Conservatives express delight at Youth Service reprieve

Conservatives have warmly welcomed the decision by Policy & Resources Committee last night to agree their Notice of Motion which will call a halt to City Council Budget proposals to terminate its Youth Collective contract with 6 voluntary sector organisations in March.

Under the Council’s plans, all Youth Services would have been delivered by the Council’s ‘in-house’ team, without any assessment being made of its relative effectiveness and value for money compared to the voluntary sector providers.

The Notice of Motion, proposed by Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, and seconded by Group Finance Spokesperson, Ann Norman, was supported by the Labour Group and one member of the Green Group.

The Notice of Motion also agreed to ask Council officers to find transitional funding for 3 other voluntary groups who work with young people – Allsorts, BME Young People’s Project and Extratime – whose grant funding runs out at the end of March.

Conservative Group Spokesman for Children & Young People, Andrew Wealls, said: “I believe that this is great news for the City and for the voluntary organisations that make such a vital contribution to the well-being of young people here in Brighton & Hove. We are not disputing the fact that savings need to be made in the Youth Service budget – all we are asking is that a proper commissioning exercise be undertaken by the Council in October, with a genuinely level playing field for all organisations who want to provide youth services in the city.

Conservative Group Communities Spokesperson, Dee Simson, added: “This whole episode has caused a great deal of unnecessary uncertainty and anxiety in the Youth Collective and the young people they work with. I hope that we can now all put politics aside and move forward together to make the best use possible of the money that remains in the Budget.”

CLARENCE @ NACROClarence Mitchell, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Brighton Pavilion, visited Nacro Brighton Education Centre on Thursday 15th January. Nacro’s education centres around the country provide vocational courses that give young people the skills and qualifications required to find a job that suits them.

Just under 15% of young people aged 16 – 24 years old in the south east are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) (1) – but keeping young people in education will only result in better qualified, “job-ready” young people if they find a learning environment that meets their needs as well as the demands of local employers.

Clarence said: “I am very impressed with the vital work Nacro does and it was a pleasure to meet staff and learners. 2,000 apprenticeships have been created in Brighton Pavilion and Nacro provides an excellent stepping stone for young people to access these opportunities.

“The Brighton Education Centre provides an atmosphere that enables its learners to achieve their potential. I was particularly struck by the enthusiasm of the team and the centre manager Sean Atkinson. He and his team are to be congratulated on the work that they do.

“Nacro is proof how invaluable the third charity sector is, that is something I wholeheartedly support”

Sean Atkinson, Centre Manager of Nacro Education Centre in Brighton, said: “Nacro Education offers young people free access to gain the skills they need to get back into education, training or employment through specific and highly supportive education courses. If you are 16 – 18 years old and have not got the grades you were hoping for, not going to college but looking for education or employment then Nacro can support you with this”

“Our qualifications and training meet the needs of local employers so each young person has the best possible chance of accessing local jobs and training. You can learn in an enjoyable and practical way in friendly sessions and workshops. Bursary payments mean you get paid up to £40 a week to study. Nacro also covers students’ travel costs and the possibility for free lunches on days of attendance.”

Further information can be obtained by calling the centre on 01273 704010, or attending the Open Day on Thursday 12th February between 10am and 4pm

Lauren Enticknapp, 19, said: “At High School, I didn’t get any qualifications, so I left school with nothing to offer the big wide world. I started at Nacro and they made me realise that it wasn’t too late to make something of myself. I continued to study at Nacro and I achieved a Level 1 Certificate in Employment, Training and Personal Development in Retail, a Level 1 in Maths and finally my Level 2 English!”

Jade Back, 18, said: “Nacro has offered me a chance to believe in myself and to always try that little extra – because let’s face it, that little extra can take you a long way! Nacro has given me the first steps towards what I go on to achieve next in my life and I personally wouldn’t be where I am without Nacro and all of the staff members.” Continue reading

Conservatives question legality of parking charge hikes

Conservatives are querying whether proposed hikes in parking charges of up to 100% are legal in the wake of a recent High Court judgement against Barnet London Borough Council.

Budget papers presented to the Council’s Policy & Resources Committee last month reveal that the Administration is seeking to raise £571k in extra revenue as a result of a “review of pay and display and permit tariffs”.

In 2013, a High Court Judge ruled that Barnet Council did not have the power under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act “to charge local residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes” and added that it was not allowed “to budget for a surplus at any level which it considered appropriate in order to generate income for other transport purposes which it wished to fund.”

Group Transport Spokesman, Cllr. Graham Cox, said: “It is quite clear from the case law that it is unlawful for councils to set charges for the ‘express purpose of creating a surplus’ yet that is exactly what this Council is proposing through its latest price hikes. Interestingly, Barnet proposed raising the cost of their resident permits to £100, a level that the judge considered unlawful yet our residents are being expected to fork out £166 if they pay quarterly.”

Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, added: “I really think that the Council needs to be very careful. It is quite obvious to me that they are using charges and permits to help fill their Budget black hole and that is not allowed. Brighton & Hove has gained the unenviable reputation as a ‘rip-off city’ when it comes to parking charges and that is extremely damaging to local businesses. I would urge the Council in the strongest possible terms to think again.”

Conservatives promote voluntary sector involvement in Youth Service

Conservatives are putting forward constructive proposals to boost the involvement of community and voluntary sector organisations in delivering the Council’s Youth Service.

At next week’s Policy & Resources Committee meeting, Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, will move a Notice of Motion which, if agreed, would call a halt to City Council Budget proposals to terminate its Youth Collective contract in March – 6 months earlier than planned. Under the Council’s plans, all Youth Services would be delivered by the Council’s ‘in-house’ team, without any assessment being made of its relative effectiveness and value for money compared to the rejected voluntary sector providers.

Conservative Group Spokesman for Children & Young People, Andrew Wealls, said: “We accept that savings need to be made in the Youth Service but that makes it all the more ridiculous that the Council continues to bury its head in the sand over who provides them. All we are asking is that a proper commissioning exercise be undertaken by the Council, with a genuinely level playing field for all providers who want to provide youth services in the city. This issue has become totemic for us and is symptomatic of a wider unwillingness by the Green Party – invariably backed by the Labour Party – to accept that Council funded services can be provided more effectively and more cheaply by other organisations in the community, voluntary and independent sectors. Sadly, this unwillingness is based on nothing more than political dogma.”

Fellow Children & Young People Committee member and Deputy Group Leader, Dee Simson, added: “many councils have stopped funding youth services altogether in recent years but we think that they continue to make a vital contribution to the well-being of young people here in Brighton & Hove. It is, therefore, very sad that the excellent voluntary groups who make up the Youth Collective are being jettisoned by the Council without any assessment of the value of the work they do for the city’s young people.”

Conservatives slam further hike in city parking charges

Leading Conservatives have described proposals for further above inflation increases in parking charges as counterproductive and a kick in the teeth for the city’s residents, businesses and visitors.

Proposed increases, to be discussed at next week’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee include:
• Above inflation increases in the cost of resident, visitor, business and trader permits of up to 7.7%.
• A doubling, from £1 to £2, of the hourly rate in city centre car parks.
• Increases in on-street ‘pay and display’ rates across the city of up to 6.7%.

Overall, the proposals are expected to raise an extra £800k in revenue for the Council. Brighton & Hove already raises £25.8 million from its parking operations – the highest out of any Council in the country outside London.

Conservative Group Transport Spokesman and Parliamentary Candidate for Hove & Portslade, Graham Cox, said: “The proposed increases are completely inappropriate and are a further blow to residents, businesses and visitors in the city who have already had to put up with huge increases in previous years. We will do everything we can to try and reverse these proposed hikes and to put an end to the ‘parking rip-off’ reputation that Brighton & Hove has unfortunately gained in recent years.”

Group Finance Spokesperson, Ann Norman, added: “the Council continues to refuse to look at ways to save money on services by alternative provision and shared services and prefers to take the easy option of hammering the city’s hard-pressed motorists. They seem to be blind to the fact that this will affect visitors to the city and our business community who are the lifeblood of the local economy. If, as the Council continues to maintain, parking surpluses can only be spent on other transport initiatives, we suggest that they cut back on these rather than yet again raising our already exorbitantly high parking charges.”

Mike Backs Legalisation to Protect Music Fans

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Secondary Ticketing, is supporting the Lords amendments tabled in the Consumer Rights Bill that would provide greater transparency for those purchasing tickets through resellers and help protect the live music industry.

Live music and other live events are a vital contributors to the economy and the cultural well-being of society. Mike, former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, will be supporting the fans, performers and promoters that believe that the current ticketing arrangements for major events is not delivering value for money for those involved and that the  free market falls down when it comes to secondary ticketing, given the restriction of supply.

The Lords amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill, which Mike supports (and the government has indicated it will not support) will be considered in the House of Commons on Monday 12th January, would require resellers to state the name of the seller, employment details (if related to the entertainment industry), any reference numbers, as well as a seat number, if applicable.

Commenting, Mike said: “The secondary ticketing market is a cash cow for a select few and, by and large, bad for music fans. The procurement of tickets by resellers takes place on an industrial scale as soon as an event opens its box office, denying fans the opportunity to buy tickets at their face value.”

