18 December 2012

David Mowat: Cutting taxes for 74,000 in Warrington and capping increases in benefits

New research has revealed that Conservatives in Government are cutting taxes for 74,273 people in Warrington in April next year. By raising the amount an individual can earn before tax to £9,440, the Government will lift 3,500 people in Warrington out of tax altogether. A full-time worker on the minimum wage will have seen their income tax bill halve since 2010.

The Government is also reforming Labour's 'something for nothing' welfare culture, by capping the amount one household can get in benefits and capping the amount benefits are increased next year. Labour oppose these reforms.

David Mowat commented:

"In Warrington, if you want to work hard and get on, the Conservatives are on your side. Your taxes will be cut so you keep more of the money you have earned. And we are capping the increase in benefits so that benefit increases don't outstrip increases in earnings.

"Labour say they support a wage cap for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, but they won't support the same cap for those on out-of-work benefits. This isn't fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture."

13 December 2012

Latest Batch of Graduates from Warrington Jobs Club

Another 25 people have completed the latest round of the hugely successful Warrington Jobs Club, founded by David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South.

Already, nearly 200 local people have been helped back into work or training since 2009.

This year, in addition to the skills sessions provided by the Jobs Club on interview technique, CV writing and keeping motivated, participants were also able to attend the Enterprise Club which provides help and support for those wishing to start their own business.

Both clubs draw on the skills of local businesspeople to mentor participants and provide practical advice and support.

Mr Mowat has also organised a jobs fair to take place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday 8th February. For more details visit www.warringtonjobsfair.com  

David Mowat said:

"In today's challenging job environment, everyone is looking for an edge – that little something extra which makes you stand out during the application process and that's what the Jobs Club provides.

"I'm also very proud of the Enterprise Club, we are seeing more and more people deciding to start their own business. The support network we provide will help these new businesses flourish."

12 December 2012

Mowat Welcomes £2.5m Cash Boost for Warrington

Warrington is set to receive over £2.5m from the Government in the next financial year after the provisional allocations for the New Homes Bonus were announced by Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP.

The New Homes Bonus scheme rewards local authorities for expanding their housing stock by match-funding the additional council tax brought in by a new home for up to six years. Local authorities also receive additional flat sums for increasing the number of affordable homes and for bringing previously empty properties back onto the market.

The £2.58 million figure puts Warrington just inside the top 20% of local authorities and it represents an increase of around £850,000 on the current financial year.

David Mowat said:

"We desperately need more homes, particularly affordable homes, in this country. Councils need to play their part in this and so it is important that, when new homes are built, the local community is able to benefit from that.

"Rather than imposing top-down targets and regional spatial strategies, the Government is putting its faith in local councils to deliver the homes Britain needs in a way that is sensitive to the needs of local communities."

5 December 2012

Help IRA Bomb Victims – Mowat

DAVID Mowat has urged the Government to take a more active role in the 20-year battle to win compensation for the victims of the Warrington bomb.

The Warrington South MP pointed out that the US government is continuing to press hard for payments for the American citizens killed or maimed in the Lockerbie bombing which used semtex supplied by Libya under its former Dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

In Commons Question Time foreign office minister Alistair Burt pointed out that the UK Government already supplies consular and other support for victims pursuing a compensation case, but stopped short of offering the same high-level support to that being given by the US Government.

Mr Burt admitted that the Gaddafi regime had left a "terrible legacy" both in the UK and abroad.

However he added: "It has not been the UK government's policy to pursue individual compensation claims."

He said that priority has been given to support all efforts by the post-Gaddafi administration to seek redress, including the public apology for the Warrington outrage, and to help them rebuild their country.

Mr Mowat had asked him to "go the extra mile" and actively support the family of  12-year-old Tim Parry who, along with other familes of IRA victims, have launched a legal claim against the Libyan Government.

After the minister's reply, Mr Mowat said: "I was disappointed that the minister appeared to confirm my suspicion that the UK government is not pursuing this with the same vigour as the American government.

"I hope that attitude will change and I will continue pressing the matter in the Commons."

The former Libyan regime supplied the IRA with Semtex in the early 1990s and the deadly explosive was used to commit several attacks on UK civilians, including Warrington. 

4 December 2012

New Education Formula Good News for Warrington

WARRINGTON South MP David Mowat has won a firm government pledge that a fairer funding formula for local schools will be in place within three years. Warrington is currently amongst the 40 worst funded Local Education Authorities in England and received, over the last ten years, only about half as much as the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

In the Commons he complained that the current formula means that Warrington, which Ofsted reports as having 72 per cent of primary pupils in schools rated as "good or outstanding." can receive less funding than under-performing areas.

He told ministers: "The current formula, which we inherited, contains in-built bias and anomalies. Given that ministers are on record as saying that it needs to be replaced, why must we wait until 2015 before that process even starts?"

Schools minister David Laws replied: "He is right to chide by implication the previous Government for failing during a far more benign financial environment to tackle the unfairness of the national formula for funding schools.

"I can reassure him that we are taking action. We are already, in 2013-14 and 2014-15, simplifying massively the funding formula for schools, paving the way for the national funding formula, which we will introduce in the next spending review period."

That response means that the nationwide system will be introduced in 2015-16.

28 November 2012

We Need A Bypass!

Warrington town centre needs a bypass if it is to cope with the joint effect of the new Runcorn Bridge and increased vehicle movements caused by the Atlantic Gateway project according to Warrington MP, David Mowat.

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons, Mr Mowat highlighted that, just as more traffic begins to flow through Bridgefoot to avoid new Runcorn Bridge tolls, traffic in the south of the Borough will face increase disruption due to increased bridge swings as ships serve Salford Quays.

The Arpley Chord scheme, which involves the reconfiguration of railway track south of Wilson Patten to allow for a new road linking Bank Quay Station to Brian Bevan Island, was one suggested scheme that Mr Mowat promised to lobby for.

Mr Mowat said:

"So far Warrington borough council has developed memorandums of understanding with Peel Holdings on the canal movements, with some sensible measures in that regard, and with Halton borough council in respect of the bridge. However, we are tinkering at the boundaries and trying to mitigate what is unmitigable.

"Both schemes that are causing problems in Warrington, the Atlantic gateway and the Mersey gateway bridge, are good schemes that are necessary and should go forward. What I am asking is that collectively we do what we can to ensure that we do not undermine the prosperity and safety of the residents of Warrington as we pursue the schemes."


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20 November 2012

Arpley Petition Presented in the Commons

A Petition protesting against the extension of the licence for the Arpley Landfill Site was presented in the House of Commons yesterday by Warrington South MP, David Mowat.

The petition declares that "the people of Warrington have put up with the Arpley landfill site and the traffic, smells and other undesirable side effects which it causes for long enough." It urges that all reasonable steps be taken "to ensure that the site's licence is not extended."

The text of the petition will be printed in Hansard, Parliament's record of proceedings.

David Mowat said:

"This petition was collected by community leaders and councillors of all political persuasions. We are all united against this licence extension. We've put up with it for 20 years. That's long enough, especially when the Council will no longer be using it from next year."

16 November 2012

Mowat: New crime measures are tough but intelligent

Local MP David Mowat has welcomed a range of new crime and justice measures announced by the Government this week. The tough and intelligent reforms will see offenders face tougher punishments and victims' rights put first.

Proposals outlined by Prime Minister David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling include:

• Tougher community sentences which will see all offenders take part in meaningful punishments,
• A new offence, carrying a life sentence, for the middlemen who supply firearms,
• New powers for local communities to restrict the sale of alcohol in the early hours,
• Rolling out the use of the payment by results model across the prison service to tackle reoffending.

Commenting, David Mowat said:

'Crime and antisocial behaviour causes misery in local communities. We need a criminal justice system which is tough, but intelligent. For too long community sentences have been seen as a soft option and victims have been let down. Victims should come first and offenders face meaningful a punishment.

"The changes which the government have set out will see punishment return to community sentences, a new offence for people who supply guns, new powers to tackle alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour and a new focus on tackling reoffending.'

13 November 2012

Mowat to Present Arpley Petition in Commons

Warrington South MP David Mowat is set to use Parliamentary procedure to force the House to once again consider the matter of Arpley Landfill site next Monday (12th November).

6,000 people signed the original petition against an extension to the operational life of the Arpley landfill site and activists from all the three main parties helped to collect signatures. Now Mr Mowat is set to exploit Parliamentary rules to put the issue back on the Agenda.

Mr Mowat will present the Petition at around 10pm and it will be shown live on BBC Parliament and over the internet at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Live.aspx.  

David Mowat said:

"6,000 people signed the original Arpley petition which shows just how strong the feeling is in the town. Local people are fed up with the noise, vibrations, dirt and smells that the site brings and I am willing to use all the tools available to me to pursue this matter."

