Member of Parliament for Clacton

Douglas Carswell

14 MAR 2017

Douglas leads debate on primary care in North Essex

Today, I challenged Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, David Mowat MP, about the poor state of primary care in our part of Essex. Watch the full debate below.

 

 

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13 MAR 2017

Clacton MP to urge action on GP surgeries

Local MP Douglas Carswell will this week ask ministers about the poor state of general practice provision in Clacton.

In a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday afternoon, Douglas will demand that the Department of Health takes urgent action to address the shortage of GPs and surgeries in the constituency.

Some local surgeries took the decision to stop adding new patients to their books over the last two years. The issue could be compounded with the potential closure of Clacton Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit.

Before the debate, Douglas made clear:

"All too often, folk in Clacton simply cannot access a GP near to them.

"I'll be making clear to ministers that people must be able to access a GP.

"It creates a virtuous circle: more patients seen at surgeries means less of a need to visit Colchester A&E. In turn, those who need emergency care have better access to it.

"For too long, our part of Essex has been overlooked. It's time health ministers responded to local needs, rather than offering the usual platitudes."


01 MAR 2017

Take action against public drunks, urges MP

Local MP Douglas Carswell has written to both Tendring District Council and Essex police asking that action be taken to reduce public drunkenness in the centre of Clacton.

A small number of problem drinkers often congregate over the course of the day, creating an unpleasant atmosphere for local residents and those visiting.

"With the warmer weather on the way, we need to take steps so that a small minority don't make our town centre unattractive for the majority", Douglas said.

"A lot of local residents, particularly families have contacted me because they feel that there are drunks in public places. I think steps need to be taken now to deal with it.

"There are no easy answers, but I would like to see the police use what powers they have to take alcohol away from people drinking in controlled zones."


28 FEB 2017

Douglas Carswell backs calls for Sapphire Jubilee bank holiday

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell will next week support efforts to have a national public holiday to celebrate the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee.

The 6th February marked 65 years since Her Majesty acceded to the throne. Douglas will be co-sponsor of a Bill from Andrew Rosindell, which seeks to "establish a framework to ensure that the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and Crown dependencies appropriately commemorate this occasion."

Ahead of the Bill, to be formally introduced next Tuesday, Douglas said:

"I think this is a wonderful idea, and I'm very happy to lend my support.

"The Queen has been a brilliant figure in Britain and the Commonwealth throughout her lifetime, and this milestone is all the more reason to celebrate her achievements."


27 FEB 2017

MP takes action over Minor Injuries Unit

Local MP Douglas Carswell is 100% behind efforts to safeguard Clacton Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit.

Douglas had discussions with NHS bosses, making clear that closure was unacceptable.

"Every day, on average 70 local residents walk into the Minor Injuries Unit. Many are in pain or have had accidents", he said.

"If the Minor Injuries Unit wasn't there, people would have to go to Colchester Hospital and not be seen locally.

"I've spoken very directly to those running the consultation. I'm confident that we can win this fight. We can't be certain, but am confident this battle will be won."


13 FEB 2017

Clacton MP calls for better doctor retention

Douglas Carswell has called on the government to ensure that GP surgeries are able to keep doctors in areas with an older population.

In a written question to the junior health minister, David Mowat, Douglas asked whether the government had drawn up a strategy.

In response, the minister said:

"The Department does not have a specific policy on the retention of general practitioner practices in areas with an elderly demographic" but that the Department of Health was also "investing £40 million over four years targeted at supporting practice resilience."

North East Essex CCG is currently consulting on whether to close the Minor Injuries Unit at Clacton Hospital.

Douglas went to say that:

"For many reasons, older folk struggle to make appointments that are far from their home. GP surgeries need to be properly staffed to handle the needs of elderly patients.

"The closure of Clacton's Minor Injuries Unit might mean even more pressure on primary care providers.

"Sadly, many of the problems which I made clear to Jeremy Hunt some years ago have now come to pass."


16 JAN 2017

Clacton hospital must keep its minor injuries unit, insists MP

Local MP Douglas Carswell has written to local NHS bosses explaining why the Minor Injuries Unit at Clacton hospital must be kept open.

"I am 100 percent against any attempt to close the Minor Injuries Unit" he said.

"Local services are being salami sliced. If Clacton hospital loses the Minor Injuries Unit, people needing treatment – often after an accident or trauma – will have to travel to Colchester. That can't be right".

"Last year they wanted to shut Peter Bruff ward and relocate certain mental health services. Now it's the Minor Injuries Unit they want to relocate. Its almost as if NHS bosses in Colchester are rearranging local services to do what suits them, not people in Clacton".

"Local people have a right to expect a local hospital, capable of treating them or their loved ones in the event of an accident. Its not too much to ask, surely?"

The NHS's own statistics show that there is a clear local need for this service in Clacton, with thousands of patients being treated at the Unit. One in four of those attending the Minor Injuries Unit do so in pain or with injuries after an accident.

Douglas added "This proposal makes no sense. If the Unit is shut, it will mean more pressure on the A&E services in Colchester, where there is already a bottle neck."

"Our local NHS in our part of Essex is drifting towards a crisis – and this will only make things worse".

"Already many local people, who have paid into the system, find they are unable to get to see a GP. Which means more people turn up at A&E, putting pressure on emergency responses there. Now they are proposing something that will add to the pressure".

Douglas has already written to the local North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to request a face to face meeting. He has also written to the health minister, Jeremy Hunt, flagging up concerns about the state of the local NHS, and how these ill considered proposals will make things worse, and tabled a series of questions about the proposal in Parliament.

"Local people are fed up with remote officials making decisions to down grade local services. I am determined to challenge them – and make NHS bosses see some sense".


16 JAN 2017

MP applauds local flood response efforts

Local MP Douglas Carswell has applauded the way local police, Tendring council and other agencies and volunteers responded to the flood alert last week.

"This is the second time in three years that it has been necessary to evacuate Brooklands and parts of Jaywick" said Douglas. "Mercifully the sea did not breach the sea wall – but if it had, the consequences could have been catastrophic".

"Throughout the flood alert, I kept in touch with Tendring council and with Essex police, who together did a superb job. Well done to them, and to some of the local volunteers who helped out".

"Well done too to all those local residents affected by the evacuation, who supported each other".

"I have written to both Russ Cole and Ian Davidson to say what a great job their team did. It was an example of public service at its best".


12 DEC 2016

Douglas Carswell thanks Clacton's postmen for delivering Christmas

Douglas Carswell visited Clacton-on-Sea Delivery Office to thank staff for their hard work over the Christmas period.

Introduced by Delivery Office Manager Scott McInnes, Douglas met local postmen and women, and thanked them personally for making sure Clacton residents receive their Christmas cards and presents.

Mr. Carswell said: “We owe a special debt of gratitude to the Royal Mail at Christmas. Thank you for all the hard work you do, especially at this time of year. I wish local postmen, and everyone in Clacton, a very merry Christmas.”


12 DEC 2016

Douglas Carswell pushes to cut congestion on Thorpe High Street

Local MP Douglas Carswell is leading efforts to reduce traffic on Thorpe-le-Soken High Street.

Acting on concerns raised by Thorpe residents, Douglas contacted the Essex Highways team directly to ask for a rethink of the High Street's layout. Together with representatives of both Essex County Council and Tendring District Council, Douglas visited the High Street to explore possible solutions.

Douglas has also written to local residents, enclosing a survey asking for their views on the issue.

"It's important no changes are made that make things worse", Douglas commented. "Input from local residents is vital to ensure we find the best possible solution."


15 NOV 2016

Local MP Douglas Carswell wants answers on Colchester Hospital

Douglas Carswell has asked the government about the improvements currently underway at Colchester Hospital.

The hospital was placed into special measures in November 2013, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighting ineffectual leadership and some patients at high risk of harm. The Princess Alexandra in Harlow and Cambridge's Addenbrooke's have also recently been admonished by health regulators.

Douglas asked whether the special measures were actually delivering at Colchester Hospital. In response, Philip Dunne, the minister of state at the Department of Health, said that the "efficacy of the support arrangements will be assessed by the CQC when it re-inspects in due course."

Douglas went on to say:

"For three years, Colchester Hospital has struggled along. Time and again, the governance, patient care and financial management has been found wanting.

"This affects Clacton constituents and many others from around East Anglia. We need root and branch reform of the foundation trusts that consistently let patients down."


08 NOV 2016

Clacton MP pushes for better use of knife amnesties

Douglas Carswell has asked government ministers about how better to tackle knife crime in our part of Essex.

In a written parliamentary question to the Home Office, Sarah Newton, junior minister for vulnerability, safeguarding and countering extremism, Douglas asked whether current rules to deal with knife crime, including amnesties, are working sufficiently. In response, the minister said:

"Tackling knife crime is a priority for the Government and we have encouraged police forces to undertake a series of coordinated weeks of action to tackle knife crime under Operation Sceptre."

Last month, more than 850 knives were handed in at special collection bins in Clacton and Colchester.

Douglas went on to say:

"I strongly supported the Gazette's Lives Not Knives campaign back in 2012, securing a parliamentary debate on the issue.

"For all the changes that have happened since then, we need to ensure that Essex Police have the powers they need to get more knives off the street."


18 OCT 2016

Douglas Carswell listens to Great Clacton's concerns

Local MP Douglas Carswell this weekend attended a meeting of the Great Clacton Residents Association.

Douglas met with the Association's chairman and treasurer, Anne Paulizky and Barrie Coker respectively, and spoke with other residents from the area at the Association's hall on Valley Road.

At the meeting, Douglas discussed some of the actions to improve the area and his top priorities for it. This included expanding the availability of GP services, as well as a range of other issues which were bought up by local residents.

Afterwards, Douglas said that he "really enjoyed the meeting and it was a great success."


11 OCT 2016

Douglas Carswell celebrates Blue Ribbon Awards

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell has welcomed the introduction of the first Tendring Blue Ribbon Awards.

The first awards ceremony, last Thursday, were established to celebrate excellence and success within the business community of Tendring.

A total of 12 awards were presented during the evening at the Princes Theatre in Clacton Town Hall. These included best start-up and employer of the year. Douglas was part of the panel for the Judges Award, which celebrates the most meritorious nominee.

After the ceremony, Douglas went on to say:

"We've so much in Tendring to celebrate. We had a great variety of nominees and it was a real challenge to choose a winner. I very much look to seeing the awards going from strength to strength in the years to come."


20 SEP 2016

Local MP keeps up pressure on Abellio for Clacton commuters

Douglas Carswell has got assurances from the Department for Transport that the new East Anglia franchise will include improvements for Clacton station.

The Department and Abellio Greater Anglia, the current franchisee, agreed to an extension of the agreement until 2025. As part of this, Abellio will introducing 1,043 new carriages by September 2020.

In a parliamentary question response, the new trains minster, Paul Maynard, said that at Clacton station, Abellio "shall undertake a refurbishment programme at Clacton-on-Sea. This will include a deep clean of the station." It will also mean the installation of a CCTV system.

Douglas went on to say:

"Abellio Greater Anglia is an appalling company. Time and again, they let commuters down with bad trains, late services during rush hour and terrible customer care.

"So I don't think they should have been rewarded for repeated failures. That said, I'll be keeping up the pressure to make sure they actually deliver on what the Franchise Agreement says. I'm pressuring the Department to see whether Abellio will compensate passengers for years of misery, for instance."


08 SEP 2016

My Clacton summer

Westminster may have taken a break since July, but it's been a busy summer in Clacton.

I had a lot fun opening Haven Lodge Nursing Home's fantastic fete at the beginning of August, and meeting all the residents.

I've also held regular surgeries at Clacton Library, at which constituents raised a number of urgent issues.

One priority is dealing with illegal residency by travellers in Holland-on-Sea. This is a recurring problem, which requires decisive action. I've been working with Tendring District Council on this, and will keep pushing for a long-term solution.

Another live issue is the Local Plan. Many people have contacted me about the Council's blueprints for new housing developments in our area.

This is a decision for elected councillors. It's vitally important to me that the voices of local residents are heard. I'm happy to help constituents put their views across to the Council.

Parliament is back at work this week, so I'll again be pressing ministers on local concerns – especially the lack of GPs.

There's a danger that the junior doctors' strike could overshadow other problems in the NHS. It mustn't be allowed to do so. I'll go on lobbying government to address our GP shortage until it's resolved.

National politics came back to Clacton a couple of weeks ago, with the UKIP leadership hustings. It was great to see local party members get the chance to put their questions to the candidates. As UKIP's only MP, I'm staying neutral in the contest, and look forward to working with whoever wins.

We won the referendum. Now we need to make sure that the government delivers on it. I'll be speaking about when and how Brexit needs to happen - and what sort of relationship we should have with the EU and the wider world.

I want to hear your thoughts too. Please get in touch with my constituency office to book your place. It's totally non-party political, and also a chance to ask me any question you'd like as your local MP.


25 JUL 2016

Blue Sari is best of British

Douglas Carswell has congratulated the owners of the Blue Sari near Weeley Heath on being recognised in a national curry house competition.

The Blue Sari was the runner-up for East Anglia in this year's Tiffin Cup competition. It is a run to find the best South Asian restaurant in the country and also raises money for UK charities. This year, the beneficiaries were Water Aid and World Vision.

Douglas presented the owners of the Blue Sari, Russell and Sandy Uddin, with a certificate and embroidered apron as recognition of their success in the competition.

After meeting them, Douglas went on to say:

"I'm very pleased that I was able to meet Russell and Sandy at their restaurant. I know from experience how dedicated they are to their business.

"I hope this encourages folk in Clacton to visit the Blue Sari and sample their fantastic food!"


18 JUL 2016

Clacton MP puts pressure on Tendring Council to swiftly address Holland travellers

Douglas Carswell has written to the head of Tendring District Council to demand swift action to deal with a group of travellers in Holland.

In a letter to Ian Davidson, Douglas urged him to take a no-nonsense approach with the group which has now established itself near an Anglian Water pumping site off Pork Lane. In the letter, Douglas said:

"This is a recurring problem that is affecting Tendring. I appreciate that it is difficult, but I would encourage you to take swift action to deal with this issue and encourage them to move from the site. I firmly believe that this needs a no nonsense approach from yourself and the Council."

Constituents have been in touch with Douglas to raise their concerns about the recurring problems that Clacton has faced with travellers illegally pitching up on sites around the constituency.

Douglas went on to say:

"I've written to Ian Davidson to make sure that he's aware how constituents feel about this. Waiting time and again for a court summons to take effect is not the best way to deal with this.

"The costs keep mounting for the council, and yet we get nowhere. Urgent action is required to handle the situation and permanently move the travellers on."


12 JUL 2016

Clacton MP welcomes Ravens Academy recognition

Douglas Carswell has praised the work of a primary school in Clacton and its staff.

Ravens Academy in Clacton, part of the Academy Transformation Trust, has shown significant Ofsted and Key Stage 2 results improvement. 93% of pupils achieve at least Level 4 in writing, reading and maths, above the Essex and England average.

Douglas attended an awards ceremony at the House of Commons on Monday to celebrate the achievements of the Academy and its principal, Karen Hammond, and English coordinator Karen Tinik.

After the awards, Douglas went on to say:

"Ravens Academy has shown fantastic improvement in recent years under Karen's leadership. I'm delighted to see the school's staff and pupils value her so much. Results have improved 60% in English under her watch, and I hope this great form will continue for many years."


04 JUL 2016

Local MP calls for better ambulance response times

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell has called for improved ambulance response times after more evidence has come to light of deteriorating service and rising demand.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has seen a marked decline in the number of calls reached within 8 minutes. In April 2016, the most recent period for which data is available, just 60.8% of Red 1 (immediately life-threatening) callouts reached their destination within 8 minutes. This represents the second worst performing ambulance trust England.

EEAST is planning major changes to its operating model. As part of these, it plans to develop clinical hubs in the Emergency Operations Centres, where 999 calls are first received. This will be used to deliver care or interventions over the phone, rather than dispatching ambulances immediately. The ambulance trust also plans to develop a new model of 'hear and treat' and 'see and treat', in addition to conveyance to hospital.

There was also positive news from EEAST, with the fire service now collaborating to offer first aid to patients around East Anglia, in the event of a cardiac arrest. In the last two years, EEAST has also recruited 750 student paramedics.

Douglas went on to say:

"I'm concerned about the East of England's ambulance service plans. It's great that more clinicians are being trained up, but I fear that over-the-phone treatment will not be a great help to those that really need it.

"As we've seen with the 101 phone service, I think the new operating model will disadvantage patients further. Clinical staff should be focused on physically delivering care, not delaying its use."


27 MAY 2016

Primary care crisis in Clacton, says MP

Douglas Carswell has written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to express alarm at what he calls a primary care crisis in Clacton.

Three out of four GP surgeries in the town are no longer taking new patients. A number of GPs have now resigned or retired, and there is now a chronic shortage of doctors.

Douglas said, "I am very alarmed about this, because several years ago I took a delegation of GPs to meet with the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, in London. They explained in some detail what was likely to happen if the Government did not do more to recruit more GPs. Everything they said in that room has come to pass. The Government needs to recognise that there are simply not enough medical students going into General Practice. I suspect that decades of being micro-managed by officialdom mean that it is simply not attracting enough medical students.

"Our part of Essex is at the forefront of this unfolding disaster. Not only are we at the end of the line on a peninsula, but with a relatively older demographic, the pressures on GP surgeries are all the more acute. The Secretary of State now needs to recognise that there is a problem, and needs to ensure that we train enough GPs in this country to provide primary care to local people who pay for GP cover through their taxes."


23 MAY 2016

Douglas Carswell presents cheque to Clacton charity

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell last week presented a cheque from Clacton Dental Care to an animal rescue charity in the constituency.

Last Hope Rescue is a volunteer-run organisation focused on finding new homes for abandoned and neglected dogs. It arranges for treatment by vets on their arrival, and organises new homes for the animals. Clacton Dental Care provided a donation of £641.13.

"Last Hope Rescue does fantastic work for stray and abused dogs in the constituency. The volunteers are incredibly dedicated to the animals they care for and are very keen on finding a loving owners for the animals. As a dog owner myself, I know how valuable their efforts are.

"It was a pleasure to meet the staff and I hope they continue for many years to come."


15 MAY 2016

Local MP welcomes recognition of Clacton Indian restaurant

Douglas Carswell has congratulated a Clacton restaurant on being selected to enter a prestigious UK restaurant awards.

Douglas nominated the Blue Sari, near Little Clacton, for the 2016 Tiffin Cup, a competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in the country.

The Blue Sari will enter the regional final and all entrants will be invited to the House of Commons for the final of the competition on 12th July. The Tiffin Cup also raises money charity. This year, World Vision and Water Aid will be the beneficiaries.

Douglas went on to say:

"I am delighted that the nomination for the Blue Sari has been accepted and will take part in this year's Tiffin Cup. This is such a prestigious competition and I look forward to welcoming the Blue Sari to the House of Commons.

"I am sure everyone in Clacton will be rooting for the Blue Sari to become Tiffin Cup 2016 champions."


12 MAY 2016

Douglas Carswell invited to Buckingham Palace

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell joined the Prime Minister and Archbishop of Canterbury at a formal event at Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen's 90th birthday.

In his capacity as UKIP's Westminster parliamentary leader, he joined other leaders and the Speaker of the Commons to present an Humble Address to Her Majesty on the occasion of her 90th Birthday.

Douglas added:

"I was thrilled to meet the Queen."


10 MAY 2016

Clacton MP seeks fair deal for Clacton commuters

Local MP Douglas Carswell has kept up the pressure on the government to make sure that Tendring rail commuters get a better deal.

In a series of written questions to the Department for Transport submitted earlier this month, Douglas asked Claire Perry, junior minister at the Department, to ensure more frequent trains to Clacton and Walton. In her response, the minister said:

"We have already set out the minimum levels of service in the invitation to tender for East Anglia...That tends to be based on whether there is a commercial case for improving services further."

Douglas also asked about improving punctuality and fewer cancellations, as well as new rolling stock.

The franchise for the East Anglia franchise, which includes the London Liverpool Street to Clacton line, is due to change in October 2016. FirstGroup, National Express and Abellio, the current operator, have all submitted bids. A final decision from the Department for Transport is expected during the summer.

Douglas went onto say:

"Clacton, Walton and Thorpe commuters have long suffered from Abellio's terrible record of service and punctuality. Of course all franchisees have a commercial imperative for their operations, but their monopoly on the line should not be abused.

"I do hope the Transport Department considers very carefully the next franchise. Commuters in our part of Essex need a reliable train service that can at least try to justify the £5,300 annual season ticket price tag."


05 MAY 2016

Douglas Carswell praises local charity Open Road

Douglas Carswell has praised Open Road for their work helping addicts recover from drug and alcohol dependency.

Open Road is a leading drug and alcohol addiction support charity in East Anglia, which works with both recovering addicts and their families.

Douglas was the Guest of Honour at the official relaunch of Open Road's Clacton Centre last week.

Speaking about Open Road, Douglas said:

"It is wonderful to be able to support the work of Open Road. I am their number one fan in Essex. Open Road does an enormous amount to improve the lives of people with drug and alcohol addictions.

It is a wonderful example of charity clearing up the mess left by government."


28 APR 2016

Douglas Carswell puts constituents first

"What is it like being my party's only MP in Parliament?", I am often asked.

A lot of fun, is the short answer. Meetings of the Parliamentary party tend to be a lot shorter for a start.

Obviously it means more work. With the EU referendum looming, I have never been busier. But our part of Essex always comes first. I put local constituency issues ahead of anything in Westminster.

There are simply not enough GPs. It is disgraceful that many folk cannot be seen by a doctor when they need one. Having led a delegation of local GPs to see the Health minister in person, and warn him of the problems to come, nothing has been done to deal with them.

Now we face the closure of Peter Bruff ward at Clacton hospital to save a few quid.

As your MP, I have raised these issues repeatedly with ministers and officials - from the Secretary of State for Health, to the local director of NHS England. Our local healthcare services urgently need improvement, and I will keep pressuring the Government to ensure they get it.

Ministers cannot find the money to keep open Peter Bruff or provide enough GPs. Yet they found enough money to spend £9.3 million on a referendum leaflet to tell us what to think. I sent my copy back to Downing Street.

One thing I love about being your MP is that I get to meet lots and lots of people. At my regular advice surgeries, I am never sure who is going to walk in next.

Well done to local councillors Lis Bennison and Andy Pemberton, who hold their regular surgery at the Coastal Community Centre. I went along too. They are available to help local people regardless of party politics. Which is precisely how it should be.

My local surgeries are normally at either Clacton or Frinton libraries. Make an appointment if I can help.


19 APR 2016

NHS bosses drag their feet on Clacton’s GP surgeries, says Douglas Carswell

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell has this week condemned the inaction of local NHS bosses towards Clacton's GP surgeries.

East Lynne, Ranworth and St. James' surgeries have all closed their lists to new patients. Three GP partners at the East Lynne Medical Centre recently announced their resignation, citing excessive bureaucratic burdens and the inadequate numbers of GPs in the area.

In a response from NHS England Midlands and East, the Director of Commissioning Operations asserted that "NHS England will continue to work with Clacton Practices to ensure that the patient population that they serve receive appropriate GP services." The letter also went on to say that the chief reason for closing their lists was because of "GP and nurse recruitment difficulties."

Douglas went on to say:

"This is a wholly inadequate response from NHS England. Giving vague assurances that the lists will re-open, or that folk in Clacton can make do by going to Great Clacton or Crusader surgeries, is simply not good enough.

"People need access to well-staffed surgeries that are close to them. As well as the closure of Peter Bruff ward and downsizing of NHS services already taking place in the constituency, this does not bode well for residents."


11 APR 2016

Local MP condemns government's use of taxpayers’ money for EU propaganda

"NHS bosses have shut Peter Bruff ward at Clacton Hospital to save a few quid – but ministers managed to find £9.3m to tell us what to think," said Douglas Carswell. "It's not right."

Douglas has this week strongly criticised the government for using taxpayers' money to produce pro-EU propaganda in the run-up to the EU referendum.

The leaflet campaign, announced last week, will cost £9.3m and be posted to 27m households across the UK. The leaflets will start arriving in English households from this week. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish households will receive theirs after the local and devolved assembly elections in May. A website has also been created to promote the contents of the leaflet.

Douglas has submitted written parliamentary questions to the government, asking what the total cost will be and how this funding was obtained.

Douglas went on to say:

"Each week we have to send £350m to Brussels. Imagine if we could spend that on the NHS instead. We would save Peter Bruff and ensure these were enough GPs locally."


14 MAR 2016

War veteran finally awarded the Legion medal following Douglas Carswell intervention

Local MP Douglas Carswell has helped a Royal Navy veteran from Clacton receive France's highest decoration.

Ronald Hendrey took part in the liberation of France 72 years ago and served aboard HMS Ulster during the D-Day landings in June 1944. Ronald has been made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

His efforts have now been fully recognised, after Douglas wrote to the French Embassy and Ministry of Defence on Ronald's behalf.

In the letter to Ronald confirming the decision, the French Embassy said that:

"We owe our freedom and our security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life." 

 

 

 

 


07 MAR 2016

Douglas Carswell condemns Peter Bruff ward closure

Local MP Douglas Carswell is taking action against the proposal to close the Peter Bruff ward in Clacton Hospital and move all mental health services to Colchester.

North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust announced last week that the ward will move to Colchester by July 2016. The decision was taken in February by board members of the partnership without prior consultation.

In October 2015, the partnership denied that they had plans to close the ward.

In response, Douglas said:

"This announcement is terrible news for those in Clacton and the rest of my constituency who currently use, or will have a need, for the services at Peter Bruff.

"On many occasions, constituents have written into to say they simply don't have the means or time to make a visit to Colchester.

"I've written to the head of the North Essex Partnership asking precisely why they've chosen to move this service away from people in my constituency, and why, after a decision taken to retain the ward in Clacton some years ago, they have now apparently changed their mind.

"I am angry that they did not openly and publicly explain what they intended to do before making the decision."


01 MAR 2016

Constituents need better advice on 999 and 111, says local MP

Local MP Douglas Carswell this week asked the government to ensure that the 111 NHS number is used more effectively.

Douglas asked the minister for community and social care, Alistair Burt, to review the 111 service, to ensure that it is used more frequently for non-emergencies, instead of 999.

The East of England Ambulance Service saw its busiest ever January; Essex saw 26,642 calls made to 999.

In his reply, the minister said that "111 services are commissioned by local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that should ensure all the services they commission are effective."

Douglas has repeatedly received casework from constituents who struggle to attend appointments at GP surgeries and Colchester Hospital, and went on to say:

"The 111 service should provide a ready way to ease the burden on 999 callouts. Yet all too often, people are being misdirected.

"Numerous constituents, especially from more rural parts like, St. Osyth, have written in to say that they don't have the means or physical ability to make an appointment. If this is the case, 111 should be the best source of advice to people who need to find alternative ways of getting there.

"East of England Ambulance Service do excellent work. But a more joined-up approach to helping patients seems to be somewhat lacking."


23 FEB 2016

Local MP presses government for better broadband for all in Clacton

Douglas Carswell this month wrote to the government to ask when their plan for superfast broadband roll-out will fully reach Essex's small and medium sized companies.

In a parliamentary question to Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture and the digital economy, his Department replied that "93% of homes and businesses in Essex will have access to superfast broadband" by the completion of phase two of the Superfast Broadband Programme.

The Programme aims to extend superfast broadband coverage to 95% of the UK by December 2017.

Douglas recently signed up to a cross-party campaign, which calls for the BT to sell off its internet service, Openreach.

After the response to the question, Douglas went on to say that:

"I think it's good news that the government is committed to better broadband for all in the UK. But I am slightly disappointed that Essex homes and businesses still seem to be missing out.

"The extension of superfast broadband is a wonderful innovation. Yet small businesses in my constituency, who need to rely on consistent access to the best possible broadband, will still be missing out.

"We need some brave solutions to this persistent problem. BT's sale of Openreach would be the first step towards that."


09 FEB 2016

Douglas Carswell pushes for real action for Clacton patients

Local MP Douglas Carswell has written to the government to ask what more can be done for three Clacton GP surgeries that are no longer accepting patients.

In a written parliamentary question to Alistair Burt, Minister for Community and Social Care, Douglas asked if additional resources can be provided to the Clinical Commissioning Group overseeing the surgeries, North East Essex.

In his reply, the minister stated that "NHS England advises that it is working with these practices to agree actions needed to re-open their lists in the near future."

Currently, St. James' and Ranworth Surgeries, and East Lynne Medical Centre, all in Clacton, are not accepting new patients onto their books.

Douglas went on to say:

"I've had folk from across the constituency write in to say how frustrating this is for them.

"The government needs to think very carefully about how it can attract, recruit and retain enough GPs for areas like Clacton, so that surgeries aren't unduly burdened with new demand from patients.

"I'm encouraged that NHS England appears to be working on this, but will keep in touch with ministers and the relevant NHS authorities until this is resolved."


02 FEB 2016

Rising customer satisfaction with Abellio Greater Anglia still hides persistent problems, argues Douglas Carswell

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell this week questioned the usefulness of new customer satisfaction research on Abellio Greater Anglia.

The survey, carried out by rail passenger watchdog, Transport Focus showed that Abellio Greater Anglia was the most improved UK rail franchise, with the overall satisfaction level rising from 75% to 81% during spring and autumn 2015.

However, the data also shows this level to be lower than the national average, and satisfaction was no greater amongst Abellio's customers with respect to the frequency of trains or their punctuality. Compared to 25 other rail franchises, Abellio was fifth from bottom.

The consultation to determine who has the franchise on the Clacton to London Liverpool Street route concluded in December 2015, with a decision expected on the franchise in June 2016.

After the data release, Douglas commented:

"Abellio Greater Anglia has for too long focused on piecemeal improvements in their service for commuters: the odd lick of paint here, some new rolling stock there.

"What really matters to constituents are the frequency and consistency of their train service. Persistently poor service is not acceptable to us in other industries and services. Why should that be the case with how we get to work?

"I hope the Department for Transport thinks long and hard about the next franchise."


26 JAN 2016

Local MP supports cross-party campaign for better broadband in Clacton

Douglas Carswell signed up to a cross-party campaign which calls on BT to sell off its broadband service Openreach.

