Tessa commemorates WW1 centenary at ‘Wells Remembers’ Exhibition

trench

Local MP Tessa Munt visited a unique exhibition marking the centenary of the First World War, hosted by the Wells & Mendip Museum.

The exhibition, part of the ‘Wells Remembers’ Centenary commemorations, includes a ‘walk through trench’ designed by locals Geoff Dickinson and Jeff Allen pictured.

This was built with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a combination of efforts by many local organisations and individuals, all of whom pitched in to help get this four year rolling exhibition up and running.

Exhibits from a variety of local sources, including the City Archives, remind visitors of the need to ensure the great sacrifices made in the trenches during the bloody conflict are never forgotten.

Tessa said:

“This exhibition doesn’t seek to glorify this conflict, but walking through this trench shows much more clearly the day-to-day conditions of living through a war for many ordinary soldiers.”

“The exhibition also highlights how many young men went to war from Wells and the surrounding villages, and the numbers who paid the ultimate price, losing their lives.”

“During this special four years of commemoration, we will all remember the great human cost suffered in wartime.”

“Remembering those whose lives were lost and whose families were forever scarred by the violence of war, we can keep them in our thoughts and, hopefully, keep history from repeating itself.”

“We must never forget.”

Tessa Munt

24th October

Chaos continues at County Hall

I’m pleased that the Conservative leader of Somerset County Council has finally accepted it was not right to pay such ludicrously large sums to his managers.

Children and young people placed into care, through no fault of their own, have a right to be safe and secure.  Those of us who pay our taxes have a right to know that these children and young people are looked after in ways that meet the highest standards of care.  The real problem in Somerset was, and remains, a lack of frontline staff whose job it is to identify children and young people who are at risk.

An emergency meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday this week to approve the Council’s new Human Resources policy. Having read the documents, I’m staggered to find that the Conservative-controlled Council has not made any of the changes necessary to stop the very practice that drew such enormous criticism from Conservative Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, who slammed the situation as

“An outrageous use of public money”, and “an abuse of process”

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Tenants to be protected from retaliatory evictions under Lib Dem plans

MotionPassed

Tenants would be better protected from rogue landlords and retaliatory evictions under plans passed by Liberal Democrat conference today.

Current rules mean that landlords can evict tenants with just two months’ notice and without having to give a reason. Rogue landlords often use this provision to evict tenants  rather than carrying out much-needed repairs, knowing that they will easily be able to find a new tenant because there is such a high demand for rented housing.

Over the last five years, an average of 324,000 households each year have been the victims of retaliatory evictions, and one in eight tenants admits they have not asked their landlords for repairs to be carried out for fear of retaliatory action.

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The use of air strikes in Iraq

TessaOn Friday 26th September, Parliament was recalled to debate and vote on the UK joining air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), also known as IS or ISIS.

The wording of the Government motion put before the House of Commons was:

“That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.”

Naturally, my postbag and email inbox were inundated with the views of local people. Some were for military intervention, some were against.

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Tessa takes Radiotherapy Fight to Downing Street

TNL

Tessa was joined by Top Clinical Oncologist, Nick Van As and England Rugby Star and campaigner Lawrence Dallaglio yesterday at Number 10 Downing Street.

The team were there to press David Cameron on increasing access to advanced radiotherapy for cancer patients.

Tessa said:

“In many instances, this type of cutting edge radiotherapy is more effective, quicker, less painful, and cheaper than drugs, yet the Government currently chooses to spend far more on pills, than radiotherapy.

After asking over 200 Parliamentary questions on this issue and countless meetings with experts, Ministers and people in need of treatment it was an important milestone to finally brief the Prime Minister.

He’s promised to go away and look at the problems and our solutions and we’re hopeful that he’ll come back with the right answers.

Tessa Munt

3rd October 2014

Fracking Consultation

Tessa has written to Secretary of State Ed Davey to voice her disappointment following the decision to press ahead with changes to laws which will make it easier for companies to perform Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)

If you would like to be kept updated on environmental issues, please drop Tessa an email on tessa.munt.mp@parliament.uk with ‘Environment’ in the subject line.

Tessa’s letter is below:

 

 

Ed Davey MP                                                                              

Secretary of State

Department of Energy and Climate Change

3 Whitehall Place

London SW1A 2HH

                                                                                                                                                                                              1st October 2014

 

 

Dear Ed,

Changes to trespass laws regarding gas shale extraction

I read with dismay the Energy Minister’s response to your consultation regarding changes to the trespass law.

I note the response from the DECC spokesperson and acknowledge that large numbers of the consultation respondents may have used the exercise as a forum to express their general concerns about the whole extraction practice.

However, with only 44 of the 40,647 people who completed the consultation expressing support for this change in the law, I am deeply disappointed that no notice has been taken of the proportion of those respondents who expressed their opposition. The strength of feeling against uncontrolled access and subsequent drilling under people’s homes, and fracking in general, is clear. It is completely unacceptable to ignore such a clear message as this serves only to further turn people off politics. Consultation is pointless if the Government pays only lip-service to the process.

I would welcome your views on how you suggest the public can re-engage with politicians in the future about this and the many other major environmental issues facing us.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

 

Tessa Munt MP

Member of Parliament for Wells

 

Failings at Somerset County Council

SCC

Somerset County Council is starting the process of closing two children’s homes, (West End Cottage at Chedzoy near Bridgwater and Appledore, near West Pennard) after concerns were raised over the way they have been run.

Somerset County Council has stated these closures are “due to poor management, sub-standard care and concerns over safeguarding”.

Concerns were first brought to the attention of Conservative run Somerset County Council in  January this year, yet it seems to have taken a visit from Ofsted last week to trigger action.

