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PRESS RELEASE 16th April 2018

• LABOUR RAISE CONCERNS OVER PLANS TO CLOSE SIX GP SURGERIES IN DARTFORD

• PAITENTS WILL BE ASKED TO TRAVEL FURTHER TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR AT PROPOSED NEW ‘HEALTH HUB’

• DARTFORD LABOUR COUNCILLORS QUESTION ‘MISLEADING’ MESSAGES FROM CON-SERVATIVE RUN COUNCIL

Dartford Labour Councillors have raised concerns over plans to close six GP surgeries in Dartford and merge them into a proposed new town centre ‘Health Hub’. The new ‘Health Hub’ forms part of the Council’s plans to redevelop the old Co-op site and was promoted to Dartford residents as a “new health facility” (1). However, it was revealed this week that no new GP surgeries will form part of the plan – which will instead see six existing surgeries close and ‘relocate’ to a single location in the Town Centre.

A report to Dartford Borough Council Cabinet last week confirmed that six local GP Practices would relocate to the new facility, including those currently based at the Dartford West Health Centre and some town centre practices. The proposal would lead to some residents having to travel further to access primary care due to the closure of existing GP surgeries. (2)

Questions remain about costs of the new health hub and how it will be funded after an initial fund-ing bid was rejected by NHS England. Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commission Group (CCG) are currently in financial special measures with a £13million deficit.

Dartford Labour Leader Jonathon Hawkes said;

“With thousands of new homes being built in Dartford we desperately new additional GP surgeries to meet demand, so it’s disappointing to learn that this proposal – promoted by the Conservative Coun-cil – isn’t going to deliver that. The ‘Health Hub’ will simply relocate existing practices.

The Conservatives are supporting this plan, but there are questions that need answering. Why does the Council believe it’s right that patients – many of which will be elderly – should now have to travel further to see their GP? How will the new hub be funded? Our CCG has been underfunded by the Government and we’ve already seen one funding application turned down. It’s far from certain this proposal will go ahead if finances cannot be secured.

I believe the literature released by the Conservatives about this has been misleading. Telling residents they will be getting a new health facility while not mentioning it will be only relocate existing practic-es is not being straight with people. The Council should be focused on delivering the extra capacity we need, not trying to spin an announcement into something it’s not.

Dartford needs additional health facilities to meet the demands of our growing town. Instead we are seeing a Conservative government cutting funding to the NHS and a Conservative Council supporting a plan to close local GP practices. Jeremy Kite and the Conservatives need to stop the PR spin and start explaining when Dartford will get the new GP surgeries we desperately need.”

ENDS 

Notes 1. Page 16 of the Council’s “Discover Dartford” brochure http://www.discoverdartford.co.uk/brochure/#16/z

2. Dartford Borough Council Cabinet Report 12 April – Agenda Item 11, Section 3.5 http://committeedmz.dartford.gov.uk/documents/g2620/Public%20reports%20pack%20Thursday%2012-Apr-2018%2019.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10

Dartford Labour raise concerns over closure of GP surgeries

PRESS RELEASE 16th April 2018 • LABOUR RAISE CONCERNS OVER PLANS TO CLOSE SIX GP SURGERIES IN DARTFORD • PAITENTS WILL BE ASKED TO TRAVEL FURTHER TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR...

• DARTFORD LABOUR WELCOME PLEDGE FROM JEREMY CORBYN OF FREE BUS TRAVEL FOR UNDER 25’s
• LABOUR’S FREE TRAVEL PLEDGE COMES AS TORIES CUT BUS ROUTES AND HIKE COST OF FREEDOM PASS

Dartford Labour has welcomed Labour’s new policy to fund free bus travel for under 25-year olds across the country.

The move, which is being announced by Jeremy Corbyn today (12th April) could benefit up to 18,000 young people in Dartford and help them save up to £1,000 a year. The policy will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty.

The next Labour government will provide funds for free travel for under 25s to local authorities who introduce bus franchising or move to public ownership of their local bus services. This will support and incentivise local authorities to create municipally owned bus companies, run for passengers not profit, which research has found could achieve annual savings of £276 million per year.

Greater use of public transport reduces congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions. Free bus travel for under 25s will help generate lifelong increases in public transport use.

Leader of the Labour Group on Dartford Council Jonathon Hawkes said;

“This is a policy that gives help where it is needed most. Look at the rising costs of education, the near impossible job of getting on the housing ladder, stagnant wages and insecure employment – the last eight years of Conservative government have not been kind to young people in Dartford. That’s why Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement that the next Labour government will provide the funds to cover free bus travel for under 25s, to support them to travel to work, to study and to socialise, will be welcomed by young people across Dartford and their families.

Contrast Labour’s policy with the Tories who have cut bus routes on school runs and increased the cost of the Freedom Pass. Labour is committed to investing in young people, the Conservatives are making their lives more difficult and more expensive.”