12 November 2012

Time to Close Traveller Loophole

WARRINGTON South MP David Mowat condemned legal loopholes which allow travellers to shift illegal sites a few yards down the road.

He told ministers: "A recent case in Warrington has involved a group of travellers being repeatedly moved on peacefully using section 77 directions to leave orders, but they move only a few hundred metres and the whole process starts again, costing time and money."

He urged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to "consider amending the order, such that people will be required to leave the local authority area and not just the site."

And he demanded a wide-reaching assessment of the effectiveness of the powers of local authorities to deal with illegal traveller sites.

Mr Pickles replied: "We have renewed councils' powers to deal with illegal and unauthorised encampments.

"On 28 August, we sent new guidance to council leaders on how to best use these existing powers. We will also consult on giving councils greater freedom to stop unauthorised development related to caravans."

And Mr Pickles insisted that the number of caravans on unauthorised sites has gone down—in 2007, it was 21%, and it is currently 16%.

And he said that existing powers allow local authorities and the police to take action if illegal campers return to a site within three months.

One group of travellers took up residence near Grappenhall Heys last month. After being directed to leave the site by the Council, they moved to another site a few miles away in Stretton. Each time the Council must initiate a legal process to move the travellers which takes 7 days to complete. This process must be repeated for each encampment.

6 November 2012

Employees Could be Ripped Off by Auto-Enrolment

WARRINGTON South MP David Mowat warned that many employees are being charged six times the normal rate for company pension contributions. And he told ministers that older auto-enrolment charging schemes are robbing many of a decent pension.

Mr Mowat highlighted a recent Cass business school report that says that many older defined-contribution schemes charge 3% or more.

"That is six times the best practice of newer schemes, and it is costing many tens of thousands of people the chance of having a decent pension," Mr Mowat said.

He urged the government to "act to ensure that people cannot be auto-enrolled into those schemes—by using either a kitemark or a charges cap."

Pensions minister Steve Webb replied: "It is vital that people are enrolled in schemes that offer transparent and value-for-money charges. The National Employment Savings Trust's low charge structure has set a benchmark, prompting several competitive alternatives in the market, and I have called for providers to guarantee not to enrol people into high-cost legacy schemes."

Pressed further by Mr Mowat, the minister announced that Fidelity has promised that  fees in its default funds will not exceed 1% and that existing scheme members will have the opportunity to switch out of their current funds. That followed Aviva's statements that its schemes will have a charge of not more than 1% and iIt will not allow auto-enrolment into any older-style schemes.

"I encourage other firms to follow suit," Mr Webb said.

After the debate, Mr Mowat added:
 
"Auto-enrolment will mean many more people than before saving for their retirement, but I am concerned that millions of inexperienced and unsophisticated savers are now being forced to invest in a system that is rotten.
 
"The Government needs to be far more radical in its approach to the private pensions industry, otherwise we are headed for another mis-selling scandal."

5 November 2012

Rugby League World Cup visits Parliament

A lucky group of Scouts from Grappenhall got an unexpected addition to their tour of Parliament last week, when they got the chance to see the Rugby League Cup up close and personal.

Luke Turner, Amy Sprott, Maddison McCormick, Matthew Hennessy and their leader Denis Ward from 25th Warrington East Scouts were due to take a routine tour of the Palace of Westminster and then meet Warrington South MP David Mowat. However their tour coincided with the world cup trophy visiting the Houses of Parliament as part of the year-to-go celebrations for the Rugby League World Cup 2013.

Sitting in front of newly-named Elizabeth Tower, still affectionately known as Big Ben, the scouts had the opportunity to see and hold the cup, as well as discuss the tournament with the RLWC2013 team.

The tournament, the first major international sports event after the Olympic Games, kicks-off on 26th October with England playing Australia at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium will host the group clash between New Zealand and Samoa as well as one of the Quarter Finals.

David Mowat took the time to hold the trophy, saying afterwards

"It is fantastic that we have so many sporting events taking place in Britain over the next few years. As the first after London 2012, the Rugby League World Cup 2013 has a great opportunity to showcase British sporting talent and put on a fantastic tournament. And best of all, Warrington is going to play a major part.

"We saw the power of sport during the Olympics, and it seems that hasn't left us. I wish the players, coaches, organisers and volunteers the best of luck as they put on what I am sure will be an outstanding spectacle of international sport."

More information about the RLWC2013, including all fixture details and how to purchase tickets, is available online at www.rlwc2013.com.

29 October 2012

Communities Secretary Backs John Dwyer for Police & Crime Comissioner

Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP was in Stockton Heath on Friday as part of an Action day organised by local Conservatives in support of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections on November 15th. Former Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Police John Dwyer will be the Conservative Candidate for the Cheshire Constabulary Area. After attending a fundraising lunch in Stockton Heath, Mr Pickles took the opportunity to visit several local businesses in the village before joining with Mr Dwyer and local MP David Mowat.

Police & Crime Commissioners will have the power to set the police budget and determine the strategic priorities for their force area. They are also responsible for appointing the Chief Constable. The elections take place on Thursday 15th November and you can find out more about John Dwyer by visiting his website www.johndwyer.org.uk

Mr Pickles said:

"These elections represent a significant transfer of power from Whitehall to Cheshire and it is important that we get the right candidate in place to make sure they are exercised properly. John is an excellent candidate and I am sure he will use his unrivalled expertise and experience for the benefit of people in Cheshire & Warrington."

David Mowat added:

"John is the only candidate standing in this election who has ever served in the police and that already puts him head and shoulders above the other candidates. However, he also has a number of exciting and innovative ideas to help improve the Force such as increasing the numbers of special constables and a new mobile phone App to help people track and report crimes which take place in their area."

 26 October 2012

Up to £20 billion financing boost will help small businesses in Warrington
 
The Government has announced plans to help thousands of small and medium-sized businesses get access to affordable finance to help build jobs and grow the economy.

Under the scheme, leading companies will be able to deliver up to £20 billion of new cheaper finance to their suppliers, including many UK SMEs.

The Government will also offer this scheme to its own suppliers, starting with the first community pharmacies in England, unlocking up to £800 million of new credit for around 4,500 pharmacy businesses.

David Mowat said:

"This Government is backing businesses that want to get ahead and build jobs here in Warrington. This year, there are 431,215 small and medium-sized businesses in the North. This new scheme will help these businesses secure the finance they need to protect jobs and help our economy compete in the global race.

"And the scheme will mean that 4,500 pharmacies across the country will have access to up to £800 million of finance support right away. This is great news for the people of Warrington."

22 October 2012

Cut Energy Bills During Big Energy Saving Week

David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South is urging constituents to get involved in the Big Energy Saving Week being coordinated by Citizens Advice Bureau and funded by the "Big Six" energy companies under an agreement with the Government.

The event, which runs from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th October, aims to raise awareness of ways that consumers can cut their energy bills by checking that they are on the lowest available tariff. Events will also highlight the support available to reduce energy bills either through accessing Cold Weather Payments or by installing energy efficiency measures through the Green Deal.

For more information visit www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk or call 0300 123 1234.

David Mowat said:

"Just last week we saw price hikes being announced for this winter. It's important that people act now to keep their bills down.

"Firstly, people need to make sure that they are on the lowest available tariff and payment method so that they are not needlessly paying more for their energy. But it is also important for people to be aware of the support that is available from the Government so that they can cut their bills both now and in the future."

16 October 2012

SNP's Votes at 16 Plan "Not Coherent"

Warrington South MP David Mowat highlighted a "fundamental flaw" in the Government's deal to allow mid-teens to vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.

Under the deal between UK premier David Cameron and Nationalist first minister Alex Salmond the franchise will be extended to 16- and 17-year-olds in the one-off poll. But in the Commons Mr Mowat, a member of the Scottish affairs select committee, quizzed ministers on the Edinburgh Agreement, claiming that the deal was a "piecemeal" part of tense negotiations either side of the border.

He added: "What concerns me is that 16-year-olds will vote on the sovereignty of their country, but six months later they will be unable to vote in council elections. How can that be right or coherent?"

Scottish Under-Secretary David Mundell replied: "The Government do not support the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds, and indeed our Conservative colleagues will argue against that proposal when it comes before the Scottish Parliament."

But he added: "It will be for the Scottish Government to make the case for 16 and 17-year-olds voting in the referendum. That debate needs now to go to Scotland, to the people of Scotland and parliamentarians in the Scottish Parliament, so that there can be a full and proper debate."

He said that he remains hopeful that the Edinburgh Parliament will fully scrutinise the proposals and, "if they are defective, reject them."

Speaking after the debate, Mr Mowat added:

"Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote is a major change in electoral franchise, but here it seems to have become a bargaining chip in broader wrangling between Westminster and Holyrood over an independence referendum. That is a fundamentally flawed process."

