,046

1,789,900

Altrincham and Sale West

38,000

£27,893

22,800

Ashton under Lyne

35,000

£20,779

21,000

Barrow and Furness

31,000

£21,689

18,600

Birkenhead

25,000

£21,913

15,000

Blackburn

27,000

£18,855

16,200

Blackpool North and Fleetwood

30,000

£18,574

18,000

Blackpool South

29,000

£17,051

17,400

Bolton North East

30,000

£21,242

18,000

Bolton South East

34,000

£19,542

20,400

Bolton West

35,000

£25,828

24,500

Bootle

26,000

£19,157

15,600

Burnley

30,000

£20,223

18,000

Bury North

36,000

£24,643

21,600

Bury South

40,000

£23,852

24,000

Carlisle

34,000

£17,924

20,400

Cheadle

33,000

£29,422

19,800

Chorley

43,000

£23,213

25,800

City of Chester

36,000

£27,414

21,600

Congleton

38,000

£25,589

22,800

Copeland

24,000

£27,180

14,400

Crewe and Nantwich

44,000

£21,778

26,400

Crosby

30,000

£24,736

18,000

Denton and Reddish

29,000

£19,880

17,400

Eccles

39,000

£19,854

23,400

Eddisbury

38,000

£28,839

22,800

Ellesmere Port and Neston

34,000

£22,599

20,400

Fylde

38,000

£26,291

22,800

Halton

33,000

£21,746

19,800

Hazel Grove

32,000

£24,414

19,200

Heywood and Middleton

38,000

£22,932

26,600

Hyndburn

33,000

£20,264

19,800

Knowsley North and Sefton East

32,000

£21,902

22,400

Knowsley South

29,000

£21,315

17,400

Lancaster and Wyre

36,000

£24,076

21,600

Leigh

40,000

£19,968

24,000

Liverpool, Garston

31,000

£22,589

18,600

Liverpool, Riverside

30,000

£23,062

18,000

Liverpool, Walton

25,000

£18,158

15,000

Liverpool, Wavertree

38,000

£23,145

22,800

Liverpool, West Derby

31,000

£19,380

18,600

Macclesfield

43,000

£27,482

25,800

Makerfield

32,000

£23,249

19,200

Manchester Central

36,000

£23,884

21,600

Manchester, Blackley

31,000

£17,763

18,600

Manchester, Gorton

27,000

£19,854

16,200

Manchester, Withington

38,000

£27,680

22,800

Morecambe and Lunesdale

35,000

£22,116

21,000

Oldham East and Saddleworth

33,000

£23,650

19,800

Oldham West and Royton

30,000

£22,012

21,000

Pendle

27,000

£20,478

18,900

Penrith and The Border

33,000

£20,977

19,800

Preston

40,000

£19,224

24,000

Ribble Valley

44,000

£25,501

26,400

Rochdale

28,000

£22,131

16,800

Rossendale and Darwen

36,000

£23,816

21,600

Salford

28,000

£20,446

16,800

South Ribble

39,000

£24,440

23,400

Southport

34,000

£20,322

20,400

St. Helens North

35,000

£23,468

24,500

St. Helens South

30,000

£21,804

18,000

Stalybridge and Hyde

35,000

£20,816

21,000

Stockport

36,000

£23,842

21,600

Stretford and Urmston

39,000

£23,842

23,400

Tatton

31,000

£31,153

15,500

Wallasey

30,000

£20,509

18,000

Warrington North

37,000

£24,679

22,200

Warrington South

44,000

£28,449

30,800

Weaver Vale

36,000

£23,156

21,600

West Lancashire

36,000

£23,728

21,600

Westmorland and Lonsdale

33,000

£23,379

19,800

Wigan

32,000

£23,244

22,400

Wirral South

30,000

£28,527

16,500

Wirral West

23,000

£28,174

13,800

Workington

34,000

£20,452

20,400

Worsley

37,000

£23,187

22,200

Wythenshawe and Sale East

39,000

£24,835

23,400

Yorkshire and The Humber

2,026,000

£22,443

1,418,200

Barnsley Central

29,000

£22,875

17,400

Barnsley East and Mexborough

31,000

£20,686

18,600

Barnsley West and Penistone

35,000

£22,256

21,000

Batley and Spen

36,000

£22,386

21,600

Beverley and Holderness

41,000

£25,142

24,600

Bradford North

32,000

£19,146

19,200

Bradford South

42,000

£19,656

29,400

Bradford West

27,000

£18,907

16,200

Brigg and Goole

35,000

£23,556

21,000

Calder Valley

38,000

£24,372

22,800

City of York

53,000

£23,759

31,800

Cleethorpes

32,000

£22,230

19,200

Colne Valley

47,000

£24,476

28,200

Dewsbury

31,000

£20,982

18,600

Don Valley

36,000

£23,764

21,600

Doncaster Central

35,000

£19,500

21,000

Doncaster North

30,000

£20,145

16,500

East Yorkshire

35,000

£21,226

21,000

Elmet

36,000

£26,021

21,600

Great Grimsby

33,000

£20,784

19,800

Halifax

36,000

£20,712

21,600

Haltemprice and Howden

39,000

£26,582

23,400

Harrogate and Knaresborough

35,000

£27,248

21,000

Hemsworth

37,000

£20,514

22,200

Huddersfield

39,000

£18,928

23,400

Keighley

39,000

£24,877

23,400

Kingston upon Hull East

35,000

£18,117

21,000

Kingston upon Hull North

36,000

£17,935

19,800

Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

33,000

£20,696

19,800

Leeds Central

39,000

£19,968

23,400

Leeds East

30,000

£20,124

18,000

Leeds North East

37,000

£29,780

22,200

Leeds North West

35,000

£25,646

21,000

Leeds West

35,000

£20,025

21,000

Morley and Rothwell

51,000

£23,005

30,600

Normanton

38,000

£22,537

22,800

Pontefract and Castleford

35,000

£19,916

21,000

Pudsey

45,000

£25,574

31,500

Richmond (Yorks)