Labour Group Deputy Leader Josh Jones said;

”Free bus travel will make a huge difference to their lives of young people in Dartford. Fares are too expensive and travel costs can be a huge proportion of the incomes of young people so it’s right that they are given a break. Labour will do that. We want to see local councils take back control of their buses, so they can provide a better service. Too often in Dartford we’ve seen the wrong priorities from private bus operators which has resulted in the cuts to route announced by Conservative run Kent County Council. Young people, like all of us, need a reliable, affordable bus service. Labour will deliver that.”

ENDS

Bus Press Release 12th April

• DARTFORD LABOUR WELCOME PLEDGE FROM JEREMY CORBYN OF FREE BUS TRAVEL FOR UNDER 25’s• LABOUR’S FREE TRAVEL PLEDGE COMES AS TORIES CUT BUS ROUTES AND HIKE COST OF FREEDOM...

  • LABOUR OPPOSE CONSERVATIVE BUDGET THAT ”MAKES THE WRONG CHOICES AND HAS THE WRONG PRIORITIES”
  • AVERAGE DARTFORD RESIDENT £80 WORSE OFF FOLLOWING TORY TAX INCREASES

  • NO ADDITIONAL MONEY FOR THE FAILING WASTE COLLECTION SERVICE

  • CCTV BUDGET CUT WHILE POLICE NUMBERS FALL AND ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR RISING.

  • LABOUR FORCE TORY U-TURN ON BROKEN PROMISE TO PAY STAFF A LIVING WAGE

Labour Councillors in Dartford have this evening opposed the budget presented by Conservative controlled Dartford Borough Council. The Conservatives proposed the maximum possible increase to Council Tax of £4.95 or 2.9%. while also delivering £250,000 worth of budget cuts. 1 The tax hike follows increases by Tory run Kent County Council (also voted for by Jeremy Kite and Dartford Conservative County Councillors), Police and Fire authorities and some Conservative run Parish Councils. On average, Dartford residents will be £80 worse off a year as a result of the Tory tax increases 2

The budget offers no new money for the Conservatives failing waste collection service 3 even though residents suffered huge delays and missed collections over the Christmas period, leading the rubbish piling up in the streets.  The Conservatives also proposed to cut the budget for CCTV 4 at a time when police numbers have been cut and instances of anti-social behaviour and street violence are rising.

Dartford Labour Group Leader Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said:

This is a Conservative budget that is making the wrong choices and has the wrong priorities. It is a budget that has literally nothing to say about the big issues facing Dartford – how we provide more affordable homes, how we tackle air pollution and congestion, how we deliver the infrastructure to support our growing population. It’s status quo budget when Dartford needs ideas and innovation.”

Massive cuts to local government funding have resulted in a Council Tax hike for local people – but its unacceptable that Dartford residents are paying more, but getting less. Services are deteriorating – with no better example that the Tories calamitous bin collection service reached new levels of incompetence over Christmas with thousands of homes suffering missed and late collections and rubbish piling up in the streets. People are being asked to pay more, but the Tories have chosen not to allocate money to improve this service which is clearly failing residents. That’s the wrong choice.”

“It’s ludicrous and reckless for the Conservative Council to be cutting the budget for important crime prevention measures like CCTV at a time when police numbers are being cut and instances of anti-social behaviour and street violence are on the rise. The first duty of a council is to protect its residents. This Conservative Council is not getting the basics right.”

Labour also forced the Conservative Council into U-turn after the budget proposed to break a commitment made in 2012 to pay its staff a Living Wage. Instead of the recognised real Living Wage rate as set by the Living Wage Foundation (£8.45ph), the Council’s pay policy is for its lowest paid employees was inked to governments so called ‘national living wage’ 5 which according the Living Wage Foundation is “not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live”. Labour raised concerns with officers and forced the Tories into a climbdown on the night of the budget.

Councillor Hawkes said “Labour has forced a U-turn from the Tories on their broken promise to pay staff a real living wage and shows you just cannot trust the Conservatives to tackle low pay. A Labour Council in 2019 will take immediate steps to pay all our hard-working staff a real living wage, ensure all the minimum rate for all council paybands are at or above the real living wage and will become an accredited living wage employer.”

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Josh Jones voiced concerns that the Conservative budget did not contain measures to tackle Dartford’s affordable homes crisis.

“Dartford is experiencing one of the fastest rates of population growth in the South East, but this Conservative Budget has no plan to build the homes that ordinary Dartford people need. This administration has failed year after year to deliver against a target of providing 30% affordable homes. It’s just not good enough when homelessness levels are rising and not good enough when the amount we’re spending on temporary accommodation is spiralling. This Conservative Council is not serious about providing the homes Dartford people need.”

Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said that a Labour Council in Dartford would take a different approach to the budget.

“A Labour Council would deliver a completely different budget – a budget that listens, not disregards the views of Dartfordians. A budget that focuses on the priorities for growing our town, spreading prosperity and tacking the big issues we face together as a community.”

