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Grassroots Activists Forced the Government to Act

by Steve Doran

“You’ve got to cap the overall cost of credit.”  Of all the people I thought would say those words – and many people have been saying exactly that, for a long time – I was surprised to hear them from George Osborne. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

For a start, I should be used to surprises. If anyone should be expecting the unexpected, it’s me. A few years ago I was trapped in the payday loan cycle, resolutely private about it and entirely at a loss as to what to do. Back then, I never expected I would be telling my story in a national paper, or discussing regulation with Stella Creasy and Ed Miliband.

….. Continue reading Grassroots Activists Forced the Government to Act

Probation service threat

The government is planning a sell-off of 70% of the Probation Service to private companies such as Serco, Sodexo and G4S. The changes are being introduced at breakneck speed, without evidence and without even a trial period to see whether they will work.

Simon Thomson commented “The professionalism of the Probation Service has been one of the great success stories of the criminal justice system, reducing both crime and reoffending rates year on year. The question arises, what is the problem that this is the solution to?

Relentless cost-cutting by this government results in poorer services, worsening conditions for staff, while private operators will cream off profits from the justice system at public expense, reducing public accountability.

I’m very concerned

….. Continue reading Probation service threat

Barclays close Crossways centre

Earlier this week Barclays announced that it was closing its centre at Crossways Business Park with the loss of more than 300 jobs. The announcement comes just a month after Waitrose announced it was also leaving the town centre.

Simon Thomson said that the announcement was further evidence that the Conservatives had failed to protect jobs and investment in the town.

“This is the latest example of a major business closing their doors in Dartford, yet all the Tories can offer is complacency. Gareth Johnson reacted to this news by claiming there is “no problem” with unemployment in Dartford. His words will be cold comfort to the hundreds of people at Barclays and Waitrose who now face this Christmas with

….. Continue reading Barclays close Crossways centre

Swanscombe speaks!

The conversation with people in Swanscombe has been continuing all week, with Labour’s team talking with people all over the town.  Clear themes are emerging: Government cuts are impacting severely on Swanscombe; while residents feel ignored and neglected by their councillors in dealing with local issues.  The flooding in Milton Road was avoidable, had earlier concerns been heeded, we were told. The new bus route, while welcome, had been introduced without consultation, and had trouble in some of Swanscombe’s most congested streets.

Residents broadly welcomed the jobs prospect at Paramount Park; but were worried that they needed a strong voice to make sure the associated traffic problems wre properly dealt with and didn’t impact on local residents.  Above all, cost

….. Continue reading Swanscombe speaks!

Labour takes Energy campaign to Swanscombe

Saturday saw the Labour Party taking to the streets of Swanscombe – door knocking, and collecting signatures on a petition to the Prime Minister, to freeze energy prices now.

Leading the campaign were Simon Thomson, Labour’s new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate; and Steve Doran, our candidate in the Swanscombe by-election on December 5th.

Simon commented:  “Despite the terrible weather, people were keen to stop and talk.  The cost of living is a real issue for Swanscombe people; many people here really need the benefits that are being taken away from them, but nearly everyone here has had their standard of living attacked by the Tory-led coalition.”

Steve’s impression was equally positive. “So may people offered their best wishes, and promised to

….. Continue reading Labour takes Energy campaign to Swanscombe

A champion for Swanscombe

In the forthcoming by-election in Swanscombe following the death of Cllr Leslie Bobby, Labour’s candidate will be careworker Steve Doran.

Steve is an active campaigner.  She is fronting a campaign against payday lenders, with Movement For Change. She has been interviewed by the Mail on Sunday; the Independent; BBC, ITV, Ch 5 and Sky news channels.  Steve recently met with Ed Miliband to discuss proposed policy on payday lending.

She runs a videoblog channel on YouTube, and Tweets as @girlsteve. She explains her motivation in standing:

I have been involved in Politics my entire life – although I didn’t know it at the time. I’ve campaigned for a Living Wage in Dartford, I’ve been part of a national campaign to

….. Continue reading A champion for Swanscombe

Dartford Chooses Simon

• Simon Thomson selected to fight Dartford at next General Election • Thomson: “I’m here to put Dartford first”

Dartford Labour Party has this weekend selected Simon Thomson, a former BBC news journalist, to be its candidate – and the next Labour MP – for Dartford.

Mr Thomson, born and bred in North Kent, was selected at an open meeting of local Labour Party members on Saturday (5th Oct).

Speaking immediately after the meeting, Mr Thomson said, “I’m incredibly proud to have been selected to fight and win Dartford for Labour at the next election.

“Over the coming days, weeks and months, I’ll be setting out my stall as to what I will do for the constituency if

….. Continue reading Dartford Chooses Simon

Action on SureStart

Friday was the closing date for the consultation on the Sure Start cuts, and Labour leaders met local residents at Temple Hill to try to protect the local Centres.

Gordan Cowan, Leader of Labour Group on KCC, came up to Dartford to meet Cllr Geoff Prout and Cllr Tom Maddison at the Living Well Centre. Tom collected the petition against the planned cuts signed by local residents – several hundred signatures – and has sent it to Cllr Jenny Whittle, the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services on Kent County Council.

Labour’s key message is that vital services both for all families and very young children, but especially for those most in need and “deprived” are being clobbered by Tory Kent

….. Continue reading Action on SureStart

Dartford Labour Party Statement on Waitrose

Today Waitrose has announced plans to close its Dartford branch, which employs 128 people. Reacting to the announcement, Labour’s leader in Dartford, Cllr Geoff Prout, said:

“This is yet another body blow for our once proud town centre and devastating news for those whose jobs will now be at risk. It just goes to show how fragile and premature any talk of economic recovery is round here.

“Sadly while the Tories have put all their eggs in one Tesco basket, we’ve seen the Co-op knocked down, the town dominated by betting shops and payday lenders, and Tesco’s intentions are far from certain. They may have secured planning permission but they still haven’t said when and if they will proceed

….. Continue reading Dartford Labour Party Statement on Waitrose

Britain Can Be Better Than This. Dartford Can Be Better Than This.


This week Ed Miliband set out Labour’s vision for how Britain can be better than this.

At the Labour Party conference, Ed made a series of major policy announcements which will help families and businesses across Dartford, including:

• A major house building drive that will see a million new homes built across the country. This is great news for thousands of people across Dartford who are worried about securing a decent affordable home for themselves or their family. Labour will make housing both affordable and available.

• A commitment to freeze energy bills until the start of 2017 which will help everyone in Dartford who has been feeling the pressure of ever-increasing bills over the last

….. Continue reading Britain Can Be Better Than This. Dartford Can Be Better Than This.