The report, which was authored by MP Grant Shapps and co-signed by 121 MPs, notes that BT's subsidiary Openreach has so far received £1.7bn in taxpayer subsidies, yet delivers poor consumer service: 5.7m do not have acceptable broadband speeds, of whom 61% live in rural areas.

The report, 'Broadbad', also describes the dangers of BT's increasingly high market share, causing an estimated £11bn in lost productivity in the UK. This is proving problematic for small businesses and households alike. Clacton sits in the bottom 20% for average download speed out of all the UK's constituencies.

Douglas said that:

"I've had constituents write in from Thorpe and Weeley saying how appalling their internet connection.

"BT have a responsibility unlike other broadband providers, by both maintaining the infrastructure and selling the product onto consumers. Too much time and taxpayers' money has been given to BT over the years for shoddy work.

"It's time Openreach and BT were separated, to bring real choice and competition to those in rural areas especially."


18 JAN 2016

Clacton MP pushes for the end of taxpayers’ money for wind farms

Douglas Carswell this month asked the government when they plan to end the use of taxpayers' money propping up wind power projects.

Douglas asked the energy and climate change minister, Andrea Leadsom, what plans she has to reduce public subsidies for onshore and offshore wind subsidies. In reply, the minister said that:

"Projects such as Gunfleet Sands provide enough clean electricity for over 100,000 homes following hundreds of millions of pounds invested by the developer, much of which was spent locally. As we have made clear, however, we have to get the right balance between supporting newer technologies such as offshore wind and being tough on subsidies to keep bills as low as possible. We will always be working towards making technologies subsidy-free."

After the question time in the Commons, Douglas went on to say:

"Onshore wind turbines on the edge of Clacton eat up public money and subsidies.

"The government needs to ask itself, if these schemes are so popular, why can't the developers and investors support them independent of taxpayers' money?

"Clacton constituents and people up and down the country who struggle with energy bills would be in a far better place, were it not for the subsidies that her Department insist on providing."


23 DEC 2015

Douglas Carswell speaks up for Clacton commuters

Local MP Douglas Carswell last week took part in a House of Commons debate on the train service to Essex.

Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, raised concerns about the quality and frequency of train services for East Anglia counties. Other MPs highlighted the poor level of infrastructure and trains in use. The trains minister, Claire Perry MP, focused on the need for new rolling stock.

The franchise is up for renewal in October 2016, with FirstGroup and National Express bidding for it, along with the current operator, Abellio. The deadline for the bids closed on December 17.

In the debate, Douglas raised the issue of Network Rail corporate governance. Douglas said that:

"Regardless of who is awarded the franchise, does the Minister agree that unless we address the fundamental issue of corporate governance and accountability, and the underlying problem, which is Network Rail and its mediocre service, we will not see the transformative change she wants?"

In her response, the minister said that "we have made huge progress on Network Rail's governance. It is now an arm's length body." The minister did not directly address Douglas point that real change is only possible with tackling the way Network Rail is run.

Douglas has repeatedly and consistently raised the issue of the unaccountable corporate governance of Network Rail. Network Rail became a central government body in the public sector in September 2014, which means that its £30bn debt is now part of the government's accounts.

After the debate, Douglas made clear that:

"Clacton commuters, and indeed all those who live in Essex, desperately need a better rail service. Changing the franchise and even introducing new rolling stock are of course welcome, but simply won't solve the key problem.

"Network Rail has a labyrinthine governance and accountability structure which must be addressed. Time and again, transport ministers have come to the House of Commons and insisted that they are powerless to introduce real reform of the body, because of the arm's length nature of Network Rail.

"I'm sure Sir Peter Hendy is well qualified for his new role at Network Rail. But the government must lay out a plan which stops repeated failures. These effect commuters and franchisees up and down the county."


15 DEC 2015

Local MP welcomes energy suppliers’ support

Douglas Carswell this week welcomed the news that Tendring Council will encourage vulnerable residents to make use of energy firms' free services.

Tendring Council's Rural Infrastructure Working Party has recently promoted energy suppliers' scheme which seek to offer free help and assistance, such as priority reconnection if supply is interrupted, and free quarterly meter readings. British Gas, for instance, has a free yearly gas safety check.

In addition to these free services, many households also struggle with heating a home. Heating costs can be especially burdensome for the elderly, with the most recent government figures showing that households with an occupant over 60 have a fuel poverty gap of £450 on average. Such schemes, however, do not specifically address heating costs.

Douglas said of the council's announcement:

"It's right that the council encourages constituents to make use of these services. Constituents come and see me who struggle to make medical appointments or see family because the big energy firms make it hard enough.

"Whilst this won't directly address energy costs, I think it also helps to highlight that energy firms are still getting away charging the most vulnerable high amounts.

"Those who are older or struggle to get around will have higher heating costs for their home. I think the energy firms should recognise that and provide some additional help."


08 DEC 2015

Local MP keeps up the pressure on help for Jaywick

Douglas Carswell MP this week asked the government to better address constituents' concerns about the future of Jaywick.

In a written question response from Brandon Lewis, minister for housing and planning, the government said that a Jaywick Coastal Community Team plan is to be completed by January 2016. Douglas also asked about what resources are being provided to improve the quality of housing, with the government responding that:

"Tendring Council received £1.8 million in New Homes Bonus in 2015-16 and a total of £5.2 million since the scheme started in 2011-12."

Douglas met with Ian Gunn, a local Brooklands campaigner, to support a local petition which condemned the way that Jaywick and Brooklands are portrayed through TV documentaries.

Douglas went on to say that:

"For too long, Brooklands and Jaywick have been ignored by central government and Tendring Council

"It's great news that real action seems to be on the way through the Community Team, but local residents know all too well that problems haven't been addressed for many years. I look forward to seeing the new economic plan for the area and how it progresses, and I'll continue to press the government for its implementation."


30 NOV 2015

Cutting the cost of politics

Local MP Douglas Carswell welcomed the government's decision in the Autumn Statement to cut Short Money funding to political parties, following UKIP's lead.

Short Money is public funding for non-government political parties, which must be used to support their parliamentary operations. Using a pre-determined funding formula which takes account of seats and votes in the general election, UKIP's entitlement this year was over £650,000. Douglas refused to spend that amount, returning hundreds of thousands of pounds back to the taxpayer.

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that this taxpayer funded support would be cut by 19%, in part because UKIP forced a rethink on the matter. By not taking the full Short Money allowance, Douglas has demonstrated that Westminster politics can be done for less.

Other opposition parties are opposed to the cut. The Labour Party, which is entitled to £6.3m, described the move as "despicable."

Douglas said that "this is fantastic news for taxpayers up and down the country. The big establishment parties simply don't get it that politics can be done for so much less than they think. I made clear after the general election that UKIP would be taking some, but nothing like all, of the allocation we are allowed.

"Three cheers to Tendring Council for cutting their allowance by 16.5%. If local government can deliver more for less to the people of Essex, so too can Westminster and central government."


23 NOV 2015

Carswell seeks action over Tendring travellers

Local MP Douglas Carswell this month raised the problem of illegal traveller camps in and around Clacton.

Travellers have been moving around the constituency to different sites in St. Osyth, Great Holland and most recently the Martello Car Park in Clacton, sometimes causing real problems in our communities. In a written question response from Brandon Lewis, minister for housing and planning, the government made clear that police already have existing powers to direct those not authorised to be on land to move on. The minister also said that:

"The Government sent the summary of powers document to all Council Leaders, Police Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners in England."

Some of those powers, contained in the 1994 Public Order Act, gives the police the ability to move on travellers, particularly if they have caused damage or offence.

Douglas went on to say:

"It's right that Essex police has the power to do something about this. But I also think that Tendring council and our police and crime commissioner need to do more about this problem.

"For too long, people around the constituency have had to endure the nuisance that some of these travellers can cause. The powers to do something about this are there, so it's high time the PCC and the council had a real plan to deal with it."


16 NOV 2015

Local MP and campaigners stand up for Jaywick

Douglas Carswell met this week with Brooklands residents to discuss the way TV programme makers have misrepresented our area.

Ian Gunn, a local campaigner from Brooklands, gave Douglas a petition signed by over 1000 people who feel let down.

The petition objects to TV programmes made about Jaywick. Douglas has promised action for local people over the subject matter of the shows.

Douglas went on to say:

"Over the past few months, a mockumentary has been made about our area. It is designed to sneer and denigrate Jaywick, so I'll be writing to Ofcom, the TV regulator, about it.

"Any company with a licence to broadcast has a public interest obligation when broadcasting. These programmes simply cannot be viewed as part of that public interest. Ofcom should seriously consider whether these programme makers should have their licence."


10 NOV 2015

Carswell seeks assurances from government over Clacton knife crime

Local MP Douglas Carswell has raised with the government the dangers of curtailing stop and search powers for Essex Police.

Douglas asked what assessment the government has made of changing the guidelines for stop and search, and the effect it might have on knife-crime in Tendring. The response from the minister of state for policing, Mike Penning, said that "No assessment has been made of the effect on knife crime or other offences... statistical evidence does not suggest a clear relationship between changes in the use of stop and search and knife crime."

The new guidelines were introduced by the coalition government and clarify what constitutes reasonable grounds for suspicions. They amended existing stop and search powers and came into force in March 2015.

Douglas said "I am slightly worried about the government's apparent lack of concern over how stop and search powers operate. It's right that those in the police who abuse their stop and search powers face consequences. But I fear that PCs on the beat might feel uncomfortable using them at all, with the unintended consequence of rising knife crime as a result."

Douglas will continue to ensure that police stations across the constituency remain as well staffed as possible. Last week, he voted for a Labour motion which called on the government to protect frontline police work and slow the reduction in funding over the next few years.


02 NOV 2015

Carswell pushes a better deal for Clacton commuters

Douglas Carswell has this week submitted parliamentary questions to the Department for Transport asking what more can be done to help Tendring commuters.

The franchise, currently held by Abellio Greater Anglia, will potentially change from October 2016. Currently, C2C, part of National Express, First East Anglia and Abellio Greater Anglia all plan to bid for the franchise. Abellio has been plagued by numerous problems and low commuter satisfaction since taking on the franchise in 2012.

Douglas said:

"Only this morning, we saw yet another series of delays and misery for Tendring commuters trying to get to work. Abellio's announcement last week that they'll spend £700,000 on a spot of carriage cleaning is too little, too late."

Douglas has submitted questions asking what more can be done to improve the frequency of service and ensure that the new franchisee is held to a higher standard.


27 OCT 2015

Opening Up the Family Courts

I've written a paper with someone in my Westminster team, Duncan Simpson. Do have a look:

Opening Up the Family Courts, published by the UKIP PRU


26 OCT 2015

Douglas piles on the pressure for real action at Colchester Hospital

Douglas Carswell MP has called for direct ministerial intervention to sort out the problems at Colchester Hospital.

After a litany of failures at the hospital, many of which have affected Clacton residents, regulators have been called in following a highly critical report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which drew particular attention to the hospital's surgery and medical care inpatient wards.

Douglas is very disappointed after writing to the Department of Health about what more can be done for Colchester Hospital patients. A response from the care quality minister, Ben Gummer, said "I do not believe that Ministerial intervention into the Trust is warranted". Instead, assurances that a "multi-agency risk summit" and a buddy support system from Basildon Hospital were offered. Monitor, the NHS foundation trust regulator, is also awaiting a comprehensive inspection report the CQC before taking further action.

Douglas went on to say:

"Colchester Hospital has had months to get its act together. Whilst bureaucrats meet to talk about what's gone wrong, the people who rely on those services carry on suffering from the foundation trust's ineptitude. The government now needs to step up and get involved directly."


12 OCT 2015

Local MP supports super-fast broadband rollout

Douglas Carswell MP has welcomed the government's commitment to super-fast broadband and the funding that has been given to Essex.

The government's Superfast Broadband Programme means that the majority of homes in Clacton are now benefitting from superfast coverage, in conjunction with existing commercial arrangements from private companies. This means that by June 2017, 96% of Clacton homes will have such coverage.

As part of the government's programme, some of the money invested can be 'clawed back' when the take up of such broadband exceeds a certain level. As a result, £1.9m will be allocated to Essex so that the rollout can continue to be delivered to more homes and businesses.

Douglas was also encouraged to see that this topic is now being debated in parliament, as took place in the House of Commons on 12th October.


12 OCT 2015

Douglas urges government to take meaningful action for Jaywick

Local MP Douglas Carswell this week condemned the government's inaction over the provision of housing in Jaywick, after the government's own figures indicated that it is the most deprived area in the country.

The report, English Indices of Deprivation, showed that after 5 years, Jaywick's Brooklands suffered from poor levels of employment, housing quality and income, according to the government's metrics used to assess deprivation.

Douglas said:

"People in Jaywick are not just Government statistics to me. Jaywick is once again at the bottom of the table because of idiotic policy coming out of Whitehall and the town hall."

The MP went on to argue that planning laws have meant that local residents have been let down:

"Official planning restrictions have prevented any significant new housing investment for 40 years. Until planning rules are liberalised and capital can be invested in Jaywick the downward spiral will continue."

Douglas has submitted questions to the government asking what specifically can be done to improve the area, particularly in regards to housing and better planning regulations.


06 JUL 2015

Carswell sets the agenda on Network Rail shake up

Network Rail is fundamentally flawed, and there needs to be a radical shake up of its structure.

That is what Clacton's local MP told the House of Commons in January this year - and now it seems ministers agree.

"Clacton, Frinton and Walton have been appallingly let down by Network Rail. We have had endless disruptions to services and line closures," says Douglas. "If they were a proper business, they would have gone out of business."

"But Network Rail is a quango, funded by the taxpayer, able to treat fare paying customers with contempt," he added. "Over 60 percent of train delays are caused by Network Rail."

As UKIP's first MP, Douglas helped trigger a Westminster Hall debate at the beginning of this year. He called for fundamental changes to the cozy clique running Network Rail. Douglas also asked Leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, last Thursday if he would allow a debate on Network Rail governance.

Ministers initially dismissed Carswell's call for a shake up of the rail quango, but last week conceded that change was needed.

Network Rail chairman Richard Parry-Jones has now gone.

"Ministers have been inept. It was clear that Network Rail is doing a dreadful job. Instead of defending the overpaid quangocrats running our rail network into the ground, ministers should have sacked them.

"We won't get a properly functioning train service between our part of Essex and London until we have a Network Rail management that answers to the rest of us."


11 MAR 2015

Local MP highlights "cartel" banking

Douglas Carswell triggered a House of Commons debate about the financial services cartel last week.

"Billions have been spent bailing out the banks," explains Douglas "yet we have created a cartel in financial services."

Douglas was prompted to raise the issue by constituents who believe they had been mis-sold financial service products.

"Some local people were mis-sold interest rate swaps. Others are victims of the Equitable Life fiasco," said Douglas. "We need a financial services system that puts customer service ahead of tick box compliance."

"The regulators' obsession with compliance has meant some in the financial service sector have lost sight of the customer."

Speaking in the House of Commons chamber, Douglas showed that a lack of choice and competition in financial services has led to poor outcomes for Britons.

"In Germany, there are over 400 banks. In Britain, we have half a dozen. This makes things much too cosy - and the customer suffers."

He went on to say:

"Choice and competition are always and everywhere a good thing. They drive up standards, force innovation and always manage to give customers better value...but I simply do not think that there is enough choice and competition when it comes to financial services. In fact, financial services in this country have in many respects become something of a cartel, in which the different provider interests do not have any incentive to give the customer what they want."

He added:

"In recent years there have been instances of alleged mis-selling in the financial sector, and people have been sold products on the basis of misinformation or facts that they regarded as misinformation. A constituent of mine was recently involved in the interest rate swap mis-selling scandal. That is not the first incident, and I fear it will not be the last."


02 MAR 2015

Carswell puts minister on the spot over GP shortage

Local MP Douglas Carswell put ministers on the spot last week over the length of time that it can take to see a GP in Clacton, Frinton and Walton.

Referring directly to the length of time it can take to see a GP locally, Douglas asked for ministers to recruit more doctors.

"Many young doctors are choosing not to go into general practice. That, coupled with the number of retiring GPs, is leading to real shortages in places such as Clacton," he pointed out.

"What more can be done to make general practice more attractive to young doctors, in order to offset the number of GPs who are retiring?"

In response, minister Daniel Poulter MP insisted that:

"A new £10 million investment fund has been put in place, and a new 10-point plan is being delivered by NHS England to look at how we can better incentivise younger doctors to work in areas in which it has traditionally been difficult to recruit."

Douglas followed up by tabling a written question specifically about the future of Epping Close surgery in Clacton.

"Local people have a growing sense of frustration and anger at the length of time that it sometimes takes to see a doctor," Douglas explained. "It's not the fault of local GPs if there aren't enough doctors," he added.

"Since I first raised concerns about GP shortages, a new Golden Hello scheme has come into effect to bring more doctors to local practices. But fundamentally, you cannot recruit what isn't there. Ministers need to increase the number of medical students going into general practice."


24 FEB 2015

Local MP meets with staff and patients at GP practice

Douglas Carswell spent time with doctors, staff and patients at a thriving local GP surgery in Thorpe-le-Soken last week.

"GPs are under a lot of pressure, yet here is a great success story of a thriving local surgery" explains Douglas. "I wanted to learn more about the success of the surgery and better understand the challenges that our local doctors and their team face".

Thorpe-le-Soken practice recently expanded, taking over and re-opening the Kirby Cross surgery.

"I spent time with Dr. Matthew Kattukaran, who has a first class understanding of local health needs and with local patients, who are very pleased with the service they get from their local surgery. The local patient group could not have been more complimentary about their local doctors".

Douglas added "Overall we face a shortage of local GPs in our part of Essex. This has meant that in some areas people have had to wait to see a GP. I want to ensure that we see real progress everywhere, and finding out what makes a successful GP surgery flourish is part of that".


24 FEB 2015

MP votes against police cuts - as clouds loom over local police station

Clacton's local MP, Douglas Carswell, voted in the House of Commons against government proposals to cut police spending by 5 percent across England and Wales. The government still won the vote, after forcing their own MPs to vote on a three line whip.

Cuts to the Essex police budget could mean the closure of Clacton and Walton police stations.

"With Essex police forced to reduce their budget, Police Commissioner Nick Alston is now actively considering the closure of our local police station" explains Douglas. "That would be absolutely terrible, and I am doing everything I can to fight it".

"Having chased and caught a criminal in Clacton, I know what a problem crime can be" Douglas said. "The key is that the police are able to respond quickly. That won't happen if these cuts mean the closure of our police station".

"Violent crime in Clacton is increasing. Shutting the local police station would be a major set back for our town. That is why I voted against this cut back in the Essex police budget".

"If the government had not issued a three line whip, I suspect that they might have lost the vote as many MPs I know are privately very worried about these cuts. As a UKIP MP, I am free to vote the way local people want, not the way that whips demand".


16 FEB 2015

Clacton, Frinton and Walton need a rail service we can rely on, insists local MP Douglas Carswell

Douglas Carswell has tabled questions in parliament challenging the government over persistent problems in rail links to Colchester and London.

"Every time there's an election, transport ministers come to Clacton – more often than not by car – and tell us what they're going to do to make things better. As someone who commutes from Clacton to London several times each week, I know how appalling the service can be"

What we need to see is action to sort out the line and to get a grip with Network Rail." Last week Douglas asked the following questions:

"If he [transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin] will make representations to Network Rail and Abellio Greater Anglia on introducing a higher frequency of train services on the line between London Liverpool Street and Clacton, particularly at weekday peak travel times"

He also asked the government if they "will take steps to improve Clacton railway station".

As well as this, Douglas triggered a debate in Westminster Hall about local rail services and Network Rail. He made the following points:

"On the Clacton line, which affects my constituency, weekend works have overrun several times, which has been very disruptive to commuters trying to get to work on Monday mornings. We routinely have problems and failures on the line and we have seen a lot of weekend closures. That is not very helpful to a seaside town that depends on a lot of weekend seaside tourists coming to visit it."

Boosting the local economy means ensuring we get a reliable rail service. Until ministers a get a grip, our area will have been left behind.

The government is planning on spending tens of billions on HS2. For a fraction of that sum, they could boost the economy of this area with a reliable rail line.


09 FEB 2015

Douglas raises concerns on behalf of local GPs directly in Parliament

Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell, raised concerns about local GP surgeries directly on the floor of the House of Commons.

During last week's debate over GP services, Douglas highlighted the enormous pressures that local doctors are now under. Referring to the Caradoc surgery, Douglas told the Commons that "In one Frinton surgery in my constituency, one doctor was trying to serve 8,000 patients."

"I wanted to highlight the pressure that local GPs are under" explains Douglas. "Ministers and MPs need to understand that the shortage of GPs we face is having a real impact on real people".

Douglas went on to propose some answers to the problem. "Part of the answer is to ensure far more attractive terms for would-be GPs" he told the Commons. "That does not necessarily mean higher salaries" for doctors, but less regulation, less tick box compliance and more respect as autonomous professionals.

"Local NHS bosses now have a scheme in place to try to attract more GPs to come and work here. In addition, they are looking to attract more salaried doctors" he added.

Douglas has also written to local NHS officials to find out what plans they have for the reopening of the Epping Close surgery.


02 FEB 2015

Villages say "No" to new housing

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has personally written to thousands of local residents in Thorpe, Kirby, Beaumont, Great Holland and Weeley to find out what local people think about the council's proposal to build 12,000 new houses.

The results show that opposition to the council's plans for 12,000 extra houses is overwhelming.

"I feel it is really important to listen to the views of people living in villages and more rural parts of the district. I know that opinion in St Osyth has been consistently against over development. This survey shows it is the same for our other villages too."

"Given the impact that the council's plans could have, I was especially keen to know what people living in some of the smaller communities felt about the plan for 12,000 extra houses."

"Of the thousands of forms I have had back, only a tiny handful are not opposed to all these extra houses. Opinion throughout the district is pretty overwhelming. The council needs to listen."

"Like most local people, I recognise the need for some additional housing. But the council has gone from wanting 6,000 new homes to wanting 12,000 extra houses. It is an extraordinary shift of policy and local councillors have yet to explain why."

"Fortunately the final decision on these 12,000 extra houses will not be made until after the May election. If folk want to stop these extra houses, we need a change on Tendring council."


02 FEB 2015

Put older folk at the heart of local decision-making, urges local MP

Decision makers in Tendring should listen to the views of older people, and ensure that their policies are supportive of older folk, suggests local MP, Douglas Carswell.

Last week, Douglas was invited to speak at a meeting of the Tendring Older People's Forum. Douglas listened to the Clinical Commissioning Group outline plans to improve social and health care for older people.

The Forum, open to those that work with older people locally, meets regularly at the council offices in Weeley. Douglas was invited to say a few words about some of the health concerns affecting older people in Clacton and across the district.

"There are a lot of concerns about GPs, and the fact that we don't have enough local doctors. There is also quite a lot of unease about Colchester hospital and ambulance response times" he explained.

"The Forum is a great way of ensuring that decision-makers listen to the views of older folk" Douglas added. "A lot of older people live in our area. That is because this is such an attractive place to live. But that does mean that local decision makers need to understand the views of older people."


23 DEC 2014

Local MP heralds defeat of wind turbine scheme

Douglas Carswell welcomed news that a monster wind turbine project near St Osyth has been defeated.

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Douglas raised the issues of the government's energy efficiency policies and how they adversely impact household bills for gas and electricity:

"Yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed that he is happy to see the levy control framework increase to £371 per year per household by 2020. At a time of falling oil prices and at a time when the shale gas revolution holds out the tantalising prospect of cheap energy, is not the Department carrying on subsidising windmills unnecessarily, and are we not making policy on the basis of outdated assumptions that need to revised?"

He went on to say:

"The Secretary of State reels off statistics about home insulation, rather like a Soviet-era apparatchik talking about tractor production. Thousands of homes in Jaywick were promised home insulation at the beginning of this year. Why, at the end of the year, have only a handful of homes had that insulation, and why has the promise that more homes would get it evaporated?"


23 DEC 2014

Wind mill policies to cost Britons almost £10bn by 2020

Douglas Carswell highlighted the outrageous subsidy given by central government to wind mill companies and for green policies, showing the disastrous impact on everyday energy bills.

By 2020, electricity and gas bills for Britons will include £348 that directly supports the government's levy control framework. This compares to a contribution £87 in 2012. As Douglas made clear to the Prime Minister last week:

"The levy control framework—the total cost added to energy bills and taxation by green targets—will rise from £2.3 billion in 2012 to £9.8 billion in 2020, at a time when many households are struggling to heat their homes. Does my hon. Friend think that is fair?"

Last Thursday, Douglas also questioned the climate change minister, Ed Davey, about the merits of his government's policies:

"At a time of falling oil prices and at a time when the shale gas revolution holds out the tantalising prospect of cheap energy, is not the Department carrying on subsidising windmills unnecessarily, and are we not making policy on the basis of outdated assumptions that need to revised?"


23 DEC 2014

Government’s Green Deal in Clacton a failure, says local MP

Douglas Carswell raised the issue of Jaywick home insulation in parliament by highlighting the failures of government policy.

The Green Deal, the government's flagship scheme to improve home insulation, has had a dire uptake, with only 4,000 plans having been initiated nationwide. Speaking in the House of Commons, Douglas made clear that:

"The Secretary of State reels off statistics about home insulation, rather like a Soviet-era apparatchik talking about tractor production. Thousands of homes in Jaywick were promised home insulation at the beginning of this year. Why, at the end of the year, have only a handful of homes had that insulation, and why has the promise that more homes would get it evaporated?"

Ed Davey, the climate change minister, ducked the question and suggested that "some energy efficiency schemes have not gone ahead".

Douglas will continue to make the case that Government incompetence and a focus on state planning will serve only to drive up energy bills for the people of Clacton.


23 DEC 2014

Douglas piles on the pressure over ambulance delays

The week before Christmas saw the some of the worst ambulance response times nationally. People in Clacton, Frinton and Walton have been affected, too.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, raised this problem directly with the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, on the floor of the Commons immediately before the Christmas break.

"It is important to recognise why there have been delays. Ambulances are not turning patients around at A&E fast enough. And that in turn is because lots of folk, unable to see a GP, are simply turning up at A&E".

"The failure to provide enough local GPs is having a knock on effect – and it is putting extra pressure on ambulances".

The percentage of patients being seen within four hours at A&E in England was under 90%, the worst performance since monitoring began in 2010. "Folk have a right to expect an ambulance to arrive quickly in an emergency" said Douglas. "Things were simply not good enough in 2014. As the local MP, I will pile on the pressure in 2015 to make certain that the problems with ambulances are fixed".

As Douglas said in the House of Commons:

"There have been serious problems with ambulance response times in Clacton. I recognise that the ambulance trust is addressing some of them, and I recognise that the Secretary of State is taking genuine steps, not least in establishing proper inspection systems, which is fantastic. However, many of the problems have been connected with turnaround times at Colchester hospital's A and E department. Would it not be helpful if patients could access primary care via GPs in the first place rather than being forced to go to A and E departments? Emergency care would be then accessible in emergencies".

Jeremy Hunt responded by saying that "The long-term solution is to provide more GPs and GP capacity, which is why we plan to train 5,000 more GPs over the course of the next Parliament, but that will take time, so we need to find shorter-term solutions. We are working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to establish what can be done in the short and medium term".


18 NOV 2014

Douglas visits excellent local care home

Corner House Care Home in Wash Lane, Clacton invited Douglas for an afternoon of bingo, tea and biscuits.

Douglas chatted to local residents, met staff and cut a ribbon to mark the launch of a new at home care service.

"It was a fun visit. I always enjoy my visits to Corner House. They have such a dedicated team of staff".


04 NOV 2014

Benefit migration? What benefit migration, says minister

The minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, yesterday denied that benefit migration was happening in Clacton.

Challenged by Clacton MP Douglas Carswell in Parliament about the impact of the benefit cap, Mr Duncan Smith claimed "there has been very little movement". He went on to say that if there was benefit migration caused by the benefit cap, it was no more than "about five miles".

"Iain has got this wrong" explained Douglas. "Benefit migration is happening, and happening in our area right now. As a result of the benefit cap, families are being squeezed out of London and ending up in Clacton."

"I am all in favour of the benefit cap" Douglas went on "but Tendring council needs to be given proper legal powers to discourage benefit migration. Sadly, our council has had to abandon its policy of residency tests before paying out certain benefits."

"There could be as many as 1,600 people on benefit living locally able to back claim benefits thanks to ministerial incompetence. That is all money that has to come out of a local budget"

"Having more and more families moving from London to Clacton is putting pressure on local schools and GPs".

"Ministers need to wake up to what is happening. Benefit migration is happening in Clacton, and we need to tackle it"

Here is the full exchange between Douglas and the minister, recorded in Hansard:

Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (UKIP): As my right hon. Friend will know, the benefit cap is encouraging some people to move out of London, where rents are high, to areas such as Clacton and Thanet. Does he agree that local councils should be able to act to discourage benefit migration of that kind?

Mr Duncan Smith: There has been very little movement of more than about five miles from people's existing homes as a result of the benefit cap. Most people have settled, and many—two thirds—have either gone back to work or found alternative employment. Let me say to the hon. Gentleman that there is something called the discretionary housing payment, and his local council, like any other, can make decisions about how it modifies the process. It is up to councils to do that, and we leave it with them.


22 JUL 2014

MP holds meeting to discuss Clacton hospital

Douglas Carswell has held a meeting with local NHS bosses to discuss the future of Clacton hospital.

"After various changes to local services provided at the hospital, I wanted some assurance about the future of our local hospital" explains Douglas. "Local people have a right to expect certainty, and my job as their local representative is to make sure they get it".

Douglas discussed the different wards at the hospital and talked about the different treatment provided at the hospital with Gary Sweeney of North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Lucy Moore of Colchester Hospital Trust and Lynne Woodcock of ACE.

"With specialist services provided in larger hospitals and with technology enabling more things to be done by GPs, I feel it is important that Clacton hospital, and the services it offers, are not squeezed".

"I discussed my concerns – and was pleased with the answers I got. As we already know, the maternity unit is back up and running. I popped in to say "hello" to the team there, and they are doing a great job."