34,000

£23,587

20,400

Rother Valley

37,000

£21,133

22,200

Rotherham

27,000

£19,718

16,200

Ryedale

32,000

£22,662

19,200

Scarborough and Whitby

40,000

£19,911

24,000

Scunthorpe

26,000

£20,914

15,600

Selby

43,000

£26,359

25,800

Sheffield Central

35,000

£22,870

21,000

Sheffield, Attercliffe

41,000

£19,968

24,600

Sheffield, Brightside

27,000

£17,623

16,200

Sheffield, Hallam

28,000

£27,477

16,800

Sheffield, Heeley

36,000

£21,434

25,200

Sheffield, Hillsborough

45,000

£24,170

31,500

Shipley

40,000

£24,144

24,000

Skipton and Ripon

37,000

£22,963

22,200

Vale of York

40,000

£24,627

24,000

Wakefield

42,000

£23,369

25,200

Wentworth

35,000

£22,376

21,000

East Midlands

1,759,000

£23,488

1,231,300

Amber Valley

40,000

£21,648

24,000

Ashfield

34,000

£21,523

20,400

Bassetlaw

37,000

£22,958

22,200

Blaby

45,000

£24,294

27,000

Bolsover

33,000

£19,703

19,800

Boston and Skegness

33,000

£17,935

19,800

Bosworth

39,000

£22,849

23,400

Broxtowe

45,000

£26,624

31,500

Charnwood

43,000

£25,698

25,800

Chesterfield

38,000

£20,223

22,800

Corby

42,000

£22,963

25,200

Daventry

52,000

£28,954

36,400

Derby North

41,000

£22,438

24,600

Derby South

39,000

£26,582

23,400

Erewash

44,000

£22,604

26,400

Gainsborough

36,000

£23,036

21,600

Gedling

37,000

£24,211

22,200

Grantham and Stamford

46,000

£25,392

32,200

Harborough

42,000

£23,707

25,200

High Peak

40,000

£24,076

24,000

Kettering

47,000

£25,589

28,200

Leicester East

34,000

£17,706

20,400

Leicester South

35,000

£22,277

21,000

Leicester West

35,000

£18,954

21,000

Lincoln

40,000

£21,778

24,000

Loughborough

42,000

£24,279

25,200

Louth and Horncastle

32,000

£20,675

19,200

Mansfield

40,000

£20,966

24,000

Newark

37,000

£26,114

22,200

North East Derbyshire

31,000

£23,223

18,600

North West Leicestershire

40,000

£25,137

28,000

Northampton North

39,000

£21,050

23,400

Northampton South

57,000

£25,990

39,900

Nottingham East

35,000

£21,206

21,000

Nottingham North

30,000

£17,846

18,000

Nottingham South

31,000

£22,261

18,600

Rushcliffe

54,000

£30,451

37,800

Rutland and Melton

38,000

£25,116

22,800

Sherwood

41,000

£21,445

24,600

Sleaford and North Hykeham

42,000

£21,835

25,200

South Derbyshire

50,000

£23,572

30,000

South Holland and The Deepings

38,000

£22,173

22,800

Wellingborough

46,000

£23,197

27,600

West Derbyshire

39,000

£31,174

23,400

West Midlands

2,063,000

£22,958

1,444,100

Aldridge-Brownhills

26,000

£22,963

15,600

Birmingham, Edgbaston

29,000

£22,667

17,400

Birmingham, Erdington

34,000

£21,185

20,400

Birmingham, Hall Green

30,000

£22,412

18,000

Birmingham, Hodge Hill

23,000

£18,897

13,800

Birmingham, Ladywood

33,000

£21,991

19,800

Birmingham, Northfield

28,000

£22,365

16,800

Birmingham, Perry Barr

30,000

£20,415

18,000

Birmingham, Selly Oak

36,000

£26,010

21,600

Birmingham, Sparkbrook and Small Heath

23,000

£17,862

13,800

Birmingham, Yardley

24,000

£20,514

14,400

Bromsgrove

38,000

£26,655

22,800

Burton

45,000

£21,954

27,000

Cannock Chase

40,000

£20,691

24,000

Coventry North East

37,000

£19,791

22,200

Coventry North West

43,000

£23,364

25,800

Coventry South

36,000

£22,396

21,600

Dudley North

32,000

£20,857

22,400

Dudley South

34,000

£20,930

20,400

Halesowen and Rowley Regis

34,000

£21,731

20,400

Hereford

36,000

£21,169

21,600

Leominster

36,000

£20,805

21,600

Lichfield

38,000

£26,562

26,600

Ludlow

31,000

£25,927

17,050

Meriden

43,000

£26,686

25,800

Mid Worcestershire

39,000

£25,870

23,400

Newcastle-under-Lyme

32,000

£22,334

22,400

North Shropshire

41,000

£24,300

24,600

North Warwickshire

42,000

£22,698

25,200

Nuneaton

41,000

£22,178

24,600

Redditch

35,000

£20,441

21,000

Rugby and Kenilworth

50,000

£26,187

30,000

Shrewsbury and Atcham

39,000

£24,450

23,400

Solihull

40,000

£30,129

24,000

South Staffordshire

36,000

£25,090

25,200

Stafford

37,000

£23,785

22,200

Staffordshire Moorlands

38,000

£22,818

22,800

Stoke-on-Trent Central

29,000

£20,415

17,400

Stoke-on-Trent North

32,000

£19,152

19,200

Stoke-on-Trent South

39,000

£20,722

27,300

Stone

34,000

£26,598

23,800

Stourbridge

34,000

£21,840

20,400

Stratford-on-Avon

48,000

£27,778

28,800

Sutton Coldfield

42,000

£28,444

25,200

Tamworth

42,000

£23,972

25,200

Telford

33,000

£18,590

19,800

The Wrekin

36,000

£22,922

21,600

Walsall North

28,000

£19,802

16,800

Walsall South

27,000

£19,724

16,200

Warley

29,000

£20,275

17,400

Warwick and Leamington

52,000

£28,059

31,200

West Bromwich East

27,000

£22,058

16,200

West Bromwich West

30,000

£19,105

18,000

West Worcestershire

33,000

£23,915

19,800

Wolverhampton North East

29,000

£18,964

17,400

Wolverhampton South East

21,000

£19,276

12,600

Wolverhampton South West

32,000

£24,482

19,200

Worcester

45,000

£21,944

27,000

Wyre Forest

35,000

£20,405

21,000

East of England

2,237,000

£26,125

1,342,200

Basildon

43,000

£23,759

25,800

Bedford

39,000

£23,488

23,400

Billericay

38,000

£27,664

22,800

Braintree

49,000

£27,472

29,400

Brentwood and Ongar

34,000

£36,925

17,000

Broxbourne

35,000

£26,536

21,000

Bury St. Edmunds

47,000

£23,171

28,200

Cambridge

39,000

£28,740

27,300

Castle Point

31,000

£26,234

18,600

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

48,000

£25,324

28,800

Colchester

48,000

£24,580

28,800

Epping Forest

33,000

£29,500

23,100

Great Yarmouth

34,000

£17,950

20,400

Harlow

33,000

£22,308

19,800

Harwich

30,000

£20,498

18,000

Hemel Hempstead

43,000

£27,191

25,800

Hertford and Stortford

46,000

£34,559

29,900

Hertsmere

33,000

£29,619

19,800

Hitchin and Harpenden

33,000

£37,554

19,800

Huntingdon

54,000

£28,361

32,400

Ipswich

48,000

£21,440

28,800

Luton North

37,000

£21,913

22,200

Luton South

37,000

£22,079

22,200

Maldon and East Chelmsford

34,000

£27,529

20,400

Mid Bedfordshire

41,000

£29,177

24,600

Mid Norfolk

36,000

£22,277

21,600

North East Bedfordshire

36,000

£26,988

21,600

North East Cambridgeshire

44,000

£21,310

30,800

North East Hertfordshire

39,000

£30,841

21,450

North Essex

37,000

£26,099

22,200

North Norfolk

29,000

£20,176

17,400

North West Cambridgeshire

55,000

£24,175

33,000

North West Norfolk

35,000

£20,332

21,000

Norwich North

40,000

£19,765

24,000

Norwich South

39,000

£23,156

23,400

Peterborough

39,000

£21,975

23,400

Rayleigh

38,000

£26,879

22,800

Rochford and Southend East

40,000

£23,353

24,000

Saffron Walden

41,000

£30,711

24,600

South Cambridgeshire

47,000

£32,157

30,550

South East Cambridgeshire

55,000

£30,690

38,500

South Norfolk

46,000

£25,558

27,600

South Suffolk

34,000

£23,124

20,400

South West Bedfordshire

42,000

£26,582

25,200

South West Hertfordshire

34,000

£36,291

22,100

South West Norfolk

46,000

£21,190

27,600

Southend West

32,000

£28,891

19,200

St. Albans

41,000

£35,396

22,550

Stevenage

40,000

£27,019

24,000

Suffolk Coastal

38,000

£24,414

22,800

Thurrock

43,000

£26,010

25,800

Watford

45,000

£29,401

31,500

Waveney

37,000

£19,464

22,200

Welwyn Hatfield

32,000

£28,496

19,200

West Chelmsford

45,000

£25,324

27,000

West Suffolk

44,000

£20,322

26,400

London

2,808,000

£32,729

1,965,600

Barking

24,000

£23,696

14,400

Battersea

45,000

£41,876

22,500

Beckenham

40,000

£36,176

24,000

Bethnal Green and Bow

47,000

£31,086

32,900

Bexleyheath and Crayford

34,000

£28,194

20,400

Brent East

36,000

£29,240

21,600

Brent North

31,000

£24,586

18,600

Brent South

37,000

£22,443

22,200

Brentford and Isleworth

50,000

£31,065

32,500

Bromley and Chislehurst

38,000

£35,859

20,900

Camberwell and Peckham

29,000

£23,478

15,950

Carshalton and Wallington

39,000

£28,049

27,300

Chingford and Woodford Green

32,000

£32,848

20,800

Chipping Barnet

32,000

£32,271

20,800

Cities of London and Westminster

54,000

£53,617

16,200

Croydon Central

41,000

£28,574

28,700

Croydon North

43,000

£24,102

25,800

Croydon South

45,000

£34,923

29,250

Dagenham

24,000

£25,423

16,800

Dulwich and West Norwood

40,000

£37,653

24,000

Ealing North

45,000

£28,798

31,500

Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush

45,000

£33,301

31,500

Ealing, Southall

46,000

£28,694

27,600

East Ham

35,000

£23,145

21,000

Edmonton

31,000

£22,729

18,600

Eltham

27,000

£30,612

18,900

Enfield North

37,000

£27,071

25,900

Enfield, Southgate

35,000

£31,044

24,500

Erith and Thamesmead

34,000

£24,794

23,800

Feltham and Heston

45,000

£23,566

27,000

Finchley and Golders Green

37,000

£35,162

20,350

Greenwich and Woolwich

33,000

£36,067

21,450

Hackney North and Stoke Newington

35,000

£31,637

24,500

Hackney South and Shoreditch

36,000

£28,236

21,600

Hammersmith and Fulham

46,000

£43,649

23,000

Hampstead and Highgate

43,000

£47,237

21,500

Harrow East

43,000

£28,610

25,800

Harrow West

42,000

£33,280

25,200

Hayes and Harlington

37,000

£24,679

25,900

Hendon

37,000

£28,579

22,200

Holborn and St. Pancras

33,000

£36,119

21,450

Hornchurch

31,000

£26,660

18,600

Hornsey and Wood Green

43,000

£35,417

27,950

Ilford North

31,000

£33,181

21,700

Ilford South

37,000

£27,685

22,200

Islington North

38,000

£34,419

24,700

Islington South and Finsbury

38,000

£44,112

19,000

Kensington and Chelsea

34,000

£67,376

10,200

Kingston and Surbiton

46,000

£30,956

32,200

Lewisham East

23,000

£28,881

13,800

Lewisham West

31,000

£28,309

21,700

Lewisham, Deptford

30,000

£27,778

21,000

Leyton and Wanstead

36,000

£29,032

25,200

Mitcham and Morden

39,000

£25,600

23,400

North Southwark and Bermondsey

46,000

£35,932

25,300

Old Bexley and Sidcup

36,000

£29,661

25,200

Orpington

39,000

£32,838

23,400

Poplar and Canning Town

52,000

£38,048

31,200

Putney

38,000

£40,300

19,000

Regent's Park and Kensington North

39,000

£49,930

19,500

Richmond Park

45,000

£45,001

22,500

Romford

30,000

£28,179

21,000

Ruislip-Northwood

32,000

£30,659

20,800

Streatham

44,000

£32,188

30,800

Sutton and Cheam

36,000

£32,833

25,200

Tooting

46,000

£38,132

23,000

Tottenham

41,000

£22,849

24,600

Twickenham

45,000

£37,554

22,500

Upminster

32,000

£27,799

22,400

Uxbridge

35,000

£29,838

24,500

Vauxhall

48,000

£30,051

28,800

Walthamstow

34,000

£25,646

23,800

West Ham

36,000

£22,890

21,600

Wimbledon

38,000

£44,580

19,000

South East

3,421,000

£27,810

2,052,600

Aldershot

59,000

£26,494

41,300

Arundel and South Downs

31,000

£29,026

17,050

Ashford

41,000

£24,601

24,600

Aylesbury

44,000

£28,350

26,400

Banbury

52,000

£27,092

36,400

Basingstoke

50,000

£26,322

35,000

Beaconsfield

35,000

£35,110

17,500

Bexhill and Battle

26,000

£25,849

14,300

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

36,000

£18,964

21,600

Bracknell

56,000

£28,813

33,600

Brighton, Kemptown

29,000

£24,622

17,400

Brighton, Pavilion

39,000

£26,255

23,400

Buckingham

43,000

£31,366

23,650

Canterbury

42,000

£23,993

25,200

Chatham and Aylesford

44,000

£22,974

26,400

Chesham and Amersham

35,000

£37,008

19,250

Chichester

40,000

£24,809

24,000

Crawley

49,000

£24,846

29,400

Dartford

45,000

£27,804

27,000

Dover

34,000

£24,809

23,800

East Hampshire

39,000

£30,378

27,300

East Surrey

40,000

£29,042

24,000

East Worthing and Shoreham

37,000

£22,537

22,200

Eastbourne

37,000

£22,194

22,200

Eastleigh

53,000

£26,702

31,800

Epsom and Ewell

43,000

£31,647

23,650

Esher and Walton

42,000

£44,403

16,800

Fareham

42,000

£25,652

25,200

Faversham and Mid Kent

38,000

£24,320

22,800

Folkestone and Hythe

36,000

£26,707

25,200

Gillingham

40,000

£24,757

24,000

Gosport

39,000

£23,483

23,400

Gravesham

35,000

£24,305

21,000

Guildford

45,000

£32,937

24,750

Hastings and Rye

33,000

£19,942

19,800

Havant

36,000

£21,367

21,600

Henley

35,000

£31,429

19,250

Horsham

47,000

£30,373

25,850

Hove

39,000

£26,151

23,400

Isle of Wight

50,000

£21,336

30,000

Lewes

32,000

£28,990

19,200

Maidenhead

37,000

£32,854

20,350

Maidstone and The Weald

47,000

£27,690

28,200

Medway

37,000

£24,861

22,200

Mid Sussex

46,000

£28,626

27,600

Milton Keynes South West

57,000

£26,744

39,900

Mole Valley

33,000

£38,345

21,450

New Forest East

38,000

£24,263

26,600

New Forest West

31,000

£25,449

17,050

Newbury

42,000

£30,181

27,300

North East Hampshire

42,000

£33,285

23,100

North East Milton Keynes

52,000

£27,654

31,200

North Thanet

35,000

£20,597

21,000

North West Hampshire

48,000

£27,908

33,600

Oxford East

45,000

£23,837

31,500

Oxford West and Abingdon

51,000

£26,868

35,700

Portsmouth North

34,000

£22,776

20,400

Portsmouth South

36,000

£19,854

21,600

Reading East

57,000

£29,078

34,200

Reading West

48,000

£25,693

28,800

Reigate

36,000

£34,887

19,800

Romsey

39,000

£28,267

21,450

Runnymede and Weybridge

40,000

£35,589

26,000

Sevenoaks

35,000

£36,135

19,250

Sittingbourne and Sheppey

34,000

£23,514

20,400

Slough

48,000

£24,612

33,600

South Thanet

24,000

£19,937

13,200

South West Surrey

40,000

£38,059

24,000

Southampton, Itchen

42,000

£21,944

25,200

Southampton, Test

38,000

£20,675

22,800

Spelthorne

41,000

£30,805

28,700

Surrey Heath

47,000

£30,737

28,200

Tonbridge and Malling

42,000

£30,758

23,100

Tunbridge Wells

39,000

£32,120

27,300

Wantage

48,000

£29,999

33,600

Wealden

40,000

£30,389

24,000

Winchester

49,000

£30,560

26,950

Windsor

45,000

£33,358

24,750

Witney

44,000

£27,856

26,400

Woking

43,000

£31,413

23,650

Wokingham

47,000

£32,058

25,850

Worthing West

39,000

£22,178

23,400

Wycombe

44,000

£30,498

26,400

South West

2,071,000

£22,901

1,449,700

Bath

41,000

£26,478

24,600

Bournemouth East

34,000

£23,197

20,400

Bournemouth West

32,000

£21,278

19,200

Bridgwater

40,000

£21,866

24,000

Bristol East

43,000

£21,232

25,800

Bristol North West

50,000

£22,464

30,000

Bristol South

48,000

£21,065

28,800

Bristol West

48,000

£29,926

28,800

Cheltenham

44,000

£27,425

26,400

Christchurch

33,000

£20,972

18,150

Cotswold

34,000

£24,040

20,400

Devizes

51,000

£24,684

30,600

East Devon

28,000

£25,766

19,600

Exeter

48,000

£21,902

28,800

Falmouth and Camborne

35,000

£19,318

21,000

Forest of Dean

28,000

£22,854

16,800

Gloucester

53,000

£21,445

31,800

Kingswood

53,000

£20,753

31,800

Mid Dorset and North Poole

37,000

£22,214

22,200

North Cornwall

36,000

£18,434

21,600

North Devon

34,000

£20,145

18,700

North Dorset

40,000

£23,722

24,000

North Swindon

51,000

£24,071

35,700

North Wiltshire

44,000

£26,239

26,400

Northavon

50,000

£24,409

30,000

Plymouth, Devonport

38,000

£19,547

22,800

Plymouth, Sutton

40,000

£21,226

24,000

Poole

34,000

£23,707

20,400

Salisbury

48,000

£23,062

28,800

Somerton and Frome

40,000

£23,223

24,000

South Dorset

36,000

£20,935

21,600

South East Cornwall

39,000

£20,493

23,400

South Swindon

49,000

£25,392

29,400

South West Devon

39,000

£25,511

27,300

St. Ives

27,000

£20,030

16,200

Stroud

43,000

£26,666

25,800

Taunton

46,000

£23,374

27,600

Teignbridge

41,000

£21,975

24,600

Tewkesbury

37,000

£25,875

22,200

Tiverton and Honiton

45,000

£20,264

27,000

Torbay

36,000

£18,439

21,600

Torridge and West Devon

43,000

£18,949

23,650

Totnes

28,000

£21,128

15,400

Truro and St. Austell

38,000

£20,712

22,800

Wansdyke

40,000

£22,766

24,000

Wells

42,000

£21,414

25,200

West Dorset

36,000

£22,859

21,600

Westbury

44,000

£25,589

26,400

Weston-Super-Mare

44,000

£23,234

26,400

Woodspring

45,000

£29,245

31,500

Yeovil

43,000

£20,743

25,800

Wales / Cymru

1,069,000

£22,043

748,300

Aberavon / Aberafan

24,000

£22,916

14,400

Alyn and Deeside / Alun a Glannau Dyfrdwy

33,000

£21,013

19,800

Blaenau Gwent / Blaenau Gwent

25,000

£17,820

15,000

Brecon and Radnorshire / Brycheiniog a Sir Faesyfed

20,000

£19,115

11,000

Bridgend / Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr

31,000

£23,592

21,700

Caernarfon / Caernarfon

20,000

£18,138

12,000

Caerphilly / Caerfilli

33,000

£20,472

19,800

Cardiff Central / Canol Caerdydd

31,000

£24,248

18,600

Cardiff North / Gogledd Caerdydd

34,000

£26,187

20,400

Cardiff South and Penarth / De Caerdydd a Phenarth

36,000

£23,384

21,600

Cardiff West / Gorllewin Caerdydd

30,000

£26,151

21,000

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr / Dwyrain Caerfryddin a Dinefwr

24,000

£20,810

14,400

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire / Gorllewin Caerfryddin a De Sir Benfro

24,000

£21,258

13,200

Ceredigion / Ceredigion

22,000

£19,001

13,200

Clwyd South / De Clwyd

29,000

£21,065

17,400

Clwyd West / Gorllewin Clwyd

28,000

£24,253

16,800

Conwy / Conwy

26,000

£18,262

15,600

Cynon Valley / Cwm Cynon

19,000

£22,610

10,450

Delyn / Delyn

25,000

£23,400

15,000

Gower / Gŵyr

28,000

£22,859

19,600

Islwyn / Islwyn

25,000

£21,528

15,000

Llanelli / Llanelli

28,000

£20,446

16,800

Meirionnydd Nant Conwy / Meirionnydd Nant Conwy

12,000

£17,228

2,400

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney / Merthyr Tudful and Rhymni

28,000

£19,895

16,800

Monmouth / Mynwy

35,000

£25,199

21,000

Montgomeryshire / Sir Drefaldwyn

18,000

£23,150

9,900

Neath / Castell-nedd

29,000

£21,658

17,400

Newport East / Dwyrain Casnewydd

29,000

£23,384

17,400

Newport West / Gorllewin Casnewydd

28,000

£24,809

16,800

Ogmore / Ogwr

26,000

£19,848

15,600

Pontypridd / Pontypridd

37,000

£21,752

25,900

Preseli Pembrokeshire / Presell Sir Benfro

23,000

£22,438

12,650

Rhondda / Rhondda

22,000

£19,552

15,400

Swansea East / Dwyrain Abertawe

29,000

£20,036

17,400

Swansea West / Gorllewin Abertawe

25,000

£23,083

15,000

Torfaen / Tor-faen

28,000

£22,136

19,600

Vale of Clwyd / Duffryn Clwyd

22,000

£18,392

13,200

Vale of Glamorgan / Bro Morgannwg

36,000

£25,558

21,600

Wrexham / Wrecsam

26,000

£23,478

15,600

Ynys Mon / Ynys Môn

24,000

£21,346

14,400

Scotland

2,177,000

£23,764

1,523,900

Aberdeen North

50,000

£23,348

30,000

Aberdeen South

45,000

£28,844

27,000

Airdrie & Shotts

35,000

£21,689

21,000

Angus

34,000

£21,564

23,800

Argyll & Bute

30,000

£21,304

18,000

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

37,000

£24,258

22,200

Banff & Buchan

32,000

£22,916

19,200

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

41,000

£20,779

24,600

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

23,000

£22,916

12,650

Central Ayrshire

34,000

£22,937

20,400

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

40,000

£22,240

24,000

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

38,000

£22,324

22,800

Dumfries and Galloway

33,000

£20,800

19,800

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

34,000

£23,062

20,400

Dundee East

36,000

£22,932

21,600

Dundee West

27,000

£20,758

16,200

Dunfermline and West Fife

41,000

£23,707

28,700

East Dunbartonshire

35,000

£29,796

24,500

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

43,000

£22,864

30,100

East Lothian

45,000

£24,601

31,500

East Renfrewshire

37,000

£28,111

22,200

Edinburgh East

40,000

£24,788

24,000

Edinburgh North and Leith

49,000

£28,116

34,300

Edinburgh South

43,000

£30,633

30,100

Edinburgh South West

47,000

£26,073

28,200

Edinburgh West

37,000

£25,064

22,200

Falkirk

43,000

£22,781

25,800

Glasgow Central

25,000

£24,586

15,000

Glasgow East

29,000

£20,836

17,400

Glasgow North

28,000

£25,381

16,800

Glasgow North East

30,000

£20,368

18,000

Glasgow North West

33,000

£26,556

23,100

Glasgow South

39,000

£26,198

27,300

Glasgow South West

35,000

£21,102

24,500

Glenrothes

36,000

£19,188

21,600

Gordon

48,000

£27,799

33,600

Inverclyde

34,000

£22,298

20,400

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

48,000

£21,440

28,800

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

42,000

£21,726

25,200

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

37,000

£23,447

22,200

Lanark and Hamilton East

42,000

£26,156

29,400

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

46,000

£23,884

32,200

Livingston

50,000

£22,521

30,000

Midlothian

39,000

£22,740

27,300

Moray

36,000

£19,547

21,600

Motherwell and Wishaw

36,000

£21,471

25,200

Na h-Eileanan an Iar

9,000

£22,864

3,600

North Ayrshire and Arran

37,000

£22,121

25,900

North East Fife

30,000

£25,048

21,000

Ochil and South Perthshire

45,000

£22,022

27,000

Orkney and Shetland

21,000

£22,230

12,600

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

42,000

£25,678

29,400

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

37,000

£23,140

22,200

Perth and North Perthshire

42,000

£23,104

29,400

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

26,000

£19,984

15,600

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

42,000

£22,568

29,400

Stirling

31,000

£30,436

17,050

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

40,000

£26,941

24,000

West Dunbartonshire

36,000

£21,455

25,200

Northern Ireland

701,000

£22,168

490,700

Not Classified

392,000

£21,377

274,400

Notes: These constituency figures under-estimate the total number of gainers, since the ASHE survey only includes people who have been in the same job for a year or more. Constituency figures also under-estimate the number of gainers as ASHE data on constituencies do not include earnings figures for the 80th to 90th percentiles of earners, many of whom will earn below £45,400. These earners are included in ASHE data on regions, which is why constituency figures will not round to regional totals.

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Benyon backs local volunteers

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury MP has signed up to Volunteering England’s volunteering pledge.

volunteerpledge

Volunteering England, the volunteering development charity, drew up the pledge as a way for MPs and PPCs across the country to demonstrate their commitment to volunteering and their support for the efforts of voluntary workers in their constituencies.

Richard  made the following pledge at the House of Commons.

“I will work hard to support volunteers and organisations that involve volunteers, both in my constituency and across the country. I will do this by:

  • Recognising the value of volunteering in building a strong society
  • Promoting positive messages about volunteering
  • Encouraging more people to give their time by helping free volunteers from red-tape
  • Supporting the organisations who support volunteers”

 

Richard said

 

“Volunteering has rarely played a more important role in society. Right now in West Berkshire,  many people are giving their time to help others: Delivering meals to elderly residents, mentoring young people to help them secure a brighter future, providing much needed support in hospices and hospitals, and campaigning on local issues. Volunteers contribute in many ways; and being a volunteer contributes to people’s skills, confidence and employability.”

 

Notes:

  • The Volunteering Pledge forms part of Volunteering England’s Manifesto Campaign. The Manifesto launches on the 3rd March 2010 and aims to secure ongoing support for volunteering by the new Government after the election as well as widespread recognition of the value of volunteering.
  • Volunteering England is the volunteer development agency for England. We work with private, public and voluntary sector organisations and individuals to increase the quality, quantity, impact and accessibility of volunteering.
  • For media enquiries about Volunteering England, contact Kimberley Rowley on 0207 520 8932 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • To find out more about the work of Volunteering England visit www.volunteeringengland.org

 

Photo shows Richard signing the pledge with Sukhvindar Kaur-Stubbs, Chair of Volunteering England

 

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Newbury MP to speak in Adjournment Debate today

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has secured an Adjournment Debate on the floor of the House of Commons tonight,  Monday 1 March 2010, to be held at the close of business, between 21.00 and 21.30, to discuss Warmfront/Eaga and, in particular, the case of Mr D R Smith of Thatcham.

Mr Smith qualified for a Warmfront Grant in 2007 but, due to the complexity of Eaga’s requirements for having the work carried out, he inadvertently appointed an installer not approved to undertake Eaga contracts.  In light of this, payment of his Grant was not honoured, although the funds still remain available to him and there is no doubt about the quality of the work carried out.

Richard said, “I have been helping Mr Smith with his case with the Department and Eaga for many months and this Debate is the next stage in getting justice for my constituent.”

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Let’s give West Berkshire superfast broadband – without an unfair phone tax

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The MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has welcomed new Conservative plans to deliver the roll out of superfast broadband at speeds of up to 100 Mbps across West Berkshire by 2017. This stands in stark contrast to the Government’s new £7 per year ‘phone tax’ on every telephone line.

Gordon Brown’s Government wants to impose a new £6 + VAT tax which will be levied on every fixed telephone line in all homes and businesses across the country. Homes with multiple lines might pay multiple times. The tax would be levied on homes with and without broadband access.

Conservatives have unveiled alternative proposals to increase competition and introduce superfast broadband across the United Kingdom. The action plan will:

  • Open up BT’s ‘local loop’ monopoly to other telecommunication operators, and review unfair business rate rules.
  • Investigate the use of sewers and other utility infrastructure to lay broadband cables.
  • Allow telegraph poles to be fitted with fibre optic cables, rather than old fashioned copper wire.
  • Ensure that all new homes are capable of receiving superfast broadband through a fibre to the home network.
  • Use money currently allocated to the digital TV national switchover to help establish a universal network, and after 2012, look at using this money to ensure superfast broadband reaches rural areas.

At present, 87% of homes in the South East have a fixed telephone line, and 74% have access to some form of broadband internet access.

Richard Benyon said:

Some communities in West Berkshire are being held back by lack of access to Broadband.  This impacts on people’s ability to work from home, run businesses in rural areas, or to study.  Conservative plans will be a massive boost for all parts of West Berkshire, but particularly rural communities.   The Conservatives will open up the BT monopoly and increase competition, while Labour just want to hit homes with an unfair new phone tax.”

 

Notes to Editors

 

REGIONAL FIGURES – THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

The charts below show how many homes currently have a fixed telephone line and have access to broadband internet.

Homes

UK

England

Scotland

Wales

N. Ireland

UK Urban

UK Rural

Telephone line (voice)

87%

88%

84%

83%

87%

87%

92%

Broadband internet access (fixed and mobile)

68%

70%

60%

58%

64%

68%

67%

Homes

London

South East

South West

East Mids

West Mids

East of England

Yorks. & Humber

North East

North West

Telephone line (voice)

93%

87%

95%

84%

83%

92%

85%

80%

86%

Broadband internet access (fixed and mobile)

78%

78%

74%

64%

57%

75%

61%

65%

63%

 

Source: Ofcom, Summary of telecoms and internet take-up, residential summary, Q 1 2009.

from http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/cmrnr09/charts/telecoms.pdf

 

LABOUR’S PHONE TAX

 

The Government are planning that every home and business with a fixed landline or other data lines will pay a £6 a year tax per line, across the United Kingdom. This is estimated to raise £440 million between 2010-13 (HM Treasury, Pre-Budget Report 2009, p.10). VAT will also be levied on top, raising up to £77 million in additional revenue, and raising the tax to £7.05 per line for a home.