16 October 2012

Mowat Forces U-Turn Over Penketh & Cuerdley

Penketh & Cuerdley ward will remain part of the Warrington South Parliamentary Constituency and not be forced into Widnes thanks to a lobbying campaign by Warrington South MP David Mowat. The Boundary Commission for England has today published its revised proposals for the re-drawing of the Parliamentary Boundaries and they have significantly revised their initial proposals. The proposals are due to be voted on in Parliament next year.

The revised proposal (Click to enlarge)
 Last October, the Commission wanted to move Penketh into Widnes and Runcorn and swap a number of wards between the South and North. However, the revised proposals will see both constituencies remain largely unchanged except that Bewsey will move from Warrington South to Warrington North and a single Widnes ward will be moved into Warrington South.


A strong lobbying campaign initiated by Mr Mowat resulted in a total of 225 representations being received from Warrington South – the 2nd highest in the North West, with many residents mentioning the situation of Penketh. The Conservative Party was the only party to put forward a proposal which did not merge Penketh with Widnes.

David Mowat said:

"The initial proposals were clearly unsuitable so I am delighted that the Boundary Commission has listened to me and to the residents of Penketh and reconsidered. Local people were very clear that they live in Warrington and not Widnes so I made sure that my party's Official Submission reflected this and made strong representations at the hearings.

"Whilst I am sorry to see that Bewsey may be moved out of the constituency, I hope that the people of Penketh & Cuerdley will be kind enough to ask me to represent them in Parliament once again in 2015."

12 October 2012

Northern Infighting Could Derail HS2 – Mowat

Petty squabbles between regions of the North are putting the HS2 project at risk according to Warrington South MP, David Mowat. Highlighting the difference in approach between local authorities in the North with those in the South, Mr Mowat warned that the entire project could be at risk unless it received unambiguous and unqualified backing.

Politicians in Liverpool have already accused the Government of a "sneaky" decision to alter the route so that it will "downgrade" the city and at fringe events at the Conservative Party Conference, Mr Mowat was disappointed to hear Conservative colleagues describing their support for HS2 as being conditional on the final route.

Mr Mowat said:

"In recent months we have seen a number of comments from various politicians of all parties which have given the impression that unless HS2 stops in their patch it might as well not be done.

"In the south we see Tory Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire County Councils cooperating with Labour-run Camden and Coventry to oppose HS2, yet up here in the north, politicians of all parties are queuing up to accuse each other of favouring their own areas. Is Manchester going to benefit more than Liverpool or will Lancashire see more services than Cheshire? The bare fact of the matter is that without this line we will all be worse off whilst London will surge even further ahead.

"Businesses are saying that HS2 is vital to their future growth plans and independent reports say that it could create 40,000 jobs. If we don't grab this infrastructure money with both hands, it will end up being spent on yet another railway line in London such as Crossrail 2 which already has a well-resourced and well-heeled campaign behind it.

"It is time we all showed a little more maturity and spoke with a single coherent voice on this project or risk losing a once in a generation opportunity."

26 September 2012

John Dwyer launches Manifesto in Warrington
 
Increasing the number of Special Constables, a zero-tolerance approach to yobbish behaviour and a youth ambassador were just some of the ideas being promoted by Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate John Dwyer in Stockton Heath this Tuesday. Mr Dwyer and local MP David Mowat braved the rain to launch the manifesto for the PCC elections due to take place on November 15th.

A former Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, Mr Dwyer is the only candidate in the election who has served in the police. Other ideas from the manifesto, which can be viewed on www.johndwyer.org.uk include.

  • A new team targeting the worst repeat offenders with the aim of finding new ways to ween them off crime and drugs for the benefit of the whole community.
  • A sentencing unit to monitor the effectiveness of punishments being handed down to offenders
  • A Crime Prevention Fund to support communities at risk of crime
  • A new mobile phone app to help people report crimes
  • Working with local schools to promote internet safety amongst young people

Mr Dwyer said:

"A vote for me is a vote for unrivalled experience and a determination to make Cheshire an even better place to live. While operational matters, quite correctly, will remain with the Chief Constable, I will work with him to build confidence levels in the force to a new high.

"Cheshire is already a fantastic place to live. Its low crime rate is a credit to the police and community but we must not rest on our laurels. Further success lies in freeing up officers to do what they do best - policing."

Warrington South MP David Mowat added:

"In his campaign, John Dwyer is already proving that the new role of Police & Crime Commissioner has the potential to bring in fresh and valuable thinking. Not only does John know the Cheshire Force well, he knows the areas where it can be improved This is a manifesto that people in Warrington can have confidence in."

24 September 2012

MP Backing the Fight Against Breast Cancer

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South is backing the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign's award winning fundraiser, wear it pink day – and wants constituents to join him.

Now in its 10th year, wear it pink, on Friday 26 October 2012 will see supporters from all over the country in schools, colleges and businesses embracing the event's new theme, superheroes. The theme stems from the charity's belief that everybody who joins the fight – from people affected by breast cancer, to Breast Cancer Campaign scientists and all wear it pink participants – is a superhero.

Breast Cancer Campaign is asking everyone to pull on something pink and donate £2.00, whether it's a superhero cape, pink socks or pink pants you wear over your tights, you can help the charity achieve its target of raising £2 million, so they can continue to fund ground-breaking research.

Join the hundreds of thousands of people who take part in wear it pink every year. With your help Breast Cancer Campaign can improve survival rates for the one in eight women who experience breast cancer during their lifetime.

David Mowat said

"Every year in the UK, around 48,000 women and 340 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is why we all need to support wear it pink day on 26 October, so that Breast Cancer Campaign can continue to fund research which will one day lead to a cure."

To take part in the UK's original and best pink day visit wearitpink.co.uk and register to receive your free fundraising pack now. Vanish is backing the fight against breast cancer for the third year running by raising an incredible £250,000 for wear it pink.

Follow them on Twitter @BCCampaign

11 September 2012

Promotion for Warrington MP

Warrington South's MP David Mowat has been promoted as part of the Prime Minister's reshuffle of Government Ministers. Mr Mowat will now serve as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the newly appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark MP.

David Mowat said:

"I am honoured to have been invited to join the Treasury team at this interesting time. How we regulate the banks and how we get them to lend to small businesses is all part of the important work being done by the Treasury and I look forward to playing my part in that."

30 August 2012

Job Club Returns!

The hugely successful Jobs Club founded by Warrington South MP David Mowat will return this September for its 7th season.

After supporting over 150 people back to work and supporting several business start ups the new season of the Jobs Club starts on Saturday 15 September, 10.30 am at 1 Stafford Road. From CV-writing tips to business coaching, the Jobs Club aims to give participants the skills to get back into and stay in work.

Those attending the first session of the course will be able to benefit from a special Accelerator Growth Clinic with Guest Speaker Susan Alexander - the Property Millionaire who grew her business with support from a Jobs Club. The Warrington Jobs Club utilises the skills and experience of local businessmen and women to mentor participants and give them the skills they need to stand out at interview.

Sessions are free and anyone interested in coming along should email a blank CV to wsca@talktalk.net or call 01925 231267. Alternatively, for more information, email Karen karen@ccoworkcic.com.

David Mowat said:

"Once again, we are back helping people return to work. Unemployment has fallen by 9% in Warrington South since the start of the year, but we can and must do more. I wish all those taking part well in their future job searches."

30 July 2012

Mowat backing John Dwyer for Police & Crime Commissioner

Meet John Dwyer, Conservative candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner on November 14th. John lives in Cheshire and is a former Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary.

John says "I was proud to serve in the police service for thirty years and I have a strong understanding of the challenges faced within Cheshire. I believe the role of Police and Crime Commissioner will improve accountability and provide a platform to tackle waste and bureaucracy, allowing our officers to get back on the streets tackling crime."


What do Police & Crime Commissioners do?

Commissioners will be local figures with powerful mandates from the public to drive the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour.

They will:

  • decide policing strategy
  • determine the force budget
  • Set the local council tax precept
  • Hire and Fire the Chief Constable

David Mowat will be backing John in the PCC elections this November. He commented "John has unrivalled experience and the knowledge to be a powerful voice for people in Cheshire. I have every confidence that, by driving out waste and listening to local people, he will be able to deliver a high quality service across Cheshire and Warrington."