"Blood tests can now be done by GPs. If anything there will be more diagnostic tests available at Clacton hospital in future, not fewer"

But Douglas went on to warn "We do need to remain vigilant to guard against any cuts. We have a magnificent hospital. Let's make sure we use it and appreciate it to help safeguard it".


23 JUN 2014

Network Rail taken to task for endless cockups

"Enough is enough" says Douglas Carswell about the appalling delays to local rail services.

He has now written as the local MP to the head of Network Rail, criticising the organisation's corporate governance, and asking who amongst the "grandees" within the taxpayer backed organisation speaks up for the customer.

"Last Tuesday saw serious disruption to services between Frinton, Walton, Clacton and Liverpool Street. Only a few week's before that, services were cancelled on a Monday morning because Network Rail could not get their act together".

"As a regular commuter between London and Clacton, I know how frustrating it is when the trains are disrupted."

"People are willing to be patient when there are accidents. But not when there are serial cockups and no explaination of what went wrong".

"I have yet to get a proper explanation from Network Rail. What went wrong, why did it go wrong and who has been held to account".

"Local commuters have a right to know".


16 JUN 2014

Douglas visits local British Heart Foundation shop

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, was delighted to meet the group at the British Heart Foundation in the seaside area of Clacton-on-Sea on 13 June.

"I met a great team of volunteers raising funds" Douglas explains.

Douglas met Area Manager, Tracey Linnette who explained all that the British Heart Foundation do for the community.

"The British Heart Foundation really ought to be praised for all they do and we must remember to donate whatever we can for this fantastic charity" says Douglas.

 

Your local British Heart Foundation is located at:

38 Station Road,

Clacton-on-Sea,

CO15 1SX


16 JUN 2014

Knife Crime: MP backs plan to introduce harsher penalties for those carrying knives

Local MP Douglas Carswell will back an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill tomorrow calling for tougher penalties for those found carrying knives.

Clauses 6 and 7 would introduce a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of 6 months for a second conviction of unlawful possession of a knife. This would mean that if an individual is found carrying a knife for the second time, they will go to prison.

"I back this amendment because I think it is important that those carrying knives know that they are not going to get off lightly" said Douglas. "There have been a spate of knife crimes committed in Clacton in recent months and it must stop; we need tougher penalties and a better deterrent".

"Mandatory prison sentences will not only deter would-be criminals from carrying knives, but will also ensure that those who flout the law and carry a knife will be taken off the streets- this is a good thing for local folk who want to see an end to knife crime in the area" Douglas added.

Clauses 6 and 7 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will come before the House of Commons on Tuesday 17 June 2014.


16 JUN 2014

Douglas speaks to Clacton Bereaved Group

A local Clacton group set up to support the bereaved invited the local MP to their coffee morning.

Mary Powell, who set up the group several years ago, runs weekly meetings at the Carlton restaurant in the centre of Clacton. About 35 members turned up to hear Douglas talk about "A week in the life of your MP".

"It was a delight to be invited to meet the group. Mary and her team of volunteers run a magnificent group that really does help support people who have lost loved ones" explains Douglas.

"I am delighted to say that I did lots of listening, rather than most of the talking. I had lots of questions and discovered what a special group we have here, right in the middle of Clacton"

PHOTO: Douglas with Mary Powell of the Clacton Support Group for the Bereaved.


02 JUN 2014

Douglas meets local rail user group

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, met the local Rail Users Association, On Track, at the Methodist Church Hall in Frinton on Saturday.

"Local rail users are particularly angry about a spate of cancellations and delays on a Monday morning, the other week" explains Douglas. "Many local people are having to pay thousands of pounds for season tickets. They have a right to expect a good service".

Douglas outlined the action he has taken on their behalf, writing to local rail bosses to demand a proper explanation for the delays.

As the local MP, Douglas has also teamed up with other local MPs in East Anglia to try to get better investment in local rail infrastructure.

Douglas added "John Smock, the Chairman of OnTrack, and his team speak for thousands of local people who depend having a good rail service. Railways are a key life line for coastal towns and I am 100 percent on their side".


19 MAY 2014

Train disruption "unacceptable" - says Douglas

Monday morning train service cancellations today were unacceptable, says local MP, Douglas Carswell.

He has now written to Abellio Greater Anglia to find out why train services had to be cancelled - and to get some answers.

"It is simply not acceptable that train services between Clacton and London should be cancelled on a busy Monday morning" said Douglas.

"Local commuters pay large sums for the priveldge of travelling up and down to Colchester and London. It cannot be right that they suddenly find the service is not running at the start of the week".

"If it is the case that weekend engineering work overran, then someone at Abelio needs to face the music. That kind of cock up might be a reason for what went wrong, it is not an acceptable excuse"


19 MAY 2014

Holland on Sea Spring Fayre

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, opened the Tendring Specialist Stroke Services Spring Fayre - wielding a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon.

Dozens of residents packed the event in Holland on Sea on Saturday.

"Three cheers to Rosemary Garrey and her team" says Douglas. "As well as raising lots of money for local stroke survivors and their carers, we had fun!"

There was a plant sale, tombola, as well as a cake and bake stall. "I scoffed some magnificent home-made brownies, and all for a very good cause" Douglas added.

 

 

 

 

 




15 MAY 2014

Gazette column

Some people say Clacton, and our part of Essex, are in decline. Clacton's glory days, they tell us, ended when Butlin's shut in 1983, and it has been downhill ever since.

I disagree. I am proud of Clacton – and proud to represent our part of Essex.

The fundamental problem is not that Butlin's closed all those years ago. The problem has been years of often uninspiring civic leadership. For far too long, Tendring council has not been bold and ambitious enough for our area.

This has now changed, and we are beginning to see some startling results.

Last week, it was announced that Tendring council has managed to achieve Assisted Area Status. The effect of this is going to be felt for years to come, with money coming to the area in a way that simply never happened before. This is a major win for Mick Page, Ian Davidson and their team in the town hall.

Then there is the massive £36 million investment in the sea front for Holland-on-Sea and Clacton. It is almost four years since I called a meeting in the town hall with various parties to discuss the options. The money is now there – and the work is due to begin soon.

Do not think of this enormous new civil engineering project as just sea defences. Think of it as our beaches coming back, and our sea front restored. I spoke at a meeting of the Holland Beach Hut Owners Association the other day, and listening to Cllr Nick Turner's presentation, I could feel the excitement.

There has been a big fall in local unemployment over the past two years. Why? I think it owes something to the jobs fairs that the council and the local job centre have started to hold to help get the long term unemployed back into work.

Last week I got chatting to a local businessman who has opened up a brand new cafe, hiring several local people. Businesses like that have been helped by the council's bold decision to give every local council tax payer a free parking permit, which boosts foot fall in our towns.

To be sure, our area has problems. I am not at all complacent. Benefit migration remains a major issue, with too many people still moving to our area to live on benefits. Problem drinkers boozing in the town centre remain a problem, and I am working with the police and the council to call time on it.

But we do seem to have a council with some verve and vision. I am absolutely certain that with drive and determination, we really can make our area better.


06 MAY 2014

Clacton unemployment falls

The number of 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in Clacton is down 23.5% on this time last year.

"I know how frustrating it can be for young people to find work. That is why I am behind to local jobs fairs we have held in the town hall to help them find work. But efforts by the district council, the local job centre and Setec are producing results.

"Around 1 in 4 of those who were claiming JSA last year are now no longer looking for work" Douglas explains. "There are fewer unemployed people in Clacton today than a year ago - despite the issues of benefit migration that we have had".

There are lots of reasons for falling unemployment, not least the determination of people out of work to get work. However, part of the credit must also go to the council's free parking policy.

"This has dramatically increased foot fall in our town. More folk coming into Clacton, thanks to the free parking, is helping businesses to grow. Businesses are investing locally, and I know several firms that have created jobs as a direct consequence".

"Unemployed people in Clacton are not just statistics to me. Many of the young people out of work are people I know by name. I have helped several look for work, given advice on CVs and even got one young man an interview via Setec."


06 MAY 2014

Shoeburyness explosions - MP gets a result

Bangs and rumbles from the Shoeburyness site have been distubing Clacton and Frinton residents for years.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has finally persuaded the Ministry of Defence to scientifically re-assess the noise and vibrations - and to give the task to an independent organsiation.

After fierce lobbying from Douglas, who has raised the issue persistently, defence minister Anna Soubry MP has now confirmed that a number of property owners in Clacton are due to get monitoring equipment installed in their properties to assess the impact of the Shoeburyness explosions.

A company called Southdowns Environmental Consultants has contacted a number of people affected by the explosions to install the equipment to see what effect the Shoeburyness explosions are having.

Douglas says "I am very pleased indeed that we are getting a noise and vibration study. I know, as someone who lives locally, how noisy these explosions can be. It is not just on the seafront that you can hear them. I have heard them several miles inland on some days too"

"A lot of local people have contacted me over the years with concerns about the Shoeburyness explosions. I have been lobbying the Ministry of Defence relentlessly to try to get the site moved. I feel that we keep on being given the brush-off. I hope that now, as a result of this proper scientific assessment, we will get a true picture of the extent of the noise and disruption and that this will strengthen the case that we will make to ministers"


06 MAY 2014

Help for Heroes in Clacton

 

 

On Saturday, Help for Heroes sold hundreds of cakes on Christmas Tree Island in the centre of Clacton to raise funds for injured service men and women.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, turned up to show his support, and to buy some local home baked cakes.

"Three cheers to Paul Ballard, Help for Heroes local organiser, and his magnificent local team!

"They are heroes for organising this important local initiative to raise money for this charity."

Also attending was the Only Cowards Carry Knives cookie monster.

Douglas added "I bought a Help for Hero hat, which I now use when gardening, and I bought lots of cakes, which my family and friends scoffed over the weekend".

 

 



06 MAY 2014

Douglas shows Jeremy Hunt local petition

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, handed in the petition about local maternity services direct to the health minister, Jeremy Hunt.

"Our superb team of local campaigners collected over 2,000 signatures - and I wanted Jeremy to see for himself the strength of local feeling" explained Douglas.

"The good news is that local NHS bosses at Colchester hospital are having a meeting to decide the future of the maternity unit on June 12th. That is the key place where the decision is to be made.

"I have now written to the Colchester NHS board, highlighting the strength of local feeling, and asking them to reconsider the decision to shut the unit. The future of maternity services needs to be made on the basis of fact and a genuine consultation.

That means re-opening the unit, allowing the consultation to go ahead as orginally planned - and most important of all, allowing mums-to-be to express their views and preferences. It is their preferences and choices that must shape the provision of these services".

 


29 APR 2014

St Philomena's come to Westminster

The school council from St Philomena's Catholic School in Frinton today visited the Houses of Parliament, accompanied by their local MP, Douglas Carswell.

They had a special tour, which included a visit to the House of Lords, the Commons and some of the historic rooms used by the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament.

"It was a real delight to meet them. Showing constituents around the House of Commons is a part of my job I really enjoy" said Douglas.

"St Philomena's School council is elected. So we compared notes on election strategy" he added.

Local schools or residents wanting to visit the Houses of Parliament should get in touch with Douglas.


29 APR 2014

Petition to Jeremy Hunt

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, is due to hand over a petition signed by almost 2,000 local people to Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt.

"Following a weekend of protests against the threat to our local maternity unit, I will be personally delivering the petition we have collected to the minister" announced Douglas.

Douglas joined other local councillors, and residents, for a march in Clacton at the weekend.

"It was wonderful to see so many people coming out to support our campaign to defend the local maternity unit. Although the decision has been made by local NHS bosses in Colchester, and even if they tell us that this decisions is supposed to be "temporary", the health minister needs to know how local people feel".

 


 

 

 



22 APR 2014

Douglas meets St George

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, had a run in with St George at the Frinton Triangle.

The event, organised by the Frinton Rotary Club at the Frinton Triangle, was a celebration of all things St George, ahead of England's national day.

With live music and a barbecue, the event was also designed to boost local trade.

Douglas says "Well done to Frinton Rotary club. Yet again, they have organised a great local event. I had great fun with the family - and even won a coconut at the coconut shy".


14 APR 2014

"Many hands make light work" campaign for street lighting

 

Local MP Douglas Carswell has launched his "Many Hands Make Light Work" initiative to get certain key street lights switched on at night.

Douglas wants local people with specific concerns about street lights where they live to work with him to get them switched back on.

"I can't get Essex council to change their policy to switch lights off in the early hours of the morning. But with your help, I can try to get them to rethink in particular cases."

Douglas wants anyone with specific concerns about the lights where they live to get in touch with him. He will then make the case to Essex council, whose guidelines do in fact allow for common sense and some leeway.

"If folk help out, and lend a hand, we really could get some of the lights to work again" he added.

Last week, Douglas met local resident David East of Derwent Gardens in Holland on Sea (pictured) to discuss the state of a local pathway leading to the shops across Pickers Ditch.

"Mr East, like other local people, complained about the lighting being switched off in the alley way. Yet county council guidelines specifically allow for an exception to be made with alley ways. So I have already got on to Essex council right away to get that light back on".

"Other local people have also got in touch about specific problems they have experienced because of the switch off. Let me know, and I will get on to the council".


07 APR 2014

Frinton patient group meets MP to discuss concerns

Douglas Carswell attended a meeting of the Caradoc Surgery Patient Participation Group last Friday with over sixty local residents. Douglas was invited to address the meeting to discuss the action he is taking to ensure that some of the problems affecting the surgery are dealt with.

"Many local residents, especially older folk, have had real issues in getting an appointment. People have had to queue up outside at 8:30 in the morning. Too many phone calls have gone unanswered" explains Douglas. "People have a right to expect to see significant improvements in primary care provision in Frinton".

"This time last year, an action plan to improve access was supposed to be implemented. But many of the problems remained. Then a successful Colchester surgery got involved, providing support to the Caradoc. That arrangement did not seem to last, which concerns me greatly".

After raising the issue directly with NHS England, NHS England has now met with the Caradoc contract holder to discuss improvements. "I am pleased that NHS England is now involved, and that in their letter to me they recognise the problems of recruiting enough GPs to work at the surgery, and the problems of getting an appointment".

Douglas was able to tell the meeting that NHS England has now "agreed to make available additional money to the practice to help the practice change".

Between now and the end of May, NHS England and the practice will agree a clear set of steps that need to be implemented.

Douglas offered to come back to a future meeting of the patient group to discuss with them the detail of these changes.

Douglas emphasised that he is looking to work with, and in support of, the excellent team at the Caradoc, and will be meeting with them again soon to see what further support they might need.


01 APR 2014

MP raises maternity unit in Parliament

Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell, has raised local concerns about the future of the maternity unit in Clacton hospital directly with ministers.

"Having listened to local mums and mums-to-be, I believe people have a right to be angry about what has happened" Douglas explained. "I wanted to let the minister know how concerned people feel".

In Tuesday morning's Health Questions, Douglas asked ministers:

"There is due to be a consultation on the future of maternity units at Clacton and Harwich hospitals. The other week, the management team at the already troubled Colchester Trust decided to shut the units right away. This has caused understandable anger and concern locally.

Will the minister write to the board to ensure that they don't prejudice the outcome of the consultation and ensure that all decisions are made on the basis of facts, not managerial muddle?"

The minister, Dan Poulter MP, agreed to look into local concerns. He claimed that the decision to shut the units was "temporary" and due to a shortage of midwives, a problem - he said - was being addressed.

Douglas commented afterwards: "I am not convinced by promises that this is only a temporary move. It all seems a little too convenient. I want to make sure that what local NHS bosses are telling the minister in London, and what the rest of us are being told here on the ground are one and the same thing. It cannot be right to offer a consultation and then seemingly jump the gun and shut it".


18 MAR 2014

Carswell ramps up pressure on the Chancellor

With the Government's annual budget statement due tomorrow, Douglas has been putting pressure on the Chancellor to reduce the cost of living for ordinary folk. He would like to see the following:

1) Cut Fuel Duty

As well as writing to the Competition Commission about local petrol prices, Douglas would like to see the government reduce fuel duty.

Most of the money people pay out when they fill up the car is fuel duty, and it goes straight into the government's pocket. Douglas wants to see the Chancellor not only forego planned increases in fuel duty, but to actually cut it.

It is wrong to use motorists as a cash cow. Fuel duty is a tax on people who work and who try to get on in life. We need to see less of it.

2) Raise the income tax threshold to help needy families

People have to start paying income tax after they earn over £9,440 a year. Under Gordon Brown, people started paying tax even sooner. Douglas supports the government's efforts to increase the threshold and he would like to see it raised to £10,000, if not higher.

"Raising the threshold lets people keep more of their money – and it is fair. It is a tax break for those who work."

3) Reduce employer's National Insurance contributions

"Many small and medium sized businesses are burdened by their National Insurance contributions bill" says Douglas. "It is basically a tax on jobs".

"I would like to see us reduce NI contributions for small businesses. Here in Clacton we have seen an increase in the number of jobs available. Slashing NI contributions would help further".

 


10 MAR 2014

Zac Goldsmith helps launch MPs local EU referendum initiative.

 

Douglas Carswell is helping give local residents a say on whether Britain should leave the EU. He is distributing thousands of local questionnaires, which allow people to decide if they would like In or Out.

Douglas has campaigned against EU membership for all his adult life, and pledged to put an In / Out referendum firmly at the top of the Westminster agenda. He has delivered on this promise, repeatedly defying his own party leadership on the issue.

David Cameron is now committed to holding an In / Out vote in 2017 - provided he is still Prime Minister.

"We could be 40 months away from an EU exit" Douglas explains. "It is vitally important that we have an In / Out vote. No one under the age of 57 has ever been asked. Those over the age of 57 who voted on the issue in the mid 1970s thought they were being asked about a Common Market".

"As your MP, I've discovered that the issue of Europe now touches on everything from flood defences to immigration. Until we become a self governing country once again, politicians will always struggle to deliver on their election promises because it will be unelected officials in Brussels who decide. That has to change".

Hundreds of responses have already flooded in, and Douglas will announce the results of this local poll in a couple of months.


10 MAR 2014

Street light controversy: MP Douglas calls for some common sense

Essex county council has made a decision to switch off many street lights in Clacton between 12 midnight and 5am. The move recently came into force.

"This is a controversial decision" says Douglas. "I have been listening carefully to local people, and I will speak up on behalf of the town".

"Having looked carefully at the criteria used to decide which lights to keep on and which to switch off, I believe that there are grounds for discretion. So I am proposing that we have a bit of common sense".

Douglas is now asking anyone with a specific concern about a particular street light, or street lights in a particular road, to contact him directly with the details. He will then raise the issue directly with county hall bosses to see if there can be a rethink.

"Looking at the council guidelines, it does seem to be a question of judgement, rather than black and white rules. For example, foot paths and alleys are supposed to be exempt. So are mixed residential and commercial areas". Douglas has already challenged the decision to switch street lights off in two local streets.

If the switch off has affected you personally, please email Douglas at douglas@douglascarswell.com with your postcode, and the name of the street you are concerned about. Douglas will then raise the matter directly with Essex council.

"Get in touch with me, and I will get on to Essex council and try to get them to cut us some slack. This issue needs common sense, not box ticking compliance"


03 MAR 2014

Gazette Column

Many Gazette readers are concerned about local GP services. There is particular anxiety about the Caradoc surgery in Frinton, as well as the Walton surgery.

Having listened to local people, I understand the problems there have been. Things are not good enough, and local people have a right to expect improvements.

The local Patient Participation Group, chaired by Tony Comber, is doing exactly the right thing; supporting our heroic local GP, who is under enormous pressure, and lobbying to make sure things get better.

Having now raised local people's concerns directly with NHS England, I know that extra money is now on offer. As well as more GPs, there must be a significant improvement in patient access. Too many patients are having to stand-in-line-and-wait, with long queues. This needs to change.

For a trial period only, a number of local GP surgeries are offering patients appointments at the weekend. I want to hear, from both doctors and patients, how this works. The idea of banks being open at the weekend, or 24 hour supermarkets, once seemed unusual. It ought to be possible to see a doctor and get health care not only during the week, but at weekends too. As your MP, I am determined we see improvements in local GP services.

A big thanks to the Frinton Ladies Probus Club. Mary Fletcher, and their committee, invited me to speak to them in Kirby Cross about a "Week in the Life of an MP" - and treated me to a lovely lunch. They discreetly suggested beforehand that I avoid party politics. Having had to listen to MPs all week in Westminster, it was a pleasure to stay well off the subject.

Last month, I highlighted some of the initiatives that Tendring Council is taking to help people find work. Thanks to their efforts – and helped by various imaginative schemes, such as free parking for local residents – unemployment in Clacton is lower now than it was a year ago.

The need to do more was brought home to me by a young man who came to see me a couple of weeks ago. He had not worked in three years, and felt stuck in a rut. I decided I needed to be a bit hands on.

I went with him to first the Job Centre, and then Seetec, which helps people into work. The staff were very impressive and helpful. We talked through his options – and he got an interview that afternoon! Fingers crossed he got the job.

Work is there – and we need to do far more to help people back into it.


25 FEB 2014

Action on petrol prices in Tendring

Douglas Carswell has written to the Competition Commission about petrol prices in Clacton and Tendring. He would like the Competition Commission to ensure there is real competition between local retailers.

"Petrol stations on our side of Tendring are regularly charging 3 pence per litre more than Colchester. In a free market, it should be entirely up to the retailers to decide what price to charge" said Douglas. "However, there must be competition between petrol retailers".

Over the past ten years, there has been an 80 percent increase in prices at the pumps. 57.9 pence per litre is fuel duty, with 20% VAT on top also going to government. Responsibility for much of the rise in the cost of petrol rests not with companies, but with government. The state is using motorists as a cash cow.

Douglas helped campaign to prevent a further increase in fuel duty last year. He believes that we need to see a reduction in the amount of money going to the government each time you fill up the car.

Now he would like the Competition Commission to ensure that there is proper competition between local retailers.


25 FEB 2014

Initiative to tackle long-term unemployment in Clacton

Clacton has been named as one of only six areas in the UK being targeted in a new government scheme to tackle the causes of long-term unemployment and help get benefit claimants back into work.

A report last year by the Centre of Social Justice found that more than half of working age people in the heart of Clacton rely on out-of-work benefits for their income.

"The report was a very bad day for Clacton" says Douglas Carswell, "It highlighted some uncomfortable truths. Coastal communities have a very difficult and specific range of problems and for seaside towns like Clacton there are pockets of high unemployment. But the only way to change things is to acknowledge the truth and I now feel positive the report has led to some action".

A team from Clacton Jobcentre Plus has been working with partners including Citizens Advice Bureau, Adult Community Learning and Harlow College to create an innovative set of offers for claimants.

The pilot will focus on people in the Pier and Alton Park wards who have been claiming working age benefits for at least three of the last four years.

"I dislike it when the Government gets on its high horse and talks about scroungers" Douglas said.

"In my experience, people get caught in a trap and stuck in a rut and it is really tough. A young man came to see me two weeks ago who had not worked for three years. I took him through the various stages and he secured a job interview"

"There are good people out there, like him, doing all the right things to get back in to work. They need that extra special helping hand. This pilot is exactly what we need."

The pilot will launch at TDC's Weeley Council Chamber on March 19.


10 FEB 2014

Concerns about GP services in Frinton and Walton – MP takes action

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has asked for a meeting with local NHS bosses to discuss GP provision in Frinton and Walton.

"Over 900 people have recently contacted me expressing concerns about primary care provision in both Frinton and Walton. Things are clearly not good enough.

"Many people, especially older folk, say they are finding it extremely difficult to get an appointment. People are being made to stand in line and wait – literally. Phone calls to the surgery are not being answered, I am told" he explains.

"What really troubles me is the thought that some people, especially older, more vulnerable folk, might not be getting the care that they need".

"In one surgery, I am told that there is one GP serving 8,000 people. There has been trouble recruiting more GPs. It is vital that we do everything we can to make this area more attractive to GPs".

Douglas is keen to discuss with the Clinical Commissioning Group what might be done to make more GPs willing to come to work in Frinton and Walton.

"It might be a case of changing the way we fund local practices. It could be a case of changing the terms for would be GPs, or perhaps better buildings to work in. I am keen to know what more we can do to ensure that local people get the health care that their taxes have paid for".

"People have a right to expect better health care. I am determined to ensure they get it"


06 FEB 2014

Gazette column

Even though unemployment is falling in our part of Essex, I know how difficult it can be for some folk – especially younger people – to find a job. Often employees will say they want someone with experience. Yet how is a young person supposed to get experience if no one will offer them a job?

Instead of just talking about it, what can we do?

Last week, I supported our local Job Centre, who had teamed up with Tendring council to do something practical to help young people into work. They held a jobs fair in the town hall, supported by Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, The Princes Trust, the Army, CVS Tendring and others.

It was full of young people looking to tip on finding work, and lots of practical help. Many that I spoke to were full of enthusiasm, with a wonderful "can do" attitude. If anyone wants some practical advice on finding work, please email me, and I will ensure that you are sent details of the next jobs fair.

On the subject of young people, three cheers to both Tendring Technology College and Clacton County High School. Tendring Technology College picked up an award for good leadership and having an outstanding governing body. Well done!

Meanwhile, two out of every three pupils at Clacton County High are now getting five good GCSE grades, including Maths and English. This is above the national average. Credit where it is due to Jeff Brindle and his team!

Last week a local GP got in touch asking for specific help dealing with officialdom. I was only too happy to do so. In fact, I have responded to a range of requests from local GPs who find things difficult. Too many local people still have to stand in line and wait when they need to see a doctor. Local NHS bosses are now responding with a range of measures to support local GP practices. Much more still needs to be done.

Last Thursday, I held another "Curry and Carswell" evening in St Osyth village hall for local residents. It was great fun. As your MP, I find that I get quite enough party politics in Westminster during the week. So it's great to hold an open meeting like that, where anyone can ask me a question about anything. Please come along to our next one!

Last week, as you might have read in the Gazette, I chased and caught a suspected shop lifter in Clacton. Most of us might not expect to come across anything like that very often, but the incident did make me appreciate how much we owe local police officers and store detectives. They have to deal with crime on a daily basis, and they do so with minimum of fuss. Last week's incident made me value what they do all the more.


03 FEB 2014

Unemployment in Clacton falls by 17%

Good news! The number of unemployed claimants in the Clacton constituency has fallen by 17% since 2012. In December 2013 there were 1,974 unemployed claimants, 405 below the number in December 2012.

"There are fewer unemployed people in Clacton today than a year ago - despite the issues of benefit migration that we have had", explains local MP Douglas Carswell. "Despite this progress, I know how hard it can be for young people to find work" he added.

In order to do something practical about it, last week Clacton Job Centre and Tendring Council held an event in the town hall for young unemployed people. It offered practical help and advice from young people looking to find work.

"One of the reasons why unemployment is falling is that the local council is taking the initiative with schemes like this. Another factor has been the council's free parking scheme, which has increased foot fall and trade in the town" he explained.

The photo shows local MP Douglas Carswell at the Jobs Fair in the town hall with the head of the Clacton Job centre.


27 JAN 2014

New data shows tough action needed to tackle crime in Clacton

New data reveals that a significant number of ex-offenders are coming to Clacton on their release from Chelmsford prison.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, was prompted to submit a Freedom of Information request in response to concerns from local shopkeepers and residents. "Several shopkeepers and local residents have come to see me with concerns about law and order issues in the centre of our town. Having listened, I first wanted to establish some facts."

We now know that over a twelve month period between 1st November 2012 and 31st October 2013 rail warrants were issued to released prisoners from Chelmsford prison to the following stations in Tendring:

Clacton 67

Walton 1

Frinton none

Thorpe le Soken none

Weeley none

Kirby Cross none

"I am very concerned about this. If a disproportionate number of ex-offenders are coming to our town centre, it is not going to be good for Clacton – or much good for the ex-offenders. I am determined to find out why a disproportionate number of ex-offenders are coming to Clacton, and first, make sure we stop it. Secondly, we need to respond more effectively to the secondary consequences of those who might already be living in Clacton".

Douglas has highlighted a number of things that need to change:

1. Curbing bedsit land: Thanks to Tendring Council's new housing policy, there are restrictions on the number of houses that can be turned into Houses of Multiple Occupation – or bedsits. This will prevent the further growth of "bedsit land".

2. Public accountability for spending public money: A number of agencies and organisations in Clacton receive public money in return for providing accommodation to people living at public expense. Douglas believes that in certain instances such agencies and organisations need to be made properly accountable.

"Perhaps one of the reasons why ex-offenders come to Clacton is that there are agencies and organisations, funded by the taxpayer, providing accommodation. If that is the case, maybe we need to take into account the wider interests of the town".

3. Alcohol: "I believe that our public spaces belong to the public. It bothers me – as it does lots of other local residents - when I see drunks in the town square in the middle of the day. If we do not do anything about it, we will abandon our public spaces to drunks. Families and older folk will feel intimidated. This cannot be right – and it must change"

The police have the power to confiscate drink in the centre of Clacton. Douglas has written to Essex police asking that if they can ensure that they enforce the ban in the centre of town.

"We need to see some action – and to recognise that this requires more than just a police response. It requires wider changes in public policy."

"I know that Tendring council shares some of my concerns. As soon as the council has elected their new leader in February, I would like to meet with the new leader to discuss what steps we might take working together, for the good of the whole town, to tackle this problem."


20 JAN 2014

MP takes action for Jaywick

The "insulating Jaywick" scheme meant many local homes in Jaywick and Brooklands were insulated using money provided by energy companies.

However, many others who believed that they had signed up to the scheme were left feeling disappointed when they were told that there was not enough money to insulate their homes.

Dozens of local people contacted Douglas Carswell to ask what could be done.

Having listened, Douglas has now taken action, raising the issue directly with the minister in Parliament. Last week, the following exchanges took place in the House of Commons:

Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con):

A number of homes in Clacton and Jaywick have been insulated under the "Insulating Jaywick" scheme using ECO funding, but I am told that the funding is no longer available, work has stopped and many local people who thought they had signed up to the scheme have been left rather disappointed. Will the Minister please meet me to discuss whether any funding may be available and from what source?