It was originally proposed that this tax would only be levied on fixed copper (telephone) lines, but a consultation document published in December revealed the tax would be aimed at all local loops regardless of what they consist of (e.g. copper pair, co-axial cable, fibre) and it was intended to cover services which may “include traditional voice services or other data services”.

The consultation continues “where more than one local loop is provided...the duty is payable on both lines” (p..9). Some 1.7 million households have a different broadband supplier to their telephone line supplier (The Times, 26 November 2009). They could pay this tax twice. If a household also had a different supplier for its fax, they could pay three times what was originally suggested.

HM Treasury, Implementing a Landline Duty, December 2009.

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/consult_landlineduty.htm

 

CONSERVATIVE ACTION PLAN

 

To help deliver the roll out of superfast broadband at speeds of up to 100 Mbps to the majority of homes across the UK by 2017, Conservatives would:

 

 

  • Require BT to open up its infrastructure, including ducts and dark fibre, to other operators. This will allow others to build high speed networks and ensure that we do not rely solely on BT for the provision of superfast broadband.
  • Investigate the potential use of other infrastructure, such as sewers, for the delivery of superfast broadband.
  • Update building regulations to ensure all new build developments are able to receive superfast broadband.
  • Current regulations will be amended to allow widespread aerial deployment of fibre using BT’s existing telegraph poles. Since fibre optic cables are far more efficient and have far higher capacity than old copper wire cables, there will be no detrimental effect on visual amenity.
  • Re-examine the case for changing the rating system for fibre networks with a view to removing all current disadvantages suffered by new operators.
  •  
  • Support the use of any under spend from the digital switchover fund being used to establish a universal broadband network of 2 Mbps by 2012. We believe that this approach could be continued post-2012 if the market has not started delivering superfast broadband to all parts of the country, including rural areas.

 

 

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Richard Benyon MP thanked for pledging to “do his bit” for British Armed Forces

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ps

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, has been thanked for pledging to do his bit for the British Armed Forces family.

Richard met with a delegation from The Royal British Legion at Westminster to get behind the charity’s call for general election candidates of all parties to support the whole Armed Forces family. Richard also discussed the Legion’s manifesto and the changes that it is calling for.

The manifesto sets out priorities for the next Government to improve conditions for the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It encourages MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to “do their bit” for Service Personnel and their families, the bereaved, veterans and dependants.

During the meeting, Richard was photographed with a giant replica of the personalised pledge card, which he has been given by the Legion in recognition of his pledge.

Kevin Shinkwin, the Legion’s Head of Public Affairs, said, “We’re delighted to give Richard his pledge card in recognition of his pledge to do his bit. Our message to every MP and candidate standing at the general election is very simple: “It’s time to do your bit. How you do that is entirely up to you but pledging publicly at www.timetodoyourbit.org.uk is a great way of showing your support for the whole Armed Forces family, both now and beyond the general election.”

“Both the serving and ex-Service community need the support of politicians,” he added. “Our manifesto outlines practical ways the next government can help, and we hope all the parties will give it serious consideration”.

Richard said, “I was really pleased to pledge to do my bit and to get my pledge card from the Legion. I know the work they do for the whole Armed Forces family matters not just to me, but to so many of my constituents as well. It’s so important we all get behind them, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my party responds to their manifesto”.

rbl

Richard is pictured being presented by Legion staff member, Bethan Herbert, with a giant replica of the personalised pledge card which he has been given in recognition of his pledge.

For further information, please contact: Kevin Shinkwin, Head of Public Affairs

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. T: 020 3207 2246

NOTE TO EDITORS:

The Royal British Legion is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem the red poppy -- www.britishlegion.org.uk.

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MP comments on snow storms

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, has paid tribute to Council and Veolia workers who have been doing their best to keep our roads clear in the severe snow storms we have faced.

Richard said:

"Many Council and Veolia employees have worked long, late hours to keep West Berkshire moving. I pay tribute to their efforts in the difficult circumstances they face. I have kept in touch with Council officials who are coordinating efforts to deal with the exceptional snow falls across West Berkshire. The good news is that salt supplies are getting through and we must just hope that these conditions do not last for too long"

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Benyon stands up for Home Educators

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon last night submitted a petition to Parliament on behalf of parents who wish to educate their children at home. This small but determined group of parents are appalled at Government plans to place many admirable home educators under an unwarranted cloud of suspicion. The Government's decision to include elements of the Badman Review on Home Education in the Children, Schools and Families Bill announced in the Queen’s speech, especially given the DCSF Select Committee has still yet to publish its findings into the review.

Richard Benyon said,

"I recognise the right of parents to educate their children at home. It is the parents’ decision and, as such, must be respected. Home educators from West Berkshire whom I have met have impressed me with their approach to the responsible task of educating their children. Of course it is not for everyone but I totally reject the Governments ham fisted attempt to over regulate this group of parents"

Richard Benyon has also written to Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, on behalf of home educating parents.

Notes

  • Wording on the petition states :-

The Petition of persons resident in the Newbury parliamentary constituency.

Declare that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggest closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people’s homes for local authority officials; further declares that the petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.

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Commission for Rural Communities visit Newbury

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As part of their investigation into Market Towns the Government's Commission on Rural Communities (CRC) (http://www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk/ ) visited Newbury on Saturday. They were met by local MP, Richard Benyon, who took them into the Town Centre. Here they met Mike and Pearl Hancock, the proprietors of "Munchies" in the Kennet Centre. Following a visit to Katherine Jane, an independent clothes retailer, they went on to see the Saturday market meeting the Market Manager. They then toured the market speaking to traders about difficulties facing market towns and the viability of stall trading in today’s economy. Following this they met with Newbury's Mayor, Kuldip Singh Kang, and the Director of the Corn Exchange, Nick Giles in the Corn Exchange.

The delegation was led by the Chairman of the CRC, Stuart Burgess who commented. Following the visit Richard Benyon said,

"I was delighted that the Commission asked to come to Newbury. They received mixed messages from traders about the state of the local economy and the viability of the market but they got an honest impression of a town that is fighting back from the recession. They also met people proud of Newbury's status as a hub for the surrounding community with shops, restaurants, businesses and arts bodies all determined to succeed."

 crc chair visit - 28th nov - 2

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MP hosts event in support of local pubs

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, working with West Berkshire Council, hosted an event on Monday morning in support of pubs across West Berkshire.

Richard said, “Pubs are closing at an alarming rate and I am keen to demonstrate my concern and support for these institutions, which are at the hub of our towns and villages.  Once a pub closes, it is lost forever and, along with it, can go the sole of a community, particularly in rural areas.  We must act now in this difficult economic times before it is too late.”

 supporting pubs event - 2nd november

The event attracted some 30 publicans from across West Berkshire, with a good mix between town and country.  They heard from Phillip Davidson, Landlord of The Sun in the Wood at Ashmore Green and British Institute of Innkeeping Licensee of the Year on matters of best practise and diversification.  Dave Maggs, proprietor of the West Berkshire Brewery spoke about the real difference a small brewery, with specialist products, can make to the trade and Peter Sadler, landlord of the Hogs Head in Newbury highlighted the work of Newbury Pub Watch.  Elizabeth Whitehead, a regular at The Castle Inn at Cold Ash, outlined a scheme by which locals detailed skills-needed-and-skills-offered on a board at the pub and how this had encouraged visitors and increased trade.

On hand to offer advice and answer questions were Executive Members of West Berkshire Council, with responsibilities including Leisure & Culture, Environment & Public Protection, Housing & Transport and Strategy & Performance.  Apart from dissatisfaction about the Government’s application of Business Rates and unfair competition from supermarkets, an important concern, raised by Robin Young, Landlord of The Pheasant Inn at Shefford Woodlands, was the difficulty of getting brown tourist signs erected, guiding visitors to local attractions, including pubs.  In response, Cllr Pamela Bale, whose portfolio includes Leisure & Culture, said, “I understand that this is a real problem and will review our policy and its application to ensure that it is as constructive and helpful as possible, within the rules laid down by central Government.”

In conclusion, Richard Benyon thanked everyone for attending, what people claimed a useful meeting, saying, “I believe that pubs are vital to our future wellbeing and pledge to do everything I can to help them survive and thrive.”

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MP BACKS BILL BRYSON'S LITTER CAMPAIGN

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Richard Benyon MP this week attended the launch of an exhibition in Parliament to back Stop the Drop, a campaign against countryside litter and fly-tipping by CPRE [1]. The campaign is being fronted by the charity’s President, author Bill Bryson.

cpre - with bill bryson

Stop the Drop highlights the growing problems of litter and fly-tipping in England’s countryside. According to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, the headline statistic on local authority performance on litter fell from ‘satisfactory to ‘unsatisfactory’ between 2005/06 and 2006/07, and remained ‘unsatisfactory’ in 2007/08 [2]. Litter is five times worse than in the 1960s.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where litter is often left to lie for much longer than in towns and cities. Litter on verges and landscaping alongside rural roads is now a significant problem. [2]

Richard Benyon MP said: “I am delighted to be able to support Bill Bryson and CPRE in this important campaign. Litter and fly-tipping are an unsightly and unnecessary blight on too much of our countryside. I know that my constituents in [constituency name] want to see more action from responsible bodies to clean up our towns and countryside.”

Bill Bryson said: “I welcome the support of Richard Benyon MP for our Stop the Drop campaign. We need the backing of as many MPs as possible to persuade people to stop dropping litter, and to prevail on those with the powers to do so to clean it up. Litter is becoming the default condition of much of the countryside, and it is time that we – all of us – did something about this. The landscape is too lovely to trash.”

CPRE is highlighting the need for stronger leadership from central Government to tackle litter and fly-tipping, and better enforcement of existing laws by local authorities and others. Collectively, councils spend more than £500 million a year clearing litter up – a bill that is ultimately met by taxpayers. Local authorities can hand out fixed penalty notices to people dropping litter, but in 2006/07 just 25 of the 354 English local authorities gave out 62% of the fines, and 72 issued none at all.

There are similar enforcement problems with fly-tipping. Between 2007/08 and 2008/09, there has been a welcome fall in the number of incidents dealt with by local authorities. Yet of 1.16 million incidents in 2008/09, just 1,941 were successfully prosecuted.[3] That means there is just a one in 600 chance of being caught for fly-tipping.

Bill Bryson said: “Littering is not a crime that has anyone quaking for fear of the consequences because, by and large, there are no consequences. If we want the cleaner, tidier countryside that we all deserve, we need firm action and leadership at both national and local level, to show that dropping litter and fly-tipping will not continue to be consequence-free crimes.”

To find out more about CPRE’s campaign, visit www.cpre.org.uk. You can also find out what’s going on in your own area, and start picking up litter yourself, by visiting www.litteraction.org.uk. [4]

NOTES

1. CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. CPRE advocates positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. President: Bill Bryson. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.

2. Keep Britain Tidy Local Environmental Quality Survey of England 2006/07 and 2007/8. http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/ImgLibrary/Local%20Environmental%20Quality%20Survey%20of%20England%202007-2008_223.pdf

3. Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/local/flytipping/flycapture-data.htm#LA  

4. CPRE is working in partnership with CleanupUK on the www.litteraction.org.uk website. The website links together volunteer groups and individuals across England, enabling them to work together to tackle problems of litter locally, and giving them support with best practice, guidance and links to campaigning advice. CleanupUK is a charity dedicated to supporting the work of volunteer Litter collecting groups and individuals around the UK and to encouraging the formation of new volunteer groups. www.cleanupuk.org.uk

5.  Photo shows Richard Benyon and Bill Bryson.

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MPs’ Expenses

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Sir Thomas Legg, the person charged with undertaking the independent review of the Parliamentary Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) (the second homes allowance for MPs), has written to all MPs giving details of what elements of the ACA claimed in the last 4 years they should pay back or whether they are required to give further supporting evidence.

Newbury's MP, Richard Benyon has been told by Sir Thomas that no action is required by him concerning this matter. Richard claimed only a small proportion of the amount to which he was entitled in the first year he was in Parliament, and even less in the second. He has not claimed anything under this allowance since 2006/7

Click below to see a copy of the letter from Sir Tom Legg

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MPs’ Expenses (2)

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Sir Thomas Legg, the person charged with undertaking the independent review of the Parliamentary Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) (the second homes allowance for MPs), has written to all MPs giving details of what elements of the ACA claimed in the last 4 years they should pay back or whether they are required to give further supporting evidence.

Newbury's MP, Richard Benyon has been told by Sir Thomas that no action is required by him concerning this matter. Richard claimed only a small proportion of the amount to which he was entitled in the first year he was in Parliament, and even less in the second. He has not claimed anything under this allowance since 2006/7

Click below to see a copy of the letter from Sir Tom Legg

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MP backs campaign to help local deaf children achieve their potential

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Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, met with a deaf 17-year-old TV star, at the Conservative Party conference, to find out about the barriers deaf young people face at school. Louis Kissaun, who attends the Mary Hare school for the deaf in Newbury, starred in the Channel 4 series Shameless, spoke out about the reasons deaf children and young people are underachieving (1), including the damaging impact poor acoustics in the classroom can have on their learning.

Louis is backing the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) Sounds Good? campaign to ensure new schools are tested for acoustic quality before they are used. Research commissioned by NDCS shows that high quality acoustics in the classroom are essential for all children to learn effectively, with particular importance for deaf children (2). Yet as the government spends billions of pounds on the schools rebuilding programme, many schools are being built with poor acoustics that do not meet minimum building standards.

Louis explained to Richard: “Growing up as a deaf person I and lots of my friends have had to work much harder to do well. Noisy classrooms give me headaches and make it harder for me to concentrate and learn. I had to move many miles away from my home so that I could go to a specialist school for deaf children with good acoustics. It is frustrating that not all schools are accessible to deaf children.

Acting in Shameless was a great experience and I hope that it has raised awareness of what deaf young people can achieve. I’m hoping for good results in my A Levels and am aiming to go into a career in film directing or writing. But I’ve only been able to achieve at school thanks to all the support I had from my parents and my teachers. It’s really important that other deaf children and young people get the same support.”

Richard Benyon said:

“I fully support the NDCS Sounds Good? campaign.  I was concerned when I found out the immense difficulties pupils with a hearing impairment face when trying to hear a teacher in a classroom with poor acoustics. We should not be putting children in classes in which they cannot learn. Barriers such as this must be broken down if we want to give deaf children the best chance of achieving their full educational potential.”

Brian Gale, NDCS Director of Policy and Campaigns, explains:

“Too many deaf children are not achieving their educational potential and too little attention is paid to how difficult it is for young people like Louis to listen and learn in the classroom. It is fantastic that Richard Benyon MP is supporting the rights of deaf children and has taken the time to meet with Louis. Louis is an inspiration to all of us and has proved that deafness shouldn’t hold anyone back.”

MP backs campaign to help local deaf children achieve their potential

For further information please contact:

Anna Galandzij, NDCS Assistant Media Relations Officer
Tel: 020 7014 1178
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text76359+'<\/a>'; //-->

Jessica Reeves, Policy and Campaigns Officer
Tel: 020 7014 1179
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text3824+'<\/a>'; //-->

Notes to editors

NDCS is the national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. We represent the interests and campaign for the rights of all deaf children and young people from birth until they reach independence.

Sources

(1) Official statistics show that last year, deaf children in England were 42% less likely than all children to achieve five GCSEs at grades A* to C (including English and Maths), and poor acoustics are proven to be one of a range of barriers to their progress. Deafness is not a learning disability, and given the right support, most deaf children should be achieving on a par with their hearing peers.

(2) Earlier in 2009, NDCS and Essex County Council funded the analysis of data which tested the effects of applying three different acoustic standards in classrooms at Sweyne Park School. Data on acoustic performance was collected, as well as teacher and pupil questionnaires/interviews, and pupil hearing assessments. The interim report established that acoustic conditions can be created which enhance inclusion and support the teaching and learning process in a number of positive ways.

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MP and Councillor meet BBSRC re the Institute of Animal Health Closure

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon and Compton Councillor, Barbara Alexander, met with senior representatives of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Institute of Animal Health to discuss the future of the Compton site, following its closure in 2013. Richard and Barbara conveyed the concerns of local people and said the closure will disadvantage the village through loss of employment or the unwarranted imposition of a large amount of new housing.

The BBSRC and the IAH made it clear that no decisions have been made and they have commissioned a detailed consultation report on the potential for the site, other land in their ownership and the adjacent farming business.

Richard Benyon said, "This was a useful meeting at which Barbara and I made a commitment to involve ourselves in this matter at every stage. I was pleased by the commitment of BBSRC and IAH to invite as much public consultation from the community as possible."

Barbara Alexander said, "I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this important issue and keen to make the point that this did not only affect Compton but the surrounding villages as well."

MP and Councillor meet BBSRC re the Institute of Animal Health Closure

NOTES

Photograph shows :- Deputy CEO Steve Visscher, Estates Director Dev Biddlecombe , Finance Director David Parfrey, Deputy Director IAH Richard Shaw, Richard Benyon MP and Cllr Barbara Alexander

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Interview for Newbury Business Today

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Richard Maynard talks to Newbury’s MP, Richard Benyon, about the issues facing businesses in his constituency

RICHARD Benyon has been the MP for Newbury since 2005 and is a familiar face on the local business circuit. As well as being the Conservative Shadow Minister for agriculture, fisheries and wildlife, he is also a qualified Chartered Surveyor, having been involved in the running of the ‘family business’ at Englefield.
 He recently organised a ‘Recession Buster’ forum at Newbury College aimed at giving information to local businesses having a hard time in the current trading conditions.
What, I asked, were local businesses citing to him as the biggest issues facing them? “I think the recession started to bite in the New Year,” he said. “I’ve come across companies that have laid off people, with the result that business managers are working incredibly hard to keep businesses going, because they have, for example, laid off a driver, they may have laid off a marketing manager, and they’re having to pick up a lot of those things themselves. What motivates a lot of business managers is what the business does, rather than the more tedious side of compliance, cashflow management and talking to the bank, so these tend to be things that people put to one side.
“What I tried to do with the recession networking event that we ran up the college was just to provide some free support to small and medium-sided businesses’ managers to understand how to constructively cost-cut and how to manage the difficult time during a recession.

“I hope we did a bit of good. There may be an opportunity to do that again. I’m getting conflicting views about where the recession is going – I hear that footfall is up in the town, but some traders don’t agree. I hear that some businesses are doing well, and that’s the point that we all have to remember – you can’t speak about business in West Berkshire as a whole, you can generalise but you have to be careful in doing that.”

