Petition: Compensation for Thameslink Passengers

Petition: Compensation for Thameslink Passengers

The government has announced an enhanced package of compensation for users of Govia Thameslink Railway’s Southern Route, after delays and cancellations that have made the service unusable. However, it has no plans to extend this to Thameslink customers, who have suffered in the same way.

Gavin is campaigning to make sure that

  • every Season Ticket holder is refunded at least one month’s ticket cost
  • delay repay becomes active after 15 minutes, not 30 minutes as is presently the case

Thameslink

In order to comply with Parliament’s rules on presenting petitions, we need to verify you are a constituent of Luton South – which is why you must fill all the fields below.

Gavin will keep you up to date on his progress through you filling this form.

Petition: Compensation for Thameslink Passengers

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Applications for 2016 Summer School are now open

Gavin Shuker is calling  for local young people and local charities to apply to his Summer School.

The School has so far trained over 80 young people interested in politics and campaigning. This year the programme will run from 25 July- 19 August 2016 and will include a day in Parliament, sickness a three-day residential course and three weeks working with a charity in Luton. The young people will gain an insight into political life and will have the opportunity to meet high profile politicians.

Applicants to the programme should be aged from 18-24 at the time of the Summer School. They do not have to be members of the Labour Party but have to be interested in politics. There is no cost to participants although they will have to arrange their own accommodation in Luton if they do not live in the town. All accommodation and most meals during the first week residential course are covered.

For those applying who require accommodation, ampoule this is available from at the University of Bedfordshire for a fixed cost and we have a limited bursary to help in the most difficult of circumstances. Contact us for more details.

We particularly welcome applications from women and those of ethnic minority background.

Please apply by filling out the application form here. The deadline for applications is Friday 6 May.

Gavin  is also calling for local charities to apply to take part in the Summer School. The charities that participate will have access to the enthusiasm and skills of 8 young people for a period of three weeks to assist with a campaign of their choosing. In the past groups have organised awareness and fundraising operations in the town centre.

Charities wishing to apply should send a short application, information pills of no more than 500 words, outlining the work that they do, details of the campaign they would like the Summer School participants to be involved in, and the support and advice they could provide for the young people during the three weeks. All applications should be sent to Farah Hussain at [email protected]

Voting against Syria airstrikes

17525193386_b693508e4a_oI wanted to explain why I will be voting against the extension of airstrikes in Syria in the House of Commons tonight.

ISIL are a truly appalling terrorist group and it is clear that they pose an extremely serious and growing threat, find both to the people of Syria and Iraq, ask and to British citizens at home and abroad. There is, of course, no easy solution to the threat ISIL pose, and that posed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and Britain cannot solve these problems alone.

In my view, any military action to suppress the activity of ISIL will only be successful if there is a credible regional force that is willing to fight on the ground. The Prime Minister has asserted that there are some 70,000 so-called moderate troops in Syria – and expects that this Anti-Assad force will willingly team up with the Pro-Assad forces to combat ISIL. I am highly sceptical on both these points.

There is no more important decision a country can take than to commit our armed forces to military action and this is not a decision that I, or any Member of Parliament, takes lightly. To be clear, military action always means loss of life, including innocent life. Given that, the test that needs to be met is whether proposed action has a credible chance of making things better and save lives.

In my view, the government’s proposed action does not pass this test.

For that reason – and regardless of the whipping arrangements of my party – I have long planned to vote against, and will do so at 10pm on Wednesday night.

Some sad news

In 2016 Gavin divorced. In May of that year he issued this statement:
I moved out of our home some months ago, and Lucie and I have now formally started the process of a divorce. This is obviously a difficult time for us, and we are both very grateful to friends and family for their presence and care. Our relationship is now focussed on raising our daughter together in the best way we can. Although I feel it’s now the appropriate time to make a statement, this will be my only public comment about it.

Gavin Shuker brings Thameslink senior team to Luton

Earlier this week, Gavin Shuker assembled the Thameslink CEO and other senior officers for a briefing on poor conditions at Luton station. Click here to find out more.

IMG_2905Gavin said: “Luton Station is the gateway to our town. The whole area around it has been redeveloped, but the undeveloped station presents a terrible first impression for new visitors.

“This morning, Thameslink Rail CEO, Charles Horton, visited Luton station at my request to view the poor condition the station’s in.

You told me what you think the issues are but as a commuter myself, I could point most of them out directly – as I did on the tour I gave them today.”

See what happened on the tour by clicking here.

Let’s keep it Co-op

As Chair of the Cooperative Parliamentary Party and one of 31 Labour and Cooperative MPs, for sale I have a particularly strong sense of the contribution the Cooperative Party makes to our politics. Like many of you I’m proud to be a member of the Cooperative Group, sick which runs and owns the thousands of ethical co-op supermarkets in every postal area of the UK.

