Conservatives urge Labour Party to back council tax freeze

Conservatives are urging the Labour Party to back them in supporting a council tax freeze for residents after this emerged as the most popular budget option with councillors at last night’s Budget Council meeting, which ended in stalemate.

In the substantive vote on the 3 Budget options, 17 councillors voted for a council tax freeze with just 13 councillors each voting for a 2% increase and a 5.9% increase.

Conservatives are also calling on Independent member Christina Summers and UKIP member Leigh Farrow, who voted against all 3 proposals last night, to back the freeze in order to pass a lawful Budget when the Council reconvenes next Tuesday (3rd March).

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald said: “It was clear last night that the council tax freeze option had the greatest amount of support amongst members of the Council. I, therefore, feel very strongly that it is incumbent upon Labour Group members in particular to compromise when we meet again next week to try and set a lawful Budget. Labour’s 2% increase proposal would only raise an extra £900k – a tiny fraction of the Council’s overall £750 million budget – after taking into account the council tax freeze grant from the Government of £1.2 million. And as I pointed out at last night’s meeting, a 2% increase would be 7 times the current rate of inflation – at a time when most household bills are falling, this is simply not justifiable. I urge the Labour Group, the smallest political Group on the Council, to compromise and help us deliver what the residents of this city clearly want – a council tax freeze. ”

Mike Welcomes New Government Amendment on Secondary Ticketing

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Secondary Ticketing, has been campaigning hard against excessive ‘ticket touting’ and welcomed the new position on Secondary Ticketing as the Government publishes its new amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill.

Mike, former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, has consistently advocated that those putting on an event should have their wishes respected if they want an entry price to be capped. Live music and other live events are a vital contributors to the economy and the cultural well-being of society. Mike has on many occasions made the case that the current ticketing arrangements do not operate in the interests of fans or organisers, and that legislation was required to protect our vibrant live cultural economy to the benefit of us all.

The amendment, once enacted, will:

  • Provide greater transparency for fans, with the following details required to be provided by resellers: Seat number or standing information, if any restrictions apply (Student price or under 18), face value.
  • Compel the Secretary of State to review measures relating to Secondary Ticketing in 12 months and report to Parliament.
  • Put a duty on ticket resellers to report criminal activity.

Commenting, Mike said: “This has been a long standing campaign by the APPG to get some overdue changes in place. The free market system has broken down due to the introduction of ‘bots’ and other factors, enabling, on occasions, obscene profiteering for intermediaries against the interest of fans and the wishes of those putting on the event. I am pleased that the Government has recognised the importance of regulation with regard to Secondary Ticketing, which will be to the benefit of us all.”

Mike added: “While the new amendment does not cover every change that we had hoped for, it is an important step in the right direction. I believe that the report on this issue, that will now become mandatory and be delivered to Parliament in the next 12 months, is important and look forward to seeing if further changes need to made in the future.”

Mike Secures Adjournment Debate on Cancer

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and cancer survivor, has secured an adjournment debate on oesophageal cancer which will take place on Monday 23rd February.

In the debate Mike will describe his personal fight against cancer and suggests 7 improvement steps for the NHS. The two principle outcomes that Mike is hoping to achieve are:

  • Increased awareness of oesophageal cancer will be increased
  • A commitment to additional resources, chiefly in order to fund a quicker, more efficient diagnostic procedure.

Mike, who was first elected to Parliament in 2010, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2012 and underwent surgery to have his entire oesophagus (and part of his stomach) removed. Following months of intense treatment after the operation, Mike’s cancer went into full remission (tests and scans thankfully showing no current signs of remaining disease).

Commenting, Mike said: “My father said to me that being born in the UK is like winning the lottery of life. He was completely right and I am alive today because of our wonderful NHS. I wanted to have this debate in Parliament to highlight the devastating impact that oesophageal cancer has on people across the country, but also to demonstrate as living proof that the healthcare in this country is worth every penny.”

Mike added: “While the NHS does a fantastic job treating cancer patients, more can be done to improve the services that are available. I have seven improvements that I am recommending to the Department for Health.”

Prime Minister endorses Graham Cox for Hove and Portslade

Prime Minister David Cameron has given a ringing endorsement to the Conservative candidate for Hove and Portslade, Graham Cox.

Whilst on a visit to Hove to announce the Conservative Government’s plans to reform welfare, particularly youth benefits, the PM praised Graham Cox for his “30 years of service as a police officer” and said he would make a “great local MP.”


The pair then visited the Sussex Functional Skills Centre in Portslade, which Graham officially opened at the end of last year. The Centre offers Maths and English tutoring to those who struggled with the subjects at school, as well as training gym and swimming instructors. Many courses at the Centre are free for young people claiming benefits.

Graham said “It was fantastic to have the Prime Minister here in Hove and Portslade to show him the Functional Skills Centre, which is offering exactly the kind of support and training that young people need to get on in life and avoid welfare dependency.”

Another Fall in Unemployment Welcomed by Mike

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has once again welcomed another fall in unemployment locally and reiterated that the Government’s economic recovery remains strong.

 

The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the number of unemployed claimants in Hove and Portslade in January 2015 was 1,249. This figure is 438 lower than that of January 2014. Overall, the jobless total is down by a massive 50% since the Conservative-led government came to power in 2010. The latest figures represent a rate of 2.3% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64.

Commenting, Mike said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have seen yet another drop in unemployment nationally and that there has been a huge fall in unemployment locally. These figures highlight how the Government’s economic plans are making a significant difference and getting people back into work.”

 

Cllr Graham Cox, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade, added: “The fact that unemployment has continued to drop in Hove and Portslade is excellent news. It is really encouraging that 1.85 million more people are now in work since the last General Election and that youth unemployment is down by almost 200,000 since 2010.”