He added: “I remain of the opinion that West Berkshire has fantastic business possibilities, because of its location – it’s in the Thames Valley, it’s at the crossroads of the central south, and it’s got a very well-networked business community, much more than many of my colleagues. When I talk to other MPs about how many business breakfasts I am asked to go to they don’t have anything like that, so I think that’s a sign that we’ve got a vibrant business community, even though they’re finding things tough.”
One of Mr Benyon’s recent engagements was the launch onto the market of two office buildings at Newbury Business Park. Did he think that this was a sign that there was cause for optimism? “Talking to a lot of people in the property sector, about where they think it’s going, there is certainly still a market. We were very much led to believe that there wasn’t, and there wouldn’t be for a very long time, so the fact there is interest, and that businesses are looking to expand or relocate, or in some cases downsize to a property such as that, but they are making Newbury their destination of choice, is good.

“I think that there are a few headline events that will lead people and kickstart the revival. Renaissance [the planned hotel development in the Faraday Road area of Newbury] – I think that has the potential to unlock a completely new look for a part of Newbury that desperately needs it. You can roll out towards Hambridge Lane and get benefits for the next generation. It could really put us on the map. But we shouldn’t get too excited about these things because there is always a long time they happen.
“I have always been a supporter of Park Way [the massive redevelopment currently taking place in Newbury town centre] and we have to recognise that it’s the only major retail project happening in any town in England south of, I think, York. There were many question marks about its viability, but Standard Life have gone with it, and to their credit, it’s all on schedule and I’m convinced it will be great for the town.”

Mr Benyon said the he felt a degree of “exasperation” at those who were negative about the current state of Newbury town centre, adding: “It’s up to us to tell people that Newbury is open for business and that there are places for them to park, at reasonable prices, competitive with other towns, and they can support our traders.”
Should the Conservative-run district council have done more to get that message out? “Perhaps we were all slow on the uptake. Perhaps I could have done more to address some of the negative comments earlier. I think the council have done their bit in improving signage at low level. You can’t alter the fact that we have a major building project going on in the town centre.”

How did Mr Benyon rate the Government’s response to the economic downturn? “I think it was very slow on getting help for small businesses in terms of finance,” he said. “We started going on about our loan guarantee scheme in the autumn of last year. It took until the end of January before the Government started talking about a similar scheme, and it’s taken forever to get that off the ground and it’s modest in comparison to what we were proposing. Getting some sort of loan guarantee scheme off the ground was vital, and it remains a problem – access to funding.” He said that businessmen were visiting his surgeries with “tears of frustration” in their eyes because of problems they were facing, both through the inflexibility of banks and a lack of understanding on the part of HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), which he believed was pushing businesses over the edge and making people unemployed.

Mr Benyon said that based on his own experience, he wanted to massively reduce the red tape imposed on rural businesses. “We want to reduce the amount of time that businesses managers have to spend in their working week dealing with compliance,” he said. Large companies such as Vodafone or Bayer have compliance departments, a luxury not afforded to small companies. Not all regulation was bad, he said, citing the safer working conditions which now existed in industries such as farming, but he called on greater common sense.

Mr Benyon said that the two actions by a future government which would help West Berkshire businesses would be enabling deregulation and greater access to finance. “I had a very good meeting with a group of manufacturers in Hambridge Road, and some of the thoughts coming to me there really struck home. Above both those two comes an absolute determination to do something for manufacturing, because that is the key to the prosperity of this area and this country. It’s ‘making stuff’. Service industries are vital but without manufacturing there’s nothing to service. We can’t just rely on everything we need being made abroad. It’s bad for own own security. I really hope we can do something to help manufacturers. They tend to be the ones hardest hit by recession.
“We have a very flexible and vibrant economy – that’s one of the things that’s fun about being an MP for this area – you’re representing area which has some of Britain’s largest companies, and a lot of technology firms that feed off that, and you’ve got some small and medium-sized businesses that are making things and servicing things, and you’ve got traditional industries such as farming and racing. It’s a fantastic mix.”

To see the article and for more information from Newbury Business Today click this link:

http://www.newburybusinesstoday.co.uk/news/the-interview/601/
why-mp-wants-less-red-tape-for-business

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Are people in West Berkshire getting a fair deal heating their homes?

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon is today calling on local people who use heating oils and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to have their say on the problems affecting them in an investigation by Consumer Focus. 
Consumer Focus, the independent champion for consumers, launched the investigation into this often ignored market following a raft of consumer complaints.  It will look at the problems faced by those who use heating oils or LPG and what can be done to ensure the market better meets the needs of customers.  More than twice as many households using heating oil live in fuel poverty compared to other energy users. 
Richard said:
‘I am pleased to see that Consumer Focus is investigating the problems faced by people using heating oils or LPG to heat their homes. 
‘Many households in West Berkshire are dependent on these fuels and I would strongly urge those affected to get in touch with Consumer Focus.  The more evidence they have the more effective they can be in calling for change.  
Consumer Focus energy expert Robert Hammond said:
‘For too long the problems of those who arent on the gas network have been ignored. 
‘Many of these consumers often have little choice about how they heat their homes and this can leave them paying a steep price.  This is an opportunity for these customers to have their voices heard by letting us know the problems they face.
Notes:
    • The closing date for views is Friday 14 August 2009.
  • To have your say email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text41408+'<\/a>'; //--> or write to Andrew Hallett, Consumer Focus, Artillery House, 11-19 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT.  Views may also be faxed to 0207 799 7901.
  • In answer to a recent parliamentary question the Government stated that 15.2% of heating oil users live in fuel poverty compared to 6.9% of other energy users.
  • Consumer Focus was established in October 2008 through the merger of three organisations – energywatch, Postwatch and the National Consumer Councils (including the Scottish and Welsh Consumer Councils).  Consumer Focus champions consumer rights by working to secure fairer markets, greater value for money and improved customer service.  

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MP secures stay of execution for Thatcham sorting office

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, today welcomed the commonsense decision by the Post Office to cancel the transfer of RG7 postal code mail to Caversham and to reaffirm their commitment to Thatcham sorting office. Richard received the attached letter form the Royal Mail confirming their decision. Richard said, "It is good to have a win at last in my dealings with Royal Mail. In recent years have seen the closure of many post offices, the later delivery of mail and the threat to local sorting offices. This is a welcome dose of commonsense and hope it shows a move to amore customer-focussed management style from Royal Mail"

 

 

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MP to host Recession Busting Event

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, is teaming up with West Berkshire Council and Newbury College to hold a free event for small and medium sized businesses. It will take place at Newbury College on the 2nd July  from 6.00 pm to 9.30 pm.    A number of organisations who can provide free advice and support for businesses will be present and the event will include two brief presentations which will help business managers navigate their way through this difficult recession. 
Richard said, 
“I want to provide really practical support for Newbury businesses at a difficult time for all businesses.  I want them to have the opportunity to obtain hard information immediately from the agencies offering advice, training and grants that will be present.
This idea builds on similar events held recently in Oxfordshire and is being done in conjunction with The Integrity Network, a business networking organisation.  Anyone wishing to come can register at  www.recessionnetworkingevents.co.uk
Notes:
Please see attached flyer for further details.

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Local MP calls for recognition for Newbury’s carers

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Newburys MP, Richard Benyon, is backing this years Carers Week (8-14 June) in support of Newburys carers, who are among the six million people in the UK who provide unpaid care for a loved one who is ill, frail or disabled.
Richards support comes as new research reveals that almost three-quarters (74%) of carers have reached breaking point due to the pressures of their role. The results show that the strain of caring is causing some carers such extreme levels of stress and depression that they are suffering breakdowns and, in some cases, even attempting suicide.
The Carers Week survey has also highlighted that that the vast majority of carers feel their role is overlooked or ignored by professionals (87%), friends (78%) and family members (76%). Almost two-thirds (63%) say that their lives are made ‘much more difficult as a result, with more than half saying that it has affected their health and left them worse off financially.
Richard has joined the call for carers to receive more recognition. He says:
“There are thousands of people in West Berkshire who sacrifice their time – and often their health, finances, work and social life – in order to care for a loved one. They deserve to be recognised for the priceless contribution they make, both to our local community and to society at large.
“I am taking part in Carers Week to express my gratitude and respect for our carers, and also to make them aware that there are services and support available to help them. Caring can be demanding and difficult, so its important that carers know that they dont have to struggle on alone.
Also supporting this years Carers Week is Sir Geoff Hurst, England footballer and World Cup hero. Sir Geoff, who has cared for his wife, says:
"Those who care for family and friends mostly do so under the radar, without pay or acknowledgement, and deserve to be recognised for their dedication to the people they care for, not just during Carers Week but for all the weeks of the year.
“Carers face physical and mental challenges every day and should be more visibly supported and appreciated for the generous and loving hard work that they do."
Carers can find out more about local events and activities taking place as part of Carers Week, by visiting www.carersweek.org or calling 0845 241 2582.
Notes to editors:
  • 1,941 carers took part in the survey, both online and by post, which was carried out by Carers Week between 22 January – 25 March 2009.  For more information about the survey results contact Sushila Snell, Carers Week Media Officer, 020 7378 4958 or 07900 605770, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text55644+'<\/a>'; //-->
  • Carers needing support and advice can find out about local organisations and learn what is happening in their area during Carers Week by visiting www.carersweek.org or calling 0845 241 2582.
  • Carers Week 2009 takes place from 8-14 June, and highlights the vital work carried out by those who provide unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled.
  • Carers Week is organised by a partnership of 10 UK charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, MS Society, Parkinsons Disease Society, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Vitalise and WRVS.

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Richard Benyon is asking for your views on the reform of Parliament.

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Richard Benyon has today launched a web-form on his website to ask for views form his constituents Parliament reform.  Constituents can send their views to Richard through his website www.richardbenyon.com on changes they would like to see to Parliament.
Richard said:
 “Even before the expenses issue was raised, Parliament was in desperate need of reform. Now this historic institution is in crisis and I need to hear the views of people from across West Berkshire.   This is Your Parliament not the property of a political elite.  A lot of people are engaged in the issue and this is their opportunity to contribute.  I want to hear views from across the political spectrum and from communities large and small.   I can be contacted through my website (www.richardbenyon.com ) or by post at the House of Commons"

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MP’s Expenses

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury today made the following statement concerning MPs Expenses;
“There has been much written and talked about in the media recently about MPs Expenses and I thought I should clarify my position on the issue.
In July all receipts for MPs expenses were due to be published under a Freedom of Information ruling.  At that time, all my receipts for my office running costs (known as Incidental Expenses Provision), Communications Allowance and Additional Cost Allowance (ACA) were to be released.  I hope that in the light of the Daily Telegraphs publication of these matters, this date can be brought forward.  However with the amount of public interest in this issue I should, in advance of this publication, let my constituents know what I have spent on Additional Cost Allowance (the most controversial allowance) as soon as possible. 
In the last two years I have not claimed the ACA.
In 2006/07 I claimed only for Council Tax at a total of £1098.33.      
In my first year in Parliament I claimed;
6 months building service charge on my flat                          £ 1801.38
TV Licence for my flat                                                            £   126.50
Gas – for a quarter                                                                 £     75.39
Electricity  for a quarter                                                         £     81.82
Solicitors fees in connection with the purchase of my flat     £ 3690.45
Total £ 5775.54
I have therefore claimed a total of £6873.87 out of an available allowance of almost £100,000.00 over 4 years.
Once the receipts have been published, if any constituent would like me to explain any individual purchase I am more than willing to do so.  I have never claimed any money from any allowance without accompanying paperwork.
My view on the current system of MPs expenses is one of total exasperation.  Like many people MPs work long hours and most do it for the right reasons. We need total transparency in how MPs are rewarded.

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Richard Benyon applauds Council for appointment of Veterans’ Champion

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has praised West Berkshire Council for being one of the first authorities in the country to appoint a Veterans Champion.  Councillor Geoff Findlay, a retired Group Captain, will take on the task of ensuring that local service provision is mindful of the needs of Service Veterans.
Richard Benyon said, “The Council is really in tune with public opinion.  There is huge support across the community for our Armed Forces and with large numbers of servicemen being wounded on operations or suffering in other ways, it is vital that we are mindful of their needs when they come back home.  As a Trustee of Help for Heroes, I am aware of the wonderful support wounded servicemen get in hospital and through their rehabilitation phase.  Where we are still letting them down is when they come back to live in the community, sometimes with an injury, a disability, or with mental illness.   These are people who have given their all for their country and they deserve the best support in the community.  Geoff Findlay will be a superb voice for Veterans across the community.

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MP's support for PCSO's efforts in Greenham

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has congratulated Greenham Police Community Support Officer, Andrew Scott, for achieving success in his Diamond Project on Pigeons Farm Road.  The Diamond is a building situated on the Pigeons Farm Road, close to an estate with particular challenges.  The building has full disabled access, heating, water, electricity, toilets and a fully fitted kitchen.  It also contains a Pool table, Table Football, TV with DVD player and Xbox 360 Games consol, seating and furniture. Funding was made available to supply a large shed which is fully equipped with Sports equipment. This has enabled the adjacent playing field to be used for football and a great many other sports.  It has taken Andrew Scott two years to raise the funding for this large modular building that will serve the community in Greenham and particularly the Pigeons Farm Estate.
Richard said,
"I have written to Andrew to congratulate him on his efforts which I believe shows the highest commitment to his job and his community. I have also written to the Chief Constable to inform her of this excellent project" 

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Emma Kemp

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The Ombudsman's report into the death of six people with leaning difficulties  was published  yesterday. One of the cases investigated by this inquiry concerned the death of  Emma Kemp a constituent of the  Newbury  MP, Richard  Benyon.     Richard has worked closely with Emma's mother, Jane, and Mencap in raising this case. Following the publication of this report Richard said,
"I continue to give my full support to Jane Kemp and her national campaign to improve the treatment in the NHS for those with learning difficulties. I  accept that the hospital has been cleared of most of the complaints made by Mencap. The key point is whether Emma Kemp would have received treatment for her cancer in a more timely way if she had not been a patient with learning difficulties. This is an issue for every hospital, including the Royal Berkshire Hospital,  and  every  GP in the country to consider when treating those with learning difficulties. "

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Richard Benyon MP and Students From Newbury Constituency Visit Nazi Death Camp

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, and students from Downe House, Kennet School, Park House School, St. Gabriel's School and The Downs School returned from the Holocaust Educational Trusts regional visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Thursday 19th March vowing to act on the lessons learned from the experience. Richard joined more than 200 other sixth form students from the Thames Valley and Chilterns region on the Project, which explores the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance for today.

 

Photo Photo

 

The visit was a unique opportunity to see what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau, to pay respect to those who lost their lives, and to explore the universal lessons of the Holocaust. The group was shown around the camps barracks and crematoria, and witnessed the registration documents of inmates, piles of hair, shoes, clothes and other items seized by the Nazis. They were then taken the short distance to Birkenau where a memorial and candle-lighting service was held to remember the 6 million Jews, and the Roma, Sinti, gay, disabled, black people, and other victims of the Nazis killed in the Holocaust.

 

The course includes an orientation and follow-up seminar, to prepare students for the visit and to reflect on their experiences. On their return, students are required to give a presentation to their peers, based on their experience of visiting Auschwitz and the lessons they have learnt. In this way, as many young people as possible benefit from the Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Government funding has enabled the Trust to facilitate regional visits to Auschwitz, as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz Project for thousands of students each year.

 

Photo Photo

 

Richard said:

 

I cannot underestimate the importance of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and recognising the full extent of the industrialised nature of the Holocaust. These events may have taken place over 60 years ago but as our society bears witness; we need to continue to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to the younger generations in order to fight bigotry and hatred today.

 

I look forward to seeing how the students will communicate their experience to their peers and am encouraged that many more students will now have the opportunity to participate in the course in future years. I hope that this will ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are truly learnt, disseminated and acted upon. 

 

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:

 

We are delighted that Richard Benyon joined us on the visit with students from his constituency. The HETs ‘Lessons from Auschwitz Project is such a vital part of our work because it gives students the chance to understand more the dangers and potential effects of prejudice and racism today on a local and national scale.  

 

For further information please contact: Aaron Kliner on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text73146+'<\/a>'; //-->
To see Richards thought on the trip visit his blog at http://www.richardbenyon.com/blog/

 

Notes for Editors

 

The Holocaust Educational Trust The Holocaust Educational Trust was established in 1988 to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource materials. HET regard one of their earliest achievements as ensuring the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. HET continues to play a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust and in 2007 the Treasury pledged a three-year commitment to enable HET to administer a broad programme of teacher training.

 

In November 2005, the Government announced funding of £1.5 million for HET to support its Lessons from Auschwitz Project for teachers and sixth form students. In February 2008, the Government announced they would continue funding to support the Project until 2011.

 

Lessons from Auschwitz Project

 

The Holocaust Educational Trusts Lessons from Auschwitz Project for teachers and sixth-form students is now in its ninth year. The course is run over three non consecutive days with the focus being a one-day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The visits, combined with orientation and follow-up seminars, leave an unforgettable emotional and educational mark on participants. The Projects aim to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust based on the premise that ‘seeing is better than hearing and to signal what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.

 

Since the Projects inception in 1998, HET has taken over 5,000 students and teachers from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as many MPs and other high profile individuals.

 

ORIENTATION SEMINAR

 

Participants are given the opportunity to hear a Survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau share their testimony at the orientation seminar. During the seminar participants are divided into small groups which are facilitated by a HET educator. The participants remain in these groups throughout the Project. Each group discusses their reasons for taking part in the Project, their expectations, preconceptions and the potential impact that the visit may have on them. It also provides a useful opportunity for participants to get to know each other before they share what for many is a very moving and important life experience.

 

VISIT TO AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

 

During the visit itself, students are first taken to Osweicim, the small town next to Auschwitz death and concentration camp where the local Jewish community lived prior to the start of the Second World War. The groups are then shown several barracks at Auschwitz I – registration documents of inmates, piles of hair, shoes, clothes and other items seized from the prisoners as they entered the camps. Participants are then taken the short distance to Birkenau. This is the site that most people associate with the word “Auschwitz and where the vast majority of victims were murdered. The remnants of barracks, crematoria and gas chambers are in stark contrast to Auschwitz I and many people feel this has a greater impact on them. The tour of Birkenau culminates in a memorable ceremony held next to the destroyed crematoria II. The ceremony includes readings, a moment of reflection and ends with all participants lighting memorial candles and placing them around the remains of the crematoria.

 

FOLLOW-UP SEMINAR

 

At the follow-up seminar participants discuss the visit, their personal responses and the impact it had on them. The seminar is very important for participants, as often visitors to Auschwitz have a delayed reaction to the experience and many find it difficult to speak to those who have not been there.

 

All student participants are required to disseminate what they have learned to their school and wider communities. Teachers and students describe it as life changing.