Gregory Barker:

I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend. The message we have tried to give this morning is that the ECO scheme has actually been extended, rather than shortened, and the number of people who will be helped by ECO has grown as a result of the package that has been announced. I would be very happy to discuss specifics with my hon. Friend.

Douglas has personally raised questions on behalf of every single local resident who has contacted him about the scheme. Now he is due to meet with the minister this week to raise the wider issue of the future of ECO funding.

"I am very much on the side of local people and will try and ensure that commonsense prevails." Douglas said.


30 DEC 2013

End of Year Report

Dear Neighbour,

Please find below my end of year Report as your local MP.  It highlights some of the things I did in 2013 to improve our area, and hold the government to account.

4,697 individual local residents contacted me during 2013 to ask for help of some kind. I responded personally each time.  I cannot guarantee that I can solve every problem, but I do promise to try.   I also continued to hold a regular Advice Surgery open to everyone.

Here are some of the local issues I focused on in 2013 (Click on each for more detail):

Action to improve Clacton 

A better deal for Jaywick 

GP services

Sea defences

Knife crime

Potholes

Columbine Statue

School Standards

Ambulance Responses

Broadband

Never one to toady to party whips, in Parliament in 2013 I spoke up for what I believe is in our national interest:

Campaign to get Britain out of the EU 

Immigration

Syria

Energy Policy

Gagging Bill and press freedom

Political reform

Finally, I remain concerned about our economy. Although growth returned towards the end of 2013, and we are likely to see strong growth over the months ahead, we need to ensure that it is sustainable. People should not be encouraged to take out debts that they will not be able to pay back if interest rates rise. I have a publication on this subject due out early in the New Year.

I will be available to help you 2014, should you need me. 

Happy New Year!

Warm regards,

Douglas 


23 DEC 2013

Tendring singled out for praise in Parliament.

During a Commons debate just before the Christmas recess, local MP, Douglas Carswell spoke of how well Tendring district council and Essex police coped organising the evacuation of Brooklands and Jaywick during the recent tidal surge.

"It is to the great credit of people in Jaywick and Brooklands that thousands of people were moved with such minimum fuss." Douglas told the Commons.

The biggest tidal surge for 30 years in early December saw thousands of householders evacuated. Despite the tide being even higher than that recorded during the disastrous 1953 floods, the sea defences held, and most people were able to return home the next day.

"The sea wall held, but we need to ensure that we maintain our sea wall" Douglas explains.

During the Commons debate, the minister, Dan Rogerson, also singled out Tendring council for praise. "I was very impressed with the feedback I received from local residents about how the evacuation had proceeded and how reassuring it was for them, with everything well handled" he said.

He offered to work with the council to secure funding to ensure that the sea wall is maintained and enhanced.

He also went on to praise the £36 million sea defence project due to begin in 2014 along the coast of Clacton and Holland on Sea "I was particularly impressed, when I visited Clacton, to hear about its plans to use the flood defences to restore the sandy beach, which should also have economic benefits. There is a clear case for investing in flood defences not only because of the economic risks attached to flooding but because of what they can bring to the local economy. That is an excellent project."

"This is good news for local folk in Essex" explains Douglas. "We must ensure that the defences are maintained and the assurance from the minister to help get partnership funding for the sea wall is vital".


16 DEC 2013

Carswell presses Home Secretary on stop and search to tackle Clacton knife crime

Douglas Carswell today asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, about police stop and search powers being used to tackle knife crime in Clacton.

"Knife crime has been a problem in Clacton town centre", explains Douglas. "The good news is that in 2013 the police recognised it has become a problem - and have taken steps to tackle it".

Operation Statesman over the summer saw more stop and searches, and a number of arrests. Knife crime fell as a direct consequence.

"I am concerned that the Home Office review of police powers of stop and search could mean that the police find that they cannot take the steps that they have taken.

"It would be a disaster if at some point in the future Essex police chiefs ruled out more stop and search in Clacton citing some Home Office guidelines."

"I have written to the Home Secretary previously saying that it should be for the directly elected Police Commissioner to determine policy towards stop and seach. We need stop and search here in Clacton - and today's question highlights the importance of ensuring that the Home Office reivew does not prevent Essex policy from policing Clacton town centre appropriately".

Details about recorded crime involving offensive weapons in Clacton can be found here:

http://www.police.uk/essex/57/crime/possession-of-weapons/


13 DEC 2013

Carswell Column in the Clacton Gazette

Last week thousands of local people were evacuated from their homes. The tidal surge along the Essex coast came within a few inches of topping the sea wall, which would have been catastrophic.

It is a great credit to folk in Brooklands and Jaywick that so many people were evacuated, calmly, quickly and with minimum fuss. Three cheers to the police, Tendring council and the emergency services, too. A job well done!

The Environment Agency needs praising as well. By providing information early, many people were made aware of the danger posed by the tidal surge by mid afternoon on the Thursday.

Some of the national broadcasters might have overlooked the evacuation of thousands. Twitter and social media did not. That meant people were able to know what was happening in good time, and make their own choices and arrangements.

I was saddened to hear of the death last week of Clacton councillor, Mitch Mitchell.

Mitch was a good friend, not only to me, but to many different local people. He was extremely generous. Outgoing and full of enthusiasm, Mitch must have helped hundreds of friends, residents and neighbours down the years. He was a great man. His funeral takes place on Tuesday 17th December.

The other week, I organised a tour of the House of Commons for Tendring Technology College, and then the school council from Engaines Primary School, Little Clacton. It was a delight to meet them all. If you would like to visit Parliament, please email me for details. It is your democracy and your Parliament is open to you.

I have added my name to a Commons amendment to the Immigration Bill. It aims to restrict the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians into Britain. The government needs to come to its senses and recognise that if it is serious about curbing immigration, it cannot agree to the totally unrestricted movement of people across the EU.

I feel very strongly about this, and will not back down. Ministers need to find the bottle to act on immigration – even if that means upsetting their Euro chums in Brussels.

Good news in the Autumn Statement for local businesses in Frinton, Walton and Clacton. Business rate rises will be below inflation and capped at 2 percent. Local businesses will also be able to pay their rates in 12 monthly instalments, helping them manage the cash flow.

Unemployment in Clacton and Tendring is down since last Christmas largely because smaller businesses have been creating jobs. I hope this means we see more of that.

Finally, I would like to wish every reader of the Gazette a Merry Christmas! It is, as I explained to my four year old, the biggest birthday party in the world. Celebrate!

Douglas blogs each day at TalkCarswell.com and tweets @douglascarswell


03 DEC 2013

Action to improve GP services

Many local residents are concerned about GP services. One particular problem has been the difficulty some people have had in getting an appointment.

After listening to local residents, Douglas has now taken action to try to improve things in our part of Essex.

"Many local residents, including doctors, got in touch to express their concerns about GP cover" explains Douglas. "Local people have a right to expect action. As the local MP, I took a team of local GPs to meet health minister, Jeremy Hunt, in the summer. A series of changes are now underway and will help improve things" he added.

More local GPs in Tendring: There is a shortage of GPs in our area. Local NHS bosses are now looking at how to make it more attractive for GPs to work in local surgeries.A named GP for every patient over 75: New GP contracts will ensure everyone over the age of 75 gets a named, accountable GP to ensure that they have a strong, personal and regular relationship with their doctor.District nurses and better out of hours cover: Why can't people get to see a doctor on a Saturday? At the moment there is no incentive for many GPs to provide cover at evenings and weekends. Douglas is keen to encourage more out of hours cover. "Perhaps the way to do this is by ensuring that GPs have funding available to recruit more district nurses. Many patients could be seen by a district nurse in their own home, which would further remove the pressure on GP waiting rooms". Several GP surgeries have already started to do this. Scrap box ticking regulations: In order to get some revenue, GPs have to comply with rules and regulations known in the jargon as "QOF". Soon after meeting with the delegation of local GPs, Jeremy Hunt announced that almost half these rules will be scrapped.

"Doctors need to be free to get on with doing their job, and not having to tick boxes to get paid" said Douglas. "Removing these rules should give local GPs more time to spend examining patients".

Douglas adds "I am very determined that we see improvements in local primary health care provision. Many doctors find themselves in a really difficult position right now. Many patients are not getting the health care they have a right to expect. I am on their side, and determined that we see changes for the better."


02 DEC 2013

EU immigration - Carswell delivers petition to Downing Street

Local MP Douglas Carswell has delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to take action to prevent large numbers of unskilled EU migrants arriving from Bulgaria and Romania.

"It is vitally important that the government we elect takes control of UK immigration policy. Ultimately, the only way we can do that is to leave the EU" Douglas said "But in the short term, we could suspend the agreement to allow unrestricted access to the UK, and access to non-contributory benefits".

"We could put up all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles but ultimately we need to be like Switzerland or Australia. They are both countries outside the EU, who depend on highly skilled migrants, and are selective over who they allow in".

Douglas argued in a recent article that either we can retain our system of non-contributory welfare benefits, or Britain can continue to allow the unrestricted movement of Europeans into Britain- "We cannot do both".

Douglas hopes that the petition will encourage an honest and open debate about the issue of EU migration.

"Migrants who contribute should be welcomed. But opening the doors to Bulgarians and Romanians could create real issues."


25 NOV 2013

Douglas takes action over Bulgarian and Romanian migration

Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell, is seeking to amend the Immigration Bill, to halt the influx of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.  If voted through in the House of Commons, this new clause would extend provisions that ban the free movement of Bulgarians and Romanians for several more years.

"The average income in Romania and Bulgaria is a fraction of what it is here" explains Douglas.  "So guess what is going to happen when people over there are free to move here?".

By backing this change to the law, Douglas is prepared to defy the Westminster elite.  "Ministers would rather I did not try to force through this change in the law, but I am not in Parliament to do what they want.  I am here to represent folk in Essex.   I am putting Britain first, and we have had enough uncontrolled immigration".

Douglas has consistently raised the issue of immigration in Westminster, often coming in for fierce criticism for doing so. Most recently a London-based think tank attacked him after he uncovered new data about benefit tourism.  Douglas helped reveal that many of those claiming working tax credit and child tax credit are non-UK nationals.  Douglas also helped highlight how several so-called "experts" advocating more EU immigration happened to receive money from the European Commission.

"Enough is enough.   We need to end uncontrolled immigration into our country.  And we need to act now!".


31 OCT 2013

Ellie's week in Westminster

A-level student, Ellie Dodds from Frinton, spent a week in Westminster working for local MP, Douglas Carswell.

"I've always been intrigued to find out what working in Parliament would be like. So I emailed my MP Douglas Carswell and ask if this was possible" she explains.

Douglas offered Ellie a week of work experience in the House of Commons.

As well as listening to the debates in the Commons chamber and going on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, Ellie helped with press releases, wrote letters about sea defences and other constituency issues.

"What struck me the most while working in Parliament was the amount of time spent working with constituents" says Ellie. Douglas' office gets hundreds of letters a week, and he responds personally to each one.

"I am very much looking forward to going back to college and apply what I've learnt to my studies. In the future I would love to carry on working within the world of Politics and working in Parliament has made me realise what that will entail".

"Having Ellie working in my office for the week was a big help" Douglas added. "She got some sense of what I do, and the range of requests I get from local constituents."


29 OCT 2013

Carswell pushes for better broadband

"In the nineteenth century, prosperity meant being connected by rail. Last century, it meant roads. In future, prosperity means being plugged into superfast broadband" says Douglas Carswell.

Passionate about the internet, and how it is changing Britain for the better, Douglas even wrote a book on iDemocracy.

Now he is pushing to get every part of Tendring on to superfast broad band.

The good news is that superfast coverage is about to be increased so that it covers almost 90percent of Essex.

"This is great news for businesses and residents in Essex as currently not everywhere in Essex has Superfast broadband" explains MP Douglas Carswell.

"The planning policy now includes the provision for broadband infrastructure that will allow access to Superfast broadband on sites with 25 and more premises, which is excellent news".

"I will continue to do more to ensure not only better download speeds, but better upload ones too"


28 OCT 2013

Unemployment falls in Clacton

Unemployment in Clacton has fallen to 5.9% this September, down on last September's figure of 6.8%.

Furthermore, it has dropped by nearly 2% since September 2011, and is down by almost 3% on January 2012.

"There are fewer unemployed people in Clacton today than a year ago - despite the issues of benefit migration that we have had", explains local MP Douglas Carswell.

"These figures show two things. Firstly the benefit reforms are working. They are helping people who can work back into work.

"Secondly, they show that we can do things locally to create more jobs"

"The free parking scheme for local people that the council introduce has almost certainly helped cut unemployment here in Clacton. Why?"

"Because it has boosted footfall in Clacton town centre, with more money being spent locally than before."

"Now we have to focus on ensuring young folk have the skills that they need to work. The local Tendring studio school is helping doing this. I am determined that we do much more to raise school standards across the board".


15 OCT 2013

Too many local patients get a raw deal

Some local GP surgeries are in danger of closing. Others are forced to rely on locums.

Many folk – particularly the elderly – tell me that they have to spend ages trying to get through to the switch board when they need to see a doctor. Others complain that even if they get through, they cannot get an appointment and are told to ring back.

Why? What has gone wrong?

Having listened to resident groups concerned about local services, I am determined to get some answers – and make sure we see some improvements.

The government has ministers to speak for it. GPs have clear ideas about how things ought to be, too. My job is to speak up on behalf of local patients. We need to see much more patient power.

After meeting representatives of every local GP surgery, I took a delegation of doctors down to meet Jeremy Hunt, the health minister, in London.

I wanted him to understand what was really happening here in our part of Essex. I also wanted both the minister and GPs to really appreciate how delays in getting appointments had affected local patients in some parts of the constituency.

How come, I asked everyone round the table, supermarkets managed to be open seven days a week, yet it was almost impossible to see a GP on a Saturday? Why are people being made to stand-in-line-and-wait for the health care they have a right to expect?

The meeting was positive and there seemed to be agreement that things need to change. What needs to be done differently?

Firstly, the GP funding formula ought to be reviewed. A higher percentage of GP income needs to come from core funding. That would secure the future of local surgeries.

Secondly, we need more district nursing. Some GPs would like nothing better than to provide more out of hours cover. So why not incentivised GPs to provide a district nurse?

Finally, we need more patient power. You should not have to spend hours trying to get an appointment. If your local surgery cannot provide you with an appointment, you should be offered one somewhere nearby that can.

Please help me make sure that the voice of patients is heard. If you have had difficulty in getting an appointment at your local surgery, please email me or write directly. I am determined that things change to put the patient first.


07 OCT 2013

Tendring needs more doctors!

Our part of Essex needs more GPs, says Douglas Carswell.

Last month, health minister Jeremy Hunt said that he had "asked Health Education England to recruit an additional 2,000 GPs and increase the proportion of new doctors entering general practice to 50%".

Yet in some parts of Tendring, we have a shortage of GPs. "Too many times in the past, we have had to rely on locums. Some surgeries are threatened with closure because of the shortage".

Douglas has now contacted the health minister to ask that some of the new 2,000 additional GPs we recruited for our area.

"It is not just about raw numbers" explains Douglas.

"Talking to local doctors, I understand that many highly able doctors working in hospitals, who might want to become GPs, are in effect prevented for doing so. It is right that the government is increasing the number of GPs. But we also need to ensure that we do not overlook able medical professionals who have already much to offer".


17 SEP 2013

'Insulating Jaywick'- Local MP demands answers

The 'Insulating Jaywick' scheme seems to have come to a sudden halt and many Jaywick residents are demanding answers.

Local MP Douglas Carswell has taken up the case of behalf of local people and has written to the Minister and Energy Alliance.

" I am alarmed about this for a number of reasons" Douglas said. "First of all, people in Jaywick had their expectations raised that they could have their homes insulated at no cost to themselves". Until a few weeks ago, local people were having their homes insulated at zero cost to themselves. They are now told that under the government-backed scheme, they will have to provide £7,000 in order to have their homes insulated.

"I am not simply concerned because expectations have been raised and then unfulfilled" Douglas said, "but I am concerned and alarmed at the abruptness at which the scheme was brought to a halt. Surely people in charge of the scheme must have known that the pot of money way not large enough to insulate all the homes? Why were the people behind the scheme therefore encouraging people to keep signing up and joining the waiting list?"

The government's energy policy, with its renewable agenda, is pushing up the cost of household energy bills. This is leading to an enormous problem of fuel poverty. It is in order to try and offset this that the 'Insulating Jaywick' scheme was created in the first place. Now that the scheme has been scrapped, Douglas asks, "what is the government going to do to ensure that fuel bills do not continue to escalate?"

"I think local residents have a right to be angry and they want some answers" Douglas said. "As your MP I will make sure you get them"


11 SEP 2013

Jeremy Hunt meets local GPs to discuss issues over local services

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, today led a delegation of Tendring GPs to meet health minister, Jeremy Hunt.

During an hour long discussion at the Department for Health, local GPs outlined their concerns about certain local services – and shared ideas about what they feel needs to change.

"Many local people are rightly concerned about GP services" explains Douglas. "Having listened, I decided to take action – and took a group of local doctors straight to the top. They were able to sit in the ministers office and talk directly to him".

The GPs, from surgeries in Clacton, Thorpe-le-Soken and Walton, spent time explaining some of the problems that they face.

"I wanted to make sure that the minister heard directly from local GPs. But I also wanted to speak up on behalf of local people who want to know why they cannot always get to see a GP when they need to."

"I was impressed by how much common ground there seemed to be at the end of the meeting" said Douglas.

The minister and local doctors agreed that GP contracts are too prescriptive, and do not always take into account the needs of our area, with a high number of older folk. This needs to change.

"The minister indicated that he would like to see GPs receive more of their income as core funding" explained Douglas.

"Patients should not always be expected to stand in line and wait in order to get the health care they need. Local GPs should also be incentivised to provide out of hours support so that patients do not feel they have to go to Colchester hospital to get out of hours treatment."

"I am now determined to work with local GPs to help make sure this happens."


19 AUG 2013

Local residents help MP fix problem potholes

Responding to local concerns about potholes, local MP Douglas Carswell his upon a novel solution. He asked thousands of local people to help him get them fixed.

"After a prolonged winter, the potholes were worse than usual. But that is not an excuse. It is a reason for Essex council to take action" he said.

He contacted thousands of local folk asking them to report problem potholes. They responded, reporting 223 local potholes.

59 local roads have been inspected and most of the 223 potholes repaired.

Douglas said back in May, "I have given Essex council a firm nudge. I hope that we now see some action".

Douglas is now pleased to report that action has been taken and thanks to local residents, the roads in our area are a great deal better.


23 JUL 2013

Action on knife crime- UPDATE

There have been a series of local incidents involving knife crime in Clacton. Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has been pressing the police for a robust, local response.

We are starting to see results, but much more still needs to be done.

"Within a mile of Clacton town centre, in May, the last month for which there is data, there were six arrests made for possession of an offensive weapon" said Douglas. "That is more than in the rest of the district combined".

"I am pleased that the police are now recording arrests for possessing weapons separately, so that we can see that the police have been taking action locally".

Douglas has set out a three pronged approach, which he believes are needed to fight local crime in the centre of Clacton:

1. Arrests for possession of weapons – "The police do now arrest people for carrying knives in Clacton. This was not always the case in the past. I will be monitoring the data each month to ensure that this continues". See here for updates: http://www.police.uk/crime/?q=Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, UK#crimetypes/2013-05, Essex, UK#crimetypes/2013-05

2. Fewer cautions – "Overall, we still see too many criminal incidents ending in a caution. In May this year there were 407 recorded crimes in the whole of Clacton town centre, and 17 cautions. We need to reduce the number of cautions relative to the number of crimes. If found carrying a knife, there should normally not be a caution at all".

3. More convictions in court – Douglas has written to the local magistrates to find out how many cases get to court. "Cautions must not become a cheap alternative to justice" Douglas says. "I want to know more about conviction rates, and how effective the prosecutors, police and courts are at securing criminal convictions locally".

"There is nothing inevitable about higher crime in Clacton. Crime is falling throughout most of Essex, and we need to ensure that our town centre is safe. I won't stop until we see further improvements in our town centre".


22 JUL 2013

Angela Lloyd has a Big Heart – it’s official!

Last Christmas domiciliary care company Primary Care UK made a public plea for everyone to spare a thought for their neighbour, especially if their neighbour was older or infirm, and be a friend. They were concerned for those who didn't have access to care or family and friends close by during the festive season. The response to their message was so positive that co-directors, Michelle Duggan and Natalie Emmerson, decided to launch an award to recognise and celebrate those people whose second nature is to make time for others or go the extra mile to lend a helping hand. They've called it the 'Big Heart' award and, at a ceremony held at Primary Care's office, Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, was delighted to declare Colchester mum of two, Angela Lloyd, as Primary Care's 'Big Heart' 2013.

There were many excellent nominations, but Angela's stood out. Nominating her was Colchester graphic designer Louise Dyer, who said: "Angela is one of the most compassionate and giving people you could hope to meet. A regular worshipper at her church and mother of two lovely and demanding boys, she still makes time to look out for her elderly neighbours and often goes out of her way to do errands and ensure they feel secure in their own homes. On top of this she has completed several half marathons, raising money for many charitable causes close to her heart. If there were more people like Angela in the world then we would all certainly feel better about our communities, our friends and families and ultimately ourselves."

 Primary Care say we can all make a big difference by doing simple things like helping with the shopping, doing a little gardening or just having a conversation; it's about forming relationships which are, literally, life-saving in some cases. Making time for others in our busy lives isn't always an

easy thing to do but you just need to take the first step. And that first step could be as simple as smiling at someone you don't usually acknowledge.

Douglas Carswell added: "I wholeheartedly endorse any initiative which promotes good neighbourliness, and Primary Care's award does just that. It's clear that Primary Care have a big heart too."


25 JUN 2013

“We need to focus on local school standards” – Douglas Carswell MP

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is putting the focus on local school standards. Details of the standards in every local school in Tendring can be found here: http://dashboard.ofsted.gov.uk/index.php

Too many local schools in Tendring are in special measures, and too many other local schools are only satisfactory, when they ought to be good.

Douglas has visited many local schools in recent weeks to listen to teachers, and see what can be done to raise standards.

"There are some excellent local schools" says Douglas. "Having listened to many head teachers, I also know there are many excellent things being done to improve local schools that are not excellent."

"However, in some other instances, we need to be frank and honest about standards, and ask if everything is being done to give local young people the head start in life that they need".

Douglas has asked to meet with education ministers and officials in the Department of Education to discuss what the government can do to help raise local standards.

"Some children in our part of Essex are not currently getting the standard of education that they deserve. This really bothers me. I am always ready to ruffle feathers in Westminster. On this occasion, I am prepared to ruffle a few feathers when it comes to local schools if that is what it takes to change things".

"For years, we were told that the problem was a lack of money. But over the past decade, governments of all parties have doubled education spending, without solving local attainment issues."

"Sometimes education officials almost seem to blame the children. That should make us really angry. The fact that a child might come from a home where mum and dad don't have the time to read to them each day can never be an excuse. It is all the more reason to make sure that the child is taught to read and write properly."

"We need instead to look at why some schools are achieving great results, and see if other schools can learn from what they are doing right. We need to see changes".


20 JUN 2013

Gazette column – June 2013

In Westminster it seems there are no prizes for being right first. Less than two years ago, I helped mobilise support in Parliament for an In / Out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. Fewer than one in six MPs joined us in the division lobby.

Why? By voting for an In / Out referendum, we were defying the party whips. Both the Westminster grandees, and their pet pundits in the media, sneered at the very idea that we might let the people decide.

How long ago that all seems. On Friday 5th July, James Wharton MP will be introducing a Private Members Bill for an In / Out referendum. I will be backing the Bill, as will the rest of my party who will be queuing up to speak in favour. Indeed, good, patriotic MPs from all sides, such as Labour's Gisela Stuart MP, will be backing the Bill. There is now a real chance that the Bill could go through.

As your MP, you did not send me to Westminster to buddy up to grandees. You sent me there to, amongst other things, demand a vote on leaving the EU. Slowly, but surely, we are getting there. I will not stop until we get referendum we were promised. That is the prize that counts.

As the next General Election gets closer, energy is going to become a massive issue. As your representative, I am already concerned that renewable targets are pushing up energy prices. There is a real danger, I told the House of Commons last week, that poorer people will be "priced out of heating their homes in order that rich people in London can feel good about supposedly saving the planet". We need a serious rethink.

One of the things that infuriates me about Westminster is the inability of some government departments to give straight answers to straight questions.

I recently asked the Home Office, for example, about the level of primary immigration from Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria and the Congo. A perfectly reasonable question, you might imagine, that deserved an answer.

Did I get one? Of course not. I got some nonsense about "disaggregated data" and a link to a website that did not really tell me what I wanted to know. Somewhere in that bureaucratic muddle known as the Home Office sit some figures about the number of immigrants arriving in Britain from those countries each year. Yet officials seem to want to go out of their way not to tell it like it is. I shall have to drag it out of them. Again.

Douglas blogs each day at TalkCarswell.com and tweets @douglascarswell


03 JUN 2013

New legal rights for Clacton park home residents

New legal rights will give local Clacton park home residents greater protection from unscrupulous site owners,

"Your home is your home" says Douglas. "Folk who live in park homes should be given protection from unscrupulous park hime operators who abuse their position to make a profit at their residents' expense".

Park owners have a right to charge residents, but not a right to exploit.

The new laws will make underhand tactics a thing of the past. The rules:

remove site owners from the park home buying and selling process, meaning that residents cannot be forced to, or prevented from, selling their park homes to fill the landlord's pocket;make it harder to impose unexpected charges or changes of rules; andgive local authorities more power to enforce breaches, making it easier to prosecute a site owner who harasses residents.

The Government has also launched a new national helpline, operated by the Leasehold Advisory Service, for residents to get advice on their rights when selling or gifting their home.

Douglas Carswell said:

"For too long, a tiny minority of unscrupulous operators have made residents' lives a misery, intimidating people and manipulating the rules to turn a quick profit. And giving park homes a bad name.

These changes in the law will give local folk much greater security. It will, I hope, give people much more confidence in park homes - and in some of our excellent local park homes".


11 MAR 2013

Action on ambulances

After listening to local concerns about ambulance services in Clacton, Frinton and Walton, Douglas Carswell, the local MP, has met with paramedics working for the East of England ambulance service.

"Local people have a right to be concerned. If you need an ambulance, you need to know it will arrive swiftly. Some of the delays that there have been have been unacceptable" says Douglas.

The meeting in the House of Commons gave Douglas the chance to listen to many of those working for the ambulance service throughout the east of England.

"I was keen to meet with the paramedics – not just ministers and managers - because I think it is really important to listen to those who actually deliver the service."

"I believe there has been a failure to deploy ambulances properly within the Eastern Region. The problem for us on the coast is that when that happens, we get hit extra hard. Why? You cannot redeploy ambulances from the North Sea. Being on a peninsular makes us all the more vulnerable".

"I fear that in the past the system has been too top down and centralised. Many of the things we were told would not happen when the county service was regionalised seem to have happened".

"Another issue that must be addressed urgently is the delay in ambulances turning round when they get to hospital. If it takes a long time to get a patient admitted to A&E, the ambulance and their crew cannot get back out to deal with their next call. This needs attention from the minister".


04 MAR 2013

Douglas Carswell MP welcomes proper recognition for WWII heroes

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton-on-Sea has welcomed the Government's announcement that World War II war heroes who served on the Arctic Convoys and in Bomber Command will be eligible to receive new recognition.

Families of those who have sadly died will also be able to apply for the new awards in recognition of their loved ones' bravery. Up to a quarter of a million veterans and families could be eligible for the awards.

Production of the new Arctic Star medal and Bomber Command clasp will start this week and living veterans and widows will be the first in line to receive the new awards from as early as March.

Winston Churchill famously singled the Arctic Convoys out as the "most dangerous run of the war" and the men of Bomber Command faced extremely high casualty rates: 55,000 out of 125,000 who served died.

Douglas Carswell MP said:

"This is a fantastic announcement which will truly recognise the bravery displayed by those who fought for our freedom in World War Two. I would encourage all eligible veterans and next of kin in Clacton to apply for the new awards."

"Here in Clacton local veterans have been campaigning to get the medals they deserve. I listened and then took action in Westminster. It is a great result"

Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Mark Francois said:

"All those who served our country in Bomber Command and on the Arctic Convoys deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from us. That's why I am delighted that these special individuals will in the next few weeks begin to receive the Bomber Command clasp and Arctic Star that they have so long deserved.

"I am also pleased to announce that the families of those no longer alive will also be able to apply for these awards in recognition of their loved one's bravery."


22 NOV 2012

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on knife crime

The debate, due on Tuesday November 27th at 14:30, will see the Gazette's 'Lives Not Knives' put firmly on the top of the political agenda in Westminster.

"I've listened to local people whose lives have been turned upside down by knife crime" explains Douglas. "There is a strong feeling locally that enough is enough. The criminal justice system needs to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the law abiding, and deal with the problem".

"As well as raising awareness, we need to see many more stopped and searched. Those found to be carrying knives must then be prosecuted. Not cautioned, but prosecuted".

"A generation ago, many people thought it was okay to drink and drive. The police began to stop motorists, breathalysed, and prosecuted those breaking the law. It soon changed attitudes. We need a similar stance in Clacton to tackle the problem of knives".

"Now that Essex has a locally elected police chief, Commissioner Alston, I hope that we can begin to see a specific, Clacton-made solution to deal with a problem of knife crime in Clacton".


07 NOV 2012

Clacton Rotary Club Visits the House of Commons

Clacton Rotary Club recently visited the House of Commons and met Douglas Carswell, their local Member of Parliament.

Douglas very much enjoyed seeing the Rotary Club members and a fantastic day was had by all.


06 NOV 2012

Action over ambulance concern

Local residents are concerned about local ambulance services.

"I've been contacted by a number of local people who are really concerned about the length of time it has sometimes taken to get an ambulance" explains Douglas Carswell. "They have every right to be concerned".

In one such instance, an elderly lady was left lying on the pavement for over an hour for an ambulance to arrive. In another instance, there was a delay in getting an ambulance to a woman who had recently given birth and needed medical attention.

Douglas has now acted. At a meeting with local ambulance chiefs, Douglas made it clear that local people are concerned.