Notes

Budget can be viewed here -   http://committeedmz.dartford.gov.uk/documents/g2659/Public%20reports%20pack%20Monday%2026-Feb-2018%2019.00%20General%20Assembly%20of%20the%20Council%20Budget.pdf?T=10

 

  1. Page 11 of budget report – section 4.8
  2. Individual council tax bills differ because of different Parish and Town Council precepts. £80 represents the average annual increase to bills in Dartford after increase at Kent Council, Dartford Council, the Police and Fire precept and Parish Precepts
  3. Page 31 of the budget report makes clear the additional £83,000 allocated to the waste collection service is in respect of the additional homes in the Borough – not investment to improve the service.
  4. Page 51 of the budget report
  5. Page 258 of the budget report

 

 

Press Release On Dartford Borough Council's Budget 2018/19

LABOUR OPPOSE CONSERVATIVE BUDGET THAT ”MAKES THE WRONG CHOICES AND HAS THE WRONG PRIORITIES” AVERAGE DARTFORD RESIDENT £80 WORSE OFF FOLLOWING TORY TAX INCREASES NO ADDITIONAL MONEY FOR THE FAILING...

Dartford Labour have been working for Dartford in many ways already in 2018.

From talking to residents across Dartford on the doorstep to delivering Labour's message of hope in our literature we are out and about every week. If you'd like to get involved in any way, please use the Volunteer page (under Get Involved) and someone will get in touch. Below are some of our favourite pictures so far this year!

Talking to residents in Q Park, Stone. 

Some of our members at our Councillor Training Session on 10th February. 

Talking to residents in Darenth about local issues. 

Dartford Labour Party members attending the #FixTheNHS march in London on 3rd February.

Talking to residents on the doorstep in Stone.

Delivering our leaflets about the Tories' Rubbish Record in Newtown. 

Campaigning against the Great Tory Train Robbery at Dartford Station. 

Update on our work in 2018

Dartford Labour have been working for Dartford in many ways already in 2018. From talking to residents across Dartford on the doorstep to delivering Labour's message of hope in our...

Dartford Labour Party recognises the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops, often referred to in the media as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. We believe that these machines are highly addictive, and that people's lives have been devastated as a result of their use - specifically, the ability of users to stake a maximum of £100 a spin, every 20 seconds.

Research and testimony, together with the experience of Labour Councillors and community activists in Dartford, has highlighted the damaging impacts that FOBTs have had on individuals. This has included building up ruinous levels of personal debt to fund addiction to FOBTs, depression and the breakdown of family relationships.

We strongly believe that the government should bring forward several changes to the law to significantly reduce the harm FOBTs can do to our community. Specifically;

The maximum stake on FOBTs (B2 gaming machines) should be reduced from the current £100 to a stake of £2 to bring it in line with other gaming machines. Evidence from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and other organisations involved in the prevention of problem gambling indicates that a reduction to £2 is the change that would have the most impact in the prevention of harmful use of these machines. As such, we believe any smaller reduction should be discounted and there is no evidence to support that potential maximum stake of £50 would be safe.

We support a reduction of the maximum stake for B2 machines of £2 and therefore do not support an increase in any other machines (primarily B3) stake going beyond £2.

We are concerned that the use of debit cards as a form of payment on FOBTs has led to an increase to the amount of money staked and consequently completely reject any proposal for contactless payments to be available as part of any gambling product.

We believe that additional powers should be granted to local authorities to protect the wellbeing of their communities by stopping the proliferation and impact of betting shops in District, Boroughs and Unitary Authority areas.

This would include changes to planning legislation to provide planning authorities ability to reject all applications to open betting shops (including change of use applications) if authorities feel that additional betting shops would make the prevalence too high.

Planning authorities should also have the ability to reject an application if they can evidence that proposed location of the new betting shop may encourage problematic gambling or mis-use.

Local authorities should be granted increased funding for public health in recognition that there is a complete lack of support for the issue of problem gambling compared to drugs or problem drinking.

We also have serious concerns about the staff who work in the shops with FOBT’s in them.  One third of the machines are smashed every year, meaning the call outs to betting shops by Police are far above the average to other high street shops and far more than those to other gambling premises such as bingo halls or casinos.  Most have only one member of staff in the store at any one time, in fact the numbers of all employees by betting shops has fallen significantly. We believe that the government should work in partnership the trade unions and the industry do ensure that employers adequately exercise a duty of care to betting shop staff to protect them from harassment and resources are redirected from the gambling to support staff who have suffered, or are at risk of suffering, increased levels of stress in the workplace,

We would welcome additional restrictions placed on the advertising of gambling, particularly online. The relationship between the gambling industry and professional sports is in need of review. We would welcome the government considering similar restrictions on the advertising of gambling at sports events and during sports coverage on television and online that are currently in place in respect of tobacco products.

Councillor Jonathon Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors on Dartford Borough Council. Submission made on behalf of Dartford Labour Party

Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures – Submission from Dartford Labour Party

Dartford Labour Party recognises the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops, often referred to in the media as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. We believe that...

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