That’s why the news that the longstanding and productive partnership between the Co-op Party and the Co-op Group is at risk has me worried.

Gavin with fellow Labour Coop MPs
Gavin with fellow Labour/Co-op MPs

At this year’s Co-op Group AGM the historic link between the UK’s largest co-operative, cheap owned and run by its members, and the Co-op Party will be under threat.

For nearly a hundred years the Co-op Group has supported the Co-op Party through its membership subscription, helping put co-operative principles into action in British politics in a democratic and transparent way. But now there are fears that Co-op Group management want to sever ties.

Some have argued that, as a business with a wide variety of customers, the Co-op Group shouldn’t be affiliated to any political party. They claim it’s improper for the Group to seek to have a political voice. I disagree.

Being a co-operator isn’t just about being part of a radical and democratic business model which puts control and ownership in the hands of members. Being a member of the Cooperative Group is also about being part of a social and political movement, with its own values and ethical concerns.

If you agree, click here to find out more about the campaign to save the partnership.

Gavin celebrates Fairtrade Fortnight with a bottle of Co-op Group Fairtrade wine
Marking Fairtrade Fortnight with a bottle of Co-op Fairtrade wine

The Co-op Group has a proud history of standing up for what’s right and championing the values of the movement, with its wholehearted endorsement of Fairtrade, its community fund, the green schools revolution project, its ethical plan, its charity of the year scheme and its insistence on ethical investment in banking.

The very existence of the Co-op Group is a political statement; an assertion that it is possible to do business without losing sight of your principles. The Co-op provides a crucial reminder that another, socially responsible, business model is possible.

I believe it’s right that the Co-op maintains links with the political representatives of the co-operative movement. Affiliating to the Co-op Party gives a political dimension to co-op campaigns, and also helps ground Co-op parliamentarians in the movement and in the business, putting a dose of co-operative values into our politics.

That’s why I’ve signed up to the Keep it Co-op campaign, and why I’m asking you to pledge your support too. If we’re to keep the cooperative movement together this year then we need as many Co-op Group members as possible to sign up at www.keepit.coop

I believe that now is the time to renew the links between the Co-op Party and the wider co-operative movement, not the time to turn away from political action and influence.

If you agree, click here to sign-up and take part in the campaign.

George Osborne: worse than doing nothing

Today should have been the triumphant budget from Osborne: the day he claimed the credit for balancing the books at last.

This afternoon, while studying the 2015 Budget ‘Red Book’, I thought it worth digging out a rare document from June 2010: George Osborne’s ‘emergency budget’ from the early days of the coalition.

Budget photoFive years on, it makes for interesting reading.

On the first page, headed “Responsibility: deficit reduction”, the 2010 Budget sets out the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) analysis of the state of the public finances “without further action to tackle the deficit”.

In other words, the OBR is predicting what would have happened had the Tory-Lib Dem austerity budget never been implemented.

  • Public sector net borrowing would remain at 4 per cent of GDP in five years time, having been above 5 per cent of GDP for six consecutive years, unprecedented in the post-war period;
  • the structural deficit would be 2.8 per cent of GDP in 2014-15, while the structural current deficit would be 1.6 per cent; and
  • debt would still be rising in 2014-15 to 74.4 per cent of GDP, with annual debt interest payments set to reach £67 billion in that year. [1]

The 2010 Budget suggests that such a state of affairs would be irresponsible, plunging the UK into uncertainty, and so pledges a “fiscal mandate to achieve cyclically-adjusted current balance by the end of the rolling, five-year forecast period” (2015-16).

What happened next?

So guess what? Under this Tory-Lib Dem government our public finances have performed even more poorly than the OBR predicted they would without action in 2010.

In reality, despite all the trumpeting by the coalition of their tough “fiscal mandate”, under this government we haven’t even stood still, let alone improved, on this forecast. On most measures, we’ve actually slipped back.

The OBR forecast figures published in the March 2015 Budget show:

  • Public sector net borrowing is now forecast to be at 5 per cent in 2014-15 and 4 per cent of GDP in 2015-16 – the same level forecast by the OBR in 2010 without further action. For all the talk of their ‘long-term economic plan’, the Tories failed to make any more progress compared with the 2010 forecast.
  • The structural deficit is forecast to be 4.2 per cent in 2014-15, while the structural current budget deficit is forecast at 2.5 per cent; on both these counts the coalition has fallen far short of the 2010 OBR forecast.
  • Public sector net debt is still rising in 2014-15 and is now forecast to reach 80.4 per cent of GDP this year; this is more than five per cent higher than it would have been even if no further action had been taken in 2010, according to the original OBR forecast. [2]

On all of these measures – borrowing, structural deficit, structural current deficit, and debt – the effect of the Tory-Lib Dem austerity programme has either been worse than nothing or has made no improvements on the 2010 OBR forecast position.