Douglas was given a number of assurances at the meeting. Most important of all, there will be no closure of any local ambulance stations. "This is absolutely key in making sure that the local service remains local. I am pleased by what the ambulance chiefs said".

Douglas went on "At the meeting, I believe there was recognition of the challenge that those who run the service face. Ambulance crews are busier than ever before, with more call outs than ever."

"The service needs to better manage this – and I think most local people would agree that the service needs to improve. I hope that any changes to the local ambulance services will ensure that the right number of ambulances are in the right place at the right time. That has not always been the case, and those running the service need to get it right".


16 OCT 2012

Douglas supports local supermarket campaign

Staff at Sainsbury's have taken the initiative to support the Million Meals Appeal to help support vulnerable people, including local people and older folk.

The campaign encouraged shoppers to donate an item of shopping, and many hundreds of shoppers contributed.

Three cheers for our local Sainsbury staff!


16 OCT 2012

Lives not knives

There have been a number of crimes involving knives in Clacton recently. 

Douglas is helping ensure an effective response.  As well as giving 100% backing to the "Lives not Knives" initiative, Douglas supports local awareness raising campaigns.

"In addition, I would like to see a change in the way our town is policed" says Douglas.

"We don't just need to raise awareness.  We need to see a concrete response from the local criminal justice system".

Douglas has written to the Chief Constable to suggest that the local police use their stop and search powers to target those they suspect of carrying knives. 

He has also suggested that the police might do more to enforce the "no boozing" rules that are supposed to prevent drinking in public spaces in our town.


12 OCT 2012

Local history in St James, Clacton

Douglas recently met the local Victoria County History group at St James Hall in Clacton.

The event was attended by hundreds of local people and the exhibition looked at the history of our coastal town during the War.


13 AUG 2012

Douglas secures super-fast broadband for Tendring villages

Telecommunications provider BT has decided to extend their broadband upgrade to Kirby-le-Soken, Kirby Cross and Great Holland.

Initially, the three villages were not included on BT’s list of superfast broadband deployment for the Frinton and Walton area.

BT’s change of mind came after local residents took up the issue with Douglas Carswell MP, who took action and pushed for talks between the operator and the local District Council.

Douglas says:

“I listened to what local people said, took action, spearheaded a campaign, and I am very pleased with the result.

“Having high-quality access to the Internet is vital in a society where so much of our communication takes place online, and I am delighted to see that Kirby-le-Soken, Kirby Cross and Great Holland will be included in the upgrade.”


10 JUL 2012

PC Dibell

"Like many local people in Clacton, I was shocked to hear about the murder of off-duty police officer, PC Dibell yesterday" said Douglas Carswell.

"Our thoughts are with his family and his loved ones."

"Many people throughout Clacton are very concerned. We all now need to rally behind and support our local police force 100 percent."


26 JUN 2012

Douglas wins fuel tax victory for local people

The Government will not go ahead with its planned 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty in August, Chancellor George Osborne announced today.

The Chancellor’s retreat came less than 24 hours after Douglas Carswell MP demanded that the Government should back down and scrap their plans. The cancellation of the 3p tax hike marks the third time within less than a month that the Government has been defeated over proposals to increase taxes and VAT rates.  

Douglas says:

“I am delighted to hear that the Government has been forced to cancel the 3p increase in Fuel Duty, just like they were forced to retreat over their plans to increase VAT on static caravans and church repairs.”

“No one cheers more loudly when this government does the right thing. No one is more robust when they get it wrong."


25 JUN 2012

Douglas comes out fighting against 3p increase in Fuel Duty

 "The Government needs to think again about the August 3p rise in fuel duty”, warned Douglas Carswell today.

“The cost of living is rising, and this 3p tax hike is wrong.”

Douglas will be backing a Commons motion designed to make Treasury ministers see sense. Last month, Clacton’s MP took action against George Osborne’s proposal to slap 20% VAT on static caravans and church repairs. The Government was forced to back down.

“Local Clacton people find the cost of living going up. Fuel bills and utility bills have been made more expensive because of government policy. Now they want to whack folk with a 3p hike in petrol tax. No!”, insisted Douglas.

“Ministers say they need to cut the deficit: ‘Fine’”, responds Clacton’s MP. “They should learn to live within their means like the rest of us. Quit throwing money away.”

“I think it is pretty outrageous that every time you fill up the car with petrol, between 60 and 70% of it is going in tax of one form or another.”


13 JUN 2012

Douglas asks the Heath Secretary about promised Dialysis Unit

On Tuesday’s Question Time in the House of Commons, Douglas Carswell MP asked Health Secretary Andrew Lansley about the new Dialysis Unit that has been promised to Clacton.

Douglas chose to raise the issue with the Health Secretary after patients in Clacton were told that they could have to wait another year for the Dialysis Unit to open.

Douglas said:

 “Clacton was promised a new renal unit several years ago. While they are waiting, local people have had to travel long distances for treatment.”

“I am due to meet the commissioning authority to discuss the endless delay. If it fails to make progress soon-ish, could I meet the relevant Minister and his officials to work out what we can do to prod the commissioning authority into getting a move on?”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley replied:

 “Over a number of years, including under the previous Administration, efforts were made to secure additional access to dialysis. For a long period, we in this country had lesser access to dialysis than in other countries-particularly when people were not only working but likely to be on holiday.”

“I welcome the point my honorable Friend’s is pursuing and, when he has had his conversation locally, perhaps he would like to tell me the outcome.”


21 MAY 2012

Douglas takes action to defeat Caravan Tax

On Monday, Douglas Carswell MP signed Early Day Motion 31, which opposes the proposed changes to a higher VAT rate on static caravans. The motion has so far been signed by 58 other MPs.

Douglas has previously voted against the government on the issue, recognising the devastating effect such a tax would have on jobs, tourism and investment in Clacton.

Douglas says:

 “I feel very strongly that the government is wrong to be imposing VAT on static caravans in this way.  If they wish to remove exemptions and loopholes in the tax system then they should make all caravans VAT exempt.”

“Raising the VAT rate to 20 per cent will hit the holiday parks we have in Clacton. I will be spending parts of my summer holiday in a caravan – and this tax hike will simply increase costs for families taking a summer break.”


24 APR 2012

Douglas celebrates St. George's Day

On Monday, Douglas Carswell MP attended a parliamentary reception in celebration of St. George’s Day. The reception, hosted by the Royal Society of St. George, was held in the House of Commons and sponsored by Andrew Rosindell MP.

Douglas says:

“St. Georges Day is an excellent opportunity for all the people of England to celebrate our county’s heritage, values and traditions.”

“I hope that St. George's Cross will be seen flying in Clacton, reminding us to take pride in our rich history and our country’s many achievements.”


04 APR 2012

Douglas opens new Barclays branch in Clacton

Barclays’ new branch at 27 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, was officially opened by Douglas Carswell MP on Friday 23 March.

The new branch has been fitted with the latest technology, including several open counter tills, ATM cash machines and a quick pay point. The branch will also provide customers with a full complement of banking specialists, including business managers and mortgage advisors.

Douglas said:

“It is wonderful to see Barclays investing in our town. Barclays is putting a new branch, new technology and jobs into Clacton”

“I am particularly pleased to learn Barclays in Clacton has opened its doors to small businesses and start ups. It is small businesses and local entrepreneurs that we need to create more wealth in our town.”

Barclays Opening


28 MAR 2012

Clacton Sports Club secures £50,000 grant

On Friday 23 March, Douglas Carswell MP visited Clacton Sports Club to hand over a cheque of £50,000 from the Inspired Facilities fund.

The Inspired Facilities fund is part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme that is helping local communities to organise their own home Olympic and Paralympic Games. Apart from the funding received, Clacton Sports Club will also carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.

The money will be used to upgrade the club house by replacing showers and pipe work, as well as providing a new boiler and 6 mobile floodlights.

Douglas said:

“Clacton Sports Club is a vital part of the local community and gives local people a great chance to get involved in sport. This grant is wonderful news and it is great to see the community benefitting from the Inspired Facilities funding.”

 Clacton Sports Club


13 MAR 2012

Douglas visits 'Messy Church'

On Friday 7 March, Douglas Carswell MP visited ‘Messy Church’ at St Mary’s Parish Church in Frinton. Messy Church is an event that brings together creativity, worship and food for families on ordinary weekdays.  

Douglas says:

“I had a wonderful time together with the staff, the children and their parents at Messy Church.”


31 JAN 2012

Tendring Council leads the way, says Minister

“Where Tendring Council leads, I am happy to follow” declared Minister Eric Pickles.

Yesterday during question time in the Commons, Douglas Carswell MP asked Communities and Local Government secretary Erik Pickles “What steps his Department has taken to increase transparency in local government and departmental spending.”

Mr Pickles said that he had asked every council to publish spending over £500, a practice followed by his own department as well.

Douglas pressed the minister further, asking “Will my right honourable Friend join me in congratulating and applauding Tendring District Council, which has decided not only to publish items over £500, but to publish all items of expenditure every month?”

“This has created a climate of thrift that has allowed it to cut council tax. Will he ensure that Whitehall departments, agencies and quangos take similar steps?”

Mr Pickles replied, “I am happy to join my honourable Friend in congratulating Tendring. The council did not make the headlines for many years, but suddenly it has started coming up with lots of new initiatives.”

“It is certainly in the forefront of transparency, and where Tendring leads, I am more than happy to follow.”


10 JAN 2012

Douglas demands action on heating costs

Runaway costs of heating and energy are hurting pensioners and those on fixed incomes. Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, has pressed ministers to explain what they will be doing to make energy costs more manageable.

Having listened to several constituents who highlighted the fact that many elderly people struggle with rising costs of gas and electricity in the winter, Douglas has now asked what the Government plans to do in order to make energy bills more affordable. Douglas says, “The problem of rising winter fuel costs is already affecting all too many in Clacton. I am putting pressure on the Government in order to improve the situation, not just for this winter but for the coming years as well.”

Douglas has asked the Energy Minister, Chris Huhne, a series of written Parliamentary questions. “Ministers need to explain what they’ll be doing to ensure we have affordable energy here in Clacton. Too many ministers seem focused on complying with international targets. I want them to explain how we can provide affordable heating for local pensioners who might struggle to keep warm.”


09 JAN 2012

The Carswell Column

By: Douglas Carswell for the Clacton Gazette

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Merry Christmas to every Gazette reader!  I hope you have a wonderful break with your family, friends and loved ones.

Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Christmas and still feel there is something really special and uplifting about it.  Even though I now have a family of my own, I still get that rush of childish enthusiasm on Christmas Eve. 

Over the past year, I have been focused on a range of local campaigns to try to improve our area.

2011 was the year when we finally secured the future of Clacton as a test drive centre.  For several years now, there has been a question mark over the future of the test drive centre.  Working with the local driving instructors, and supported by the council, we have finally won an assurance from the minister that Clacton will remain a place where will still be able to take their driving tests.

This was also the year when we started to see some long overdue improvements in GP health care provision in parts of Jaywick and west Clacton.  Having listened to many local residents concerned about local GP services, I took action, meeting with both ministers and local NHS officials.  Although we have started to see improvements, if you still have concerns, please let me know so I can take action on your behalf.

After listening to local people – and discussing the issues with local councillors – I put Brooklands firmly on the agenda in meetings with ministers and Tendring council.  I hope that many of the well-meaning, but restrictive, regulations that have prevented people from being able to make home improvements in Brooklands will be lifted.  People living in Brooklands should have the same chance to improve their homes that people elsewhere take for granted.    

One big disappointment this year was the decision to axe the Walton coast guard station.  There is no getting round it; I believe that ministers have got it wrong, and I will continue to point this out.

2011 also saw interesting changes in Westminster.  For decades, government has controlled Parliament.  It should be the other way round; Parliament – and the people – should control government.  2011 will, I hope, be remembered as the year when that started to change.

On Europe, the government is at last starting to do the right thing and say “no” to closer union.  The House of Commons seems to have called time on yet more bailouts.  On health reform and education, ministers are taking seriously the views of those elected to represent the people.

As your MP, my job is to represent you in Parliament – not to represent the government in the constituency.  If there are issues and concerns you would like to raise with me, I am always available for local people.  Please get in touch.

Douglas blogs each day at www.talkcarswell.com  and tweets @douglascarswell .


08 DEC 2011

Douglas supports late-night volunteers

  

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has welcomed the latest citizens’ initiative where a group of volunteers will patrol the streets of Clacton in order to prevent anti-social behaviour. According to coordinator Rev David Titley from St Paul’s Church , a similar scheme in Colchester resulted in a 20 percent decrease in alcohol related problems at night.

 

“I understand many are concerned with the current rates of anti-social behaviour, and I applause the local men and women who have decided to take action.”

 

“I am delighted to see that the people of Clacton are working together for a safer community. Such initiatives are excellent examples of Clacton’s thriving civil society.”

 


07 NOV 2011

Battle won to keep driving tests in Clacton

 

The campaign to retain driving tests in Clacton has been won following a seven year battle.

 

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has announced that it will continue to provide practical car tests in the town. It expects to carry on operating from the current test centre premises in Carnarvon Road for the time being.

 

Nationally, as well as using conventional driving test centres, DSA is looking at whether tests could also be delivered from other venues that provide the right level of service for candidates.

 

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “I am delighted to confirm that we will continue to provide driving tests in Clacton. Our aim is to offer a local service that is convenient for candidates as well as being cost effective.

 

“We are looking at how we can be more flexible and innovative in our approach to test delivery, and this could involve using other premises to deliver driving tests, such as local authority buildings or hotels.”

 

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell said it is great news for the town.

 

"It is vital that we safeguard driving tests in Clacton. A whole industry has grown up around it, and jobs depend on it,” he said.


“I listened to local concerns. I took action and, working with TDC, secured a guarantee that there will continue to be driving tests locally and that there will be no gap in provision.”

 

Julie Hartigan and Peter Everitt, speaking on behalf of the Clacton and District Driving Instructors (CADDI) , thanked Mr Carswell and the Regeneration Team at TDC for their fantastic support.

 

“We have all fought hard to make sure this issue hasn’t been swept under the carpet,” they said.

 

“It is a huge relief to everyone, especially all those wanting to take tests in their own area, that the Minister has given his personal assurance that Clacton tests are secure. It has been a long but successful battle.”

 

DSA has already announced trials to deliver tests more locally in seven sites across the country. These will be monitored to assess any impact on levels of customer service and the cost of delivery, as well as making sure the integrity of the test is maintained. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victory for Clacton – CADDI spokesman Peter Everitt (centre and pink tie) with Clacton MP Douglas Carswell (immediately right of PE in photo) and TDC Deputy Leader Peter Halliday (immediately left of PE) celebrate with other driving instructors.

 

 

 


26 OCT 2011

The Carswell Column

By: Douglas Carswell for the Clacton Gazette

 

Many local people have been in touch about proposals for new local housing developments.

 

I do support homeownership, and I am keen that we ensure that there are enough new homes built.  However, building enough homes is not the same as giving every developer license to build where they like.  Allowing new homes must not mean imposing giant developments without the supporting local services.   

 

It is the job of Tendring council to reconcile these two interests locally.  The local councillors you elected to do that job have an vital role to play in getting it right. 

 

Under the new rules, Tendring Council decides how many new homes are to be built.  6,100 new homes?  Or 4,100?  It is up to Tendring council to make the decision.  There is no one in government telling Tendring council what the figure should be – just a requirement that the figure is based on sensible estimates. 

 

It is up to Tendring council to decide where the new homes are built, too.  85 percent in Clacton and Frinton?  Or a more balanced spread across the district?  A few more homes in some of the rural areas where there is a housing shortage, perhaps?  It is up to Tendring council to decide.  Again, there is no requirement from the government telling the council where they should put new homes.

 

What kind of housing?  How much social housing?  Again, it is the local district council that has the power to decide.  And it is up to your locally elected district councillors to ensure that the council planning department makes the right decisions. 

 

Tendring Council does have a legal responsibility to make these decisions.  But provided they make a coherent plan, the detail of it is up to them.  Please look at the district council website www.tendringdc.gov.uk and submit your comments online today.

 

I was sad to hear about the death of former MP, Iain Sproat.  Iain was both a minister and a dedicated constituency MP.  In an age when many politicians are a bit one dimensional, Iain had a depth of interests and character.  A world expert on Russian literature, Iain also bought the first ever National Lottery ticket as the man behind the launch of the National Lottery.  I will think of him each time I hear of a local charity benefiting from lottery funding.

 

This Saturday I will be speaking at a mass rally in London demanding an In / Out referendum on the EU.  After years of leaving it to the politicians, we need to let the people decide.  Momentum for a referendum is now growing.  It will, I hope, soon become unstoppable.  Please sign the People’s Pledge demanding a vote on Europe today at www.PeoplesPledge.org.

 

Douglas blogs every day at www.talkcarswell.com

and can be followed on Twitter @douglascarswell.

 

 

 


19 OCT 2011

Speaking at People's Pledge congress

 

On Saturday, Douglas will speak at the People’s Pledge Congress at Westminster Central Hall. The congress on ‘The Euro zone crisis and the case for an EU Referendum” will also be attended by MEP Dan Hannan and MPs such as Zac Goldsmith and Kate Hoey. Douglas says, “After having campaigned for an EU referendum for quite some time, I am delighted to see that people are finally taking action. I am honoured to speak at the Congress.”


17 OCT 2011

Speaking at Coastal and Marine APPG

 

On Monday, Douglas will be speaking on the Coastal and Marine APPG meeting at the Palace of Westminster. Mr. George, MP for West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and Mr. Woodcock, MP for the Barrow and Furness will also be participating in order to raise awareness of the diversity of regeneration needs on the coast. Douglas says, "Representing Clacton, the economic performance of coastal places is a key concern of mine. I am looking forward to discussing the issues with other MPs."


05 OCT 2011

Fish and Chips with Jeremy Hunt MP

 

On Thursday, Douglas, together with Councillor Linda Mead, will be hosting a fish-and-chip supper at the Holland Public Hall, Holland-on-Sea. His guest of honour will be Jeremy Hunt MP, the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport.  

Jeremy will be giving a short speech and taking questions from the floor. The event is now fully booked, and Douglas is looking forward to an entertaining evening, with some hearty debate over Jeremy’s role in the 2012 Olympics and other topics of interest.


28 SEP 2011

Douglas attends Macmillan coffee morning

 

On Friday, Douglas will be attending the Macmillan coffee morning, in the Frinton and Walton Masonic Hall, Frinton-on-Sea. 

Douglas says, “I am proud to be participating in a fundraising event for such a worthy cause. The volunteers at Macmillan perform an invaluable service for cancer patients and their families across the country. It is events like this which enable them to continue their vital work.”


21 SEP 2011

Douglas addresses TENpag meeting

 

On Wednesday, Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s MP, addressed the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group (TENpag) at St Bartholomew’s Church Hall. Douglas spoke about his work for Clacton and fielded questions from the audience.   

“It’s inspiring to see what a group of dedicated individuals can do when they work together,” Douglas said. “TENpag’s example shows that retirement need not mean slowing down!”


29 JUN 2011

Sandcastles for William and Kate

 

Tomorrow Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s MP, will be judging the efforts of construction professionals to build a palace fit for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

 

The competition is due to take place on the esplanade at Frinton-on-Sea and will see teams trying to build the best sandcastle for the Royal Couple.

 

The event is organised by the Daniel Connal Partnership, a firm of chartered surveyors, to promote the construction industry locally.


22 JUN 2011

Douglas takes action for the Coastguard

 

Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, met with representatives of the Walton Coastguard to receive a petition to keep the Walton Station open.

 

“I am really impressed by the work local people are doing to save their Coastguard Station,” says Douglas. “Local knowledge has probably saved lives in the past and locals want it to continue to do so in the future.”

 

The petition was handed over to Douglas by Karen Paradise, the Watch Manager at the station, to pass on to Mike Penning, the Minister responsible for the plans to close the Station.

 

“I would urge people who want to save the facility to sign the petition. It is ultimately local people signing the petition that will force the Government to listen and reconsider their plans for the Coastguard.”


13 JUN 2011

Give our Troops the Deal they Deserve

 

Clacton’s MP Douglas Carswell has supported the British Legion’s campaign to ensure Armed forces personnel get the fair treatment they deserve.

 

The Armed Forces Bill was tabled last week and enshrines the Armed Forces Covenant into law. Douglas fully supported the British Legion’s campaign and, thanks to pressure in Parliament, troops have finally got the better deal they deserve.

 

“I think it is vitally important that we look after our servicemen,” says Douglas. “They risk their lives for us and it is only right that the principle of fair treatment for Armed forces personnel and their families is there on the statute books.”

 

The new Bill gives greater support to those injured in service whilst families will benefit from a fund to support schools with high numbers of pupils from Armed forces families.

 

“The new Bill provides opportunities for both the public and private sector to show their appreciation to our brave Armed Forces, veterans and their families.”

 

“I am delighted that the campaign has been a success and that our troops will be getting a better deal that they deserve.”


13 JUN 2011

Helping local businesses

 

Last week Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, visted Barclays in Clacton to learn more about the support they offer local businesses and start-ups.

 

"Given the current economic climate it is vital that local business is given the help it needs to flourish," says Douglas. "It was great to see what Barclays is doing to offer support to local entrepreneurs."

 

L-R: David Ryding, Simon Cudmore, Robert Gall, Douglas, Alex Williams  

 

L–R: David Ryding, Simon Cudmore, Robert Gall, Douglas, Alex Williams


06 JUN 2011

MP brings Clacton Together

 

Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, is taking the initiative by bringing all elected representatives from the town together for a round table meeting. He has invited every local district and county councillors representing Clacton to a forum on June 15th at Imperial House.

“Many towns and villages across Tendring have a local council. For various reasons, Clacton doesn’t. As the town’s MP, I want to make sure that Clacton has a local forum that will help ensure that our town’s point-of-view and priorities are heard” he said. “We need to ensure that decision-makers listen to Clacton”. 

“It will be open to anyone elected by local people. I am keen to work with councillors from all parties and I propose that we keep this as an all party group so that we do all we can to help local people” says Douglas.

“Most of the things that really matter to local people are not really anything to do with party politics. That is why we need to work together like this, and ensure that people listen to what Clacton wants”.

There will be no formal agenda, but issues expected to come up for discussion include the long awaited kidney dialysis centre, the Local Development Framework and concerns about sea defences. people” says Douglas.


01 JUN 2011

Protect the Greens

 

This weekend Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, visited the Clacton-on-Sea Bowling Club to learn more about the sport and enjoy a fiercely fought game of Bowls.

“It was great to spend some time at the club and learn more both about the club and about bowling,” says Douglas.

“I was very impressed with what I saw and really enjoyed watching the game.”

“Bowling greens have been an important feature of English towns and villages for many years and I think it is important that we take steps to protect them as part of our heritage.”

This week Douglas signed EDM 1709 to support proposals to improve planning protection for bowling greens and to introduce a community right to buy any green up for sale.


31 MAY 2011

Skills in Tendring are a top priority

 

Last week Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s MP, made a visit to the Tendring Skills Centre at Clacton Coastal Academy.

“The Tendring Skills Centre is unique,” says Douglas. “With students finding it harder and harder to find work it is brilliant to see a local centre giving young people the best chance of securing employment.”

The Centre opened in September and provides training geared towards the Clacton’s key industries – retail, hospitality and catering, and health and social care.

“It was great to be shown round the centre and to have the opportunity to see the enthusiasm students and staff. It is clear to me why the Centre has been hailed as one of the best in the UK.”

The centre is based in a self-contained wing of the former Bishops Park College – now one of Clacton Coastal Academy’s two sites.


25 MAY 2011

A trip to the seaside

 

Last Saturday Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, spoke about the future of Clacton as a holiday resort at the Clacton and Holland Beach Hut Association AGM.

“It was wonderful to be invited to speak at the AGM and to have the opportunity to talk to local people about something so close to their hearts,” says Douglas.

“Clacton-on-Sea is Essex’s most popular seaside resort and I think we all want to keep it that way.”

“The seaside remains a fundamental part of British identity and it was great to meet with so many local people committed to ensuring that Clacton continues to be a coastal retreat.”

The Clacton and Holland Beach Hut Association looks after the interests of beach hut owners in Clacton and Holland.


12 MAY 2011

Fish discard disgrace

 

Following the success of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s fish fight campaign Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, has helped secure a three hour debate in the House of Commons on the issue of fish discards and the EU common fisheries policy.

“Discarding is senseless and completely wasteful,” says Douglas. “It is high time that Westminster politicians push for the changes needed to end this illogical practice.”

“It seems ridiculous that we should throw away food when so many people are starving. Moreover local fishermen have been suffering financially by being unable to sell these discarded fish.”

The Common Fisheries Policy is European law. Due to the UK’s membership of the European Union it must be applied in UK fishing waters.

“This is a classic example Europe making ill-conceived laws that Britain must follow. I strongly believe Britain would be better off outside of the EU and a referendum on EU membership is long overdue.”

You can support the fish fight campaign at www.fishfight.net .


27 APR 2011

Wedding Fever

 

Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s MP, is looking forward to the Royal wedding. Douglas will be attending a celebratory buffet lunch at the Burrsville Community Infant School on Thursday and is encouraging local residents to likewise celebrate the upcoming nuptials.

“The Royal Wedding will be an historic event for the whole country and one not to be missed,” said Douglas. “I am really looking forward to getting out and enjoying the celebrations with my family.”

“Street parties are a great opportunity for communities to come together and I am delighted to see so many organised in my local area. It is heartening to see such Community Spirit, and I am proud to live in Clacton. Bring on the bunting!”


18 APR 2011

Tendring Breakfast Club

 

Last Wednesday Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, spoke at the monthly meeting of the Tendring Breakfast Club.

“It was great to have a chance to talk to local business people about their concerns and issues affecting their businesses,” says Douglas.

“I think it is vitally important that we support local businesses and local jobs in these tough times. It is reassuring to see so many local business people coming together and encouraging new businesses in Tendring.”

The Club convenes on the second Wednesday of every month and provides a networking opportunity for businesses that do business in Tendring and further afield.


13 APR 2011

Walton Coastguard

 

This week Douglas Carswell, Walton’s MP, visited the Coastguard in Walton to discuss firsthand what the Governments proposed changes to the Coastguard might mean to the people that work there.

“Local people are concerned about the proposed plans to close Walton Coastguard,” said Douglas. “People are worried that the loss of local knowledge closing the station will lead to the loss of lives. I am taking steps to ensure that Ministers and officials in London are aware of these concerns.”

The consultation process on the proposed changes continues until early May. People can have their say on the consultation at mgca.gov.uk.


12 APR 2011

Walk on the wild side

  

This Saturday Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s MP, joined local residents when he opened the new petting zoo at Martello Tower F in Clacton.

“It was fantastic to see so many people there for the opening,” says Douglas. “The zoo will not only be a great family day out but a place for the community to get together .”

The Iconic Clacton landmark has been reopened as a petting zoo. Alpacas, pigmy goats and donkeys are some of the animals that will be available. The tower itself will be opening as a tea room and there will be a museum space detailing the history of Martello Towers.

“I was honoured to be involved in the reopening of Martello Towers, and look forward to visiting the petting zoo with my family in the future.”


30 MAR 2011

Ireland and Portugal don't need another credit card

  

Clacton’s MP Douglas Carswell has spoken out this week on Radio 4 against recent EU bailouts. Douglas is concerned that all the painful savings the Government has made over the last year will be wiped out by bailouts and loans to other European countries like Ireland and Portugal.

“There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks about the last Labour Government maxing out the Nation’s credit card. Making these loans to Ireland and Portugal is like giving those countries another credit card,” says Douglas.

“These loans not in our best interests. Realistically if these loans were commercially viable these countries would be raising the money on the markets, not seeking a bailout from the EU.”

Douglas acknowledges that it is in Britain’s interests that Ireland and Portugal do recover, however rather than forcing high interest loans on Eurozone countries Douglas believes we should be encouraging them to decouple from the Euro and restructure their existing loans.


24 MAR 2011

Westminster flies the flag

photo courtesy of The Flag InstituteThe Palace of Westminster will start to fly the Union Jack permanently, following a campaign backed by Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell.

From today the Union Jack will permanently fly at Westminster Palace, having previously only been flown on special occasions. Today Douglas attended a reception in the House of Lords to mark this event.

Admiral the Lord West of Spithead GCD DCS PC and Andrew Rosindell MP hosted the reception on behalf of the Flags Heraldry Committee and The Flag Institute.

Douglas says, “I am honoured to have attended this reception to mark this historic occasion. It is important that we show that the National flag is not a symbol that can be hijacked by political extremists but is instead a symbol of national pride.”

The National flag will now be permanently flown from the Palace of Westminster as a symbol of national culture and citizenship.


21 MAR 2011

Postcards of old Walton

 

Last week Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, joined locals attending an exhibition of images old Walton on postcards to celebrate the book launch of "Postcards from...Walton-on-the-Naze."

 "It was fantastic to see so many local people attending this community event," says Douglas. "I found the images of Walton throughout its history fascinating. It is evident how much the town has retained its Victorian charm despite the passage of 100 years."

The exhibit marks the launch of the new publication "Postcards from...Walton-on-the-Naze," a handbook to accompany a historic walk around Walton.

"I would recommend the walk to anyone interested in Walton's history and any enthusiastic rambler.  It takes in the historic Naze tower and some sights of the Town as well  as the unspoilt coastline and countryside surrounding Walton-on-the-Naze."

A map of the Walton walk shown as part of the BBC coast season can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/essex/content/articles/2005/06/30/coast05walk_start.shtml

 


08 MAR 2011

Local planning decisions to be made by local people

 

Clacton’s MP, Douglas Carswell, believes that local people should be making local planning decisions, not regional quangos or central government.

“Local people have a right to decide what kind of development takes place in their area’” says Douglas. “Planning decisions have been made at a regional level for far too long. It is time to give the power to local people and local councils.”

The Government has promised reforms designed to give more input to local councillors when it comes to local planning decisions. Douglas has been pressing for action to ensure these changes actually happen.

“These reforms will bring about a much needed change. People are unhappy with regional planning policies. They want decisions to be made locally. Having spoken to local people I took action. I want to know that these reforms will be taking place and local people will have a say in local decisions.”