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Benyon: “Control freak” Ministers water down new openness laws

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Labour Government censors breakdown of government spending in Newbury
Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, expressed disappointment at the Labour Governments decision to water down new laws which would tell people how much taxpayers money is spent in West Berkshire and in every other part of the country.
A new law, called the Sustainable Communities Act 2007, and introduced by Conservatives, was passed by Parliament with cross-community support from local and national organisations. It could turn politics upside down - by giving local people the power to decide how their cash is spent in their area.
For the first time in British political history, the Government will publish a regular breakdown of the amount of public money spent in each community, and explain how much of that spending is controlled by local people and how much by Whitehall.
More and more taxpayers money is being spent by unelected quangos. In Gordon Browns first year in office, spending on so-called “executive non-departmental public bodies rose by 16 per cent. The Taxpayers Alliance, has estimated that £64 billion a year is now spent by unelected quangos – equivalent to £2,550 for every household in (area). So the need for proper transparency in public spending is urgent.
But in a consultation paper recently issued by the Government, the plans for reports on local spending under the new Act have been severely watered down. Only spending information by councils and NHS Primary Care Trusts will be published – and this is already in the public domain.
Conservatives are pledging to put this right and will:
  • Use the Sustainable Community Act to publish detailed information on local spending by central and local government bodies, and devolve more funding down to local communities.
  • Require West Berkshire council and Whitehall bodies to publish online detailed figures on how they spend our money, so the press and public can scrutiny waste and inefficiency properly.
Richard said:
“It is completely unacceptable that control freak Ministers should try to water down these ground-breaking new openness laws. Labour are obsessed with trying to control everything from Whitehall. It speaks volumes that they want to stop local people finding out which areas gets a raw deal from the Government.
“The Sustainable Communities Act can give local communities a far greater say on how their money is spent. In this way, we can tackle ‘Ghost Town Britain and the ongoing loss of local shops, services and facilities. Only Conservatives will open up the books and give power and funding so local people can adopt local solutions.
Notes to Editors
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES ACT
The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 was a Private Members Bill, initiated by Conservative MP, Nick Hurd, sponsored by Richard Benyon and others, with cross-community support from local and national organisations.
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070023_en_1
The Government is now, very slowly, moving to introduce the provisions of the Act. Section 6 of the Act requires the Government to publish detailed information on spending by local and central government bodies in local areas.
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070023_en_1#l1g6
The Act also allows, after detailed consultation with local people, for powers and funding then to be devolved down to a local level, and then allow for such public spending to be focused on the priorities of local people.
GOVERNMENT WATERS DOWN OPENESS RULES
Last month, the Government quietly slipped out a consultation paper on producing local spending reports under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. In the small print, the Government completely waters down the requirement to publish local information on public spending. They are only publishing information on local authority spending and NHS Primary Care Trust accounts. Yet this information is public domain already. Quango spending will be untouched.
“It would in principle be possible to make estimates of how the expenditure could be broken down at lower spatial levels (e.g. disaggregating County Council expenditure to district or neighbourhood level), using proxy data such as populations, but these do not correspond to actual expenditure and are therefore potentially misleading. More generally, we are keen to include only data which meets high standards of robustness and quality (e.g. statistics collected and collated on a national scale) (p.10).
“In some cases, one way around this is to allocate the expenditure to the area in which it primarily takes place (e.g. where the hospital or university is located), whilst acknowledging that the benefits of this expenditure are experienced over a much wider area. Again, there are arguments that this is potentially misleading (p.10).
“The same arguments apply to the treatment of expenditure on large-scale infrastructure projects or facilities which benefit wider areas e.g. roads or hospitals. Apportionment of expenditure of this type to particular areas for the purposes of this Act is likely to be arbitrary and potentially misleading (p.10).
“Finally, a great deal of public expenditure is in the form of personal payments (e.g. benefits or pensions). These are based on individual entitlements and information on this is arguably of limited use in promoting the sustainability of local communities (p.10).
“Subject to this consultation, the proposed first Local Spending Report will cover themes relating to local government revenue expenditure across a wide spectrum of activities for the latest outturn year for which quality assured data is available – 2006-07. The proposed Report will focus on existing data sources thereby avoiding additional burdens on public bodies (p.13).
“Data Sources
The Report will contain a list of items of expenditure detailed in Annex B from the following data sources:
• Communities and Local Government Revenue Outturn (RO)
• Department of Health Audited Accounts of Primary Care Trusts (p.13).
DCLG, Sustainable Communities Act 2007: Local Spending Reports - Consultation Document, 20 February 2009.
http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/localspendingreportsconsultation
Ministers have refused to commit to extending this to other bodies, saying merely that they may be “developed over time.
“Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's consultation paper on the Sustainable Communities Act 2007, whether she plans to extend local spending reports to include information on relevant executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
John Healey: On 20 February 2009, the Government launched a consultation on the Sustainable Communities Act 2007: Local spending reports. In this consultation, the Department is seeking views on proposals for putting in place the first arrangements for local spending reports including which bodies, expenditure, spatial level and period should be covered by the reports, and also how the reports might develop over time. The consultation on the first arrangements closes on Friday 3 April, and on Friday 15 May for how the reports should be developed over time. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library of the House.
Hansard, 11 March 2009.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/
cm090311/text/90311w0023.htm#09031193005331
GROWING SPENDING BY QUANGOS
According to the Governments latest survey, expenditure on so-called “executive non-departmental public bodies (one type of quango) was £42,994 million in 2007-08, up from £37,023 million in 2006-07.
Cabinet Office, Public Bodies 2008, January 2009, p.10 and Public Bodies 2007, p.10.
http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public/bodies.asp
In total, there are 1,162 quangos in the UK, costing the taxpayer £64 billion, equivalent to £2,550 per household, according to research by the Taxpayers Alliance
TPA, Quangos: the Unseen Government of the UK, May 2008.
http://tpa.typepad.com/bettergovernment/2008/05/quangos-the-uns.html

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Newbury MP concerend about Vofafone job losses

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon is extremely concerned to hear about the proposed job losses at Vodafone offices in Newbury.  Vodafone is the largest employer in his constituency.  Nearly every school, voluntary body and sporting organisation has been supported by Vodafone in recent years and the company is a major part of life in West Berkshire.
Richard said,
“This is a huge blow to the 170 people who have lost their jobs at Vodafone in Newbury. It is vital that all local agencies rally round and support them in getting new jobs.  The vast majority of my constituents dont work for large companies like Vodafone. They work for small businesses many of whom are being forced to lay off a much higher percentage of their staff than those announced today by Vodafone. It is so frustrating to hear that many companies are being forced into this situation not because they are unprofitable but because they cannot access the credit they need to survive. Local businesses tall me that the Governments loan guarantee scheme is just not working

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Martin Salter’s retirement

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, commented on the news that Reading West MP, Martin Salter, would be standing down at the next election. Richard said,
“While disagreeing with Martin on most political issues, I cant help liking him. We have worked closely together on many local issues and I wish him well for the future.
Looking to the future, Richard has developed a great respect for the Conservative Candidate for Reading West, Alok Sharma. Richard said,
“Alok is great company, intelligent, phenomenally hard working and will make an excellent champion for Reading West.

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MP attacks Met for recruiting Thames Valley Police Officers

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Speaking in Parliament, Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, encouraged the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Paul Stephenson, to end the haemorrhage of experienced police officers from Thames Valley Police to the Met.
A pay differential of around £5000 per annum and a travel allowance is causing a "brain drain" of experienced officers, such as Detective Constables and Firearms Officers.
Richard said:
"The truth is that Thames Valley Police is nicknamed as the Met training force. Council Tax payers in West Berkshire are paying for the training of officers who then police the streets of London. We need to reduce the pay differential and agree a protocol with the Met which ends the overt poaching of officers by the met from surrounding forces."
Notes:
  1. Figures available show police forces surrounding the Met have lost over 1000 police officers to the Met since 2003/4 including 200 specialist officers which are in great demand.

  2. Thames Valley Police calculate the cost of training an officers to be:
    Police Constable: £47,000
    Detective Constable: £56,000
    Firearms Constable: £73,200
    Roads Policing Constable: £57,800

  3. 3. The Met have been actively recruiting in the Thames Valley Police area. An action Richard Benyon has described as irresponsible.

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Newbury MP promoted in Conservative re-shuffle

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In a re-shuffle that has seen Ken Clarke returned to the Conservative Front Bench, Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has been promoted from his post as a Whip, to a Shadow Ministerial post in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Team.  Richard will be working under the new Shadow Secretary of State, Nick Herbert. 
Following a meeting with David Cameron, he said, “I am delighted to have been given this challenging role and I look forward to doing what I can to support fishing, farming and other aspects of the rural economy.
Notes :
Before entering Parliament, Richard Benyon was a farmer and land surveyor, and has sat on the Council of the Country Land and Business Association.  He is a member of the NFU and has chaired an environmental project in West Berkshire.

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Richard Benyon MP asks constituents to ‘Stand up to Hatred’

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, showed his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day by signing a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons to honour those who perished in the Holocaust. As in previous years, Holocaust Educational Trust placed the Book of Commitment in the House of Commons to give MPs the opportunity to pledge that they will uphold the memory of the Holocaust and oppose hatred today.

 

In doing so, Richard paid tribute to those individuals who had the courage to ‘Stand up to Hatred in many different ways; by joining resistance movements such as The White Rose at the University of Munich; by speaking out to challenge the hatred being that surrounded them; or by risking their own life to rescue others in danger. 

 

January 27th marks the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous concentration and extermination camp.  Richard is planning to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau on 19th March with The Holocaust Educational Trust and has written to local secondary schools to encourage them to join him.

 

On and around  Holocaust Memorial Day, schools, local communities and faith groups from across the UK will join together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Thousands of events are being held across the country to commemorate all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust and in more recent genocides. Ultimately the aim of the day is to motivate people – individually and collectively, to ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimization committed during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides are neither forgotten nor repeated again.  

 

This year is the ninth year that the anniversary of the liberation of the camp has been officially commemorated in the UK. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the day passing the Holocaust Memorial Day resolution.

 

Richard Benyon said:

 

“Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and it should also serve as an opportunity to remember and reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocides. Racism and hate are still very much present in our society and together we have a duty to unite our communities and “Stand Up to Hatred. It is essential to continue to educate youngsters about the Holocaust and encourage them to work together towards a better future

 

I welcome the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau in March.

 

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:

 

We are delighted that Richard Benyon MP is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day. Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust education is more important now than ever. This years topic, “Stand Up to Hatred highlights the importance of joining forces against hatred, prejudice and intolerance. Sadly antisemitism, Islamaphobia, Holocaust denial, racism, prejudice and even genocide still continue to pollute our world today.

 

At the Holocaust Educational Trust we endeavour to impart the history of the Holocaust to young people, across all communities so they can see where hate and racism can ultimately lead.

 

It is the participation of all communities and the support of schools, local groups and local government that give this day the impact it has around the country and we applaud their commitment to ensuring the lessons of the past are learnt, acted upon and disseminated.

 

Notes for Editors

 

Holocaust Educational Trust (HET)

 
  1. The Holocaust Educational Trust was established in 1988 to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource materials. HET regard one of their earliest achievements as ensuring the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. HET continues to play a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust and last year, the Treasury pledged a three-year commitment to enable HET to administer a broad programme of teacher training.
  2. In November 2005, the Treasury announced funding of £1.5 million for HET to support its Lessons from Auschwitz Project. The funding has enabled HET to facilitate visits to Auschwitz for 2 students from every school in the UK. Earlier this year, the Department for Children, Schools & Families announced renewed funding for English schools and in November 2008 the Scottish Government announced funding for Scottish schools.
  3. The Holocaust Educational Trust has produced a BAFTA award-winning DVD-ROM Recollections: Eyewitnesses Remember the Holocaust, in conjunction with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. The groundbreaking interactive resource integrates testimony from 18 eyewitnesses of the Holocaust, including Jewish survivors, Roma and Sinti survivors, Jehovahs Witness survivors and political prisoners as well as testimony from survivors of the eugenics programme.
  4. The Holocaust Educational Trust has been closely involved in the establishment and development of Holocaust Memorial Day since its inception in 2000. We are represented on all working groups dealing with education, local activities, the main event and at a strategic level.
  5. Holocaust Memorial Day came about following an MPs visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Moved by his visit, Andrew Dismore MP proposed a bill, “to introduce a day to learn and remember the Holocaust June 30 1999.

Holocaust Memorial Day

 
  1. The purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day is to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and those who perished. The day aims to ensure that the horrendous crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust are never forgotten, and its relevance for each new generation is understood.
  2. The theme for UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2009 is “Stand up to Hatred. It urges all of us to look at our behaviour to others; to understand how hate is directed against different minorities in Britain today; to explore how each of us can help make our communities stronger and safer. Holocaust Memorial Day 2009 is an opportunity to forge links across ALL the diverse strands of local community lives, to build understanding and to unite in a common cause.
  3. Details of the national event in Coventry on January 27th  and associated events across the rest of the UK are available on the Holocaust Memorial Day website at www.hmd.org.uk

Photos:

 

 

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Benyon welcomes Government climb-down over GP Dispensaries

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Richard Benyon MP today expressed his relief at the Governments decision to abandon proposals to prevent GPs from dispensing medicines if they are within a mile of a pharmacy.
Richard received hundreds of letters from worried constituents faced with having to travel large distances to pick up their prescriptions, or losing the door to door service for the housebound run by the GPs surgeries. As a result he spoke out repeatedly on the damaging effect of the move upon rural communities making his own submission to the Department for Healths consultation, warning of the ‘cruel blow that the proposals would deal local people were they to be adopted.
Richard said:
“I am delighted that the Government has finally seen sense, and has abandoned these ill-considered plans.
“The proposal would have removed yet another vital service for rural people, for whom the GPs dispensary is often a lifeline. After the recent Post Office closures elderly and less mobile patients were understandably concerned about the prospect of losing yet another rural service. This was clearly a plan designed for the cities, with no regard for the interests of rural people, and I am very happy indeed that the Government has realised how damaging it would have been.

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Sell off of the Government share in Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon has criticised the manner in which the announcement of the sell off of the Governments share in the AWE management company has been handled.  Richard Benyon said:
“It is disgraceful that this important matter has been sneaked out during the Parliamentary recess.  It is important that Ministers are held accountable for the sale of their share to the American company Jacobs Engineering.  I have had a high regard for the management of AWE in recent years.  The consortium which included BNFL, SERCO and Lockheed Martin has been a successful operating venture.  We need to know who Jacobs are, why they were successful and whether they will continue the culture of safety and community engagement that has previously marked the management style of this consortium.
Richard will be pressing Ministers for answers on this matter as soon as Parliament returns
Notes
At a recent visit to AWE Richard Benyon asked MOD officials why it was not possible for one of the existing companies in the consortium to purchase the governments share, no answer was forthcoming.

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Benyon says ‘Buy Local’

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Richard Benyon MP has added his name to an Early Day Motion calling for people to support local businesses this Christmas.
Richard is a passionate supporter of local business, launching his own ‘Buy Local This Christmas campaign last year, as well as being a fervent supporter of the Sustainable Communities Act in Parliament.
Richard said:
“It has never been more important that we support our local businesses, especially during these times of economic uncertainty. 
“Buying locally not only helps local businesses, it also puts something back into the local community which benefits everyone and can often prove cheaper than shopping elsewhere. 
“I would urge everyone to make a conscious effort to buy locally this Christmas wherever possible and help keep our local shops and high streets alive. 

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New blow to Newbury’s housing market from new HIP fines and red tape

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, expressed concern this week at the announcement by the Government that Home Information Pack regulations will be tightened, pushing up the costs for West Berkshire residents trying to sell their home.
This tightening of regulations will include: forcing town halls to become more aggressive in issuing fines for breaching the burdensome rules; cancelling the “first day marketing provisions which allow you to place your home on the market before a HIP has been completed; and making homeowners fill out lengthy, time consuming questionnaires on their home in order to obtain their HIP.
Home Information Packs became compulsory for all homes one year ago on 14 December. Government research into Home Information Packs has recently found that there is minimal public knowledge and interest in HIPs; that the industry thinks they are a waste of time; that they duplicate costs and that buyers are not bothering to consult HIPs.
Richard said:
“At a time when our housing market is so weak it is absurd that the Government are willing to make it worse by galvanising these costly, time-wasting Home Information Packs. They have already harmed the market and discouraged sellers. The last thing Newbury needs is the prospect of heavy-handed fines being levied by town hall officials.
“The housing market is on its knees and Labours response is to make it more difficult and expensive to sell your home.
“If anything, Ministers should be using their emergency powers to suspend HIPs and provide a shot in the arm to Newburys ailing market.

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MP visits Royal Mail Delivery office

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An early start for Newburys Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, on Friday allowed him to see at first hand how West Berkshires Postmen and women are coping with the Christmas rush. 140,000 items of mail are processed and delivered daily in the Cheap Street office.   Richard met with many local staff including the luckless postman who has to deliver his daily mail bag to his nearby constituency office.  Following his visit Richard said, “We are really lucky to have such a dedicated hard working team. They are coping superbly with the Christmas rush which on some delivery routes has doubled the amount of mail to be delivered.
Photos:
Photograph of Richard with local Postman, John Holmes.

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MP Supports “Strictly Volunteering” event on 17th January 2009

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, is encouraging people to attend the Strictly Volunteering information event on the 17th January between 10 and 3pm at the Corn Exchange. The event, which is being organised by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, and officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Mary Bayliss, will provide a fantastic opportunity for people to meet about 40 West Berkshire voluntary organisations all of whom are working to make our district a better place.  More information can be found in the press in the New Year or on www.volunteerwestbrks.org.uk

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MP raises confidentiality concerns with Speaker

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The Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has raised concerns about the confidentiality of the House of Commons computer system with the Speaker, Michael Martin.  Richards concerns arose out of the aftermath of the arrest of his colleague, Damian Green.  Richard asked the Speaker for assurances that the House of Commons server was covered by the Wilson Doctrine. This measure was introduced in the 1960s to prevent MPs and their offices from being bugged by the security services.
Richard said,
“No MP should be above the law but it would be a very serious erosion of everyones freedoms if the Police were allowed access to the House of Commons server to find out names of those who had been providing MPs, such as me, with information that exposed Government wrong doing or that embarrassed the Government by exposing incompetence.
In raising this matter Richard was echoing concerns raised with the Speaker before the Parliamentary session ended last week, when a written question he had asked had simply been ignored by Home Office Ministers.
Richard added,
“As MPs our job is to hold the Government to account, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this. This is not just about MPs – it is about the erosion of freedoms of this country that we are elected to protect.