It’s more proof, as if it was needed, that this government’s decisions on spending and tax were ideologically driven, not prompted by concern for the national interest. Their austerity budgets undermined growth for the first three years of this Parliament, leaving us in a worse position than if the 2010 Budget had never been implemented on the basis of the 2010 OBR forecast.

Far from balancing the books, this government’s economic and fiscal policies have harmed our public finances. As Ed Miliband said at the despatch box today: the only thing long-term about the Tory economic plan is that it will take them nearly twice as long as promised to eliminate the deficit.

Today George Osborne spent an hour telling people they are better off and have never had it so good. But working people are £1,600 a year worse off after five years of the Tories.

Once again, we saw confirmation that the pledge David Cameron made in 2010 to “balance the books in five years” has been broken. We’ve had five years of pain for ordinary people, five years of pulling away by the richest, and too little to show for it in deficit reduction.


Notes

1. Budget 2010, HM Treasury, June 2010, p. 1

2. Budget 2015, HM Treasury, March 2015, p. 112

Gavin reunites with Luton charities for Summer School tour

DSC_0123Gavin Shuker MP has revisited local charities and community organisations who have taken part in his Summer School for young people over the last four years as part of his 2015 Summer School tour. Each summer Gavin brings together more than twenty young people for four weeks in Luton to build their experience in campaigning and public service with local charities.

Gavin went back to catch up with five of the charities who have taken part in the project since 2011. He heard about what the charities have been up to since taking part in the Summer School project, and asked about what they have planned for the future.


Click here to see what Gavin got up to on his Summer School tour, visiting the Luton food bank, LAMP, the London Road Resource Centre, Age Concern Luton and Mind BLMK.

Continue reading Gavin reunites with Luton charities for Summer School tour

Repealing the bedroom tax

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 461 households in Luton South are being hit by the heartless Tory-Lib Dem Bedroom Tax. Doing away with the tax will be a priority when Labour takes office, ampoule and I look forward to one of my first votes in the next Parliament being to repeal it.

The existence of the bedroom tax tells you all you need to know about the character of the Tory party. It proves what Ed Miliband once said: “David Cameron is strong at standing up to the weak, ambulance but weak when it comes to standing up against the strong.”

In the same year the bedroom tax was introduced, the Tories gave a tax cut to top-rate taxpayers. For those with incomes of a million pounds, this meant an average saving of £100,000. Meanwhile, those 461 households subject to the bedroom tax in Luton South are faced with an average bill of £4,200 extra over the next five years if another Tory government takes power in May.

The Tories claim that the tax is needed to tackle under-occupancy of council and housing association properties. The trouble is, there aren’t enough smaller properties for people hit by the tax to move into. In Luton alone there were already 2,582 people on the waiting list for a 1-bed property when the tax was implemented.

This means that those hit by the bedroom tax often have no choice; in many cases they simply can’t move to a smaller property. Most scandalous of all is the fact that, nationally, two-thirds of households hit by the tax include a disabled person, who may require the extra space to allow them to live with dignity.

Moreover, the latest data shows that the discretionary housing payment from central government to Luton Borough Council is falling. It’s been cut by nearly 30% for 2015-16 compared with 2013-14, meaning the council has even less money spare to soften the blow of the bedroom tax in the most urgent cases.

In spite of the policy’s failings and its abundant cruelty, the Tories are going into this general election promising to keep it. But a Labour government will abolish the bedroom tax, recouping the cost of cancelling it by, among other measures, reversing the Tories’ hedge fund tax cut.

This pledge speaks for itself. While the Tories are on the side of the few, Labour will stand up for the many, including the hundreds of families in Luton South whose lives are being made harder by the bedroom tax.

Why I’m supporting the CAMRA manifesto

As anyone who knows me well can attest, prescription real ale is an interest of mine!

Last week I was at the 32nd Luton Beer and Cider Festival together with Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins, look where we enjoyed a drink from our very own Labour Party barrel. In previous years I’ve opened the festival, but thankfully I had a night off as our own mayor, Councillor Farooq, was on hand to do the duties.

CAMRA’s manifesto for pubs and real ale at the 2015 general election has been published – and yes, I’m signed up. CAMRA are calling on the next government to support well-run community pubs, promote Britain’s 1,300 breweries and to stand up for pub goers and beer drinkers.

I think it’s right that we recognise the role that pubs play in local communities and local life. CAMRA research shows that each well-run pub injects around £80,000 into its local area each year. Under this government, 29 pubs have closed each week on average; and as we know, there’s no such thing as a bad pub – they just need tending and a little help to thrive.

The most depressing examples are where supermarkets move in to historic old pub buildings – creating a double offence, closing down a local and replacing it with the cheap poor quality alcohol that does real harm to local communities.

At this election we all need to work to keep our British real ale tradition alive.