Douglas has put the following written questions to Minister for Local Government Eric Pickles:

1. The Minister has stated that he plans to reform the rules that are currently prejudicial to local interests allowing local councillors input into planning decisions. When will these reforms take effect?

2. Tendring District Council was required to build a certain number of houses to satisfy the regional planning policy. When will the system be changed so that the number of homes that are built in Tendring is an entirely local decision?


17 FEB 2011

Action on Jaywick and West Clacton GP Services

 

Jaywick’s MP, Douglas Carswell, has raised the issue of GP services with Ministers.

“Local people in Jaywick and West Clacton have a right to good local GP services,” says Douglas.

“Safeguarding the local NHS is a personal priority for me.”

The government is considering NHS reforms designed to improve local health care. However, local MP Douglas is demanding assurances that any changes will mean change for the better.

“Change can be good, but we need to know that it will improve local access to GP services.”

“For years local residents in Jaywick and Clacton West did not always get the GP services they deserved. Having listened to local people, I took action and local NHS officials responded. I want to know that safeguards will be in place to prevent any failures happening again.”

Douglas has put the following questions to Health Minister Andrew Lansley:

1. What impact his proposals for NHS reforms will have on GP services in Jaywick and West Clacton?

2. What assurances can the Minister give that any NHS reforms will safeguard GP services in Jaywick and West Clacton, in view of the fact that the Primary Care Trust has previously had to intervene?

3. How will NHS reforms help tackle inequalities in health provision in Tendring?

 


02 FEB 2011

How much crime is there where you live?

Local residents can now find out how many crimes and incidence of anti-social behaviour there are where they live.

The new www.police.uk website allows people to see in detail what offences are being reported - and help hold local police directly to account.

"Have a look and see for yourself"

"This is just one more step towards ensuring that the criminal justice system answers to local people - not to remote officials in Whitehall" explains Douglas.  "The next step is to allow local people to directly elect a Police Commissioner for Essex to set local priorities.  The days when local people had to make-do with the priorities set for them in London are over.  It is for local people to work with the local police to set priorities - and share responsibility in the fight against crime". 

The new "crime mapping" site also allows local people to contact named local officers directly. 


17 JAN 2011

Douglas welcomes super-fast broadband for Frinton-on-Sea

 

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has welcomed BT’s recent announcement that over 9,500 premises in Frinton-on-Sea will be able to access super-fast fibre broadband from Spring 2012.

‘‘A number of constituents from Frinton-on-Sea have contacted me over the past year to express their concern about slow broadband speeds in the area. I am therefore really pleased that Frinton-on-Sea will be benefiting from the next phase of BT’s super-fast broadband deployment.’’

‘‘This is great news for many residents in Frinton-on-Sea and I believe this investment will have vast economic advantages for business in the constituency as a whole.’’


14 JAN 2011

Busy surgeries for local residents

Douglas has begun 2011 with a round of busy MP Advice Surgeries in Walton, Clacton and elsewhere in the constituency.

Over the weeks ahead, he will hold Advice Surgeries in Jaywick, Frinton, Kirby, Thorpe and St Osyth too.  If you are a constituent, and would like Douglas to help you with an issue, do please make an appointment to attend his next local Surgery.


08 DEC 2010

Douglas joins APPG on Coastal Erosion

 

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, will be joining an All Party Parliamentary Group on Coastal Erosion, which he is helping to set up in Westminster.

 

“Coastal erosion is a significant problem in my constituency, including in Jaywick and Walton on the Naze. I think this group is very important as it will allow MP’s with similar problems in their constituencies to discuss how erosion is affecting constituents and how this problem can be combated.”

 

“Some of the major causes for concern in my constituency are the erosion of the sea wall at the Naze, and coastal erosion in Jaywick. I am aware that the Environment Agency has recently visited the Naze site with councillors from TDC, with the aim of finding a long-term solution to this problem. It is issues like these that I would like to discuss with other MPs to compare the action that has been taken with other constituencies and to see if there is anything else I can be doing to help.”


22 NOV 2010

Douglas welcomes Korean Veterans Association to Westminster

 

Last Monday, Douglas Carswell MP welcomed a group from the Clacton District Korean Veterans Association to Parliament.

 

“I am delighted to welcome members of the local Korean Veterans Association to Westminster, and I very much hope that they enjoyed their tour of Parliament. It is especially fitting that I met with the Veterans Association today, in light of the Remembrance Sunday events taking place around the country yesterday.”

 

Last Sunday, Douglas attended a Remembrance service in Walton on the Naze. The service, organised by the Royal British Legion, was held at Walton Parish Church Memorial Gardens.

 

"I was honoured to take part in this service and I felt immensely proud watching our young Royal Marine Cadets on parade. We owe our troops - both past and present - a huge deal, and I think the large turnout in Walton and in other areas around my constituency shows how highly we respect the job they do."


15 NOV 2010

Compensation will be paid soon to Equitable Life policyholders

 

From the outset, the Coalition Government has sought to deliver a quick and just resolution to Equitable Life’s policyholders.

 

The Ombudsman recommended that the government should compensate for a relative loss, that is, the difference between what policyholders who invested from September 1992 onwards received from their policies and what they the policies would have amounted to had they been invested elsewhere. It is also necessary to consider the potential impact on the public purse of any payment of compensation.

 

A total of £1.5 billion has been made available as compensation and all payments to policyholders will be tax free.

 

Douglas says, “I know how concerned some of my constituents have been about ensuring a just settlement for po licyholders – and I believe that policyholders deserve a fair deal.  Although I appreciate that full compensation for every case will not be given , I do hope that people find it a major improvement on where we were under the previous Government.”

 

The Independent Payments commission will be reporting back to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, by the end of January with the proposed design of the payments scheme.

 

“I have been advised that policyholders should expect the first payment of compensation in the middle of 2011. Policyholders have waited a long time for justice and I would like to assure my constituents that the Government will deliver on our election promises.”


15 OCT 2010

Members of the travelling community should have to obey planning laws

 

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s comments during Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons that the travelling community should have to obey the same planning laws as everyone else.

 

“A number of constituents have contacted me to express their concern about groups of travellers encamped in the local area” explains Douglas.

 

"The previous Government's policy has harmed community cohesion, and respect for the democratic process, by creating a perception that planning rules are not always applied equally."

 

"The Coalition Government is concerned about the growing number of unauthorised developments and encampments and the problems they cause within communities. Ministers are now looking at ways to strengthen the powers available to local councils to more effectively tackle unauthorised development."  

 

“I think it is important that travellers are never targeted or discriminated against because they are travellers. Our planning laws should respect everybody equally, regardless of their background and heritage.”

 

“That means that there must be one law and one set of rules, applied equally, and obeyed by all. That is fair”.


29 SEP 2010

Douglas appears on Channel 4's Dispatches

 

Last week, Douglas appeared on Channel 4’s Dispatches to discuss the failures of the Ministry of Defence budget. The programme, “How the MoD wastes our billions”, examined whether the British taxpayer and British troops are getting value for money from the department.

 

Amongst other issues, the programme investigated the provision of poor equipment for British troops. The majority of this equipment is supplied by a few privileged suppliers, effectively making the arms industry one of the last state-subsidised industries left in the U.K.

 

Douglas says, “I don’t really see how those like me, on the centre right, who believe in choice and competition, can really square that believe in choice and competition to raise standards, with what is going on with defence procurement. It’s a form of irrational economic insanity, but the price we’re paying is not simply that there’s an industry that is not made as efficient as it should be. The price is paid by our armed forces- that’s what makes this so outrageous”.

 

“When I hear politicians talking about the fact that if we ended some of these contracts there would be job losses- I want to turn around and ask those people, do they really think that the primary purpose of our defence budget is a job creation scheme? Because if it is, I think they should go out to Afghanistan and explain that to our soldiers”.


21 SEP 2010

Douglas helps to launch Clacton branch of Essex Savers at Clacton Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas helped to launch the Clacton branch of Essex Savers at Clacton Library on Friday, 10 September.

 

Essex Savers provides a "local ethical banking" alternative for people to save in a safe place, and seeks to provide "Fair Finance For All". The Clacton branch will be open every Friday from 3pm-5pm at Clacton Library.

 

Douglas says, "It's great to see Essex Savers doing so well locally, offering people the chance to save their money safely and manage their finances securely. And it's great to see our local library being used as a focal point for the community".


20 SEP 2010

Douglas seeks to reform the banks

 

Last week, Douglas introduced a Bill designed to reform the banking system and to prevent banks automatically treating individuals money as if it were their own.

 

Douglas’ Financial Services (Regulation of Deposits and Lending) Bill aims to give consumers greater protection – and also seeks to prevent the build up of credit bubbles, followed by busts.

 

Douglas says, “At present, when you deposit money in a bank, that bank - not you - legally owns the money.  The banks can - and do - use that money as they please. They can issue credit against it many times over.

 

“This is a form of legal privilege that banks have, which no other business is allowed. It’s wrong that banks should automatically be able to issue credit against your deposits again and again and again.

 

At the height of the credit bubble, for every £1 deposited at the bank, banks had issued over £40 worth of IOUs. UK banking resembled a giant credit pyramid. No wonder the money ran out.”

 

The current legal status of bank deposits allows banks to create as much credit as they want during the boom times. But as we have seen, they then have to turn to the taxpayer when reality comes home. My Bill seeks to prevent this happening again”.

 

The second reading of the bill will be on Friday 19th November.


13 SEP 2010

"Why have NHS management costs increased?" asks MP

 

Figures show that management costs and consultancy fees for NHS North East Essex Primary Care Trust have soared over the past four years.

 

Management costs that were £6.27 million in 2006/07 have increased to £12.74 million for the year 2009/10. Likewise, consultancy fees have grown from £555,000 in 2006/07 to £1.95 million in 2009/10.

 

 

09/10

08/09

(restatement)

08/09

07/08

06/07

Management Costs £’000

12,742

9,570

7,148

5,979

6,267

Consultancy Fees £’000

1,947

1,416

1,416

1,221

555

 

 

Douglas says, “Over a three year period, management costs doubled. We need an explanation as to why it now costs twice as much to pay management costs as it did three years ago. What has changed? Consultancy fees have also increased; by nearly four-fold in 36 months. Could money be better spent so that it gets to the front-line here in Tendring?”

 

“Local people in Jaywick and West Clacton have not had access to the GP services they deserved in recent months. They will want to know why all of this extra money went on management costs and consultancy fees, but didn’t deliver the kind of local NHS services they have a right to expect.”

 

“It is right that this extra money has gone in to the local NHS, but we need to ensure it is spent on things that improve actual patient care, not on administration costs.”

 

“I would like to see the Primary Care Trust provide a detailed breakdown of the cost increases so local people can decide if it is money well spent.”


02 SEP 2010

Frinton Literary Festival 2010

The Frinton Literary Festival will take place from Friday 24 - Sunday 26 September this year.

Douglas says, “This is a great event for all of the family to enjoy. This year, authors will be visiting all 5 local primary schools in Frinton and Tendring Technology College. I highly recommend for people to take part in this year’s festival and enjoy all that is on offer”.

A number of talks by noted authors will take place at Frinton Golf Club and a quiz night will be held on Friday 10 September at 7.30pm in McGrigor Hall to raise funds for the Festival.

“I urge people to head down to the quiz night to show their support for this wonderful event. If anyone needs more information about any of these events it can be found on www.frinton.org/events”.


30 AUG 2010

Good news about Green Flag Awards for local green spaces

Clacton Seafront and Marina Gardens and Crescent Garden in Frinton on Sea have been awarded Green Flags this year.

“I am delighted by this news as I think it is very important that my constituents have access to good quality green spaces", says Douglas.

The Green Flag Award Scheme has been successful in raising the standards of Britain’s gardens and parks. It is a highly regarded award and recognises green spaces that communities treasure.

“Parks and gardens are very valuable to people and increasing numbers of local people are contributing to these projects, to help their communities .This is a good example of Big Society in action, and anyone who has helped to get this result deserves to be applauded”.

 

 


29 JUL 2010

Douglas welcomes news of Big Lottery Fund grant for constituency charity Inclusion Ventures

 

Douglas is delighted to hear news that Inclusion Ventures has been awarded a grant of £500,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.

 

Inclusion Ventures supports young people in Clacton and Jaywick by providing educational, physical and recreational activities to encourage positive behaviour to improve their futures.

 

Douglas says, “I am delighted to hear news of this funding for Inclusion Ventures. I am aware that the charity’s future was under threat from funding cuts, and I am happy that they will now be able to continue providing such a valuable service for young people in areas of need in my constituency.”

 

Inclusion Ventures provides a free drop-in service for young people aged 7-18 at Coppins Hall community centre in Clacton and Jaywick Methodist Church and Jaywick Resource Centre. The drop-in sessions are split into age groups and activities, including sports, are offered. The charity also introduces young people to voluntary and statutory groups such as the youth service, drug and alcohol service and the crime reduction charity NACRO.

 

“This is great news for our community and I hope that more young people will now be able to benefit from the services that Inclusion Ventures provide in our local area,” says Douglas


14 JUL 2010

Douglas welcomes St. Andrew's School from Weeley to Westminster

 

Last week, Class 6 from St. Andrew’s School in Weeley came to visit the Houses of Parliament. During the tour, the class learned about how Parliament works and how laws are made.

 

The class presented Douglas with a scarf as part of the ‘One Goal-Send My Friend to School’ campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness about global education issues and to ensure that education is a right for everyone.

 

“I am delighted to lend my support to the ‘One Goal-Send My Friend to School’ Campaign. It is a very worthwhile campaign and it is heartening to see school children from my constituency working together to secure education for other children around the world”.

 


06 JUL 2010

Douglas welcomes development of Clacton Town Centre

 

Douglas Carswell welcomes news of £325,000 improvement works for Pier Avenue South in Clacton on Sea.

 

The project is a partnership between Essex County Council and Tendring District Council and work will begin in September, with a completion date set for December. Funding is being provided by the Haven Gateway Partnership.

 

The project involves a number of improvement works including widening of footpaths, planting new trees, providing more parking spaces, installing new street lighting, fitting new street furniture and improving the road surface.

 

Douglas says, “This is great news for Clacton-on-Sea. I am aware that a number of constituents have expressed concerns about the lack of parking in Clacton Town Centre, and the development of more parking spaces is welcome news.”

 

The facelift will connect the town centre to the seafront and will help to boost tourism in the area, as it will provide a more appealing environment for visitors.

 

“Some constituents have also highlighted their worries about anti-social behaviour in this part of town. The installation of CCTV equipment on the street and the fact that traffic will now be allowed to use Pier Avenue in the evening should help to reduce this problem. I am delighted that this project has been given the go-ahead.”


28 JUN 2010

Douglas: "It is time for Equitable Life policyholders to get the justice they deserve"

 

Douglas welcomes the announcement by the Coalition Government that it will make fair payment to Equitable Life policyholders, through an independently designed payment scheme. 

 

The Government has announced that there should be no means testing and that the dependents of deceased policyholders should be included in the scheme.

 

Douglas says, “I welcome this announcement by the Government. Within a few weeks of coming into power they have done what Labour failed to do in over 12 years. At every stage of the process Labour sought to delay, frustrate, and block policyholders from receiving justice.”

 

Since 2000 there have been detailed investigations and reviews into what went wrong at Equitable Life. It was found that maladministration occurred, and it was agreed that payment should be made in relation to losses suffered as a result.

 

The new Government quickly announced in the Queen’s Speech, on 25 May 2010, that it will introduce a Bill to allow payments to be made to Equitable Life policyholders.

 

“Ever since I first entered Parliament, it has been evident that a number of my constituents have been affected by this Equitable Life farce. I am happy to say that this Government is working hard to address the situation as quickly as possible.”


21 JUN 2010

Armed Forces Day commemorated in Clacton-on-Sea

 

Douglas attended the specially commissioned hoisting of the flag outside Clacton Town Hall on June 21 to commemorate Armed Forces Day.

 

The Rev David Titley officiated at the ceremony which was also attended by a number of organisations including the RAF Association, the Royal British Legion, the Merchant Navy, Royal Naval Association, and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

 

The flag will be flown through until Saturday, June 26, the day designated by the Government as Armed Forces Day.

 

Douglas says, “I am honoured to have attended this ceremony to honour those who serve, and who have served, for our country. It is very important that we show our support to our troops”.

 

The first Armed Forces Day was commemorated last year and all communities are encouraged to join in the event this year.

Douglas Attends Armed Forces Day Commemoration Ceremony


15 JUN 2010

Douglas supports proposal to regenerate Walton-on-the-Naze

 

Local MP Douglas Carswell supports the recent report to regenerate Walton-on-the-Naze.

 

The report, paid for by the Haven Gateway Partnership, outlines plans to build a stronger local economy and help to preserve the town’s attractions.

 

Douglas says, “Walton-on-the-Naze has such huge potential. These exciting new proposals present a real opportunity for the town. It would be great to see more tourists coming to this area to see the local attractions such as the Naze Tower and Walton Pier.”

 

Although funding is not yet available for most of the proposed plans, it is hoped that InTend will be able to generate funding.

 

Walton-on-the-Naze was a popular tourist destination until foreign holidays increased in popularity in the early 1990s.

 

“More and more people are starting to holiday in the UK again as a result of the current economic climate. It would be good to see some of those people coming to enjoy all that Walton-on-the-Naze has to offer”, says Douglas.


07 MAY 2010

Douglas re-elected MP

Over half of voters backed Douglas as their MP in the May 2010 General Election. 

The results were as follows:

Conservative - 22,867

Labour - 10,799

Lib Dem - 5,577

BNP - 1,975

Independents - 1,905

Majority: 12,068 


23 MAR 2010

Action against cowboy clampers

Cowboy clampers demanding hundreds of pounds off local shoppers who park in the wrong place are a growing menace, says local MP, Douglas Carswell.  And they threaten to drive trade out of our town centers.

Now Douglas is promising action to stop motorists being charged huge, unnecessary fines by unscrupulous cowboy clampers.

“Some of these cowboy clampers are starting to be a real problem.  I have been contacted by a number of local people who have been bullied into paying huge sums of money to these companies, contributing to an industry that is now reported to be worth around one billion pounds per year.”

Douglas explains, “The government has ignored this problem for years.  I think it is unacceptable and outrageous that drivers suddenly become powerless when they park on private land that is monitored by a private wheel clamping company.”

Douglas is backing new plans to force clampers to follow a strict code of conduct.  Clamping on private land will be totally banned if private clamping companies show that they are unable or unwilling to operate within these new guidelines.

“I accept that private landowners should have the ability to take action against those that are parking on their land without permission. However, some clamping companies employ a threatening manner to collect fines and constituents have voiced their concerns about unclear signage, the towing of their vehicles within a very short time frame, expensive release fees, and the lack of a formal appeals process.”

“It is about time that these cowboy clampers are held to account”.


01 MAR 2010

Rising fuel bills a problem for older folk

Douglas Carswell asked the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change about the Government’s failure to ensure that people have the ability to heat their homes.

Douglas explains, "The inability of people to heat their homes is a big issue with older folk- especially in Clacton and Jaywick. A large number of people have contacted me during the winter months about the lack of heating in their homes, and others have highlighted their concerns about the delays in getting Warm Front to install heating".

"This has been a matter of great concern to me as this winter has been the coldest in decades. However, there are still a number of constituents who have been struggling".

Douglas explains, "Three and a quarter million of the four million households that are unable to finance heating in their homes in the UK are designated as being vulnerable households. It seems unlikely that the Government is going to meet their 2010 target for helping these households to pay for their heating".

Douglas has helped many local people apply for help through Warm Front. "I want to see a big push to get more homes insulated before next winter, to avoid this problem again".


15 FEB 2010

Gazette column

I was saddened to hear of the death of Roy Smith, one of Tendring’s longest serving district councillors. Roy served our community for four decades. Being somewhat above party politics, he had stood for more than one political party over the years.

One of the reasons I suspect Roy managed to achieve such a personal following was the fact that he took such a close personal interest in other people. On a number of occasions, I would bump into him, and start chatting. Half an hour would quickly slip by without either of us noticing. He will be missed.

Dozens of local people have contacted me about the loud bangs coming from Shoeburyness in recent weeks. When I first became your MP, I was told by the powers-that-be that the explosions from the MoD test site were all to do with training for our armed forces.

After persistent questioning, I have discovered that is not quite the full picture. Often the bangs are the result of commercial disposal of old munitions, rather than training or testing. And a private company seems to be being paid for it.

I promise to keep up the pressure. Local home-owners have a right to know why their houses are being shaken - and what they can do about it.

In a few week’s time, council tax bills will start to land on the doormat. Once again, I find myself asking if council tax is really the fairest way to pay for local services? Council tax seems especially unfair on pensioners and older people.

I would like to see a complete review of the council tax – and serious consideration given to the alternatives, such as a local income tax or a local sales tax in place of VAT.

So often in politics I am told that change is impossible - "Carswell, it can’t be done". Change is possible if there is the political will.

Speaking of which, my Bill demanding a referendum on Britain’s EU membership comes before Parliament this month. For a generation it has been left to politicians and diplomats to decide our relations with Europe.  Now it is time to give the people a direct say. Surely the only argument against such a referendum is fear of the outcome?

Is it my imagination, or is there just the faintest hint of spring in the air? I have started buying seeds for the garden. There is nothing like mentally mapping out the vegetable patch to cheer me up on cold, frosty mornings!


01 FEB 2010

Shoeburyness explosions

A record number of local people are being disturbed by the Shoeburyness tremors. "Recent weeks have seen a barrage of loud bangs from the MoD site" explains local MP, Douglas Carswell. Over 70 local residents have now been in touch with him, each with their own stories of disturbance and disruption.

The so-called Shoeburyness tremors are caused by explosions at the MoD test site across the water in south Essex, near Shoeburyness. The tremors cause homes to shake and even, it has been alleged, some damage.

"Everyone understands that our armed forces need to train. But the reality is that the loud explosions from the test site are more often caused by commercial waste disposal operations, than by military training." says Douglas.

Having listened to local people, Douglas has taken action, demanding to know precisely what was behind the bangs. In response, Douglas has discovered that the November explosions were the result of a waste disposal operation to destroy anti-radar missile warheads. "This is not training" says Douglas. "It is a commercial activity for which a private company appears to be being paid money."

"It is important to make a distinction between the need of our armed forces to train, and the needs of a commercial operation to dispose of old munitions".

Douglas is now trying to find out precisely how much the contract to dispose of munitions is worth.

"Local people have a right to know what the deal is between the MoD and this big defence contractor".


18 JAN 2010

Open Road gets my vote

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, presented a cheque to Clacton charity, Open Road.  Douglas donated his £200 prize money, which he had been given for being voted "Britain's Best MP", to help Open Road help drug and alcohol abusers.

"Open Road deals with social problems that many others seem to prefer to sweep under the carpet." he says.

It is not the first time Douglas has backed Open Road - he spent several days one summer, with a team of volunteers, building a new garden for the charity.

"Too often we leave it to statutory agencies and government to tackle local problems.  Open Road shows that the best way of dealing with social issues is through civic organisations and local charities".

In the online poll run by Yoosk.com, to find Britain's Best MP, Douglas Carswell won 47% of the vote.


06 JAN 2010

Briton of the Year

Local MP Douglas Carswell has been  nominated one of the "Briton's of the Year" by a national newspaper, as well as being voted "Britain's best MP" in an online poll.  Read the citation here.
 
The Daily Telegraph nominated 25 individuals who had shaped national events over the past twelve months.  Douglas was nominated as a "plucky backbench MP" whose "principled stance" against the Westminster establishment brought down the Commons Speaker and forced change.  
 
Seperately, the online poll was organised by www.Yoosk.com to find the best MP of the past year.  Thousands of internet users took part in it.  Douglas won with 47% of the vote, while his closest rival, Labour's Gisela Stuart, polled 16%.
 
Douglas says "It's nice to have won, but what really counts with me is what local people think."
 
"It's important to me that local folk get the services that our area deserves.  That's my main concern."


14 DEC 2009

Thorpe Christmas fair

Douglas joined hundreds of local residents in Thorpe-le-Soken for the late night shopping and Christmas fair.

Thorpe high street has been lit up by some lovely Christmas lights on lamp posts.  Douglas was out and about doing some Christmas shopping - and chatting.


03 DEC 2009

Speaking to NFU

Douglas was invited to address the local branch of the National Union of Farmers.  The local branch AGM brought together farmers from across Tendring.

Douglas listened to local concerns - about both local and national matters.  He outlined his views of what needs to be done to support farmers.


16 NOV 2009

Douglas at the Ark

The Ark, which does so much to support children and families in Harwich, invited local MP, Douglas Carswell, for a visit.

Douglas learnt more about the Ark and the work that it does.

"The Ark has been part of the local community for decades.  It has been providing early intervention to support local people years before the term became fashionable in government"

"I am fully behind the Ark - and the great team that makes it what it is".


13 NOV 2009

Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards

Douglas has won The Spectator/Threadneedle Readers’ Representative Award 2009.  The award, which was presented by Boris Johnson, is a great honour as it is the only award given out by The Spectator that is solely voted for by the public.

Douglas says, “I would like to say a big thank you to my constituents, who have put me here today and whose encouragement I value tremendously.”

Readers voted for Douglas because of his radical, reformist agenda.  Not only did he bring down the Commons Speaker, but he has promoted changes that would make government properly accountable to Parliament, and Parliament answerable to the people. 

Douglas used his speech at the event to reiterate his vision for Westminster, which includes making MPs outwardly accountable to voters, open primaries for every seat in the House of Commons, and right of recall so that local people can sack their MP’s if they think they are not up for the job.

He said in his speech, “If parliament answered to the people, I think there would be real dignity in our democracy once again. Too many people in Westminster, in SW1, answer only to other people in Westminster and SW1.”


09 NOV 2009

Remembrance Sunday in Clacton

Douglas Carswell MP joined hundreds of local people to mark Remembrance Sunday on the sea front. He laid a wreath at the War Memorial, having watched a parade past the town hall.

“It was a moving and poignant occasion” says Douglas. “We were taking part in something that was happening up and down the country.” 

“It is especially important that we show our support to our troops at the moment”.


05 NOV 2009

Gazette Column

The Carswell Column

Who would you most trust to run your local library? Volunteers from a group like Friends of Jaywick Library, or remote government officials? Since local people took over the running of their library at Golf Green Hall, the library has been open for longer hours, offering a wider range of books. It even offers to help some folk with their shopping! 

Who would you most trust to report news accurately? A mass circulation national newspaper, or the local Gazette? All the evidence is that local people trust what they read in local newspapers far more than in the big, corporate media.

Given that locally accountable services are far more reliable than anything run centrally, why is it that so many things are actually run from Whitehall? I suspect it has a lot to do with the vanity of politicians over the years.

We need change to get Big Government off our backs. Those of us who think that local people should actually have control over their local services are called “localists” and our agenda referred to as “localism”. I prefer to call it common sense.

On BBC Radio 4 this week, I was talking about how to improve local services in Clacton and Tendring. Far more important than which minister sits behind which desk in Whitehall, I said, is making sure that it is Tendring people that count.

Last week, I also came in for quite a bit of criticism for daring to challenge the consensus on man-made climate change. Not for the first time as your MP, I discovered that there are some questions that the Westminster establishment would rather that I did not ask.

Having joined Friends of the Earth years before I ever got into politics, I take the environment very seriously. But I just do not happen to believe that the consensus is right about CO2 emissions. 

Iain Plimer, a respected Australian scientist, has shown that human activity only has a marginal effect on the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. More surprisingly, I learnt from him that the CO2 content of the atmosphere does not in fact determine temperature. 

The earth is getting slightly warmer quite naturally, but that is because we are coming out of “the little ice age” – a time when the Thames regularly froze. We are still a long way from the Middles Ages or the Roman era, when temperatures were much warmer. And there were not many human CO2 emissions then, surely, were there?

Local people – especially older folk – are struggling to pay monthly bills. Yet thanks to the hidden subsidies and taxes to “fight climate change”, your monthly electricity bill is some 10 – 20 per cent higher. And it is set to increase by 60 per cent over the next five years. 

And what do they do with all that extra money? Why, they give it to large corporations who then industrialise our countryside with giant wind turbines. Does not seem very green to me.


19 OCT 2009

Backing RNIB's local campaign

The Royal National Institute for the Blind launched their latest campaign in Walton-on-the-Naze - and local MP, Douglas Carswell, was there to give it his support.

The initiative was launched in response to local concerns about the number of cars parked on pavements that then obstructed local people.  The nuisance particularly affects poorly sighted people and the blind.

This is a particular problem in Walton, which has some very narrow, pre-motor car streets.

The new campaign means that anyone parking their car in a way that proves obstructive is given three chances to move it - before action is taken.

"The key issue" says Douglas "is to make drivers aware that blocking narrow pavements can have serious consequences for blind people.  This campaign will ensure that people are made aware when there is a problem.

It is a good example of local people finding a local solution to an issue that particularly affects us here in Walton".


13 OCT 2009

Douglas introduces a Bill to make MPs properly accountable

Here is the text of Douglas Carswell's 10 Minute Rule Bill.  It is designed to ensure that MPs are all properly accountable to local people.

More information about it can be found on his blog site www.TalkCarswell.com :

 

Parliamentary Elections (Recall and Primaries) Bill

A

B I L L

TO

Make provision to require the Secretary of State to make provision for the recall of Members of the House of Commons in specified circumstances; to provide for the holding of primary elections in such circumstances; and for connected purposes

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

1. Recall of Members of the House of Commons

(1) 10% or more of voters in a parliamentary constituency may petition for an election to be held on the issue of the recall of their MP in the circumstances specified by this Act and according to the procedures proscribed by the Act.

(2) The circumstances referred to in subsection (1) are that there is evidence specified or summarised in the recall petition that their Member of Parliament has

(a) acted in a way which is financially dishonest; or

(b) misled the House of Commons; or

(c) broken any promises made or agreed to by him in his election address.

(3) The procedures referred to in subsection (1) are that

(a) at least 1000 voters in the constituency must submit their petition and any further evidence that they may wish to append to the Standards and Privileges Committee (‘the Committee’).