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MP raises needs of young people with autism in Parliament

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Newbury Member of Parliament, Richard Benyon, has praised in Parliament Newburys Spectrum Club for the wonderful support it gives to young people with autism. He praised the commitment of parents of autistic children who set up and run this vital provision.  He went on to press the Government for more help for those with autism as they make the difficult transition to adulthood.
Text of full exchange:-
Mr. Richard Benyon: It is too easy to forget the contribution that parents of children with autism make, and I cannot speak highly enough of the parents who set up the Spectrum club in Newbury. However, it runs only up to the age of 15 for children with autism, and it is trying to work with West Berkshire council to extend provision to cover the crucial years between 15 and 18. I would be grateful to know what the Minister can do to encourage provision in this key area, so that these children can continue to improve so dramatically that they can go on to achieve at university and beyond.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I entirely agree that we should be examining the transition to adulthood, particularly for young people with autism. The hon. Gentleman may be aware that in May the Department of Health announced the development of an autism strategy for adults and the transition to adulthood, and we shortly expect the outcome of the tendering for that. I agree that this is vital, because it is no good training children through school if we then do not manage the crucial transition stage of getting them on to further education and eventual employment.
Hansard Link 
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm081117/debtext/81117-0001.htm#0811176000480

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Zimbabweans flock to MPs event.

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon hosted an event at Newbury Rugby Club on Friday for Zimbabweans living in West Berkshire. It is estimated that there are around a thousand Zimbabweans living in or around West Berkshire. Following the event Richard said,

 

"West Berkshire has become the destination for many of the thousands of Zimbabweans who have escaped Robert Mugabe's murderous regime. I wanted to thank them for the contribution they have made to life in this community and to set up a network to help Zimbabweans as they cope with a new life in this part of Britain"

 

Richard Benyon with Sam Dhlamini and Western Mufiri with a 100 billion dollar Zim note – not enough for a loaf of bread

 

Around 200 people attended the gathering.  Some of those present now hold British passports, some are here temporarily on work visas or as refugees from Mugabe's brutality.

 

In his speech RB stated his hope that an end was in sight for the impoverished people of Zimbabwe. He hoped many of the skilled workforce now spread around the world would return to rebuild the country in the future. He spoke of his work in the All Party Group on Zimbabwe in Parliament and of his need for up to date information of conditions in the country from friends and families of those present.

 

Richard Benyon talking to the meeting

 

One of those present, Veyapi Sithole, said afterwards, “I would like to say thank very much for organising such a wonderful event last Friday for us Zimbabweans.  It was a meeting not based on anything except just being Zimbabweans of all colours affected by the evil government of Mugabe, and meeting you made me feel  welcome in Newbury  

 

Another, Colin Mansell said   “Thank you for the opportunity to make your acquaintance and to network with so many people with links to Zimbabwe. I found the whole evening extremely interesting, informative and motivating.  I have set the ball rolling by identifying Lions & Rotary Clubs within Zimbabwe with whom I can get in contact with a view to opening up channels of communication and trying to establish the means by which we can get aid to those in need in Zimbabwe

 

Notes:

 
    Pictures show Richard Benyon with Sam Dhlamini and Western Mufiri with a 100 billion dollar Zim note – not enough for a loaf of bread and Richard Benyon talking to the meeting
 

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MP leads debate on the treatment of people with learning difficulties within the NHS

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, led a debate yesterday on the treatment of people with learning difficulties within the NHS, raising the serious cases of poor standards of care and neglect which were reported in Mencaps report “Death by Indifference.
As a result of the debate, the Minister promised to publish their reaction to the report as part of the review of “Valuing People, an ongoing strategy document for the NHS.
Richard and Mencap believe this campaign deserves to be looked at on its own however they eagerly anticipate the publication of the strategy document on 24th October as well as learning the findings of an Ombudsmans Report into the matter which is also shortly to be published.
Richard Benyon said
“It was a very good debate with excellent contributions from MPs all over the country. There is a long way to go before this matter is resolved but the families have great support not just from Mencap but from many MPs from different parties.
Notes
For full text of the debate please visit
http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm081015/halltext/81015h0006.htm#08101537000002

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Newbury MP secures debate in Parliament on "Death by Indifference"

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, will tell Parliament on Wednesday 15th October of the circumstances that led to the death of his constituent, Emma Kemp, in 2004.  Emma's case is one of six deaths of people with learning difficulties that formed the basis of Mencap's powerful report, "Death by indifference". This report resulted in an Independent Inquiry chaired by Sir Jonathon Michael which was published in July.  It made clear recommendations for the Government to implement.  Richard will tell Emma's story in all it's tragic detail.  He will show how the courage of her mother, Jane, who with families of the other five in the report, are campaigning to change the way those with learning difficulties are treated in the NHS.
Richard said,
"I have been working with Jane Kemp and Mencap for three years on this and now is the time to present the case made by these two reports directly to the Minister.  I am hoping he will say in the debate that the Government will implement all ten recommendations in Sir Jonathon Michael's report and how this will happen."
Notes:
Sir Jonathon Michael said, “It was shocking to find that the experiences in the Mencap report were not isolated. People with learning difficulties have worse health and find it harder to access services than the rest of the population. They are suffering unnecessary suffering and deaths are occurring that could have been prevented." 

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Benyon gets blogging!

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Richard Benyon MP has today launched a new, interactive blog on his award winning website, www.richardbenyon.com.
Richard will be making regular updates to the blog and responding to constituents comments which can be posted on the sites blog page, www.richardbenyon.com/blog.
Richard said:
“I am very excited to be able to add the blog to the website and hope that it will give me the opportunity to keep in more regular contact with my constituents and hear their views and opinions.

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MP calls for local businesses to benefit from 2012 Olympics

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, has written to business organisations encouraging them to register with the Government body handling contracts for the 2012 London Olympics.
Richard said:
“Over 20,000 businesses have already registered on the Government website www.competefor.com. Just under 50% of contracts awarded so far have gone to businesses outside London.  I am determined that West Berkshire should benefit from these Games.  With a price tag already exceeding £9bn, it is vital that local businesses should benefit from Government money and from the in-coming tourism that the Games will bring.
Richard has also written to Olympics Minister, Tessa Jowell, to register his concern that none of the approved training camps for overseas teams are in West Berkshire.  He said, “We have some fantastic sporting facilities in West Berkshire, but I am concerned that none of these has appeared on the Locog list of approved training sites for overseas teams.  I hope that, in her reply, the Minister will tell me what criteria Locog were looking for in order to approve a facility and why no West Berkshire sites were chosen.

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MP welcomes Independent inquiry into constituents death

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has welcomed the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Access To Healthcare For People With Learning Disabilities which looked into the deaths of 6 people.  Their plight was highlighted by the Mencap Report  “Death by Indifference.
Richard has been working with the family of one of the victims, Emma Kemp, from Newbury.
Death by Indifference showed, people with learning disability face:
  • Ignorance about learning disability amongst healthcare professionals
  • A failure to meet their most basic care needs
  • Symptoms of pain and distress being dismissed as part of their disability
  • Knowledge of families and carers ignored.
  • Failure to equally value the lives of people with disability in the NHS.
Richard said,
“I will be doing all I can to ensure the recommendations in this report are followed up throughout the NHS.  Emmas death, along with the others highlighted in this report, were unspeakable tragedies that should not have happened in this day and age.  The NHS needs to ensure there is adequate training across all clinical staff on how to treat those with learning difficulties and every hospital must show it has reached the necessary standard for treating such people in their care.

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Further success for rail users campaign

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, welcomed news that, following pressure from himself and his constituents, First Great Western has relaxed the strict rules on using “Cheap Day” tickets on direct trains from London Paddington in the evening rush hours. Whilst Cheap Day returns could always be used on all indirect services between 16:00 and 19:30, all direct trains were restricted to full fares only. We have now been informed that for stations to Theale and beyond (i.e. all West Berkshire stations) you can use Cheap Day Return tickets on the 17:06 and the 18:06 trains. All other direct services still remain restricted as FGW do not feel there is capacity on these services and to un-restrict them would result in overcrowding for commuters.Richard Benyon said; “I am delighted that First Great Western have listened and a compromise has been found. Rail users now have more choice and this is a good thing. I remain committed to my campaign to improve the rail service in this area and will continue to work with FGW and constituents to achieve this.”

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West Berkshire Floods: 12 months on

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has been reflecting on the severe flooding that hit West Berkshire last year as the anniversary approaches this Sunday.

 

Richard has been working hard over the past year, both locally and in Westminster, to put flood prevention at the top of the agenda and ensure that West Berkshire is prepared should adverse weather return.  

 

A great deal of work has also been carried out by West Berkshire Council, with some 103 damage repair and prevention projects being instigated across the county.

 

Richard said:

 

“On Sunday 20th July it will be exactly one year since floods hit West Berkshire and caused just extensive damage. Whilst a large volume of work on prevention and repair has already been carried out, our task is by no means complete and there is still more to be done.

 

 A number of individuals are still to return to their properties. The shortage of builders, temporary accommodation and appropriate technology for drying out houses remains an issue that has added to the time it has taken to complete work on flooded properties.

 

Notes:

 

Work carried out by Richard Benyon so far:

 
  • Visited homes as flooding took place and in immediate aftermath.
  • Worked with Council on a range of flood related issues.
  • Held meetings with Secretary of State, Ministers and head of the Environment   Agency.
  • Raised local concerns in Parliament.
  • Sought to improve funding of flood relief works.
  • Encouraged the Bishop of Oxford to set up a fund for those who had lost all their belongings.
  • Supported a number of local flood prevention schemes such as the one planned for Bucklebury Village.

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Richard Benyon MP speaks out on fuel poverty

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, expressed his concern that working families across West Berkshire are finding it increasingly hard to cope with the soaring cost of living, thanks to tax hikes on family cars, rising petrol prices and the increasing cost of heating homes.
In West Berkshire, around 25% of households do not have access to mains gas and are forced to rely upon heating oil, the price of which has doubled in the past year.   The price of heating a 3 bed-roomed house with heating oil for a year has shot up from around £900 to £1800 in just 12 months. As a result of these huge bills, households earning less than £26,000 per annum, with an average electricity bill, are being forced to live below the fuel poverty line.
Fuel prices are rocketing and households face ever-higher gas and electricity bills, in addition to these massive price increases on heating oil for rural homes.  Whilst low-income households and the vulnerable are being hit the hardest, even middle income households are beginning to feel the strain.
Richard said:
“I am extremely concerned that so many people, particularly those living in rural areas, are struggling to afford to heat their homes.  The massive increases in the price of heating oil are far in excess of any rises in gas and electricity prices and are putting a real strain on peoples finances.
 “At a time when families are feeling the pinch of the general rise in the cost of living the Government should be working to ease the financial burden that hard working families are facing rather than hitting them with stealth taxes.   I have therefore written to the Chancellor as well as the Office of Fair Trading to raise the issue.

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MP names and shames Zimbabwe bank note printers

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon has tabled an Early Day Motion naming and shaming the German company that has been printing Zimbabwe's hyper-inflated currency. Munich based curency printers, Giesecke & Devrient have been profiting from the Mugabe regimes disasterous policy of feeding the inflationary spiral by continuous printing of currency. Speaking of the behaviour of this company Richard Benyon said,
"This feeding of hyper-inflation, as much as any of the cruelties of Mugabe's regime, has plunged Zimbabwe into abject and miserable poverty. I want to know how the directors of this company can look in a mirror. They are part of the problem and should be shamed into ending their contract with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe".
EDM 1753 , which is gaining signatures of MPs on all sides of the House says,
"That this House notes that inflation has exceeded 100,000% in Zimbabwe and the misery this is causing for the people of this country and therefore deplores the conduct of the Munich based company Giesecke & Devrient in producing Zimbabwean currency which is being used to maintain the Mugabe regime; it further praises the independent action of South African Trades Unions who arranged a boycott of a ship carrying arms for the Mugabe regime and hopes that similar unilateral action will cause Giesecke & Devrient to cease the printing of money for Mugabe's evil regime."
Notes:
To see coverage of this matter see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3466861.ece

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MP Delighted at Government Bail Hostel U turn

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon was told on 12th May that Newbury was being considered as a location for accommodation for criminals on curfew orders.  This controversial contract with a company called Clearsprings has caused concern in a number of communities as they are being provided for criminals who have been given early release to counter the prison overcrowding crisis and for those on curfew orders awaiting trial.
Yesterday, Richard asked Justice Ministers about this contract and was pleased to hear that Newbury is no longer being considered for such a facility.
In the exchange in the House of Commons the Minister, David Hanson said,
"I can assure him that there are no properties planned for Newbury"
Following the exchange Richard said,
"This is a complete reversal of the position just four weeks ago. The Minister later met with me to confirm that Newbury will not be having one of these hostels. I am delighted at this U turn."
Notes:
1. Hansard: http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtoday/cmdebate/01.htm#hddr_9
2. On 12th May research by the House of Commons Library said,
"I have confirmed with an official at the Ministry of Justice that the National Offender Management Services South East Regional Offender Manager office has identified that a property for bail accommodation is required in the Newbury area, although as yet no property has been identified."

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Richard and Zoe Benyon complete 350 mile bike ride

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Newbury MP Richard Benyon, his wife Zoe and around 300 others completed the Halfords Help for Heroes Bike Ride on Sunday, raising over £1 million for improved facilities for wounded servicemen. 
The Bicycle ride through Northern France took in many battlefield sites and memorials, with riders covering up to 85 miles per day.    After covering the Normandy battlefields and many First World War sites at the Somme, the riders embarked on landing craft at Dunkirk and were taken to HMS Bulwark for the journey home.  On Sunday, they were joined by thousands of riders who had ridden to London, and rode though Whitehall for a last ceremony at the Cenotaph. 
Following the completion of this ride in which Richard and Zoe have raised over £40,000, Richard said;
“It has been an unforgettable week.  It was so special to be joined by a dozen cyclists from Headley Court, many who had suffered the loss of a limb.  Their  courage and good humour was an inspiration to the rest of us.  The welcome we received in London was just superb and concluded a challenging but memorable week.
We are so grateful to the many people from across West Berkshire and beyond who have contributed to this fantastic cause.
Notes:
  • For more information please ring Richard Benyon on 07836 204330
  • Help for Heroes website - http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/
  • Richard & Zoes Just Giving Web page - http://www.justgiving.com/richardandzoebenyon
  • Photos - NB – Richard last saw Stephen Vause  when he was in a coma in hospital in Birmingham.  
    He was the victim of a mortar attack in Iraq. 
    His mother, Jessica (also pictured) was also on the bike ride.
    He is improving thanks to Headley Court, but is still paralysed
Photos:
Richard & Zoe en route
Zoe at cemetery
Richard & Zoe with Stephen Vause
Richard & Zoe at the finish  in London

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MP ready for 342 mile sponsored bike ride

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon and his wife Zoe are joining 300 other cyclists on Bank Holiday Monday for a 5 day marathon bicycle ride around the battlefields of France. Richard and Zoe are taking part in the Halfords Hero Ride which hopes to raise £1 million for Help for Heroes. This charity, of which Richard is a Trustee, seeks to raise £6 million to improve facilities at the rehabilitation centre at Headley Court.

The cyclists will meet at HMS Victory on Bank Holiday Monday and will be seen off by a fly past from the Red Arrows. They will complete the ride on Sunday 1st June when they will be joined by thousands of other cyclists from all over the UK in a procession up Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade.

Richard and Zoe have been training on the Berkshire Downs and will have to ride between 60 and 80 miles each day. They said “It is a real privilege to be raising funds for this noble cause. Any pain we feel will be numbed by the presence of wounded servicemen and the families of those killed or wounded. We are so grateful to the many people from across West Berkshire who have contributed to the £40,000 we have already raised in support of our efforts.” Notes: 1. Richard and Zoe Just Giving donation page can be found at  http://www.justgiving.com/richardandzoebenyon
2. More information on Help for Heroes and the bike ride can be found at http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ 

 

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Richard Benyon MP speaks out over proposed Newbury bail hostel

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Richard Benyon MP has expressed his deep concern over proposals to build a new bail hostel in his Newbury constituency. The Ministry of Justice recently confirmed that the company ‘ClearSprings is currently searching for an appropriate property in Newbury for new bail accommodation. Despite the fact that Newbury is already home to one of these hostels, which has been the source of numerous complaints by residents, they are intent on opening yet another in the local area.
Richard is extremely concerned by the disruption that the hostel will cause to residents as well as the risk it may pose to local people.
Richard said:
“It is no secret that the crisis of overcrowding in our prisons means that these hostels are being used as an alternative to prison accommodation.
 This raises real and very serious issues over the safety of the surrounding residents and I do not see why the people of Newbury should have to pay for the crisis in our prisons.
 Time and again my Conservative colleagues and I have warned the Government of the dangers of prison overcrowding and the desperate need for more prison places.
 These bail hostels are not the answer and I refuse to let the Government put my constituents at risk to cover their mistakes.
Richard has written to the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw MP, asking him a number of searching questions on this matter.
Notes:
It has been confirmed with an official at the Ministry of Justice that the National Offender Management Services South East Regional Offender Manager office has identified that a property for bail accommodation is required in the Newbury area, although as yet no property has been identified. This is more recent information than that given in a Parliamentary Question in January 2008 which indicated that properties had been acquired in Reading, but not in Newbury.