"The fact that we are going to elect someone to head Cheshire police is due to the Coalition Government's determination to take powers away from Whitehall and give them back to local people. That is something I warmly welcome"

17 July 2012

Huge infrastructure investment for the North West

The Government have today announced a comprehensive package of rail infrastructure projects across England and Wales. The landmark package includes:

  • Completion in full of the "Northern Hub" cluster of rail enhancements with today's approval of more than £300m of outstanding track and capacity upgrades including: around £200m for the Castlefield Corridor scheme to increase capacity across central Manchester and provide two additional through platforms at Piccadilly station; capacity enhancements of around £50m on the Chat Moss route between Liverpool and Manchester; and extra capacity around Manchester Airport and Rochdale.
  • These are in addition to almost £500m of Northern Hub schemes already approved across the North of England such as electrification of the North Trans Pennine route allowing two new fast trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool, two extra trains per hour between Manchester and Leeds, a reduction in journey times between Leeds and Manchester by an average of 15 minutes and between Leeds and Liverpool by an average of 35 minutes. There will also be a new direct service through Manchester city centre to Manchester Airport.
  • Extra peak train capacity for the 6,200 more passengers forecast to travel in and out of Manchester. The rail industry will now work out how best to provide this and what further changes (such as platform lengthening) this may require.

Today's publication builds on a series of recent rail improvements announcements for the North West. In 2010 the Government gave the go-ahead for electrification of the routes between Manchester and Liverpool via the Chat Moss route, Liverpool and Wigan via St. Helens and Manchester and Blackpool via Bolton. This work is now under way and the first electric trains are expected to run between Manchester and Scotland from December 2013.
 
In 2011 the Government announced that that - subject to confirmation of the business case - the North Trans Pennine route between Manchester and York would be electrified. It has today been confirmed that this will scheme will go-ahead and will also be extended to include the section of line between Micklefield Junction and Selby.

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport has said:

"Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this coalition government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and fast-moving railway network that drives jobs and growth.
 
"These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country's prosperity in the decades ahead".

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, commented:

"This is fantastic news for Warrington and the North West. For passengers, the completion of the Northern Hub will mean faster trains running between our great Northern cities and more frequent services between Manchester and Liverpool.

"The Government is investing to rebalance the UK economy after years of over-reliance on the South East under Labour, and it's the people and businesses in Warrington that will benefit".

12 July 2012

Warrington Continuing to Defy Gloom

Warrington South MP David Mowat this week welcomed the publication of Cities Outlook 1901 report by the think tank Centre for Cities.

Using data from the 1901 Census and other contemporary sources, the Report analyses the progress that towns and cities across the UK have made in the last 100 years, compiling data on economic indicators such as deprivation, specialisation and dependence on certain industries. Warrington was the town that had made the most progress in the index since 1901, going from the bottom 25% to the top 40%.

In March, the Centre for Cities found that Warrington was in the top half of the region in terms of economic growth figures and had 19 companies with their headquarters in the town. They also found that the town has the 8th highest earnings of major towns and cities in the UK, the 7th highest proportion of private sector employment and the 7th highest employment rate.

David Mowat said:

"This report confirms what we had already heard from other sources – despite the gloomy economic news from elsewhere, Warrington's economy continues to defy expectations.

"However, the report also carries a warning – those towns and cities that have performed best are those that have enjoyed high levels of investment in infrastructure, particularly improving transport links to London. That is why I am going to continue to lobby for major projects such as HS2 so that Warrington will still be booming in 2112 and beyond."

3 July 2012

Warrington South MP Supports Bill to Help Disabled Blue Badge Holders
 
David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South , has given his support to Simon Kirby's Private Members' Bill to amend the Blue Badge legislation.
 
Simon Kirby's "Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill", which will receive its second reading in the chamber of the House of Commons on 6 July, has already attracted cross party support, with the list of supporters including former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett and Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd.
 
The aim of the Bill is to protect people who genuinely need a blue badge by clamping down on the misuse of badges by those individuals abusing the current scheme. The National Fraud Authority estimates it to be costing local authorities up to £46 million per annum. The Bill would introduce a number of measures to tackle this problem.
 
David Mowat said:

"I know that many disabled people in Warrington are frustrated when they cannot park because someone is misusing a badge. This Bill will clamp down on those individuals who abuse the system and deprive legitimate badge holders from parking.  Pretending to be disabled for financial gain is deeply offensive to people with genuine disabilities."   
 
He added:

"The changes contained within the Bill will improve the credibility of the scheme and result in the greater availability of parking spaces, protecting the scheme for genuine badge holders who have the most need."
 
"I am pleased to be supporting this Bill, which will benefit many genuine blue badge holders up and down the country."

29 June 2012

Warrington South Scouts join MP for Speaker's reception at the House of Commons
 
Scouts from Warrington South joined David Mowat MP along with 150 young people in Scouting and volunteer Scout leaders from across the UK to mingle with MPs at the annual prestigious Speaker's reception.  The event, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Scout Group and the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, is a unique opportunity for young people in Scouting to experience meeting with their own and other MPs in the House of Commons to talk about the challenges facing Scouting, such as the lack of adult volunteers.
 
West Warrington Explorer Scouts Michael Warburton-Sheridan, Katherine Instone-Cowie, and Ewan Brown from the Amazon and Viking Units, along with District Commissioner Sarah Walmsley met with Mr Mowat last week to share their experiences.
 
David Mowat MP said,
 
"I was delighted to meet some of the Scouts from Warrington and that they were given the opportunity to attend such a special event.  I have also enjoyed meeting Scouts from other parts of the UK to learn about what they do every week with support from committed adult volunteers. 

"It is clear that Scouting continues to be relevant and dynamic, providing young people the chance to try out new adventures, from hiking to snowboarding to working within their local communities. 

"I have learned more about the challenges faced by the movement such as the lack of adult volunteers and I look forward to supporting the groups in my constituency through raising awareness of this issue in Parliament."

18 June 2012

MOWAT WELCOMES NEW HEALTH & SAFETY MYTH-BUSTERS


Warrington South MP, David Mowat this week welcomed the launch of two new Health & Safety Panels allowing members of the public to challenge petty and unnecessary health & safety red tape.

The Government has created two new panels: the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel will examine challenges to expert advice given by professional health & safety inspectors, either working for the Health & Safety Executive or for Local Authorities. The Myth Busters Challenge Panel will give members of the public the opportunity to challenge so-called "health & safety advice" given by consultants, insurance companies and employers.

Both panels will examine whether the advice that has been given is covered by Health & Safety legislation and if so, whether the advice that has been given is sensible and proportionate to the risk.

You can raise a case with the panel at http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/myth-busting.htm

David Mowat said:

"We all have our own stories about busybodies using "elf n safety" as an excuse for blocking perfectly legitimate activities, whether it's hanging baskets, Christmas lights or bunting.

"Often these so-called "opinions" are issued by petty bureaucrats who are not professional Health & Safety inspectors and who have a poor understanding of what proper Health & Safety legislation actually requires.

"Now ordinary people will be able to expose these jobsworths in a way that is quick, cheap and efficient.

"It is another little victory for common sense."

15 June 2012

Cheshire & Merseyside Treatment Centre to Reopen

The Cheshire & Merseyside Treatment Centre in Halton is to reopen "within weeks" to handle orthopaedic operations for people in Warrington. Health Minister Simon Burns MP confirmed the opening during an exchange in the Commons with Warrington South MP David Mowat.

The privately funded facility, built by the previous Labour Government had been mothballed for a year after PCT bosses chose not to renew the contract for InterHealth Canada, which previously ran the site. The Facility will now be operated as part of the Warrington & Halton NHS Trust.

David Mowat said:

"I have received a number of contacts from constituents who have used this facility in the past and couldn't understand why it was being allowed to stand idle.

"I am delighted that these issues have now been resolved, that this privately funded facility is now back under NHS control and that it is benefitting the people of Warrington once more."

12 June 2012

Back Service Personnel - Mowat

WARRINGTON MP David Mowat demanded that armed forces personnel be given the same housing benefits as released criminals. He complained that military men and women lose up to £37.61 due to changes in the local housing allowance (LHA) which came into effect this year.

Under those changes, serving and former squaddies or other personnel can only claim the shared room rate, which in North Cheshire is currently £53,54 a week, and not the £91.15 single flat allowance. The only exemptions to that rule are homeless people in hostels and offenders on the top two tiers of management plans.

Mr Mowat urged that the exemption should be extended to personnel including those "facing redundancy" under current ministry of defence cutbacks.

Mr Mowat said after his Commons intervention: 

"Servicemen and women returning from active service deserve to be treated fairly when they seek to set up homes for themselves and their families.

"It is right that the homeless and prisoners released on licence should be helped, but that should also apply to those military personnel who have risked everything for their country."

Armed forces minster Andrew Robathan told him: "We are keeping an eye on such issues. We will take a look at how we can best serve our personnel."

But he added: "They should not be equated with the licensing of prisoners."

Mr Mowat has previously campaigned successfully to stop teenage soldiers being excluded from regional pubs and clubs because of a row over ID cards.

11 June 2012

Victory for Mowat on Metal Theft Sentencing

Callous thieves who steal memorial plaques from war graves and other monuments will face tougher sentences thanks to a campaign by Warrington South MP David Mowat.