(b) the Committee must then, within one month, decide whether or not the evidence presented to it satisfies the provisions of subsection (2) provided that before making any decision the Committee must invite the MP to make such representations as he sees fit

(4) ) If the Committee decides that the provisions of subsetion2 have been satisfied then either

(a) the Committee can decide that in all the circumstances no further action is required; or

(b) that a reprimand from the Committee is sufficient in this case;

provided that if it is minded to take either of those courses of action then it must invite representations from the petitioners before so deciding; or

(c) if the Committee does not so decide either of the above then the Electoral Returning Officer for that constituency must organise a recall election, in which the question shall be

            ‘should xxx be recalled’   Yes/No’.

(d) If at any recall election a majority of people voting votes ‘yes’ then their MP is recalled and a bi-election must be held within 3 months.

(e) If the Committee decides that the provisions of subsection (2) have not been satisfied or that they have been satisfied but that no further action is required or that a reprimand is sufficient then it must give its reasons in writing to the petitioners.

(f) The Secretary of State may by statutory instrument make provisions for the conduct of recall elections.

2. Primary Elections

(1) If any political party in a House of Commons constituency decides to hold a primary election in that constituency and it has the support of not less than 1000 voters in that constituency on a petition then it shall be the duty of the Electoral Returning Officer for that constituency to organise a primary election to take place at the next time an election is being held in that constituency.

(2) In this section a primary election is an election in which all voters may vote on a short list of candidates presented by the political party concerned.

(3) The candidate that secures most votes in the primary election shall be adopted as the parliamentary candidate by the political party concerned.

(4) The Secretary of State may by statutory instrument make provisions for the conduct of primary elections.

3. Short Title Commencement and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Parliamentary Elections (Recall and Primaries) Bill.

(2) This Act applies to the United Kingdom but only as regards elections relating to the House of Commons.

(3) This Act shall come into force forthwith.


12 OCT 2009

The Carswell column

If there is one single thing I would most like improved in our area, it is local health provision. There seems to be a constant battle to keep services local. 

Peter Bruff ward at Clacton hospital came within a whisker of being shut - saved only by a determined local campaign. Harwich hospital lay underused for months – despite the vast sums of money that were spent on it. Without wanting to fuel local anxieties further, there remain some serious issues with GP provision in some parts of Tendring, too. Local people in the affected areas will know what I am talking about. 

Worse, I have a horrid feeling that the money is about to run out – and our local Primary Care Trust faces the unenviable task of struggling to do more, with less. As your MP, I’m determined that we keep essential local services local.

Money seems to have run out for sea defences, too. Our local council has undertaken some vital repairs at Holland-on-sea. But they would be the first to admit that they have really only applied a sticky plaster. What is needed is a major project for the longer term, which would also give us back our beach!

The amicable Norman Jacobs, of Holland Beach Hut Owners Association, has invited me to speak at their AGM. I hope to have some good news to report – but frankly, I fear our campaign for proper sea defences is going to be a long slog.

Speaking of sea defences, the other day I attended a meeting about a very different sort; World War II military sea defences, to be precise – designed to hold back Germans, rather than the tide. The Victoria County History group’s latest publication catalogues all our historic pill boxes and coastal defences, and is a really important part of our folk record of the past. Well done to Chairman Roger Kennell, Colin Preen and the rest of the gang!

Next week, I introduce a Bill in Parliament designed to make politicians properly accountable. Despite all the noise about reform since I ousted the Speaker, there has not been real change in Westminster.

My Bill will give local voters in every constituency – not just marginal seats - the right to throw out politicians who put their own interests above that of local people.   

I try to avoid mentioning party politics in the Gazette. So when I say that Martin Bell, the anti-sleaze campaigner, is backing my latest campaign to clean up Westminster, I hope you appreciate that this is a genuinely non partisan initiative. It might not make me popular in SW1, but too bad.  Westminster needs a real shake up. 


28 SEP 2009

Kirby Cross coffee morning

Local Kirby Cross residents raised £749 for Macmillan Nurses at a coffee morning on Saturday. The event was held as a local effort in support of a national fundraising scheme.

Organised by Norman Martin at the Masonic Lodge building at Kirby Cross, the event was attended by local MP, Douglas Carswell, and dozens of local people.

"From my casework in the constituency, I know just what a wonderful job Macmillan nurses do. They really makes such a difference to people with cancer.

Well done to everyone at the coffee morning. It was a really worthwhile event - and great to see so many people!

I'll be using some of the damsons I bought at the coffee morning to make lots of jam"


24 SEP 2009

Harwich port

Douglas attended to Harwich port local authority liaison committee, along with other locally elected councillors.

"Harwich port is a major player in the local economy - and it's good to know how things are going.

Once again, the subject of improving the A120 came up.  We need to keep up the pressure for improvement".


21 SEP 2009

Clacton Gazette: The Carswell Column

The start of the new school year is a big event for local mums and dads, as well as children. All the more so when it involves a whole new school. The Clacton Coastal Academy sees Colbayns and Bishops Park become one school.

At a meeting with the new head teacher, Stephen Chamberlain, I was impressed with his enthusiasm. I hope the new Academy makes full use of its independence – and puts a renewed emphasis on standards. 

I was on BBC Radio Essex at the crack of dawn this week discussing the Harwich hospital and health care in Clacton. Despite spending £ millions, the fact is we still do not have the full range of services at the Harwich hospital that we need. Not only did the hospital stand empty for years, but it cost our local Primary Care Trust a fortune - despite not treating any patients!

A very large amount of money has also spent purchasing some state-of-the-art medical equipment – which has, I’m told, never been used to treat anyone in the hospital.

At the same time, a local stroke victim from Walton-on-the-Naze came to see me at my MP Advice Surgery with his wife. They cannot get him the rehabilitation care that he needs. Why? Because the money seems to have run out!   

Over the summer, I was criticised for daring to suggest that the NHS could be reformed, and that we might be able to learn from the free healthcare systems in France or Australia. I fiercely support our local NHS – but as the story of Harwich hospital shows, I do think it can be run better.   

Last summer, I wrote a book called The Plan: 12-months to renew Britain, based on my experiences as your local MP. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle in Westminster because I spelt out quite how rotten I think Parliament has become. For example, I said we needed to oust the Speaker and clean up the Commons. There was outrage from many in Westminster at the time – but, I hope you will agree, it was necessary. 

As a new MP, I have come to the view that politicians from all three political parties have let us down over the past few decades, and that we now need radical change to put our country back on the right track. The Plan spells out how I think we can do that – hence the title. 

Caxton Books in Frinton has now invited me to a special book signing event on Saturday 19th September. I’m deeply flattered!  Please do come along.  

Talking to a local hotelier, apparently visitor numbers to Tendring were up this summer. With the Clacton air show, Frinton summer theatre, Clacton carnival, Jaywick fete and a Frinton music festival, there was certainly a great deal on. I hope that it marks the start of a revival for our holiday industry. 


19 SEP 2009

Clacton in the war

Victoria County History group launched their latest publication in St James church hall, Clacton yesterday.  Douglas was asked to attend and say a few words.

The new publication looks at the sea defences built along the Clacton coastline against the threat of German invasion during World War II.

"It's important to mark and preserve our heritage.  The Victoria County History group are wonderful.  Local volunteers, working with professional historians, are helping us record a really local account of our past. 

It's a vital part of our folk history that must never be lost".

"Well done to everyone who helped organise the event"

"Norman Jacobs from the local history group kindly showed me an original copy of the local Clacton newspaper announcing victory in Europe and an end to the war.  It really brought home the local perspective on history". 


19 SEP 2009

Citizens Advice Bureau AGM

There has now been a CAB operating in Tendring in one form or other for 70 years! 

At the 70th AGM in the council chamber, Weeley, local residents and supporters heard about the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau over the years - and how it has progressed and changed.

"At my regular local Advice Surgeries, I often see firsthand what a difference the CAB can make to people.  It is there for people who need help - often when confronted with unresponsive officaldom.  Alas, in the economic downturn, demand for the sort fo services CAB provides seems to be growing"

"Keep up the good work!"


18 SEP 2009

Sent to the tower

nazeThe Naze Tower is one of Walton's iconic landmarks.  Built in 1703 as an early lighthouse, it is still standing - having been loving restored and turned into a cafe and art gallery.

However, with the coastline being fast eroded, the Tower is now only a few hundred yards from the Naze cliff edge.  Saving the Tower means protecting the coastline.

Douglas has joined forces with local campaigners on Friday, who have already raised over £200,000, to help protect the key part of the local coast line.

"There's so much local pride in our local Naze tower.  People are rallying to try to secure its future."

Meeting at the tower, Douglas teamed up with the owners of the tower, plus local save the Naze campaigners. 

"We are all working together on this - but we've probably only got a window of a couple of years to act".


07 SEP 2009

Douglas at life boat launch in Walton

After years of careful restoration by the local Heritage Trust, the The James Stevens No. 14 life boat, which served Walton-on-Naze from 1900 to 1928, was re-launched by Griff Rhys Jones on Saturday.

Local MP, Douglas, was invited on board for the event, which was watched by thousands of local people.

"Well done to the local Heritage Trust, and especially to Rachel Baldwin, for restoring the life boat.  It is a fantastic piece of our heritage!"


30 AUG 2009

MP opens Frinton Music Festival

Frinton's MP, Douglas Carswell, was invited to launch the Frinton Music Festival - It's not cricket

At the Frinton Cricket Club, the event has been organised by Mark Burgoyne and includes half a dozen local bands.

Douglas said "It looks like it's going to be glorious weather.  Fingers crossed!"


29 AUG 2009

Mr and Mrs Nobody

The Frinton Theatre summer programme ended this weekend with the last performance of Mr & Mrs Nobody.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, attended as a guest of the Friends of Frinton Theatre.

"Well done to everyone who put in such hard work.  Frinton has enjoyed yet another summer of some first class theatre" said Douglas.

"I really enjoyed tonight's play.  It was really good fun!"


05 AUG 2009

Weeley Women's Institute in Westminster

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, hosted the Weeley WI on a visit to the Houses of Parliament.

About 30 members of the local WI travelled to London for a guided tour of Westminster.

"It was lovely to host such wonderful people. We had a great day - and it was lovely to meet the local WI" said Douglas.


28 JUL 2009

SureStart invites MP to learn more

Clacton's successful SureStart scheme invited local MP, Douglas Carswell, to learn more about the work of the programme.
 
Douglas was yesterday introduced to those who work at SureStart in Langham Drive, and discussed the work of SureStart with Area Manager, Bob Jillins.
 
"Thanks so much for inviting me" said Douglas "I was really impressed with what I saw.  SureStart in Clacton is a great programme and I was really interested to find out more about it does".
 
Douglas' visit to SureStart is part of an intensive programme of constituency visits and events planned for the summer - on top of surgery work and policy work Douglas is undertaking over the recess. 

 

 


27 JUL 2009

Jaywick Golden Oldies

This year's Golden Oldie winners, Brenda and Madge, with competition judge, Douglas Carswell MP.  (compliments of Kerith Ririe of the Jaywick Martello Tower).Jaywick held a Golden Oldies competition at the annual Jaywick Summer Fayre on Saturday - and invited local MP, Douglas Carswell, to come and judge the winner.

Seven contestants addressed the audience, and explained what made them proud of Jaywick. All competitors said that they felt proud of their community, and would like to represent Jaywick.

Brenda Oliver and Madge were elected as the joint winners - after Madge offered to dance for Jaywick!

Douglas - pictured with the two winners - said "What a lovely day we all had! Well done to the local organisers - they did Jaywick proud.

The Golden Oldies competition was just a bit of fun - but it does show how much community spirit there is".

 


20 JUL 2009

Douglas maintains pressure against Earls Hall wind turbines

 

 

Government proposals to make it easier for the Earls Hall wind turbines to go ahead are a disgrace, says local MP, Douglas Carswell.

Last week's the Renewable Energy Strategy deliberately sets out to make it more difficult for local people to oppose monster turbines being planted in their communities. Government minister, Ed Miliband, said that the "default" position will be to accept new onshore tubines.

"In other words, local people would have zero chance to say "no". The man in Whitehall really does think he knows what's best. The arrogance of these people is shocking".

The proposed wind farm at Earls Hall will be within just half a mile of the heavily populated areas of West Clacton, with their 125m tip-height making them the tallest onshore structures of their type in Britain. More than 300 properties will be within 1000 metres of the wind farm; this is an intrusion on their residential space for comparatively little gain. There could be more merit in off shore wind turbines, but the onshore proposal is maddness.

Douglas Carswell has also broken ranks with the Westminster consensus and criticised the policy of building wind turbines to cut CO2 emissions.

"We are told that these wind turbines are a cost effective way of generating power. But that is simply not the case.

The truth is that people in Clacton are being forced to subsidise the construction of wind turbines via hidden subsidies added onto their energy bills. That extra money - taken from pensioners and the hard up - is going into the pockets of some very large business interests. Big profit margins. Guaranteed revenue streams. All very convenient for some commercial interests.

But this amounts to a regressive redistribution of wealth from poor pensioners to big business

all in the name of environmentalism.

If the government was serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuel, they'd have done something about nuclear power."


06 JUL 2009

Supporting Home Education

Harwich and Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell is taking action in Parliament to support Clacton Mums and Dads who opt to educate their children at home.  

He is backing Early Day Motion (EDM) 1785 which “acknowledges and celebrates the hard work of many home educators in Britain who teach their children to an exceptionally high standard”. The EDM, has been tabled in response to the Badman report, which suggests much closer monitoring of home educators is necessary.

Douglas is concerned as a huge supporter of Essex County Council’s move to award home education grants for parents who could not place their children in the schools of their choice. He sees the Badman report and Ed Ball’s acceptance of it, as a move to undermine the rights of Mums and Dads to decide what is right for their children.

He says of the report, “I believe that it’s specifically in response to this Essex blow for freedom that [the] Government’s clampdown on home-education is targeted”.


29 JUN 2009

Green fingered in Frinton!

The Frinton and District Horticultural Society held their summer show at the Frinton Triangle on Saturday. There were lots of entries for many different classes of flowers and vegetables. 

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, was among one of the entrants. “A proud member of the Frinton and District Horticultural Society, I entered my best looking sweet peas.”

“Alas, when I put my flowers on the table, I fear that they looked nothing like as impressive as the sweet peas they were next to!”

Douglas also entered some rather wonky-shaped broad beans and some peas.

“Well done to Betty Burrow and her team and the Frinton and District Horticultural Society. They lay on a great show. Some of the entries were a real delight to look at – and I know that lots of people at the Triangle on Saturday really enjoyed looking in at the show.”


25 JUN 2009

Council tax - helping older folk

Many older folk in the area are struggling to pay their council tax.  Could you be entitled to help?

At a recent public event in Jaywick, Douglas met a team from Eaga and the Warmfront scheme able to provide free, independent advice to local people.

Douglas explains "I know a lot of older residents find council tax a real burden.  It's a deeply unfair tax."

"Some people who own their own home, but are on lower incomes, could be entitled to a rebate and support.  If in doubt, why not call Warmfront on 0800 316 2814".

Douglas attended the Warmfront event on Friday, and is pictured with members of the benefit advice team.


24 JUN 2009

Colchester hospital infection rates

Douglas put questions directly to the head of the NHS today at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament.

David Nicolson, Chief Executive of the NHS, explained that rates of C. difficile infection in Colchester had fallen significantly.  Under questioning from our local MP, it was revealled that 120 cases of infection amongst over 65s were recorded in the first quarter of 2007.  The figure had fallen to approximately 20 by the first quarter of 2009.

Douglas wanted to know why there were still cases of infection and what could be done.  He asked if central targets alone could solve the problem.

"The key to getting rates down further is local initiative and ownership of the problem - not another set of Whitehall targets" Douglas explained.  "There is still a vast amount that needs to be done to get infection rates down.  Improvements in our local NHS is one of my priorities".


09 JUN 2009

Renal unit victory for Clacton

Plans for a renal unit to treat patients with kidney disease in Clacton have been approved.

Having campaigned with local patients on this issue since becoming the local MP, Douglas Carswell has welcomed the news.  

“This is really great.  And it’ll make a massive difference to the quality of life for local patients.”

“Instead of having to flog to and from Colchester several times a week, local people can get the treatment they need locally” explains Douglas.  

“It won’t only help folk needing treatment in Clacton.  It’ll be to the advantage of many people in Frinton, Walton and the whole of Tendring.  And it’ll be of help to their families as well”.

Douglas took up the campaign for a local renal unit within weeks of becoming the local MP almost exactly four years ago, and has made this one of his local priorities.


08 JUN 2009

Expenses online

Douglas Carswell has led the way on Parliamentary accountability, putting details of the housing allowances he has claimed to do his job online. 

Douglas has never claimed public money for a private mortgage.  Nor has he ever claimed anything for a property that he owns. His claims relate to unfurnished rented accomodation. 

Overwhelmingly, any claims made have been for rent, council tax and utility bills. Renting an unfurnished property, when first moving in, Douglas claimed for a sofa, arm chair, fridge freezer, some items of crockery, and a few other household items.

2005/06 ACA receipts click here to download file
2006/07 ACA receipts click here to download file
2007/08 ACA receipts click here to download file

"Whenever I made a claim, I asked not "is this within the rules?" Instead I always, always asked "can I justify this in public?", says Douglas.  

"Having tried to commute each day for the first few months, I know I do need a base in London and the constituency.  Not being wealthy, I know I need some recourse to allowances to do that”.

“Given all that, I believe I’ve been right not to use public allowances in a way that would be to my own financial advantage”.


28 MAY 2009

NICO - a great Clacton success

NICO manufacturing is celebrating 50 years in Clacton.  The firm moved to the area before the war, and has been providing job and making world-class hindges and components for half a century.

Douglas was shown around the factory.  "I was really impressed to know that we have such a success story here in Clacton.  Some of the manufacturing is really high tech and sophisticated.  Some of the design is world-class".

"I believe that we can all take pride in NICO.  Well done to everyone"


21 APR 2009

St George's Day

"It's time to put England first" urges local MP, Douglas Carswell.

 

With St George's Day due this Thursday, Douglas wants everyone to fly the flag, and take pride in England. "This is an opportunity for all the people of England to celebrate their country's heritage, values and traditions."

"Other countries celebrate their national days. We need a day to celebrate England and Englishness".

"We need to take more pride in our own country's achievements - English is the global language. Common law is practiced throughout the world. I believe that our contribution to the world has been second to none".

Douglas has signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament urging all public buildings, local authorities, schools and others to display the flag.

"I hope Tendring Council will be flying St George's Cross this year" he says.

Text of the EDM 1283

 

That this House looks forward to celebrating St. George's Day on 23 April 2009; believes that the day of England's patron saint is an opportunity for all the people of England to celebrate their country's heritage, values and traditions; calls upon the Government to mark the occasion by ensuring that the Cross of St. George flag is flow from all public buildings on this day; further encourages local authorities, schools, organisations and businesses also to fly the flag of England with pride; and further calls upon hon. Members to support the campaign to establish 23 April as an annual public holiday, so that all the people of England may be united in celebrating their country's proud achievements and rich history.

ENDS


20 APR 2009

Frinton Gates

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, attended a public meeting on Saturday April 18th at the railway crossing in Frinton.  Along with hundreds of local campaigners, he came to pay tribute to local campaigners who had fought to preserve Frinton's heritage.

Douglas says "Local people have every right to want to preserve an important part of their local history and heritage.  The fact so many people have rallied around shows what a strong sense of identity our town has".

The Frinton gates have been dismantled despite a long running campaign to preserve them.  Douglas backed local campaigners, raising the issue directly with ministers and with rail bosses. 


14 APR 2009

Renal unit for Clacton "a victory"

News that Clacton may gets its own renal unit has been welcomed by local MP, Douglas Carswell.

Douglas has been campaigning to ensure that dialysis treatment is locally available since he became the local MP, and again recently raised the issue with local NHS officials.

“On one of my very first Advice Surgeries as an MP, I was approached by local campaigners asking for a dedicated renal unit for Clacton” explains Douglas. “Together, we’ve been putting on the pressure with letter writing campaigns and petitions.”

“Local patients needing dialysis each week have every right to ask for a local renal unit. Otherwise, they’ll keep having to travel to and from Colchester – which can make life even tougher”.

News that the local Primary Care Trust might operate a renal unit in Clacton makes sense. Our part of Tendring has a real need, and this is a real victory for local people.


08 APR 2009

Douglas is a dad

Douglas Carswell, local MP for Clacton and Harwich, has become a father for the first time.

Douglas and his wife Clementine were married in December 2007, and their first child, Kitty Alice Clementine Carswell, was born on April 2nd at an NHS hospital in London. 

Douglas said “Clementine and I are really thrilled. 

Kitty and her mum are both doing well – and I’ve been learning how to change nappies. 

A big “thank you” to all those who’ve sent in their good wishes. Everyone has been so kind”


10 MAR 2009

Local MP promoted

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has just been promoted to the powerful Public Accounts Committee in Parliament.

The Public Accounts watchdog is one of Westminster's most powerful, with the ability to oversee how government spends taxpayers money and call ministers to account.

Douglas says "I'm pleased to have been promoted. It's a step forward that will allow me to hold government to account - and try to stop them wasting our money".

"As you know, I've always been outspoken. I've never trimmed my views to suit the Westminster establishment. Given all that, I wasn't expecting this step up - but it's going to help me do more to speak up for local people"


03 MAR 2009

Federation of Small Businesses back MPs efforts

Harwich and Clacton Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell, has been congratulated by Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) for being one of more than 100 MPs who have shown their support for an FSB campaign calling for rate relief to be made automatic for eligible firms.

FSB North East Essex Branch Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “The FSB is working with Peter Luff, Chairman of the Business and Enterprise Committee to promote the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill, which would see rate relief granted automatically.

“An Early Day Motion supporting the Bill has been tabled by Mr Luff and has so far been signed by over 100 MPs including Harwich and Clacton Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell.

“We now need around 100 MPs to be there on the day of the debate to help the Bill move on to the next stage of the parliamentary process.

“Business rates are the third largest cost to small firms, after salaries and rent. Yet many small businesses are unaware they are entitled to rate relief because their local authorities do not publicise it well enough.

“Firms in this area are missing out on an estimated £13.7million of unclaimed rate relief and automatic granting of rate relief, which already happens automatically in Wales, could help save small businesses £1,200 and therefore help small businesses with their cash flow.

“During the recession, this cash injection could save many small businesses from laying off staff or closing down completely."


10 FEB 2009

Child tax credits

Local Mums and Dads are struggling to cope with the child tax credit system - says local MP, Douglas Carswell.

"I'm seeing a flood of worried mums and dads coming into my advice surgeries. They've either not been paid the child tax credits they deserve. Or they've been overpaid, and are now being chased for repayments"

"Local families are finding things tough in the economic downturn - and this incompetence by these government officials is making things a lot harder".

"Just the other week, I had a local mum come to see me for help because she's being chased to repay many hundreds of pounds - and all through absolutely no fault of her own. She played by the rules - and now she's being treated like she's a wrong-doer".

Douglas has today demanded that the Minister gets a grip.  He's asked the Minister, James Purnell, the following questions in Parliament:

How many families in Tendring in receipt of child tax credit have been pursued to repay overpayments?.

What estimates does his department have as to the proportion of families in Tendring in receipt of child tax credits receiving the incorrect amount?.

"The government's got to sort this out. Not next year. Not in time for an election. They need to fix this now"


09 FEB 2009

Action to help local businesses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Carswell is today supporting an Early Day Motion in Parliament that would help stuggling local businesses in Tendring.

He is backing a campaign to make business rate relief automatic. Currently, many small businesses eligible to claim the support, don't. Douglas is backing plans to make it automatic.

He says "According to the Federation of Small Businesses, over half of small businesses are missing out. That means they could be losing up to £2,500 a year. For stuggling local firms that could be all the difference between survival and going under".

"This is a practical way to stop our local businesses going under. The government needs to act now".

The text of the EDM is as follows:

 

"That this House notes with concern that business rate relief is not taken up by over half of those small businesses eligible to claim it; further notes that as a result small businesses are losing out on saving up to £2,500 yearly; further notes that across the country around £400 million earmarked for rate relief to be paid to small businesses is returned to the Treasury; and calls on the Government to support the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill."


02 FEB 2009

Help the Aged

Douglas Carswell MP attended the Help the Aged open day at Stephenson Road in Clacton.

Derrick Yap and Daniel Pearson of Help the Aged explained what the charity does to support older folk in the local community - and nationally.

Douglas learned that older people are often able to get fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors fitted at no charge.  It is also possible for local people who need to feel more secure at home to have locks and chains fitted to their doors.

"I was so impressed to discover that Help the Aged is doing all sorts of things to help older folk here in Clacton" said Douglas.  "There are a lot of retired people in our area, and it is wonderful to know that Help the Aged is doing so many practical things to help. 

Three cheers to the local team at Help the Aged"   


01 FEB 2009

St Paul's Action Day

Here are some of the 34 local people who were out delivering leaflets in St Paul's and St Mary's wards in Clacton-on-Sea on Saturday. 

 


27 JAN 2009

Supporting Epilepsy Action in Tendring

Epilepsy Action Tendring invited Douglas Carswell to speak at their AGM held at Sam's Hall, Imperial House, Clacton.

Douglas spoke about the need to help the voluntary sector locally, and listened to members of the local support group talk about issues that concerned them.

Douglas promised to raise a number of important local issues that affect local people with epilepsy with both the local NHS bosses, and with ministers.

Douglas said "Well done to Epilepsy Action Tendring.  They do so much to support local people with epilepsy - and they ensure that people with epilepsy are not on their own". 


21 JAN 2009

Local MP secures victory over government

At Prime Minister's Question Time today, local MP, Douglas Carswell, got Gordon Brown to retreat over attempts to make MPs expenses secret.

Douglas had declared he was going to unilaterally publish his own accounts on-line - despite the House of Commons authorities. 

Today he pressed the Prime Minister on why the government wanted to allow MPs to hide their expenses - and why it was "one law for the people and another law for the politicians".

Brown caved in - and announced that the vote would be abandoned.

Douglas says "Across our area local folk are having to tighten their belts.  Yet the Westminster establishment carries on.

I've had enough.  It's time to force the government to force every MP to publish details of what they spend."

"I'm pleased to have forced the Westminster establishment to back down.  But we need real change to clean up Westminster".


19 JAN 2009

Action Day in Clacton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local people led by Stephen Mayzes, joined forces with Douglas Carswell on Saturday to deliver thousands of resident surveys to local homes. 

Douglas said "This is a great way to ensure that local people have a voice.  It was a great turnout - and the sun shone!".  


15 JAN 2009

Douglas meets Margaret Thatcher

 Local MP, Douglas Carswell, recently met Margaret Thatcher over dinner.

Douglas says "Margaret Thatcher was a great leader. 

She knew how to get this country back on its feet again.  It is a real honour to listen to her".


15 JAN 2009

Crime Mapping - your right to know

Local people now have the ability to look at local crime information for themselves.  Known as "crime mapping", anyone can now log onto the Essex police site here, and get a better understanding of how the local criminal justice system is doing its job.

What do the latest crime figures for our area show?:

- Crime in east Clacton and Holland-on-Sea is up by 22% compared to this time last year, but in west Clacton it's down by 2.7%. 

- In Jaywick it's increased almost one third, and Frinton's crime rate is up by 20%.    

- In Harwich and Dovercourt there were 58 crimes each month last year and in Frinton 23 - yet in west Clacton there were 193. 

- Violence and anti-social behaviour seem to account for the lion's share of local crime in our area.   

Douglas says "It's good we can all now see this important local information for ourselves.  But let's be clear, it doesn't paint a very encouraging picture.  The fact that crime is up over a fifth, in just twelve months in our area, is pretty shocking".


13 JAN 2009

Question in Parliament on behalf of Frinton residents

Many Frinton residents are concerned about changes to the level crossing.  They approached their local MP, Douglas Carswell, and asked him to raise the issue on their behalf with Ministers.

Douglas has now asked the Transport Minister: "Is the minister aware of local concerns regarding proposed changes to the level crossing in Frinton-on-Sea, and will he raise such concerns with the Office of the Rail Regulator before sanctioning any changes?"


15 DEC 2008

Christmas calendar card to every home

View your copy of Douglas' calendar card click here to download file


08 DEC 2008

Pensioners are my priority

"Tendring pensioners need government help to meet the high cost of heating" says local MP, Douglas Carswell. "Now we've had our first really cold spell of the winter, I know that a lot are starting to struggle".

"My number one priority in the new Parliamentary term is to help older folk in Tendring caught out by the rapid increase in fuel prices. The bills keep going up - but many are on fixed incomes, and so find it really tough".

Douglas began the new Parliamentary term putting the following questions to the Minister responsible:

What action is the Minister taking to ensure that no pensioner in Tendring this winter finds themselves unable to pay their heating bills?

Can the Minister issue a statement of progress towards the eradication of fuel poverty in Tendring by 2010?

What steps is the Minister taking to help pensioners in Tendring meet the cost of rising fuel and heating prices?

What steps is the Minister taking to help pensioners in Tendring meet increases in the cost of living?

"My constituency has one of the highest proportions of older folk of anyplace in the whole country. Pensioners are my priority."

"People who have spent their working lives paying taxes and contributing into the system need to know that its going to be there for them in their retirement".

"We need to act now, not in January or February when it gets real cold."

"As your local representative, I'm determined to hold government to account - they need to explain what they'll do with our money to help older folk in Tendring".


26 NOV 2008

Prime Ministers Questions

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is on the list of MPs due to ask the Prime Minister a question today.  With luck, he'll get the chance to put a question directly to Gordon Brown. 

Over on his personal blog site at www.TalkCarswell.com he is inviting people to suggest questions.


25 NOV 2008

Diabetes campaign support

Douglas Carswell MP recently met with Mrs Sarah Hearn and her daughter Jordan Hearn, a diabetes sufferer, at the House of Commons.  Jordan, at just 10 years old, was there to lobby the government to support to the Diabetes UK campaign, which aims to raise awareness of diabetes amongst schoolchildren and help them, by providing support for children with this condition.

Diabetes is a serious problem here in the UK.  In the UK nearly 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with this condition, and there are more than half a million people with diabetes who have the condition and don’t know it!  Anything I can do to help create greater awareness surrounding diabetes then I am glad to be of some service.