Tessa said:

“Ofsted inspectors visited Somerset again last week.

I’m alarmed, as other local people are, that it takes a visit from Ofsted for it to dawn on the County Council’s leaders that they really must act to protect vulnerable youngsters when the problems in these children’s homes were reported to the Council nine months ago.

These problems never spring up overnight.  Simply closing the homes is not the solution. It’s the over-use of temporary staff, a lack of training and a complete failure of regular supervision and communication that has led to this appalling situation.

Taxpayers have been charged vast sums (£741,000 last year alone) for senior managers, yet it takes nine months to react to a letter highlighting problems, problems which they themselves should have picked up and dealt with.  Failings, poor management, sub-standard care and inadequate safeguarding in our children’s homes should be identified and dealt with at the first signs of trouble. Why didn’t this happen?

Why did the County Council continue to place young people in these homes when investigations were already underway?

Vulnerable young people need stability, protection and care in order to prepare them for taking responsibility for themselves in adulthood.  The County has failed in its first duty as ‘corporate parent’ to these youngsters, some of whom will take years to recover from this episode in their lives.

The Leader of the County Council, Cllr John Osman, had personal responsibility for Children’s Services before his promotion.  He oversaw the catastrophic decline in Children’s Services from “Outstanding” in 2009 to “Inadequate”.  He chose to cut frontline staff whilst paying super-high salaries to his Executives.

I have written to Cllr Osman asking for an explanation.”

Tessa Munt

1st October 2014

Recall of Parliament: 26/09/14

Tessa

 

As you may be aware, Parliament will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the UK’s role in air strikes against Islamic State (Statement to follow).

This means I will not be able to attend my surgeries in Shepton Mallet and Chilcompton which are scheduled for tomorrow.

However, my caseworkers will be attending on my behalf, and will be happy to discuss any difficulties or concerns you may have.

If you would prefer to see me in person then my full surgery calendar is available here: http://www.tessamunt.org.uk/events/

Tessa

Somerset County Council

SCC

Just five years ago, in 2009, rural Somerset County Council was rated an “excellent authority” with “good and improving Children’s Services”.

The Director of Children’s Services had built his team over many years of service to Somerset.  He was a man who was passionate about care and was committed to his staff and service.

But in 2009, the Conservatives took control of the Council.  The County Councillor for Wells, John Osman, was handed responsibility for Children’s Services by his colleagues.

It should have been easy enough.

He inherited one of the most important and valued portfolios, a department in good shape, well-managed and motivated staff, performing well and consistently improving its services.

He had the opportunity to continue to help supporting young people and turning their lives around.

A real gift for an aspiring politician.

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GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES FINDINGS OF REVIEW OF LICENSED EXPORTS TO ISRAEL

 The Government has today announced the findings of a review of licensed exports to Israel. It has found that the vast majority of exports currently licensed for Israel are not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in operations in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas.

Twelve licences have now been identified for components which could be part of equipment used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Currently there is a ceasefire in place and the Government continues to urge both sides to respect this and to secure a lasting end to hostilities through the negotiations taking place in Cairo. However, in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities, the Government is concerned that it would not be able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met.  It would therefore suspend these licences as a precautionary step.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However the UK Government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met. In light of that uncertainty we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.

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Historic Child Abuse Allegations | Petition – Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham Hospital (Kingswood) | Commons debates

The Minister will know of my concern about the Ministry of Defence being able to hide details and incidents relating to child sexual abuse by covering it with the system of courts martial. May I urge him to make sure the Home Office pushes very hard for the MOD not to use that process to hide things, and to make sure any case that involves the MOD is put into the civil courts and dealt with properly?

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Recall of MPs Bill | Bill Presented – General Practitioner Surgeries (Rural Areas) Bill | Commons debates

I am not suggesting there should be a job description, but in a representative democracy, people should understand exactly what they expect of their MPs. We all have to deal with the post, hold our surgeries and do various other things that have come to be expected of MPs. For instance, it might well be that constituents have a reasonable expectation that MPs should at least turn up in this place.

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Recall of MPs Bill | Bill Presented – General Practitioner Surgeries (Rural Areas) Bill | Commons debates

I wonder whether one might suggest that the lack of a job description is one of the things that confuses the electorate, because it is not entirely clear what MPs do. I accept that MPs interpret their job in a particular way, but if one had some way of recalling MPs for what might be described as a gross dereliction of duty that would at least give some faith to the public. The public and those who might engage in a by-election process should be able to judge that. That, at least, could be deemed as a correct or incorrect charge.

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Affordable Homes Bill | Commons debates

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Let me pick up on the point that he made. There is no automatic exclusion for people who have to sleep in separate bedrooms for medical reasons. I have had an ongoing correspondence with the Minister for welfare reform. He said that disabled adults are

“able to exercise a greater degree of choice”

than children, and can

“enter into living arrangements knowing that they may have to compromise their individual needs.”

I do not understand how it can possibly be the case that these sorts of couples either have to take in a tenant in the bedroom that is not spare or that they should separate in order to have their accommodation needs met. That is just absurd.

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Engagements | Oral Answers to Questions – Prime Minister | Commons debates

Is the Prime Minister aware that since 2012, when he promised to increase patient access to innovative radiotherapy, particularly for cancer patients, the number of cancers treated by radiotherapy in some hospitals has actually decreased by 70% and state-of-the-art machines are lying idle because NHS England will not allow doctors to use them? Will he meet me and other cancer cure campaigners, such as Lawrence Dallaglio, to discuss this scandal before more patients are refused treatment?

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