Premier David Cameron agreed to beef up penalties for such "specially aggravated" offences after the recent theft of the River of Life Memorial Plaque, commemorating the 1993 which killed three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry. Mr Mowat raised the issue recently at Prime Minister's Questions.

Mr Cameron, in a letter to the MP, confirmed that the government will ask the Sentencing Council to consider "how the aggravated harm caused by theft of, or criminal damage to monuments can best be reflected in sentencing and whether there is a case for a specific aggravated offence."

The Sentencing Council will look at this matter as part of its wider review of sentencing guidelines for local magistrates' courts.

Mr Mowat said: "Memorial plaques like these often have a scrap metal value of £30 or less, but in relation to the events they commemorate, they are priceless to local communities.

 "Across the country we are seeing increasing numbers of thefts from war memorials and of course, just recently the River of Life plaque was stolen from Warrington.

"It's time we sent a very clear message that these actions are simply not acceptable."

Watch David raise the matter at Prime Minister's Questions

25 May 2012

Warrington to Benefit from £4.65M Grant

Warrington South MP David Mowat this week welcomed the announcement from the Department of Transport that Warrington was set to receive a £4.65m grant towards the cost of the Warrington Sustainable Transport Triangle.

The Sustainable Transport Triangle will improve bus and cycle links in the north east and north west areas of the town, including business parks such as Omega and Birchwood Park and the Town Centre. By improving transport links, the Council proposes to encourage more people to use public transport, or to cycle, instead of travelling by car.

David Mowat said:

"This Government grant is excellent news for Warrington. It is going to improve links between high housing growth areas such as Chapelford with the parts of the town where the jobs are, such as the town centre and Birchwood Park. Hopefully it will encourage more people to consider using public transport or cycling to work instead of getting in the car.

"I congratulate the Council on their imaginative and innovative proposal."

22 May 2012 

Report for the Free Market Think Tank Politeia

A leading Conservative MP has warned that household lighting and heating will be put at risk unless the government invests in the next generation of power plants. And Warrington South's David Mowat claimed that the danger has been heightened because successive administrations have focused too heavily on renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels which have had the unintended consequence of increasing carbon emissions.

In a report to the free market think tank Politeia he said that the outcome on carbon pollutions has been counter-productive because coal and nuclear plants have become outdated and expensive, while ministers have been focused on alternatives.

"More carbon is churned out than would have been necessary had not policy been sidetracked to concentrate on renewables," he said. "Carbon emissions in 2012 are higher than they would have been had the goal been reducing carbon emissions under the 2008 Climate Change Act, and deploying an interim stage of gas whilst building nuclear. The result has been more carbon and more cost."

Mr Mowat said that a further unintended consequence in the drive for renewables at the expense of other options is that the UK failed to move quickly to develop technologies facilitating carbon capture and storage (CCS) which the UK's geology and legacy make particularly attractive. No pilot project will now be complete until at least 2018.

"The fundamental problem of the need to keep the lights on therefore remains neglected by the fixation with renewables," he said. "Over the next six years about 40 per cent of our generating capacity is due to be retired, including much of the existing base load from large coal and nuclear stations. "The longer a coherent replacement strategy is avoided, the higher the price the UK will have to pay."

He said that because the lives of many existing nuclear stations are being extended beyond the date for which they were designed, the problem does not appear to be so serious. Yet demand is to be met by increasing the imports of cheap nuclear energy from France.

"Sixty times as much electricity was imported in 2011 as was produced in the UK using solar," he said. For a country with our tradition to be basing energy policy on imports from France should give pause for thought."

He added: "The main aim should be to keep the lights on and keep prices down so that the individual and business may flourish in a growing economy. This will not happen if taxation, subsidy and other interventions drive out the markets in attempting to pursue two conflicting policies which undermine both carbon reduction and affordable energy."

His solution? A price for carbon must be set and then the market left to get on with it.

Meanwhile, energy market reforms should not seek to distinguish between differing low carbon technologies, and that would allow the complex structure of tariffs and subsidies, which currently feed the renewables industry and their lobbyists, to be disbanded.

18 May 2012

Mowat Statement on Plaque Theft

"I am shocked and repulsed by how low these mindless vandals have stooped. The River of Life project commemorates a horrific attack which cost the lives of two young boys.

"As a piece of metal, it can't have been worth more than about 30 quid, but as a permanent memorial to a tragedy it was an important part of our town's heritage.
 
"If anyone has any information about this plaque, I would urge them to contact the police so that whoever is responsible can face the full force of the law."

11 May 2012

Mowat Obtains Assurances on Arpley

Environmental health concerns, including the fate of illegally dumped BSE carcasses, about Arpley landfill site will be fully investigated by the Environment Agency, a senior Government minister has confirmed to David Mowat, MP for Warrington South.

Replying to a debate on the site, forced by Mr Mowat, Minister of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Jim Paice MP assured local residents that the EA would satisfy itself that any future reprofiling work would not result in previously deposited waste posing an unacceptable risk to health or the environment.

Up to 400 carcasses of cattle either infected or believed to have been infected with BSE were dumped at Arpley under the supervision of the former Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Fisheries. However, it is also know that a number of similar carcasses were also illegally dumped on the site around the same time. Local residents have expressed concern that any future work could risk disturbing the carcasses, potentially releasing infectious prions.

David Mowat said:

"I forced this debate because I felt that the issues surrounding Arpley needed to be heard at the very highest level. Local residents and I have some serious environmental concerns about the site – particularly if parts of it are to be disturbed by future works.

"Although I recognise that the decision to extend or not is a matter for Warrington Borough Council, local residents have a right to know that their concerns are being dealt with seriously by the relevant authorities. I'm happy with the assurances that I have received and I hope that this will feed into the decision-making progress."
30th April 2012

Mowat calls for fairer schools funding

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South last week called on the Government to change its system of determining the funding the funding for schools. Out of the 157 Local Education Authorities in the England, Warrington is 130th in terms of per pupil funding.

Highlighting recent conversations he had had at Broomfields Junior School in Appleton, Mr Mowat called on the Government to make an early start to tackling these discrepancies which have been in existence for nearly 20 years.

David Mowat said:

"Warrington is not a wealthy place. It has wards that are among the most deprived in the country. I was shocked to see recently that there is a 50% discrepancy between the funding level of schools in Warrington and those in Westminster. Is Westminster that much worse off than Warrington? Are the deprivation indices that much more difficult? I do not think so.

"A lot of words have been written about how difficult it all is, but none of the analyses attempt to justify the status quo. I have seen no serious attempt to say that where we are now is the right place. I'm not asking for a national funding formula to be put in place and implemented immediately. I recognise that it could take 10, 15 or 20 years to fix this in its entirety, but that is all the more reason at least to make a start."

10 April 2012

Peel to rethink effect on Warrington

David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South today welcomed the publication of the Interim Consultation Report on the Mersey Ports Master Plan launched by Peel Ports which will see hundreds of millions of pounds poured into communities along the River Mersey. David Mowat expressed concern last year that an increase in traffic along the Ship Canal could cause major disruption to the roads in Warrington because of the swing bridges.

Following Mr Mowat's intervention, Peel have devoted a section of the report to mitigating the potential effect on Warrington. Whilst specific proposals have yet to be put forward, Peel have identified several options including:

  • Completing a "Memorandum of Understanding" with WBC
  • Evaluating and instigating measures around better vessel planning and the scheduling of shipping movements
  • Work with the council to develop prior warning notification systems and the dissemination of information locally

David Mowat, the only MP from the region to make a formal submission to the Consultation, said:

"Last year I raised concern that an increase in ship movements would have a detrimental effect that would be unique to Warrington and I am delighted that Peel are now aware of this. I will be working closely with Borough Councillors and the Parish Councils in Grappenhall, Stockton Heath, Appleton and Walton to get the right measures put in place."

Cllr Paul Kennedy (Hatton, Stretton & Walton), who also responded to the Consultation, added:

"We don't want to block this project as it has the potential to transform the North West for the better. All we want are some common sense, additional measures put in place to recognise that Warrington is a special case."

3 April 2012

Parliamentary Rugby League Group visits MediaCity

Officers of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group today visited Media City on Friday 30th March for a meeting with senior BBC executives to discuss the BBC's coverage of the game on local and national radio and television.
This follows the Group's campaign urging the BBC to review its proposals for sports coverage on local radio and was used to discuss how the sport can work with the BBC across all media formats. The Group also took the opportunity to visit the new facilities at Media City, including the RFL offices.

Speaking after the meeting on the issue of local radio, Group Chairman and Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said:

"BBC coverage of rugby league is crucial to the sport.  The BBC do a great job on television and radio and it was very good to hear their ongoing commitment.

"We recognise the pressures the BBC is facing and we as sports fans want to ensure there is a sensible solution to this important issue rather than simply cutting coverage.   This was the first of many and I look forward to hearing the outcomes of meetings with the BBC and sports bodies, which are being led by the RFL."