Mike added: “Those arguing against greater transparency are trying to shield from fans the source of the tickets or circumvent individual venues restrictions on reselling tickets. There is a large amount of criminal activity around fake tickets, which is fuelled by extortionate prices, that can leave fans massively disappointed and out of pocket. This has to stop.”

Mike Joins Parliamentary ‘English Votes for English Laws’ Campaign

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has signed up to become a Parliamentary Patron of the English Votes for English Laws campaign that aims to introduce the change.

The campaign will feature the collection and co-ordinated presentation to Parliament of petitions expressing popular support for this proposal from constituencies across England.

The West Lothian question, also known as English Votes for English Laws, refers to whether MPs from other areas of the United Kingdom should vote on matters that only affect England. Following on from the promises of greater devolution if Scots rejected independence, the question of English Votes for English Laws has become a pressing national issue.

Commenting, Mike said: “I was delighted to become a parliamentary patron of this long-overdue campaign for English Votes for English Laws. It is only right that, following on from devolution on a number of issues for Scotland, laws which only effect England should only be voted on by Members representing English voters.”

Mike Encourages Local Budding Film Makers to Enter National Competition

Film the House

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, is encouraging budding film makers from both Hove and Portslade to enter his national Film the House competition.

Following the success of Mikes Rock the House parliamentary competition, Film the House helps to draw attention to the importance of the British film industry which supporting over 100,000 jobs in the UK and contributes more than 4.5 billion to our GDP.

Sponsors include Lionsgate, Fox and Odeon Cinemas. The 2015 competition also sees the expansion of the competition into the U.S. Congress, the Australian Parliament, and the European Parliament.

Categories include drama, thriller, action, comedy, music video and documentary, as well as a separate category for under-18s, which can be any genre. The closing date for nominations is 31st December and the finals will be held on 18th March 2015 a special reception and screening of the winning film. For more information on the competition, please visit www.filmthehouse.com.

Commenting, Mike said: Film the House have gone from strength to strength each year, with more participants from more constituencies involved last year than ever before. If you’re a film maker, make sure you take part in the 2015 competition!”

Mike Backs Autumn Statement and A27 Investment

Following the Chancellors Autumn Statement in the House of Commons, Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has backed the Governments financial update which highlight that the UK is the fastest-growing major economy in the world.

In his Autumn Statement, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlined future Government spending which spans across the entire economy. Mike was particularly pleased with the 350m investment assigned to improving the A27 corridor.

Other highlights from the Autumn Statement include:

  • A cut in Stamp Duty for 98% of those who pay the tax.
  • The tax-free personal allowance to be increased by a further 100 in April 2015, to 10,600.
  • Children to be exempt from tax on economy flights.
  • Spouses to inherit their partners individual saving account (ISA) benefits after death.
  • An additional 2 billion funding for the NHS.
  • Business rates to be cut and capped, with extra Help for the High Street.
  • The government to clamp down on tax avoidance by multinational companies.

Commenting, Mike said: The autumn statement included a bounty of positive measures for the country and some excellent investment for the South East. I was particularly pleased with the long-overdue investment for the A27, which will bring welcome relief to anyone who uses the busy road. Improvements such as this are possible as a result of the Governments sound management of the economy.

Mike Encourages Budding Local Musicians to Enter Music Competition and PM Wishes Competitors Best of Luck

Rth 1

Following the launch of Rock the House 2015 earlier this year, Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade and founder of Rock the House, is encouraging his constituents to take part in the competition.

Rock the House, backed by the Prime Minister and Parliaments largest competition, raises awareness of the importance of protecting intellectual property rights among legislators and the general public. Musicians enter their original material to their MP, who ultimately nominates one entrant per competition category.

This is an excellent opportunity for budding musicians. A panel of industry executives presides over choosing the finalists and winners, who go on to have their pieces played in Parliament and win an array of prizes, from equipment, festival slots, exposure, recording sessions, radio and TV airplay and more. For more information on how to take part, visit www.rockthehousehoc.com.

Patrons include: Alice Cooper, Brian May, Young Guns, Ian Gillan, Rick Wakeman, Mark Hoppus, Charlie Simpson, Matt Tuck, Don Broco, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steel Panther, Scott Gorham, All Time Low, Bernie Marsden, Adam Perry, Bob Daisley

Commenting, Mike said: “Every year the competition gets bigger and better and my thanks go to our Patrons, Sponsors, Judges, the entrants, the MPs who take part and the loyal team who have run the project since its inception in 2010. If you’re a keen musician and especially if youre from Hove and Portslade, make sure you take part in the 2014 competition.

Commenting, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister, said: I would like to offer my congratulations to Mike Weatherley and all who have participated in Rock the House…it is a great opportunity for us to celebrate up-and-coming unsigned British talent in a fantastic setting. I wish the 2015 competitors the best of luck.