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Benyon secures Parliamentary debate on "Care for the elderly in the NHS"

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon has obtained Parliamentary time to lead a debate on treatment of the elderly in the NHS. While Richard's intention in calling for this debate is to point out serious failings in the treatment of old and vulnerable patients he will also pay tribute to the "heroic" work of so many doctors and nurses who achieve wonderful standards of care for those in their charge.
Richard will mention his constituent, Jenny Pitman, the well known former Racehorse Trainer whose father recently died of c. difficile.  Following his death Jenny's comments about her father's level of care received national coverage and she was deluged with letters and emails from families of elderly people from across the UK, who had suffered similar experiences with the care of their loved one.
Before the debate Richard said,
"I want to give voice to the families who have had such terrible experiences. I want to give voice to the NHS professionals who would like to be able to do more for the elderly in their care but are prevented from doing so. Most of all, I wish to remind MPs and more importantly, the Minister
The debate will be at 11.00am on Tuesday 20th May in Westminster Hall

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Benyon congratulates Vodafone on its first quarter century

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has congratulated mobile phone giant Vodafone on the 25th anniversary of obtaining its first mobile telecommunications licence.  Vodafone started on an upper floor just off Newburys Northbrook Street in the early 1980s.  Originally spawned out of Reading based Racal and its visionary leader, Sir Ernie Harrison, the company grew from a handful of employees with no licence to the global giant of today. Vodafone now operates in 24 countries on behalf of 260 million customers with a turnover last year of around £30 billion. It is the only British company among the big five providers in the UK and it is still based in Newbury. On the anniversary of the award of their first licence by the then Science and Technology Minister, Ken Baker, Richard Benyon said,
“I warmly congratulate all the employees of Vodafone on the success of the last quarter century. Vodafone is a triumph of corporate vision and technological superiority.  Like most local people, I am proud to have Vodafone based here in the Town where it was born 25 years ago.
Richard paid particular tribute to the value of Vodafone to the local community of West Berkshire. He went on to say,
“I have taken every opportunity I can to tell Parliament how this company is a model of corporate responsibility. There is scarcely a voluntary organisation, a sporting body, an arts group or a school in West Berkshire that has not been helped by Vodafone. Their employees go into schools to help with reading programmes and business studies. They go into darkest West Berkshire and get their hands dirty doing environmental work. I take great pleasure in thanking everyone at Vodafone for all they have done for west Berkshire in the last 25 years      

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Local MP backs Big Read Scheme

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury,  is encouraging school children in the area to get involved in a book donation scheme for the children of Sierra Leone. Literacy rates in Sierra Leone are the worst in the world at the end of a brutal civil war which involved 30,000 child soldiers.
Richard Benyon said ‘There is only one book in circulation for every 200 children in Sierra Leone and only half of them get the chance to go to school. I am delighted to back the Big Read which sees our children donate the books they have grown out of to the poorest children in the world who are desperate to read great literature.
Notes: For further details contact www.codep.co.uk

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Richard Benyon MP signs up to dialysis manifesto

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Richard Benyon today joined The All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group for the launch of their ‘Dialysis Manifesto. The Manifesto sets out ten clear recommendations for making dialysis services fit for the 21st century.
Kidney failure is fatal if left untreated. In 2005 in England alone, 41,776 people were alive on renal replacement therapy, and around half of these were on dialysis. Enduring an average of three trips to hospital each week, for several hours at a time, can have a hugely detrimental impact on patients quality of life. The system is too often inflexible, and doesnt always deliver the best for patients. The manifesto shows that now is the time to change that.
Richards own involvement in the All Party Kidney Group in Parliament is due to two factors. The first is the presence of one of the countrys leading medical companies, Baxter UK, at Compton. Baxter is a leading provider of dialysis equipment and in particular, a system which allows the choice of home dialysing for many patients. The second is the memory of one of his predecessors as MP for Newbury, Michael McNair-Wilson who courageously continued for many years after suffering kidney failure. Sir Michael retired in 1992 and died a year later.
Local MP Richard Benyon said:
“In Newbury there are hundreds of people who are kept alive by kidney dialysis. They deserve the best possible care, and I fully support the recommendations of the Dialysis Manifesto which will help improve patients quality of life.  By implementing these recommendations, we can ensure that all people who need dialysis can access the services they need in the most convenient way possible.

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MP for Newbury Richard Benyon visits Tesco Extra

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Richard Benyon today met with Deputy Store Manager, Simon Nellis to congratulate the store on its shopping bag recycling scheme.  Tescos in Newbury has reduced it usage by 6.25 million bags in just twenty months.

Photo shows Simon Nellis and Richard Benyon assisting a shopper to use the carrier bag recycling bank.
 

Richard Benyon said; “Offering customers incentives through the points on their Clubcard coupled with peoples natural willingness to use fewer plastic bags is having a dramatic effect in this store.  I congratulate Tescos and all their staff on their success thus far.

 

Notes:

 

Photo shows Simon Nellis and Richard Benyon assisting a shopper to use the carrier bag recycling bank.

 
 

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“An honourable conclusion” to War Widow’s plight.

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A five year campaign to secure justice for a War Widow has come to an end through a decision by the Ministry of Defence to award a back dated war pension and to give an apology for her treatment at the hands of the Veterans Agency. The “Justice for Gillian campaign focussed on the treatment of Newbury resident, Gillian Norbury, and her late husband, Billy.  He won an immediate Military Cross for an action in Burma in 1944 in which he received horrific injuries to his feet, legs and abdomen.  As a resident of Kenya, he received a small payment each year from the colonial authorities but this ceased when Kenya gained independence in 1963. In the ensuing years Billy Norbury suffered severe complications arising from his wounds and frequently asked the British Government for help and for the benefits he was due. With letters ignored and no help from successive Governments, Billy died in poverty in South Africa ignored by Britain, the country he fought for so valiantly. His widow, Gillian, returned to England with very few possessions having spent every penny on medical treatment. Her case was taken up by former colleagues of Billys who, under the leadership of Captain John Nunneley, set up the “Justice for Gillian Campaign in March 2003.

 

In 2005 Richard Benyon, the newly elected MP for Newbury, set about raising the case with Ministers. Richard and John Nunneley have been to see three successive Veterans Ministers and have taken part in protests in Whitehall. The matter was raised with the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and received national attention as veterans from across the country joined the campaign.

 

Last month Richard and John heard that they had been successful in achieving a back-dated war pension and an apology for mal-administration by the Veterans Agency.

 

Richard said,

 

“I am delighted for Gillian. This has been a terrible episode that has exposed real failings in the system. I pay huge tribute to Gillian for the quiet dignity she has displayed over the years and to John Nunneley who has shown energy and determination that those half his age have found hard to equal

 

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Benyon speaks in Post Office debate

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In Parliament yesterday Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, spoke with passion of the "wickedness" of the Post Office closure plan that is seeing five Post Offices close in his constituency. Calling the consultation process a sham, he rounded on the shambolic process which is seeing a post office in Thatcham close while thousands of new houses are being built on its doorstep. This Post Office also serves an area that saw some of the worst flooding in July of last year. Richard spoke of the lack of humanity in the so called, "access criteria".  This is a line on the map showing the nearest distance "as the crow flies", to the next available Post Office, and forms the basis for the Governments rules permitting forced closures.  Pensioners and vulnerable people don't fly like crows, they have to make do with infrequent public transport down winding rural lanes.
Richard said,
"This is not just about Post Offices and the services they provide. This is about communities and the complex web of relationships and interactions that make those communities viable""
Because of the number of MPs who wanted to speak, Richard's speech was curtailed to just 7 minutes which meant he was unable to give a breakdown of his reasons for opposing each proposed closure in West Berkshire.  
The speech can be read in full at http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm080319/debtext/80319-0019.htm#08031951001473

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MP comments on Vodafone redundancies

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Following the announcement of 450 redundancies at Vodafone's Newbury Head Quarters, local MP Richard Benyon said,
"I feel huge sympathy for all who have lost their jobs today. I have had detailed briefings from the company over recent days and I am satisfied that everything will be done to provide for those who are facing redundancy.
While any job loss is regrettable, I am sure of the financial stability of Vodafone.  It is a global company that is growing across the world. We are lucky to have Vodafone's World Head Quarters here in Newbury.
I do not see this announcement as a response to the global economic downturn.  However, I do fear that the effects of the so called "credit crunch" are starting to be felt here in the Thames Valley. In the next 12 months or so we are likely to see many companies looking at how they will weather the storm"

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Local MP Richard Benyon joins Winnie The Pig for Westminster Rally

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Campaign for Fairer Prices

Local MP Richard Benyon joined hundreds of pig farmers from across the country yesterday and veteran campaigner ‘Winnie the Pig to call for fairer prices for pig farmers. 

Richard Benyon has signed an Early Day Motion expressing concern that ,pig farmers are losing more than £20 on every animal raised, posing a serious threat to the future of British pig production

The ‘ Pigs are worth it! Rally aimed to secure support from MPs and Peers for fair prices for British pig farmers who have the highest animal welfare standards in the world.  Richard is writing to supermarket bosses and processors asking them to help ensure higher prices flow down the supply chain to farmers.

Consumers have said they are happy to pay more for high welfare pork to help farmers  and over 13,000 have signed a petition presented to Downing Street. 

Richard Benyon said, “West Berkshire was traditionally a great pig rearing area. There are now just a handful of pig farmers left. The supermakets have inceased the price of pork but this has not trickled down to the producers. I am a very committed supporter of this campaign."

Richard met local pig farmer Nigel Strang and Thatcham based feed merchant, Nick Dalton who said, British pigs need the support of the British Public to ensure the future viability of British pig farming.  Local people need to buy British pork and bacon with the quality standard logo, in order to do this.

British Pig Executive Chairman Stewart Houston said: "We have reached crisis point.  Without an increase, farmers stand to lose approximately £200 million in the next year and many face the prospect of going out of business.  Then consumers will lose the choice to buy higher welfare Quality Standard Mark pork, bacon and ham.  Two-thirds of all imported produce would be illegal to produce in the UK as it doesn't meet our higher welfare standards."

Notes:-

For further details please contact:

Ekta Sopal
Good Relations
Tel: 0207 861 3154
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James Drewer
Good Relations
Tel: 020 7861 3121
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Philip Brady
Good Relations
Tel: 0207 861 3132
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NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The ‘Pigs are worth it! rally was organised by the National Pig Association, with the support of the British Pig Executive (BPEX) – visit the campaign website at www.pigsareworthit.com

2. Rise in Feed Prices - The dramatic increase in feed prices has been caused by a number of factors, principally the doubling of world wheat prices.  This is due to poor harvests in many of the Worlds wheat producing regions, increased demand from China and India, and greater demand from the biofuels industry.  Industry experts predict that high wheat prices will prevail for at least the next 12 months.

3. Quality Standard Mark - The UK has an independently audited quality assurance scheme for pig meat, which covers all aspects of production, including animal welfare. All pork, gammon, bacon, ham and sausages produced under this scheme carry the distinctive British Meat Quality Standard Mark (QSM) on pack. EU countries supplying the UK are not legally obliged to meet these UK minimum legal standards, as a result an estimated two thirds of all imports fail to do so.

4. Winnie The Pig - Winnie is now nine years old and lives on a farm in Oxfordshire.  She is a veteran pig industry campaigner, having spend three months in Parliament Sq in 2000 and stood for London Mayor to highlight the issues facing pig farmers.

5. Text of Early Day Motion signed by Richard Benyon,

“That this House congratulates the British pig industry on its high production standards, on its continued commitment to animal welfare and on the provision of the best in pork, bacon and ham to consumers; notes with concern that high animal feed prices mean that pig farmers are losing more than £20 on every animal raised, posing a serious threat to the future of British pig production; notes that shoppers have said they are willing to pay more for high welfare British pork, and that 70% of imported pork has been produced under conditions that would be illegal in the UK; welcomes the National Pig Association and British Pig Executives' campaign - “Pigsareworthit.com and calls on Government to help ensure that increases in retails prices flow down the supply chain to Britains pig farmers.

6. Consumer support: A YouGov Survey of 2,000 consumers showed:

  • 78% of people polled who buy pork and/or poultry products were prepare to pay a little more to cover rising production costs and support British Farmers.
  • Only 9% of those surveyed believed farmers are paid a fair price by major retailers
  • 91% of people agreed that it is important for Britain to retain a strong agricultural sector

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MP Secures Parliamentary Debate on Security at RAF Welford

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In response to a possible scaling down of security at one of the UK's largest ammunition stores, Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has secured parliamentary time for a debate to which a Minister is duty bound to respond.

RAF Welford, near Newbury in Berkshire, is used by US Forces based in the UK, in particular those based at RAF Fairford. Following an unsatisfactory response from the Minister, Richard has taken this step to raise the tempo on this important issue. The current complement of armed MOD Police Officers and dog handlers is, it is rumoured, to be replaced by three unarmed security guards. Richard said,

"I hope this debate will tease out of Ministers a rethink on a measure that places unacceptable risks at a specialist munitions storage facility at this very dangerous time."

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Benyon stands up for residents in Upper Basildon

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, has long campaigned for a change in the definition of brownfield land, so that it excludes gardens.  Under a loop-hole excepted by the Government, developers are demolishing houses with large gardens and replacing them with multi-dwelling developments.  One of the worst communities to be affected by this scourge is Upper Basildon. 
Now the residents of Bethesda Street have been hit by a proposed development on the sites formerly known as ‘Randars and ‘Applecroft.  In September 2007, the application, as is so often the case, was refused by West Berkshire Council.  The application drew around 90 letters of objection from local residents. 
Richard Benyon said , “I dont normally get involved in detailed planning applications, but this one is symptomatic of the problem.  The developer will appeal, quoting Government guidance and local peoples opinions are ignored.  On top of this, the developer has removed much of the hedgerow adjacent to Bethesda Street, cut down a great many trees, and has left the site in an appalling state.  It is almost as if he is deliberately antagonising local people by his actions.  I deplore the way this application has proceeded, the Governments refusal to change the definition of brownfield land, and the way in which this developer is treating this very attractive part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Notes:
1.  Richard Benyon would be willing to meet journalists on site by arrangement.
2.  To see the sorts of developments that the Architects for this applicant design, look at the new executive homes built adjacent to the Beehive in Upper Basildon.  These have been described by Richard  Benyon as some examples of the worst planning decisions he has seen in West Berkshire.

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MP's concern for Servicemen suffering from Post Traumatic Stress

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, raised the important issue of Servicemen suffering from the psychological effects of war with Ministers in the House of Commons today.
He is concerned by reports of servicemen being treated under the MOD's contract with the Priory Group.
Richard said,
"There are alarming reports from servicemen being treated for trauma under the MOD's contract with the Priory Group. Some talk of being asked not to speak of their experiences in group therapy sessions, for fear of upsetting other civilians in the group . Another spoke of being seated next to someone who was receiving bereavement counselling for the loss of her cat.
Is it appropriate that the psychological welfare of servicemen traumatised by war has been subcontracted out to an organisation such as the Priory Group?"
Notes:
Richard is a Trustee of Help for Heroes (www.helpforheroes.org.uk) and is a former infantry officer.

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MP’s outrage over consultation sham

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Richard Benyon MP spoke out this week expressing his bitter disappointment and frustration at the news that all five Post Offices targeted for closure in his Newbury constituency will be closing despite massive opposition from local residents.
Post Office Ltd have confirmed that Englefield, Shaw, Hampstead Norreys, Station Road and Chapel Row Post Offices will all be closing regardless of the serious difficulties that this will raise for residents, particularly the elderly and disabled.
Richard said:
“It is absolutely appalling that the so-called consultation has done nothing, merely paying lip service to local views. Its a total sham.
 The fact that all five Post Offices are closing despite the serious issues that were raised by myself, numerous local residents and even Postwatch shows that Post Office Ltd never had any intention of taking our views into account. 
 This decision has left many vulnerable and elderly people without access to a Post office and will threaten the viability of the shops they are in, which are vital amenities, particularly for rural communities.
 I will continue to support our Post Offices and will be renewing my efforts to make sure fair compensation is given to closed Post Office owners.

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Newbury MP raises case of Simon Mann in Parliament.

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Richard Benyon called today in Parliament for a Government Statement on the illegal abduction and imprisonment of British Citizen, Simon Mann, in Equatorial Guinea.  Mr Mann was born and brought up in Richards West Berkshire constituency and his parents lived there until their recent deaths.   Representing the views of Simons friends and family, Richard joined with other MPs in calling for Government action to secure the release or fair trial of Simon Mann.
Richard said “The Governments attitude to those detained in Guantanamo Bay was rightfully that it mattered not what those detainees had or had not done, everyone has the right to legal representation and a fair trial.  I have therefore asked the Leader of the House to encourage the Foreign Secretary to give a full statement on what actions the government are taking to hold Equatorial Guinea accountable for Simon Manns situation.
Notes:
Simon Mann was jailed for 6.5 years in Zimbabwe for allegations relating to a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea.   When his sentence was completed he was illegally extradited to Equatorial Guinea, a country notorious for its appalling human rights record.

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Benyon’s view on planning application Atomic Weapons Establishment

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Commenting on the application by the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston for a new testing facility for high explosives, the local MP, Richard Benyon said:
"As I understand it this is a replacement of an existing facility. If anything it should be an improvement because of the removal of the unsightly existing buildings and their replacement with facilities that are less visual from outside the fence and more fit for today's demands. For those of us who live in the proximity of the AWE, there will be no change to what is and has been carried out on the site"
Richard Benyon has been a supporter of the work of the AWE and of the many of his constituents who work there. He has always put the safety of the site as his priority and mentioned his support for the AWE in his maiden speech to the House of Commons in 2005.

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MPs "Disappointment" at NATS Decision

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The two MPs who lead the campaign against the National Air Traffic Services' (NATS) proposal to increase use of the airspace around parts of West Berkshire and North Hampshire said they were, "disappointed that the plan was going forward with only minor amendments".
Sir George Young and Richard Benyon, the MPs for North West Hampshire and Newbury respectively, went on to say,
“Whilst we are grateful that there will be fewer flights in the middle of the night we fear that traffic will be subsequently increased without consultation. We are discussing with local constituents how best to take this forward

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Richard Benyon MP publishes expenses in full

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At a press conference on Tuesday morning, David Cameron unveiled plans to bring greater openness to the issue of MPs' expenses with a new 'Right To Know' form. The form will be used by all Front Bench members of the Conservatives to publish full details of their office expenses.

It will include a comprehensive list of staff and their positions, an indication of any family members employed, and a break down of office running costs and expenditure incurred by 'staying away from main home'.

Richard said, “This is a good move which will show that Conservative MPs are mindful that they are spending public money. All MPs are currently required to submit their expenses to the House of Commons, but only a selection of items are made public. The names of staff members, where they work and what they do will all be made public as well as details of how much is spent on postage, travel and the Communications and Additional Costs allowances in Richards office.
Richard, who already publishes a summary of his expenses on his website, (http://www.richardbenyon.com/about_richard/mp_expenses.asp) welcomed the new regulations as an important step towards a more transparent Parliament saying,
“I am more than happy to make these details available to my constituents. Recent events have, unfortunately, brought the conduct of all MPs into question and I am keen to reassure my constituents that my priority lies in working for them. I am very serious about my responsibility to the tax payer in the way I spend my allowances.
Richards website shows he is 626 out of 646 MPs in the expenses he claims

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RAF Welford

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Following concerns raised locally that the security at the US-run ammunition store at RAF Welford was being downgraded, Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, raised the matter with the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne.
Today he received a reply from the Minister of State, Derek Twigg.  This reply stated that “The USVF (United States Visiting Force) is (also) continually reviewing its security arrangements and the MOD is currently engaged in discussions with them regarding security at RAF Welford, however, no decision has yet been made.
Richard Benyon has since written back to the Minister asking for permission (as he has to under MOD rules) to visit RAF Welford in the very near future.
Richard Benyon said “The security for this base is a legitimate matter for local concern.  I do not ask for sensitive information to be disclosed, but just want the assurance that all the munitions stored at Welford are secure.