Vice-Chairman of the Group, Warrington South MP David Mowat added:

"When the Group saw the impact of the BBC's proposals, we fought to ensure they weren't implemented.  Now that the important decision has been taken pause and review options, it is up to us, the RFL and other sports to offer effective,  alternative ways of working to ensure the outstanding level of service we are used to isn't diminished."

Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said:

"The BBC's recent renewal of our Challenge Cup contract, plus our commitment to re-examine any potential changes to BBC Local Radio's output, highlight the importance we place on our coverage of rugby league.  The Parliamentary Group recognises the current financial challenges the BBC faces, which is welcome news, but we look forward to working together to reflect the sport properly across the BBC".

Lord Hoyle of Warrington, Vice-Chairman of the Group and former MP for Warrington North, gave his thoughts:

"Rugby league is a fantastic game and needs to be seen by as many people as possible, including those in the media.  With a base in Salford, I hope that those who take decisions on the game's behalf see just how important our game and take note.  The RFL offices here will make that much easier to do and is a location befitting the sport of rugby league."
2 April 2012 

Mowat welcomes new Planning Guidance on Traveller Sites

Warrington South MP David Mowat this week welcomed the publication, by the Department for Communities & Local Government, of new guidance for Councils when deciding Planning applications for Traveller and Travelling Showperson's sites. Whilst Local Authorities will still be required to provide enough suitable sites to meet the needs of Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, there will be tougher restrictions on the use of Green Belt land to meet targets.

The guidance makes clear that Traveller or Travelling Showperson's sites (whether permanent or temporary) constitute inappropriate development unless there are "very special circumstances." Local authorities will have a duty to ensure that Local Development plans include proper provision for Traveller sites.

Mr Mowat and Cllr Paul Kennedy (Con – Hatton, Stretton & Walton) recently helped local residents fight a planning battle against a proposed Travelling Showperson's site in Stretton. Planning Officers recommended that "very special circumstances" existed which meant that the application should be approved, but this was thrown out by Councillors.

David Mowat said:

"Travellers and Travelling Showpeople have a right to expect that Councils should make reasonable provision to allow them to live their chosen lifestyle, but the same rules should apply to them as apply to everyone else and I'm pleased that the Government have recognised that."

Cllr Paul Kennedy added:

"Planning Officers recently rejected an application for a small bungalow on a farm, even though it was to house a woman with brain disease needing specialist accommodation for herself and her carer. That shows how high the "very special circumstances" bar has been set and local people just want to know that the rules apply equally to everyone."

29 March 2012

Warrington MP sees how the Job Gym is helping local people back into jobs

Warrington South MP, David Mowat dropped in at The Job Gym on Causeway Avenue recently to see for himself how this innovative training provider is giving the unemployed the skills they need to get back into jobs. At a time when there are many people chasing every vacancy, jobseekers need to show employers that they have the right skills for the job if they are to stand out from the crowd.

The Job Gym specialises in training people for the logistics sector, which is a big employer in the Warrington area. Learners undertake a government funded six-week programme, which gives them a qualification in warehousing and storage as well as a practical skill such as operating a forklift truck. They also brush up on their English and maths and do a work skills course that helps them in their job search including tips on improving their c.v. and how to shine in an interview. Around 15 jobseekers start the Job Gym programme in Warrington every week.

David Mowat said:
 
"The Job Gym is inspiring because they are not only keeping people motivated to keep looking for work, they are also making sure people have the right tools to stand out at interviews and clinch the job they are after. The statistics tell us that there are still vacancies out there, but competition is fierce and so services like this can really give people an edge."

Mark Currie, Chief Executive at the Job Gym said:
 
"We work closely with local employers and we know the skills they are looking for in potential recruits. Our unique blended learning programme delivered in our working warehouse gives jobseekers the practical skills they need to walk straight into a job and start earning money for their employer from day one."

Viv Lacey, Director of the National Skills Academy for Logistics said:

"The Job Gym's innovative approach to developing people and finding work for them in logistics occupations is a proven success and a great model for getting them into real jobs." 

22 March 2012

Mowat criticises BBC Pay Schemes

Warrington South MP David Mowat has criticised the BBC over the way it pays it staff after a freedom of information request revealed that at least 41 members of staff were being paid £100,000 per year or more outside of the standard PAYE system, meaning that income tax and National Insurance Contributions would not be deducted at source. The figure only includes "non-talent" employees, meaning that some of the BBC's highest paid stars will not be included.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander ordered a review of public sector pay structures after it emerged that Ed Lester, Head of the Student Loans Company was being paid through a "service company". Structuring payments in such a way can allow an individual to pay corporation tax (which is lower) on the payments, before recovering the money by paying themselves a dividend, thereby avoiding tax.

In an Written Answer last week, the Chief Secretary confirmed that despite receiving around £3.5bn from the Licencepayer, the BBC falls outside the scope of his review.

David Mowat said:

"We were all disappopinted and surprised to find that so many BBC staff were being paid in way that could have enabled them to pay less tax. The millions of people who pay their taxes in full and on time will want to know that those whose salaries are funded by the taxpayer are paying their share of tax too.

"The Government is quite rightly taking action to stamp out this practice in the public sector and I would call on the BBC Board to take similar action."

5 March 2012

Mowat welcomes driving test centre reopening

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, today celebrated the reopening of the Driving Test Centre in Warrington. From today, learners will be able to take their driving tests in Warrington rather than having to travel to Runcorn, Northwich or St Helens. Initially tests will start and finish at the Paddington House Hotel in Woolston, but tests will shortly resume from the Orford Community Centre on Festival Lane.

The original test centre in Orford was closed by the previous Government in 2008. David Mowat and Cllr Paul Campbell opposed the closure at the time and have been campaigning for it to be reopened ever since. Cllr Campbell lobbied Council Officers to find a suitable location whilst David Mowat lobbied Transport Minister Mike Penning through letters, Parliamentary Questions and in Parliamentary Debates.

David Mowat said:

"I am thrilled to see the Test Centre reopening in Warrington. Labour should never have closed it in the first place. Local Instructors told me how badly it was affecting their businesses and there was a great deal of anecdotal evidence suggesting that learners in Warrington were disadvantaged because they were unable to spend as much time familiarising themselves with test routes.

"I have been lobbying transport Ministers hard since I was elected and it's great to see that that work has been rewarded."

Local Instructor Charles Owens said:

"It's not difficult to understand the benefits that will be recognised by Warrington's learner drivers with the return of this very important service to Warrington.

"David and Paul have been superb. They were in on this campaign from the start, they understood the issue and they have both been lobbying really hard to get a test centre back in Warrington. This wouldn't have happened without their combined and valuable efforts."

1 March 2012

Warrington South MP welcomes extra train capacity

Today, David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, welcomed the announcement by the Department for Transport of 40 new carriages for the Transpennine Express from 2013.

TransPennine Express' 40 new carriages will be used on the Manchester to Scotland route freeing up existing diesel rolling stock to be redeployed to increase capacity into Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, including services calling at Warrington Central.

Commenting, David Mowat said:

"Today's announcement is excellent news for commuters and rail users in Warrington. This investment by the Government in new carriages will boost capacity and reduce crowding. As people in Warrington already know, the Transpennine route is one of the busiest lines in the country, so this will provide real benefits to passengers."

Commenting, Rail Minister, Theresa Villiers said:

"This is great news for passengers who will get faster, longer trains and more seats. As rail travel becomes more popular, operators must be able to meet growing demand and these new carriages will enable existing trains to be lengthened. These new trains will also run faster, creating extra train slots.

"Increasing capacity on some of the busiest routes in the country is a key part of the major programme of rail capacity expansion we have promised to deliver. It is a vital way of responding to passenger concerns about crowding and providing an important stimulus to economic growth."

21 February 2012

The Impending Pensions Crisis

by David Mowat, MP for Warrington South


As an MP in my fifties, who has spent his professional life in the private sector I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had recently about pension under-provision. To say that the industry is mistrusted is an understatement. This really matters. At a time when the last few final salary schemes are closing, it is now up to each of us (or at least those not lucky enough to be in the public sector) to build a retirement pot. To put this into context, a pot of about £250,000 would be needed to achieve a £10,000 inflation-proof pension at 65. Right now the average punter has around £40,000 in their pot.

The industry, which should be assisting us to manage and defuse this time bomb is failing. They are taking advantage of a massive "asymmetry of information" between themselves and their clients to profit through opaque pricing. There is a massive "market failure" and the consequence is severe for millions. According to the FSA around 30% of all pension pots are siphoned off in charges. The UK charge structure is higher than in other European countries.  In broad terms this means that the majority of tax relief (the Government chips in £35 billion a year) goes not to investors but to fund managers.