International Student Contribution Recognised by Mike

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, is backing a Parliamentary Motion which recognises the significant contribution made by International Students studying in the UK and calls for university students to be removed from any target to reduce net migration.

Early Day Motion 739 (International Students and Net Migration Targets) highlights the importance of students who study in the UK, both to our society and economy. Mike believes that in any drive to reduce net migration, it should not be an unintended consequence that student numbers are restricted as a result of certain targets.

Commenting, Mike said: “Our city is a huge beneficiary of international students who choose to come and study in our country. It is of course important to have a sensible immigration policy, which is why I hope that the Government will exclude university students from any drive to reduce net migration.”

Commenting, Cllr Graham Cox, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade, added: “Hove and Portslade are very welcoming to international students and it would be a great loss to residents, and the students, if numbers were affected in order to meet targets for reducing net migration.”

Mike reiterates position that ‘Trading Standards Are Key to Tackling IP Crime’

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, has reiterated his support for Trading Standards in a profile of his work in the Trading Standards Review magazine.

To read the article in Trading Standards Review, click here.

Mike is a strong backer of Trading Standards and last year signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 1290 which called on greater collaboration between the Government and local authorities and highlights the work that Trading Standards undertakes across the country in order to protect consumers.

In his role as the Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mike met with numerous Trading Standards officials from across the country to discuss the work that they do to combat IP crime. Trading Standards officers work closely with local police forces as well as the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the national Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

Commenting, Mike said: “The work undertaken by Trading Standards across the country is a hugely valuable resource to consumers and helps protect our vital creative industries. I hope in the future the Government will prioritise Trading Standards funding as I believe it is necessary and will have a wide benefit for society.”

Mike added: “Trading Standards do a fantastic job protecting consumers from a whole host of illegal activity and are key to tackling IP crime. While providing Trading Standards services has a cost, they provide a valuable service to society and, in the long term, will help boost our economy through increased use of legitimate services.”

Conservatives condemn Labour strike support

Conservatives have challenged the Council’s Labour Group Leader to explain his position on the ongoing Cityclean dispute after his colleagues in the Withdean Labour branch expressed support for the strike action.

In a tweet, Withdean Labour said: “We believe that fair pay must recognise workers’ skills. This is why we support #Brighton #Hove bin lorry drivers @GMBSussexBranch.”

The GMB Trade Union, which funds the Labour Party, yesterday announced yet another day of strike action in their long-running dispute with the Council over the pay grading of refuse truck drivers. This is on top of an ongoing ‘work to rule’. A job evaluation panel recently ruled that the drivers are on the correct pay grade for the work that they carry out.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: “In the light of these comments, Labour Leader, Warren Morgan, owes it to residents to clearly spell out his position on this ongoing strike action. Does he, or does he not agree with the Withdean Ward Labour candidates? If he has pretensions to lead this Council after May then residents have the right to know whether they can expect further disruption to their bin collections. I have always had concerns that Labour’s financial links to the Trade Unions would colour their judgement on matters such as this and the comments of his colleagues in Withdean Ward would suggest that a future Labour Administration would immediately cave in to the demands of the Union bosses.”

Mike Supports Plans for New Holy Trinity Church Surgery

Mike Weatherley, Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has written to Brighton & Hove City Council to highlight his support for the plans for a new medical centre at Holy Trinity Church.

The new surgery, which will be home to both the Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery, is proposed for the empty Holy Trinity Church on Blatchington Road. The new combined practice will offer patients excellent new facilities in the heart of Hove.

Holy Trinity Church was completed in 1861 and has received Grade II listed status in 1992. The church finally closed in 2007 and faced an uncertain future until the new medical centre was proposed.

In his letter to Brighton & Hove City Council, Mike said: “The Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery have been looking to find suitable accommodation for over eight years, having very much outgrown their current facilities.

“Holy Trinity is the only site that is both affordable and big enough and has been vacant for years but now will have a new role in the heart of the local community. Its location is in the centre of the patient population and conveniently placed for public transport at the same time as providing improved access and facilities for patients.

“Crucially, the proposed plans allow for the development of much-needed new and improved primary care services for Hove which are restricted by the present location’s of respective medical practices.”

Commenting, Mike said: “I was delighted to be able to support the planning application for a new medical centre at Holy Trinity Church. I know that staff from both the Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery have been working hard to make sure that patients get new up-to-date facilities that they deserve and so I hope that this application to Brighton & Hove City Council is successful.”

Mike Calls for Tax Breaks for Live Music Venues

Mike Weatherley, Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, has written to his colleague the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, requesting the introduction of tax breaks for small and medium sized live music venues.

In his letter to the Chancellor, Mike said: “As you know, our music industry is an enormous asset to Britain both culturally and financially. At the heart of this success story are the incredibly valuable live music venues. I do not think that we can overestimate the value that live music brings to the lives of millions of people.

“Unfortunately, for many reasons it is becoming harder for smaller live music venues to be financially viable and, as a result, alarmingly the number of venues is going down. Quite simply, the support of government and local authorities is key to the success of live music venues.

“There is precedence of successful tax breaks for bands playing overseas and in other areas of entertainment (theatre/opera, for example, who also enjoy tax breaks and financial incentives), but not for the small and medium sized live music venues, which are the bedrock of all creative music talent.

Given the importance of live music venues in the career development of musicians and to our economy, I hope that you will seriously consider the introduction of tax breaks or other financial incentives in order to help stem the national challenges faced by live music venues.”

Commenting, Mike said: “Supporting live music venues is essential if we want to protect our musical heritage. Britain produces some of the best music in the world and it contributes hugely to our economy. I will continue to push for support for live music venue and hope that the Chancellor will seriously consider tax breaks or other financial incentives in order to support this important industry.”