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Benyon: “Calling all Veterans”

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MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, is calling all veterans in his constituency who have not already done so, to apply for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge. He said;“All men and women who served in the armed forces up to and including 31st December 1994 are eligible for this badge. In addition, Polish Forces under UK command, the Cyprus Regiment and the Home Guard who served in World War II are also eligible. If you think you may be eligible and would like a form, please contact my office on 01635 551070” As an ex-Royal Green Jacket, Richard is eligible for the badge himself and will be presented with it at Reception at the House of Commons on 16th January.

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Benyon dismayed by Government Decision to close Hermitage Military Base

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Newbury  MP, Richard Benyon, has written an urgent letter to Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth, to register his dismay at the decision to move the 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic), currently based at Hermitage, West Berkshire, to join the Intelligence Collection Group Headquarters and Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre at RAF Wyton.  The Royal School of Military Survey, currently also at Hermitage, will assimilate with other training elements at the DIS site at Chicksands.  It is the Governments intention is that these moves will lead to the disposal of the Hermitage site.
Richard Benyon said that the matter had been smuggled out in a raft of written Ministerial Statements a few days before the House rose for the Christmas recess. He said, “I only found out because I take a great interest in Defence issues and saw a statement was to be tabled entitled “Defence Programme to Rationalise and Integrate the Defence Intelligence Staff Estate.  I think it is a real matter of regret that Ministers did not have the courtesy to inform the local MP so that the necessary local people could be informed before it was public knowledge. There will certainly be a number of redundancies as a result of this move.  It is a real sadness that local links that have been fostered with the Royal Engineers and 42 Engineer Regiment Geographic in particular, will be lost

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Benyon calls for debate on West Berkshire Post Office closures

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In Business Questions in the House of Commons today, Newbury MP, Richard Benyon asked the leader of the house, Harriet Harman, for a debate on Post Office Closures.   Voicing his anger at this weeks announcement of 5 Post Office closures in the Newbury constituency, Richard particularly raised the case of the post office in Station Road, Thatcham.  He said;
“This was a particularly sickening blow for a community that has recently suffered severe flooding.
The Leader of the House indicated that such a debate may be programmed for early in the New Year. 
Notes
1. For more information please see Local campaigns
2. Full text will be available on Hansard on 14.12.07

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Benyon attends welcome home for local heroes returning from Iraq

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon joined the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and other dignitaries for a welcome home parade for 4th Battalion, The Rifles in Salisbury.  The Battalion nicknamed “The Lions of Basra by the Press for their courage in facing relentless attacks during their recent tour, paraded through the crowded streets of Salisbury at the invitation of the Mayor and City Council.
The Rifles are now the local Regiment to Richards Newbury constituency.  They are formed from the amalgamation of The Devonshire & Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Light Infantry and Richards former Regiment, The Royal Green Jackets.  The Regiment has five regular battalions; based in Chepstow, Ballykinler, Edinburgh, Bulford and Paderborn and two Territorial Army battalions based in Exeter and Reading.  Over the last year all battalions have either been on or are preparing for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan and there are already countless examples of the bravery and professionalism of the Riflemen.
Following the parade Richard said,
“We should all feel huge pride in our local regiment. Some of these lads are only 18 and have fought like lions in soaring temperatures against a determined enemy. If anyone doubts the so-called “play station generation you only have to see these men and hear of their achievements to have huge optimism for the future
Notes:
 4th Battalion on Operation TELIC 10
The Battalion deployed to Iraq in May 2007 where it took over Basrah Palace from the 2 RIFLES.  Over the next three months the Battalion was involved in some of the fiercest and most costly urban fighting of the Iraq campaign and under constant rocket and mortar bombardment.  Operating by night and day and under intense fire the Battalion conducted operations in the City to arrest insurgent leaders or to guard the re-supply convoys coming in from the main British base at the airport.  During these night-long battles and with temperatures in the vehicles reaching 70°C the Riflemen showed incredible courage and resilience to hold their own against an enemy who had the advantage of choosing the time and place of battle.  It was during these operations that the Battle Group suffered eleven dead and over seventy injured, including, from the Battalion, Corporal Jez Brookes, Corporal Rodney Wilson, Major Paul Harding, Corporal John Rigby and Rifleman Edward Vakabua.  The Battalions achievement was to force the insurgents to come to terms with the Iraqi Security Force leadership thereby setting the conditions for the orderly handover of Basrah Palace, and peace and stability in Basrah which still endures almost four months later.
After leaving the Palace the Battalion remained at the forefront of the British effort in Iraq; mounting frequent patrols out to the desert east of Basrah in order to deter the smuggling of munitions from Iran.  The final company arrived back from Iraq at the end of November and all ranks are now looking forward to a hard earned month of Leave over Christmas.

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Benyon steps-up campaign to Save our Post Offices

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Newbury MP, Richard Benyon has stepped-up his fight following todays publication of the list of local Post Offices targeted for closure.
Richards long-running campaign to save our local Post Offices intensifies as he prepares to submit his contribution to the public consultation, which, thanks to his intervention, has now been extended to the 31st January 2008.
Post Offices named for prospective closure include: Chapel Row, Englefield, Hampstead Norreys, Kiln Road in Shaw and Station Road in Thatcham.
Richard said:
“I would urge every single constituent, who opposes the closures of these valuable local Post Offices to make their own submissions to the consultation, expressing dismay at the proposed closures.
“Our local Post Offices are vital amenities and often the only accessible shop for elderly or disabled people. I shall make every effort to keep our Post Offices open.
Earlier this year, Richard submitted a 5,292-name petition to Parliament, so another petition at this stage would be ineffective.  The Post Office needs to hear the impact that these closures would have on local communities and representations should make special mention of their impact on the elderly and vulnerable.
To make a submission to the consultation, please write to Post Office Network, Post Office Ltd, FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Benyon speaks up for Berkshire Downs and rural communities in Parliament.

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The MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon spoke in Parliament yesterday of the need to protect livestock farming.  He spoke of the “honour and privilege of representing one of the most beautiful parts of the south of England: the Berkshire Downs.  While this part of Britain is still “hauntingly beautiful, Richard is concerned at the irreversible loss of mixed farming enterprises in this and other parts of Britain.  The loss of livestock from this part of Britain is having a dramatic affect on bio-diversity.  With most farms in the Downs now totally arable enterprises, the loss of much needed grassland for a whole variety of flora and fauna is starting to be noticed. 
In a speech that ranged across DEFRAs responsibilities, Richard was highly critical of the performance of one of the weakest departments of state.  Speaking of potential cuts to Berkshire Community Councils funding, Richard talked of the threat to the excellent work of this organisation.  This includes support for Parish Planning, village halls and help for disadvantaged people in rural communities.  The cut of £117,000 from DEFRA may not sound much in the great scheme of things but, as Richard said in his speech, “That money levers nearly £1m into rural communities
Richard also spoke up for scientists at Compton Institute of Animal Health who he said were the “whipping boys for Government incompetence. 
Notes
The full 8 minute speech is available on Hansard at
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm071204/debtext/71204-0020.htm#071204104000078

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Richard Benyon MP Backs National Campaign For Warm Homes

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Richard Benyon MP is backing a national campaign aimed at highlighting the plight of households who are unable to afford to heat their homes to adequate levels this winter.
The Warm Homes Campaign is an annual winter campaign organised by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA).
The campaign aims to cut the number of winter deaths and reduce cold-related illnesses by raising awareness of the help available to people who cannot afford to heat their homes in winter.
Approximately one in six UK households are unable to affordably heat their homes and 7.9% of households in the region live in fuel poverty. Unfortunately it is the most vulnerable members of our community such as the elderly, those with disabilities and low income families with young children who are most at risk.
Richard said:
“Fuel poverty is a very serious issue and I wholeheartedly support the good work this campaign is doing.
“In our modern world no one should have to spend the winter without heating and I would like to see an end to fuel poverty in West Berkshire and across the UK
 “As much of my constituency is rural many households rely upon oil heating. As a result of the recent rises in the price of oil, the task of affordably heating these properties is all the harder and many people may be struggling this winter.
For information and advice on keeping warm in winter call the Home Heat Helpline on free phone 0800 336699 or for more information about grants available to keep your home warm call 0800 3166014
Notes:
Figures supplied by National Energy Action charity.

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RICHARD BENYON MP GIVES ADVICE TO CONSTITUENTS FOLLOWING HMRC DATA LOSS

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Richard Benyon MP is calling on all constituents to remain vigilant following the loss of bank account details, national insurance numbers and other personal information belonging to over 25 million individuals.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday announced that “two password-protected discs containing a full copy of HMRCs entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit were sent to the NAO, by HMRCs internal post system operated by the courier TNT. The package was not recorded or registered.
Commenting on the loss of personal data by HMRC, Richard said: “This is an error which has clear implications for many families in West Berkshire.
“We all have a responsibility now to watch our accounts closely, and ensure that we report any suspicious behaviour either to HMRC or our banks.
Advice to constituents:
If you have any concerns, please contact HMRC on 0845 302 1444 between 8am and 8pm on any day of the week (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and new Years Day).
If you see any suspicious activity in your bank statements, please contact your bank immediately.
The following steps can also be taken to help prevent identity fraud:
  •  
    • Keep your personal and confidential documents secure
    • Regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unusual transactions
    • Regularly obtain a copy of your credit report from credit reference agencies Callcredit, Equifax or Experian, and monitor it for discrepancies
    • When you move home, redirect your mail from your old address to your new address for at least a year.
    • Always shred before disposing of documentation – bank and credit card statements, utility bills, receipts, direct mail containing any personal information, mortgage applications etc
    • Going away? If you're planning to be away from home, youll want to make sure you dont leave any obvious clues, like a pile of mail on your doormat, contact Royal Mail about their 'Keepsafe' service which will hold your mail for up to two months, and deliver it on your return. For more information visit www.royalmail.com
    • Never give out any personal information to unidentified individuals or organisations who contact you by phone, email or face-to-face
    • Visit www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/ for information on different types of fraud
    • Never respond to e-mails asking for personal or financial information. Be especially careful when sending personal information over the internet. 
    • If you receive an email that warns, with little or no notice, that an account will be shut down unless you reconfirm billing or security information, you should not reply or click on the link in the email. Instead, contact the institution cited in the email using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine.
    • Use up-to-date anti-virus software and a personal firewall and, if your computer uses the Microsoft Windows operating system, keep it updated from the Microsoft website. Be extra careful if using Internet cafes or any PC which is not your own and over which you have no control. If in doubt, a good place to get help and guidance on how to stay safe online is your bank's website. Check regularly for specific information and guidance on protecting your PC and yourself online.
    • Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial information through a web site, look for the ‘lock icon on the browser's status bar. It signals that personal information is secure during transmission.
    • Never give personal information to people calling from companies you have not dealt with before. Always check the identity of these people by calling them back.  Obtain their office number from directory enquiries and then confirm their position with the switchboard before speaking to them
    • If you have been a victim of identity fraud involving the use of plastic cards, online banking or cheques, the matter should be reported direct to the financial institution concerned. They will then be responsible for further investigation and, where appropriate, onward reporting to the police. Other incidents should be reported to the relevant organisation and, dependent on their advice, to your local police station

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Benyon calls for answers over new flight paths

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Richard Benyon spoke out yesterday on controversial plans by National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to establish new flight paths into Southampton and Bournemouth airports despite massive opposition from local parish councils in West Berkshire and surrounding areas.
During a Parliamentary adjournment debate Richard called for Ministers to address the concerns of constituents whose villages lie beneath these new flight paths where aircraft will fly as low as 5,500 feet.
Issues such as increased noise pollution and the flawed public consultation on the plans were raised by Richard during the debate where he was joined by other Conservative colleagues who are concerned about the effect of these plans upon constituents.
Richard said:
“It is totally unclear first why this extra airspace is needed and second why NATS are refusing to take public opinion on board. We have been given all manner of conflicting information by the Government and NATS and this must be addressed.
 “I was extremely glad to have the opportunity to speak on this important issue in the House, however I am certainly not planning to stop at that. I will continue to push the issue and seek coherent answers from NATS and Government Ministers until it comes to a satisfactory end.
Notes:
1.     For more information please ring Richard Benyon on 07836 204330
2.     Hansard links
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm071119/debtext/71119-0023.htm#0711208001311
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/
cm071119/debtext/71119-0023.htm#0711208001315

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Benyon's website - Runner-up in Best MP Website Awards

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Richard Benyon was delighted that his website (www.richardbenyon.com) was a runner-up in the category of Best MP Website, by the judges of the British Computer Societys MP Website Awards in a ceremony which took place at the House of Commons on 7th November.
Judges were looking for MP websites that  successfully engage and excite, yet usefully inform with honourable purpose  . In addition, judging criteria took into account ease of navigation, accessibility and effective use of modern media techniques such as blogs, pod or video casts and instant messaging.  There were 4 categories and Richards website was runner-up in the most coveted category of Best  MP Website.
Richard said;
"It is very flattering to have it chosen as a runner-up in this category.  We have tried to create an informative site which is easy to navigate and I pay tribute to my web designer, Lindsay Kuzu of Ravensloft,  for all his hard work in creating exactly what we needed."
BCS
Notes to Editor
1.    For more information contact Richard Benyon on 07836 204330
2.    Further information can be obtained  from Chris Webb at the British Computer society on 
01793 417569 or at
http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.15718
3.    Richard Benyon's website was created and is hosted by Ravensloft web design  - http://www.ravensloft.co.uk/

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Families face ‘double whammy’ of bin taxes and council tax warns Richard Benyon MP

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Families across West Berkshire face the prospect of new bin taxes on top of council tax, Richard Benyon warned today. After confusion in Whitehall, Labour Ministers have finally confirmed that new taxes for bin collections will go ahead.
It is currently against the law for town halls to charge for standard collections of household rubbish. In July, a cross-party Parliamentary Committee savaged the bin tax plans, warning of more fly-tipping, neighbourhood bin wars, non-payment by the public; it said that the plans would raise the overall burden of taxation.
News of higher taxes comes as new official figures published by the Government have exposed that fly-tipping across England is soaring. In West Berkshire there were 1,360 incidents of fly-tipping between 2006-2007. In total, cleaning up after fly-tipping across West Berkshire has cost local taxpayers £168,571 over the last three years. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign is warning that new bin taxes will make the problem even worse.
Richard said:
“Bin taxes would harm the local environment and public health by leading to a surge in fly-tipping and backyard burning. The set-up and running costs of such a complex tax, installing microchips in every bin, will mean the overall burden of taxation will rise. Families now face the double whammy of record council tax bills and new bin taxes.
“Yet the soaring costs of waste are yet another example of how Whitehall and EU burdens are being imposed on West Berkshire council. The answer is not to create new local taxes. Labour Ministers must stop imposing unfunded obligations and red tape on local communities and cease hiking up local taxes by stealth.

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Richard takes action on Post Office closures

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Richard sprang to action this week after hearing that the West Berkshire and Wiltshire consultation on proposed Post Office closures is set to take place over the Christmas and New Year period.The consultation period is scheduled to begin on 11th December 2007 and last for six weeks.Richard is extremely concerned that this puts any Post Office’s targeted for closure at a serious disadvantage, limiting the time available to participate in the consultation as well as making it difficult for customers to become involved. Richard has written to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier, urging him to reschedule the consultation so that West Berkshire and Wiltshire Post Offices, and their customers, are not put at such a disadvantage.Richard said:“I was extremely disappointed to hear that our consultation period has been planned to cover the Christmas and New Year period. This is clearly unfair and extremely bad planning.”“I will continue to fight against any closures of our valued Post Offices. I hope that my letter to Adam Crozier will prompt him to move our consultation, however if this is not the case I am dedicated to mounting a large scale campaign against closures.”

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BENYON CALLS ON CHINA TO END ARMS SALES TO SUDAN

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Member of Parliament for Newbury, Richard Benyon, today called on China to end its arms sales to the Sudanese Government until the crisis in Darfur has abated. Richard is one of over a hundred parliamentarians to have added their name to a letter to the Chinese Premier which was delivered to the Chinese Embassy in London on Monday the 29th of October.Speaking before the hand in Richard said: “The situation in Darfur is an absolute catastrophe, over 200,000 people have died, over 2 million have been forced from their homes, and over 4 million are now dependent on international help. While this horrendous crisis continues the Chinese Government should end its arms sales to the Sudanese regime. The Chinese Government has an opportunity to show before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing next year that it can be a responsible international partner on Darfur, if it fails to do so, Darfur could cast a long shadow over next years games.”Chinese arms sales to Sudan rose twenty fivefold between 2002 and 2005 (the last available data), this was in spite of a United Nations Security Council arms embargo which applies to the Darfur region in Western Sudan. While China states that its arms sales do not violate the embargo, the United Nations has found artillery shell casings that originate from China.

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MP’s anger at Liberal Democrat Councillors behaviour

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On Tuesday 9th October, Richard Benyon commented in the House of Commons on an email from the Leader of Newbury Town Council, which related to a proposal from Newburys Mayor to hold a reception for members of the local Royal Engineers unit, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The email response from the Liberal Democrat Leader went as follows:
“If Adrian can cover it from his civic budget, then fine.
I am not a supporter of the current military operations in Iraq, so would not be keen to see any addition funding going towards this.
Reports on the Newbury today website show that the leader of Newbury Town Council is unrepentant and worse still is being supported by the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
 Richard Benyon said:
“I have rarely been so angry as when I read the initial email.  For Councillors Grose and Rendel to indulge in bluff and bluster to try and get out of this mess is quite simply disgraceful.  If Cllr Grose had simply said he was mistaken and had no wish to insult local servicemen, I would have let the matter drop.  Their response, as shown on the Newbury Today website, has compounded their appalling behaviour.  This is not about politics. It is about compassion, admiration for our armed services for the difficult work they do, and for the sacrifices they and their families make. To link whatever we may think about the rights or wrongs of the wars we fight with how we feel about those who serve is just crass, hurtful and plain ignorant.
Richard Benyon utterly refuted the pathetic slur of making a party political point.  He did not even mention the Liberal Democrat Leaders political affiliation when commenting on his email in Parliament.  Richard would have attacked any politician who had made such a  statement.  He has refused to comment to national media who contacted him on this matter. The only people to have politicised it are the leader of Newbury Town Council and the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
Notes:
In Parliament on 9th October Richard said:
“I also pay tribute to the Mayor of Newbury, who is an excellent man. He has taken