85% of retirees buy annuities from their investment provider without getting quotes from the open market. There are many instances of retirees purchasing sub-optimal products due to poor understanding and artificial complexity. The market does not work because the types of charges and indeed types of annuity seem designed to make comparison almost impossible. Genuinely independent advice has been difficult to obtain as so many advisors have earned their living in commissions from the providers themselves.

So what should the Government do?

We can draw a parallel between the charging practices of annuity and investment providers and the complex tariffs used by energy providers. The Government is rightly enforcing simplicity on the big 6 energy companies and they should do so in this industry too. We will be told we are restricting choice but this is self-serving nonsense.

  • We must make the industry publish proper total expense ratios (TER's) that include all costs, not just some as at present.
  • The annuity market needs sorting out. The Government could sell Treasury bonds direct or at least set up their own "best practice" provider to offer a low cost and transparent alternative. This is similar to what has been done with NEST as an investment manager.
  • We should insist that every potential annuitant obtains truly independent advice, ideally three open market quotes. If the pension fund manager provides the annuity, insist that a truly independent advisor signs it off. Failing that legislate to insist that the annuity provider must be a different organisation to the pension fund manager.

The advent of auto enrolment makes the case for reform even stronger.  More unsophisticated consumers will be introduced to a market they can't understand. If the industry fails to address these issues and the Government fails to act, I believe we will be on the cusp of the next mis-selling scandal.

18 February 2012

Arpley shouldn't be North West's dumping ground - Mowat


Warrington South MP, David Mowat, last week called for a Commons Debate on regional landfill policy to protect Warrington from failures of waste policy elsewhere in the North West. He noted that from 2013, Warrington Borough Council will no longer be sending any waste to the Arpley Landfill site, but the site's operator is still requesting a 15-year extension to the life of the site.

In response to the question, Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young noted that new provisions in the Localism Act, which came into force in November, placed a new duty on Local Authorities to co-ordinate the effective handling of waste to meet the needs of their communities.

David Mowat is backing the residents of Saxon Park, Sankey Bridges and the surrounding Area in fighting the licence extension. A petition has been launched at http://alog.org.uk/

David Mowat said:

"Last week, I attended a public meeting at which nearly 70 of my constituents were protesting about the 15-year licence extension to Arpley, which will take no waste from Warrington after 2013 but a great deal of waste from surrounding cities. We need a wider debate about regional landfill policy, because cities such as Liverpool and Manchester should be encouraged to look after their own waste and not send it to Warrington.

"I am going to continue to raise this matter in Parliament because Warrington shouldn't be suffering because of failures elsewhere."

10th February 2012

MP calls for more funding for non-league football

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South took to the floor of the House of Commons last week to press for more funds for non-league football clubs such as Warrington Town FC.

In a Question to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Mr Mowat noted that 50% of the FA's funds currently goes back into the professional game, whilst many non-league clubs are struggling for financial survival. Replying for the Government, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson MP indicated that this may be something the Government will seek to address in the coming months.

David Mowat was one of a group of local businessman who helped to save Warrington Town from administration in 2007 and he remains a director at the club.

David Mowat said:

"Each year, the Football Association raises a surplus of about £100 million, mostly from the England football team. By convention, 50% of that money goes to the professional game, where it is not needed, and not to the community and grass-roots game, where it is badly needed. Clubs like Warrington Town badly need the money. The FA needs to address this issue urgently."

7th February 2012

Flood Defence Funding welcomed

Commenting on the EA's announcement of funding for Flood Defences along the River Mersey near Westy, David Mowat said:

"This funding, which I have personally lobbied for in Parliament, is excellent news for people living along the banks of the Mersey in Latchford. These areas have suffered from flooding in years gone by and it causes major disruption to homes and businesses. Sadly, experience from other areas suggests that many people do not have adequate insurance to protect them from flooding, so hopefully this work will keep insurance premiums down."

6th February 2012

Mowat rips Labour U-turn on benefits cap

Warrington South MP David Mowat lambasted Labour MPs for failing to support a benefits cap as part of the Welfare Reform Bill. Labour Peers voted to remove the cap from the Bill last month, but on Wednesday the House of Commons voted 334 to 251 to impose a cap.

The cap would ensure that no one family could earn more than a total of £26,000 a year once all benefits have been taken into account. Disability Living Allowance and Working Tax Credits are excluded from the cap. Government figures suggest that this figure is roughly equivalent to a working family having a pre-tax annual income of around £35,000.

David Mowat said:

"Labour told us they wanted fairness and responsibility in the benefits system. They said that they supported the principle of a cap on benefits, but when they had the opportunity to put words into action, they bowed yet again to their Union paymasters. No one is going to believe their rhetoric on benefits any more as they have shown themselves to be out of touch and untrustworthy.

"Last week MPs had a very simple question to answer: many families in places like Warrington have far lower incomes than £35,000, despite working long hours. Why should they be picking up the bill for other families to live in some of the poshest parts of London? Conservatives understand this and that's why we have put ourselves firmly on the side of ordinary people."

2nd February 2012

Mowat welcomes Police.uk website upgrade

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, this week welcomed the upgrade to the website police.uk introduced on 30 January 2012. These improvements give the public an even more detailed picture of crime and anti-social behaviour in Warrington.

The website now includes incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour recorded at all train stations and railway networks. Soon incidents occurring at or near significant local sites like shopping areas, nightclubs, parks, airports, universities, car parks and hospitals will be added too.

In addition, the website now has more specific detail on the precise location of incidents – while still protecting anonymity. From May this year police.uk will also show the action taken by the police or the justice outcome after a crime.

Commenting, David Mowat said:

"Last year, some people said that police.uk was just a gimmick, but the great british public has proved them wrong. In the year since its launch the website has received an astonishing 453 million hits and this upgrade will make even more detail available. People in Warrington will be able to see just how hard the police are working and it will give them the confidence to approach the police if they are concerned about crime.

'The fact is that people want to know about crime in their local area and they want to know what action has been taken to deal with it. I'm pleased the Home Office is listening to this demand for even more information ahead of the election this November of our Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire
.'
1st February 2012

The Independence Debate: who subsidises who?

by David Mowat, MP for Warrington South


As the date for a referendum becomes firmer the issue of "who subsidises who" will be bandied around as a political football. The SNP will claim that "the English have robbed Scotland of its oil and wasted the proceeds". English politicians will respond that the Barnett formula allocates around £5 billion a year more in public spending Scotland than would be the case if allocation was based on need. It is claimed that this Barnett over-allocation amounts to a subsidy from the English taxpayer. This subsidy, it is argued, allows Scotland to enjoy better public services such as free tuition fees, prescriptions and social care which the English cannot afford. 

So who is right and what are the facts?

It is true that Scotland has receives more public spending per capita than the UK average. In broad terms this equates to about 20% per head more. Over the last 25 years this spending gap has resulted in Scotland receiving around £135 billion more than would have been the UK average. This amounts to about £1000 per person per year.

But, the SNP are partially right, this is not a subsidy. That figure is roughly equal to the tax raised from Scotland's share of North Sea Oil over the same period: around £140 billion. The truth is that more or less every penny of Scotland's oil revenues has been, and is being, spent on better public services in Scotland. The Barnett formula can be seen for what it is: a mechanism to deliver to Scotland their share of oil revenues.

So that's alright then, you might think. The arithmetic might not work exactly, but is it fair. But Policy makers need to consider the following:
  1. In a "United" Kingdom, the quality of public services should surely depend on the need of the individual region, not on its tax base. Nobody seriously argues that Kensington should have better services than Hackney or that Cheshire should have better services than Warrington simply because they have a larger tax base. Failure to link funding to need will, over time, create the sort of tensions that have been fuelling the independence debate from South of the border. Indeed for a self-proclaimed "progressive" party like the SNP to make this case is pretty strange.
  2. Labour's botched devolution settlement has resulted in a Government in Scotland with no tax raising powers but plenty of tax spending authority. The result has been the emergence of a Scottish political class who have become used to spending money without having to face the consequences. Scottish politicians can take credit for better public services while refusing to acknowledge the "oil bonanza" which continues to be spent in Scotland. The Scotland Bill goes some way towards addressing this issue, but we need to go much further. The Treasury's unwillingness to devolve greater tax raising powers needs to be challenged to enable us to move to a more stable model. Scottish politicians should look to the Scottish electorate for money. This will increase their accountability and give an incentive to spend efficiently, not just to spend more.

Finally, what does all this mean for the referendum? The issue to be decided is far larger than mere pounds and pence. But money matters too: in financial terms, an independent Scotland would be betting that oil revenues will remain stable or increase over time so as to mitigate the effect of losing Barnett. That is quite a tough judgement to make. Either way it is time that both sides start dealing in facts not peddling assertions.

31 January 2012 

Let's make sure the Government gets SEN reform right.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Autism (APPGA) is a group of MPs and Lords with an interest in issues affecting people with autism. They are supported by an advisory group, comprising experts from across the autism field – academics, professionals and adults with autism. The APPGA's purpose is to keep autism on the political agenda and to influence Government policy to improve the lives of people with autism, their families and carers. There is more information about the APPGA at www.appga.org.uk.

Background

The vast majority of children with autism also have special educational needs (SEN). In 2011 the Government proposed significant changes to support for children and young people with SEN in England. In a Green Paper consultation document, the Government set out plans to improve identification of SEN, replace Statements with "Education, Health and Care Plans", which would streamline the assessment process, and offer continuity up to the age of 25, (though statutory protections would remain), and change the categorisation of SEN support in mainstream schools. A summary of the Green Paper and a link to the full document are available here.

The APPGA Commission on special educational needs

The APPGA's Commission on SEN is a unique opportunity for people with first-hand experience, such as young people with autism, parents of children with autism, teachers and other professionals, to influence the Government directly.

We are carrying out this survey to find out your experiences and views on teaching children with autism, specialist support and the involvement of parents and carers in their child's education. Questions in the survey which require an answer are marked with an asterisk (*).

This survey closes on Friday 10 February 2012. The APPGA will also hold expert evidence sessions in spring 2012.

The APPGA will use these findings to:

  • Publish a report with recommendations on improving access to specialist support for children and young people with autism
  • Take the views of students, parents, teachers and other professionals directly to Government Ministers and civil servants
  • Help to improve the education system for children with autism

If you have any questions about this survey or about the Commission please contact appga@nas.org.uk.
 
Take the survey here

30th January 2012

Support for National Apprenticeships Week 

David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South, is supporting National Apprenticeship Week by calling on local businesses to provide more placements for young people. The week from February 6-11, organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will demonstrate the wide range of apprenticeships available, the high standard of skills apprentices achieve and the progression routes available.

Mr Mowat is a firm supporter of apprenticeships and has continually stated that creating a highly-skilled workforce will be crucial to rebalancing the economy. Figures released last year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills showed there were 1,130 apprenticeship starts in Warrington South in 2010/11, 35% more than 2009/10. Nationally, a record 442,700 learners started an apprenticeship in 2010/11, an increase of around 50% on 2009/10.

The Government has announced plans to make it simpler and more worthwhile for small businesses to take on apprentices. Businesses with up to 50 employees will now be eligible for a payment of up to £1,500 if for the first time, they take on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24.

David Mowat said:

"I was pleased that the Government reaffirmed its commitment to improve and grow the apprenticeship system in a recent debate in the House of Commons. It is so important that businesses recognise the benefits of taking on apprentices. An apprenticeship can be the key to a good job.

"Apprenticeships form a vital part of the Government's plans for economic growth and education reforms to give opportunities to more young people. National Apprenticeship Week has my full support. It is a great opportunity for young people to find out more about what being an apprentice involves."

24 January 2012

DX Group opens Parcel Sorting & Distribution Centre in Warrington

David Mowat, MP for Warrington South was on hand last Friday to help open a state-of-the-art parcel sorting and distribution centre in Warrington to meet demand from the fast-growing online retail sector for secure delivery services. The 28,000 sq ft building in Lyncastle Road, Barley Castle Trading Estate, operated by DX Group, the UK's largest independent logistics network operator, can sort up to 4,000 parcels an hour.

The new centre will dramatically increase capacity for DX's nationwide, next-day secure delivery service for local and national e-tailers and retailers across the North of England, including household names such as Asda and Cloggs who are already benefiting from DX's high performing home delivery services.

David Mowat said:

"It's always good to welcome new businesses to Warrington, especially those involved in fast-growing industries. This new investment will create jobs in Warrington both now and in the future."

Gary Woods, Managing Director of Park Retail, a longstanding DX customer said:

"Fast, secure and reliable product deliveries are essential for the smooth running and reputation of businesses like ours, and we simply cannot operate efficiently without them.

"I am very pleased to open this impressive new centre in Warrington on behalf of DX and I am sure it will play a vital role in helping companies to capitalise on the exciting growth within the online retail sector."

Petar Cvetkovic, Chief Executive of DX, said:

"We are delighted to officially open this state-of-the-art parcel sorting and distribution facility in Warrington, which has been created to meet demand from the fast-growing online retail sector."

23 January 2012

David Mowat supports charity calls for urgent action to avoid babies' deaths

Warrington South MP, David Mowat has attended a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons, organised by Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, for the launch of their new report, Preventing Babies' Deaths: what needs to be done.

6,500 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every year in the UK. The charity's report proposes that 1,200 babies' lives could be saved every year through a combination of more research, better care and greater awareness of the risks of stillbirth and newborn baby death.

Mr Mowat met with bereaved Warrington parents Fran Heald and her husband Jon Betts and pledged his support for the Sands campaign, "I was shocked to discover the scale of baby deaths in the UK. 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day, with stillbirth being the largest contributor to child deaths under the age of five years. These deaths have a devastating impact on parents and their families, and I fully support Sands in their call for urgent action to prevent baby deaths in the future."

The Report highlights that advances in neonatal medicine have led to small but welcome reductions in the number of newborn babies dying, however, Sands remains extremely concerned by the UK's persistently high stillbirth rates; stillbirth numbers in the UK are the same today as they were in the late 1990s, with 1 in 200 babies being stillborn. The UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates when compared to similar high income countries, yet Sands strongly believes that with the appropriate commitment and investment in research and improved care, a reduction in these rates is achievable and should be a key focus for all those concerned with maternity services.

Neal Long, Chief Executive of Sands, addressed MPs at the parliamentary reception, "A third of stillborn babies – around 1,200 babies - are perfectly formed and born at gestations when they might safely be delivered. But routine antenatal care is failing to detect far too many babies who need help. These babies' deaths are those that Sands, researchers and clinicians working in obstetrics, believe are avoidable deaths.

"We want to see real national commitment to tackling this ignored tragedy and preventing all avoidable baby deaths in the future. We want lives saved and families spared the desperate heartbreak of losing their precious baby."

16th January 2012

Chapelford Update

David recently met with the Managing Director of David Wilson Homes, Graham Swann and Planning Director, Andrew Taylor, alongside Peter Taylor, Assistant Director, Regeneration, Development and Housing at the Council in order to raise the concerns of local residents and to receive a detail progress report on developments in Chapelford.

Final surfacing of the main infrastructure road is nearing completion and this has meant that a programme for adoption of the main roads on a phased basis from April 2013 has now been agreed between David Wilson Homes and the Council. The Council will then be responsible for the maintenance and gritting of the roads.

Alongside the addition of new homes on the estate, new amenities are also close to completion. DWH hopes to have completed construction of a mini supermarket by the summer and a new pub and family restaurant is scheduled to be completed around the same time. A new Primary School is scheduled to open its doors around Easter 2013

The "Chapelford Connector", a bus service operated by Warrington Borough Transport has been established to serve all residents of the Urban Village in order to promote sustainable transport and provides crucial link between Chapelford and the town centre. DWH has provided residents with free passes to use this service.

Dakota Park has been an ongoing concern of residents who want some open space for their children to play in. This project has been subject to numerous delays, some of which were due to unforeseen circumstances and others due to disagreements between the Council and DWH. Most of these issues have now been ironed out and David has pressed for the remaining issues to be resolved as soon as possible so that the park can finally be opened.

10th January 2012 

HS2 a big win for North West

David Mowat, Member of Parliament for Warrington South, today welcomed Transport Secretary Justine Greening's announcement of a new High Speed rail line linking London to Birmingham and eventually Manchester and the North West. Independent forecasts suggest that the line could add an additional £8billion and create around 40,000 jobs in the North West.

Mr Mowat has been a prominent supporter of HS2 in Parliament and has continually spoken in favour of the project in debates in the House of Commons and also on National TV & Radio. HS2 has also received backing from a number of business organisations in the region, including the Warrington Chamber of Commerce. Warrington Borough Council passed a motion in support of HS2 in 2010.

David Mowat said:

"Today's announcement is excellent news for the North West. The West Coast Main Line will reach maximum capacity within the next few years and we need a bold and transformative solution. Commuters travelling from Warrington to London could benefit as soon as the Birmingham line is completed and connected to the West Coast Line as "inter-operable" trains will be able to use the new HS2 line to Birmingham before transferring to the old line to get to Warrington and all stations north to Glasgow.

"However, more important than that is the message the Coalition Government are sending out. Despite the state of the public finances, the Government is still prepared to invest large amounts of money on projects that can bring prosperity and jobs to the English regions. The figures show that in the final year of the Labour government, capital spending on transport in London was nearly 4 times higher than in the North West – that is a disgrace and it needs sorting."

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