With over 170, 000 members, Diabetes UK is one of the UK’s largest charities, and the organisation does a lot to help those suffering from diabetes. What’s more, the charity contributes nearly £7.5 million each year in to diabetes research. Diabetes UK also provides care support events, family days, conference courses and road shows, Douglas said, “What is staggering about all of the hard work and effort that Diabetes UK does for those with diabetes, is that it is funded through the generous donations of its members, like Sarah and Jordan Hearn.” 


31 OCT 2008

Harwich hospital campaign

Douglas Carswell MP for Clacton and Harwich was today handed a petition with over 2,700 signatures to give to Health Secretary Alan Johnson regarding Harwich hospital.

A delegation of campaigners from the town met with Douglas at the House of Commons this afternoon to express their concerns about the delays in having a fully-functioning local hospital.

Douglas said "The new hospital has cost us many millions. Yet its still not fully functioning. Local folk have every right to be angry about it".

"I've repeatedly pressed ministers in Parliament to take action. But they pass the buck - claiming its up to local NHS chiefs."

Despite being technically open for three years now, several departments in the new hospital remain unused and it treats nowhere near its full capacity of patients, resulting in many having to drive miles to Colchester or Clacton to receive adequate treatment.

"Government ministers were quick to try to take credit when the new hospital was in the pipe line. As your local MP, I'm determined to try to get someone to take responsibility for ensuring we get our hospital".


30 OCT 2008

Royal Marines birthday dinner

Douglas Carswell attended the North-East Essex Royal Marine’s Association dinner on Tuesday evening. The dinner was in aid of the Corp’s birthday.

Douglas Carswell says “I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Royal Marine Association does an incredible amount for both serving marines and veterans by helping them stay in touch with one another, and it also helps to raise vital funds for charities that support our valiant Royal Marines.”

In April last year the MP for Clacton and Harwich visited marines serving in Helmand province. Helmand has seen some of the most ferocious fighting since the campaign in Afghanistan began back in 2001; the Royal Marines have been right on the front-line. 

Douglas says “The selfless heroism of the Royal Marines is one we in Britain should be proud of. Their great courage and spirit are legendry and I will do everything I can to support honourable organisations like the North-East Essex Royal Marine Association.” 


07 OCT 2008

MP back campaign to reduce immigration

Douglas Carswell has joined a cross party campaign to end uncontrolled immigration into Britain.

Douglas says "With Parliament back, my first priority was to sign up to this new campaign to end uncontrolled, mass immigration in to our country".

Joining the cross Party group on Balanced Migration, Douglas said "Unless action is taken, immigration will add a population increase equivalent to seven new cities the size of Birmingham over the next 25 years. Two thirds of immigrants in 2006 came from outside the EU."

"It's time to act. Successive governments and politicians have done nothing about it. We need to address this issue now".

The new campaign, spear headed by Labour's Frank Field MP and Tory Nicholas Soames MP, wants to ensure that those entering the country approximately equal those leaving.

Douglas says "I'd like to see a large scale reduction in all non-EU immigration into the UK. When I first called for an end to mass immigration, I was attacked. But its time to speak out".

"Backing this campaign is the first thing I wanted to do in the new Parliamentary year. That's because tackling uncontrolled immigration is one of my top priorities".


26 AUG 2008

Newsletter delivered to every home

Local people hear from Douglas Carswell all year round - not just at election time. 

Douglas' regular newsletter will shortly be delivered to every home in the constituency.  To read your own copy on-line now, click the link below:   

Click here to read the latest newsletter 

 


19 AUG 2008

MP supports Federation of Small Business meeting in Holland-on-Sea

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, supported a meeting of the local Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at the Kings Cliff Hotel, in Holland-on-Sea.

Over 80 local people attended the Business Briefing event in order to brief small businesses about the work of the FSB and the services available from Business Link.

Douglas said "Business in Tendring faces distinct problems because we are on a peninsula where transport is not easy and where there is a shortage of suitable trained staff."

“Politicians at all levels need to remember that small businesses are the wealth creators of the economy and that when the economy suffers, as it is now it is small businesses who suffer most and that means local people so providing help and support is essential so they can continue in business and grow to help the local economy and provide local jobs.”

Douglas also outlined his proposal for a Great Repeal Bill in the new Parliamentary session. As the local MP, he will try to propose a Bill to scrap unnecessary and overburdensome regulations on small businesses.


05 AUG 2008

Local MP at the Essex International Scout Jamboree

 

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, attended the Essex International Scout Jamboree held just outside Kirby-le-Soken.

Over 10,000 Scouts from 32 different countries descended on Devereux Farm near Kirby, for a week of fun and games.

Douglas says "It was wonderful to meet so many fun and enthusiastic people from all over the world. As a former Scout myself, I was really pleased to catch up with so many scouts".

"Everyone seemed to be having lots of fun - and there were a range of really fun things happening".

"I met up with some local Scouts from Clacton and from Dovercourt. It is such a privilege for us to have hosted this jamboree for scouts from all over".


05 AUG 2008

Douglas officially opens Jaywick fayre

Jaywick's MP, Douglas Carswell, was the official guest at the Jaywick fayre on Saturday. He was invited to cut the ribbon and was shown around.

Douglas was driven to the fayre, by the Martello tower in Jaywick, in a pre-war Ford Prefect by members of the Clacton Classic Car Club.

The fayre was well attended, with dozens of stalls and hundreds of local residents.

Douglas says "The fayre was a brilliant success. It brought everyone in the community together, and was enjoyed by lots of people. Well done to the organisers! This is just the sort of community event that we need to see more of"


08 JUL 2008

Local MP supports campaign to improve attainment levels of deaf children

Douglas Carswell MP is supporting the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) campaign to close the attainment gap that exists between deaf and hearing children. Douglas Carswell MP is supporting the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) campaign to close the attainment gap that exists between deaf and hearing children.

Douglas, who has a particular interest in children with special needs, attended the launch of the NDCS campaign report, ‘Must do better’ at the House of Commons.

There is a significant attainment gap across the UK. For example, statistics reveal that deaf children across England are 42% less likely to achieve 5 GCSEs at grades A to C than hearing children (1), and in the East of England only 40% of deaf children achieve 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C compared with a national average of 57%.

Douglas said "I am fully supporting the NDCS ‘Must do better’ campaign report. It was fantastic to meet some deaf children today and to talk to them about what their hopes and dreams are for the future. There is absolutely no reason why deaf children without additional needs should not be achieving on a par with their hearing peers and fulfilling their potential".

Susan Daniels, NDCS Chief Executive adds "It is fantastic that Douglas Carswell MP is supporting the rights of deaf children. Today we are calling on governments across the UK to take a lead and make a commitment to close the attainment gap between deaf children and their hearing peers by 2022. The national governments of the UK must give leadership, set standards and provide funding to ensure that no deaf child is left behind. A comprehensive strategy, tailored and targeted at the specific needs of deaf children is urgently required; without this deaf children will continue to be left behind". (2)

The NDCS campaign report ‘Must do better’ details the key barriers to deaf children’s achievement and provides detailed solutions for the government to act on. Research outlined in the report shows that parents with deaf children experience considerable geographical variations in the information given to them, the quality of audiology services, family support, specialist education support and local authority provision.

 

 


08 JUL 2008

MP welcomes sea defence work

"About time, too!"

Douglas Carswell MP has welcomed the news that work will begin to repair Holland-on-Sea's battered sea wall.

Douglas recently called a meeting with the Environment Agency at the House of Commons to press for action.

He says "When I met the Environment Agency chiefs, I made it clear that they had to give the go ahead now - or the situation would get really serious. I am pleased that they have now given the go-ahead"

"This is, however, not the end of the matter. The blunt truth is that the government had promised us over £20 Million to re-do the sea defences. They decided to fritter the money away elsewhere.

"Until we have that sort of major work undertaken, there is going to be ever greater pressure of the local council to repair the defences that we have".

I'm pleased that we have got this extra cash to repair the sea walls, but the campaign to ensure that a proper set of sea defences are built must go on".


23 JUN 2008

Train services "a joke"

Douglas Carswell MP has written to the Transport Minister to express local people's anger at the appalling failure of local train services.

"At the weekends, only those who have to would want to travel by rail nowadays. Yet again, those responsible seem quite incapable of running a service. I have lost count of the number of weekends when there is - to all effect - no railway link between Clacton, Frinton, and Colchester - London."

"This has a massive negative impact on our seaside towns"

"People are willing to put up with a lot, but this seems to have been running for years. I want to know from the Minister how many weekends have their been in the past few years where there was a normal service running?"

"It is not just weekends. This third rate, shoddy service exists during the weekdays too. It is messing up peoples work and family lives."

"What makes it all the more outrageous is the fact that people are having to pay a small fortune for the privilege of this rubbish service".

"I'm feed up with the pathetic excuses of those who claim to run the railways. The Minister needs to give answers for this joke service".


23 JUN 2008

Where is the local treatment?

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, was presented with a petition signed by hundreds of local health campaigners wanting local kidney dialysis treatment.

"Today, people needing kidney dialysis, have to travel to Colchester. The journey is long, and it can take the best part of a day - week in, week out" explains Douglas Carswell MP.

"Instead, we need something that is local."

"People needing this treatment need it regularly. With so many people from Clacton and Frinton travelling up to Colchester, its time to ask why its not available locally".

 

Douglas has written to the Health Minister asking why some of the millions of pounds being spent on local health bureaucracy can't be spent on providing local kidney dialysis instead.

Local campaigners meet in Holland-on-Sea


27 MAY 2008

Government policy is harming Clacton-on-Sea

 

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has spoken out about the unfair new gambling laws for family amusement arcades - which are harming our town.

After meeting local arcade operators in Clacton, Douglas said "Clacton's family arcades are at risk as a result of newly-introduced gambling laws."

"The government's new law actually gives a green light to hard-core gambling, yet bizarrely undermines safer family entertainment. Its daft!"

Local seaside arcades have seen a fall in business. New laws have reduced gaming machine stakes and the number of machines that these arcades can have. At the same time, the Government has failed to tackle the rise in problem gambling from betting offices as a result of controversial new ‘fixed odds betting terminals’ and of online gambling.

The Government’s latest Gambling Prevalence Survey showed that gaming arcades have just a 3 per cent problem gambling rate, compared with an 11 per cent rate in licensed betting offices. But many people are now transferring to gaming machines in betting shops, putting them at a greater risk of gambling addiction.

Gaming arcade businesses in Clacton are often family-owned – passed down from generation to generation and are the lifeblood of many seaside economies which rely heavily on tourism.

The British Amusement Catering Trade Association has described the impact of the Gambling Act on the industry as "devastating", warning that "at this rate half the industry will be gone in six months." It has estimated that there has already been a 21 per cent fall in revenues year on year, in an industry that directly employs 26,000 people. In the bingo industry, over 80 clubs have already closed in the last three years and 108 are under threat.

Government policy is directly harming our town. Clacton deserves better than this"

NOTES

EFFECT OF NEW GAMBING LAWS

The Gambling Act 2005 came into force in September 2007. It restricted gaming arcades to having a maximum of just four ‘B3’ gaming machines per venue, regardless of the size of the venue. Additionally, it reduced the maximum stake of B3 gaming machines from £1 to £2, thereby effectively cutting revenues. Conservatives have called for the maximum stake of B3 machines to be increased to £2 and have a higher level of B3 machines permitted, allowing 20 per cent of machines at a venue to be B3 category.

Conservative Shadow Economic Secretary, Justine Greening MP, has commented: "With seaside economies crying out for help, it is time that the Government started supporting seaside communities instead of undermining them. It is totally unacceptable that Ministers refuse to acknowledge the clearly damaging impact of their own legislation - the Gambling Act 2005 - on many coastal towns that rely on tourism as part of their local economy. These businesses worst hit are the smaller ones that are often family run. They are the economic lifeblood of these seaside towns."

Tobias Ellwood, Shadow Gambling Minister has added: "The Government has let down not just the bingo and arcade industry that employs so many people, but the local economies that those arcades are part of. That’s why as Shadow Gambling Minister I have already announced that an incoming Conservative government would reverse the most damaging aspects of the Gambling Act."

During a separate debate on gambling policy in February, Conservative MPs pressed the Government for a response to BACTA’s concerns on seaside arcades. The Government refused to say more than they were keeping the issue under review (Hansard, 26 February 2008, col. 915-916).

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080226/debtext/80226-0006.htm#08022642000659


27 MAY 2008

Teach young people about the Holocaust, says Douglas

We need to teach young people about the Holocaust, says Douglas

Douglas Carswell MP has helped table an Early Day Motion in Parliament to commemorate a British war hero hero, Frank Foley.

Mr Foley was a British spy based in pre-war Berlin, and his actions helped save the lives of thousands of Jewish internees from the Nazis.

Douglas, who is a strong supporter of the Holocaust Education Trust, has worked to bring Holocaust survivors into local schools, including Bishops Park College, to help teach young people about the horrors of the past.

Douglas, who is a member of the Education Select Committee adds "I am very concerned that teaching about the holocaust could be watered down. We need to ensure that the holocaust is taught about in local schools".

Douglas' Early Day Motion reads as follows:

That this House commemorates 7th May 2008, marking fifty years since the death of Frank Foley, a British spy based in Berlin during the 1930s; notes that under his cover as a passport control officer at the British Embassy he risked his life by venturing into concentration camps to help free Jewish internees, provided false papers and passports for Jewish people to leave Nazi Germany for sanctuary and even hid them in his own home until they were able to leave Germany; further notes that his selfless bravery saved the lives of approximately 10,000 Jewish people from certain death; recognises that just as the horrors of the Holocaust and the millions who perished should never be forgotten, its heroes also should never be forgotten; further recognises that the actions of individuals like Frank Foley during the Holocaust represented a glimmer of humanity during one of history's darkest moments against a backdrop of widespread hostility or indifference across Europe; notes with dismay that although Frank Foley was recognised as Righteous Amongst the Nations at Yad Vashem Israel's Holocaust Museum, he did not receive a formal recognition or honour for his actions in the United Kingdom during his lifetime; calls on the British Government to consider changing the current statutes governing the honours system to allow a posthumous knighthood to be awarded to Frank Foley; hopes that this will pave the way for the recognition of other British rescuers during the Holocaust such as Randolph Churchill, Sergeant Charles Coward, Jane Haining, Tommy Noble and Robert Smallbones, who risked their own lives and often the lives of their families to give life to others; and commends the work of organisations like the Holocaust Educational Trust in ensuring their memory and experiences are kept alive and passed on to future generations.

 

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, commented: 'We instigated this campaign, not only to continue raising awareness about the Holocaust, but also to highlight the brave actions of a small number of people who made a huge difference, saving thousands of lives. Whilst many of these heroes are recognised at Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations, they have not received formal recognition here in the UK.

Frank Foley is just one example of an ordinary man who found himself in a position to help persecuted Jews during the Nazi period. By deciding not to standby, he risked his own life to save thousands of Jewish people. We hope the government will consider how these British heroes can receive formal recognition, and that a posthumous award to Frank Foley will pave the way for many other British heroes."


27 MAY 2008

What is happening with our sea walls?

What is being done to save the the sea wall in Holland-on-Sea? That is the question that local MP, Douglas Carswell,
put to top officials from the Environment Agency.

At a meeting in Parliament, Douglas demanded to know what was actually being done.

"The government has told us that from April this year, it is now the Environment Agency that has "strategic oversight" for coastal errosion. In normal words, that means this quango now has responsibility. I want to know if they are meeting that responsibility".

"Apparently the Agency has about £800 Million to spend. I want to know if any of that will be spent to help Holland-on-Sea".

"The Environment Agency told me that the Holland scheme is primarily the responsibility of Tendring Council. However, they have said that they are paying about £ 900,000 for the emergency repairs, which is something"

"In my meeting with the Agency, I emphasised the imporance of the scheme that Tendring is currently working on."

"The proposals are due to be submitted to the Environment Agency in June. I made it clear that local people in Holland-on-Sea are very keen that these plans be approved so that work can get underway as soon as possible".


13 MAY 2008

Tendring Way

Douglas On HorsebackLocal horse riders are throwing their support behind the idea of a new bridleway for Tendring.

The so-called Tendring Way would allow more horse riders to ride in the countryside - and in a way that did not upset farmers or land owners.

Pat Cooper invited local MP, Douglas Carswell, to go riding near Great Oakley.

Douglas says "Many local horse riders have complained to me about the fact that there are simply not enough bridleways in Tendring. I think that the Tendring Way could be a great help for them".


13 MAY 2008

Bus passes from 9am - Pensioners want a decision now

Douglas Carswell MPLocal pensioners are demanding that the local council let them use their bus passes from 9am - rather than 9:30am, as at present.

At his recent surgery in Dovercourt, Douglas Carswell MP was presented with a petition signed by over a 100 local pensioners demanding a change of heart by the council.

Douglas explains "Without an prompting, a large number of pensioners came to see me. This shows just how strongly local people feel about this."

"The idea behind the new bus passes is great. But only letting people use them after 9:30am seems daft. It means lots of empty buses, high streets and shops, early on in the morning. And then a sudden rush".

"Tendring Council needs to think again and let people use their free passes from 9am"

Douglas has already raised the issue with Tendring Council, who have promised to review current policy. However, Douglas says that it is now time for the council to promise action, not just a review.


29 APR 2008

Our council needs to listen to us - say Hollie and her friends

Hollie Bregan, 8, and her friends, are campaigning for improved play facilities for children their age in Frinton Park. They recently met with their local MP for his backing.

Douglas Carswell explains "I got a letter the other day from Hollie. It said, in her own words, why she and her friends felt that there was not really much availalble for children their age in Frinton Park."

"I then arranged to meet Hollie and her friends, to listen to what they had to say. I rather agree with them."

"There are things for much younger children in the park - swings and see-saws. But there is not a great deal for young people of their age".

"Perhaps if the council did more to provide services for children their age, there would be more for young people to do".

Douglas has now written to the council asking if they could incorporate the views of Hollie, and other young people, when they provide leisure facilities.


29 APR 2008

Clacton veteran gets his Badge

Long-serving Clacton veteran, Gordon Capie, got some recognition for his many years of service in the RAF. The Ministry of Defence awarded him his Veteran's Badge, which was presented to him by local MP, Douglas Carswell.

Mr Capie had to leave the RAF and has been a resident in Canarvon Road Care Home for a number of years. David Peachey, who works at Canarvon Care Home, had arranged for the Ministry of Defence to award the Veteran's Badge.

Douglas says "Gordon served his country, and it is an honor to see him given some recognition for his years of service. I felt honoured to be asked to present his badge to him. "

"It is thanks to Gordon, and people serving their country like Gordon, that we have the professional armed services that we have".

Douglas also praised Canarvon Care home in Clacton, and their staff, for all they do "David Peachey and the staff at Canarvon Care Home are brilliant. They took the trouble to ensure that Gordon got his Veteran's Badge. That is what I call brilliant care and support."


25 APR 2008

The Mail on Sunday article - 'Speaker Martin Must Go'

No other MP's have been willing to speak out. I'm told it's "just not cricket". Well I'm trying to represent my constituents, not play cricket so speaker Martin must go.

And so it goes on. Another month, another set of damaging stories about MPs' expenses.

Yet more public money and public trust is spent on legal action by the Commons authorities on trying to delay the inevitable.

Never has there been such bitter contempt for politicians or the standing of MPs been so low.

Back in the constituency during the recess, I have been struck - as have many colleagues I speak to - by the strength of public feeling.

We need to clean up Westminster politics and take action to restore faith in our political system.

First, Speaker Martin must step down. Perhaps not immediately, but he needs to set a date for his departure now.


Dealying the inevitable: Douglas Carswell says that Speaker Michael Martin must set a date for his departure


Second, MPs need to choose a Speaker who understands that there is a problem with Westminster politics - and is willing and able to see something done about it.

Finally, we need to scrap the 'gentlemen's club' rules used to run our legislature, and make Westminster politicians much more directly accountable to the voters.

Until Speaker Martin goes, we will make little progress with anything else.

At a recent constituency coffee morning, an elderly lady demanded to know if it were true that "you MPs have spent a fortune on lawyers to keep your expenses secret".

I haven't, but the Speaker has. And that, surely, is the point.

I am a Member of the House of Commons, yet the 'men-in-tights' have acted without giving either me, or my colleagues, a real say as to how they have handled this mess.

No other MPs have so far been willing to speak out. I am the first. Apparently, I am told, it's "just not cricket". It's "not what one does if one wants to get on". Besides, don't I know that if I upset him, Mr Speaker might not call me to speak in a debate again?

Well, I'm trying to represent my constituents, not play cricket. I am not in politics to "get on" but to speak up. And if Mr Speaker does take umbrage and not call on me to speak, surely that merely reinforces the point I am trying to make?

Too many MPs, alas, simply don't get it. There is too much tearoom talk of "media witch-hunts" and "irresponsible journalists".

Blaming the Press, many MPs believe this storm over expenses is just a passing April shower.

They fail to grasp that in the age of Google, the political climate is itself changing.

Even fewer grasp that if we are willing to adapt to the new environment with more openness and accountability, this could be a change for the better.

When I entered the Commons three short years ago, I believed our Mother of Parliaments was the envy of the world.

Reality has changed my mind. Designed in the era of steam trains, the House of Commons needs to change if it is to work in the age of YouTube. We need a Speaker who understands this.

Today's Commons is simply not much good at holding the government of the day to account.

Bogus 'modernisation' of the Nineties, coupled with debating protocol that favours seniority over originality, lets Ministers escape real scrutiny.

Worse, too few MPs have a real appetite to challenge executive power rather than merely attack the incumbent office holder.

Most MPs act either as cheerleaders for the current executive (Labour), or for the next one (Conservative). At Prime Minister's Question Time, you see the result.

One only needs to think of how MPs Frank Field and Richard Shepherd are respected to realise how great a popular demand there is for MPs who are, first and foremost, Parliamentarians - not wannabe Ministers for Widgets.

As the House of Commons has grown less effective at holding Government to account, fewer people vote in elections to choose its membership.

Anti-politician sentiment has given rise to an era of anti-politics. Restoring faith in the Commons requires a Speaker who recognises that politicians are not passive bystanders but are themselves part of the problem.

Increasingly, MPs are seen as parasitical.

It is no longer those we send to Parliament who make the key decisions. The health service, education system and criminal justice system are increasingly run by remote and unaccountable officials.

Politicians promise, but quangos now decide. In fact, most of our laws today are now authored by the biggest quango of the lot, the European Commission in Brussels.

In order to make our politicians more directly accountable, we need not only transparency over MPs expenses but also over how they make laws and hold the Government to account.

Ordinary voters should have - as they do in other countries - a right to recall wayward MPs.

The people should be able to force their politicians to debate and vote on issues that matter to them.

A right of initiative should be introduced to ensure that the people - not just remote officials and occasional Ministers - decide what is on Parliament's agenda.

More direct democracy is needed. With too many MPs representing so-called 'safe seats', and too many one-party fiefdoms insulating politicians from the public, a system of open primary selections should be introduced to let more people decide who will be their MP.

The House of Commons needs to reform its debating rules to allow Ministers to be held properly to account.

Potentially powerful chairmen of select committees should be chosen in free and democratic ballots of all MPs - not fixed by whips.

Once democratised, select committees should be given the power to ratify - or veto - all senior executive appointments.

This programme for radical change should be driven forward by the Speaker.

It is about far more than simply tinkering with MPs' expenses. Reform must begin with the election of a new Speaker, in a free and fair ballot.

Instead of via arcane rules, the system needs to operate openly and transparently - and with the support of our elected representatives.

The farcical ritual that sees an apparently reluctant Speaker dragged by colleagues into the Chair against his will is a nonsense that must stop.

Instead, let us have a process that allows MPs to actively question candidates for the post on what they would do to restore faith in our political system.


22 APR 2008

MP opens care home

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, and Cllr Mary Bragg helped offically opened Corner Lodge Residential Care Home's new conservatory.

The care home is in Jaywick, and is one of the largest care homes of its kind in Tendring.

The event was attended by care home residents, staff, and over a hundred family members and friends.

The new conservatory was part funded by a grant from Essex County Council. It will enable residents in the home to enjoy the garden - without having to sit outside.

Opening the care home, Douglas said "Corner Lodge seems such a happy place. It is wonderful to be here, and the staff seem so enthusiastic about what they do".


02 APR 2008

Constituency report

Read your local MPs latest report on-line below

Douglas is directly accountable to local people. His regular report on what he is doing for our area is delivered to every local home.

click here to download file


11 MAR 2008

MP welcomes Walton Post Office rescue bid

Walton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has weighed in to support efforts to secure Walton's Post Office.

Last week, Essex County Council confirmed that it may step in to secure a number of Post Offices threated with closure.

Douglas supported local Cllr Mick Page's local campaign to save Walton's Post Office. "I'm really pleased that Essex Council has come up with this initiative. I know that there is still much to do, but it could mean that the local Post Office can stay open, and that local pensioners will not be left to manage without their favourite local Post Office".


11 MAR 2008

MP digs in at Rush Green allotment

Douglas Carswell MPLocal MP Douglas Carswell was given some top gardening tips at Rush Green allotments in Clacton.

A keen gardener, Douglas heard how the allotments in Rush Green have served the local community since the mid-nineteenth century. Douglas last week signed up to an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on local authorities to do more to safeguard and promote allotments.

Douglas says""I am really impressed with the allotments and am a keen supporter. As someone who has only recently taken up gardening, I am keen to encourage more people - especially young people - to get involved. The allotments are a really hub for the local community and a delight to visit."


05 MAR 2008

A12 concerns raised in Parliament

Douglas asks Minister to act

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, raised concerns about the dangers of the A12 road in Parliament. There have been a spate of serious fatal accidents on the A12 recently.

Douglas asked transport minister, Tom Harris, the following question "Is the Minister aware of the spate of serious accidents on the A12 and will he ensure that action is taken to reduce fatalities at some of the worst fatality blackspots?"

Mr Harris replied "Yes, I am aware of the less than satisfactory accident rate on the stretch of the A12 that the hon. Gentleman mentions. I have spoken to the Highways Agency about the issue and asked it to carry out a review of the mechanisms and plans for that stretch to see what it can do within its own budget to try to improve the road's safety record. He is absolutely correct to draw this unsatisfactory situation to the attention of the House."

Douglas added afterwards "The A12 is dangerous. I believe more needs to be done to make it safer, and I wanted to raise this with the Minister as it is of real concern to many of my local constituents.

"I am pleased that the Minister recognises that the situation is not good enough"


25 FEB 2008

"More bridleways" says local MP

Douglas Carswell MP has met with local horse owners and riders to hear demands for more bridleways in Tendring.

"Apparently, there are a record number of people in Tendring who are riding horses. Horses are more popular than ever. Yet there are not enough bridleways. Without enough bridleways, there is a greater risk of accidents on the roads".

"I'm personally very keen on horses, and support the local stables. I ride and so completely understand why local horse owners and riders want to see more done."

"I will certainly back their campaign to ensure that we have enough good bridleways in this part of Essex. I will write to the council and ask if they can do more to ensure that bridleways are maintained and developed - obviously in ways that have the support of local farmers and others".


18 FEB 2008

Keep it local

MPs regular column in the local newspaper

Gazette readers know all about the problems with both the brand new Bishops Park College and the new Harwich hospital. They were built at a combined cost of some £30 Million – a welcome investment in our part of Essex.

Yet, at my coffee morning in Holland Public Hall on Saturday, an elderly couple raised a question I suspect many of us are asking; “How come, despite all that money, both the new school and hospital have run into difficulty?”

As we all know, there was a question mark over Bishops Park, and a large part of Harwich hospital remains un-used. Too many young people in Clacton do not have enough opportunities for education, employment or training. Far too many local patients have to travel to Colchester for services that should be available here.

What went wrong? The problems at both Bishops Park College and Harwich hospital show what happens when big decisions are taken by far away people who do not have to answer to local residents. Those making the decisions meant well. Yet they spent the money the way they thought best – not the way it turned out it was needed.

The silver-lining in all this is that locally accountable people are now trying to sort things out. We should support them. Local governors at Bishops Park and Colbayns School are now proposing to work together to ensure that both schools continue to provide a full range of choice for young people. Similarly, the local Primary Care Trust has now taken action to get Harwich hospital functioning the way it should.

Is there a lesson in all of this? Yes. Put simply, local decisions that affect local people must be made as local as possible. We need much more local scrutiny over not only health and education, but policing, prosecutions, licensing and much else too.

The Clacton debating society has invited me to take part in a debate at the Quaker Meeting House. Tom Lewinsky and his fellow debaters are an immensely civilised bunch, but also razor-sharp. In fact, I’m a little nervous. MPs in the House of Commons could learn a lot from them about how it should be done. Perhaps if politicians debated as well as the Clacton debating society, they might do a better job of holding the government of the day to account?

I often try the patience of the Gazette editor when I start mentioning gardening in this column. However, I can’t resist it. I have taken a gamble with the weather. I have planted out things that a more cautious gardener might keep under glass a while longer. This week I threw caution to the wind and planted out the shallots, sowed radishes and sweet peas, and fought the temptation to try my luck with the potatoes. If you read this with a heavy frost outside, you know I’ve made the wrong choice.

My website is at www.TalkClacton.com


18 FEB 2008

Blog live

Douglas regularly posts comments on CentreRight.com

Read his latest comment here:

The internet and the rise of anti-politics

We all know how the internet removes barriers to entry in business and commerce. Fewer appreciate how it is likely to do the same to politics, too. Rob Colvile clearly does with his excellent new paper on "Politics, Policy and the Internet".

The internet "aggregates" - brings together - likeminded people, and spreads ideas. But more revolutionary, it democratises communication. Its no longer some remote BBC producer who decides if I get air time, or if a story merits coverage. For example, about one in ten households in my constituency have signed up for a regular communication linking them direct to sites like this or locally-made YouTube posted bulletins. Perhaps, we are near the stage when you'll no longer need a big, expensive (taxpayer funded?) corporate party machine (in London) to communicate with voters.

The mood of anti-politics, coupled with a desire for politics that is authentic, local and particular, means that established political parties, and Establishment politicians, need to watch out ....


16 FEB 2008

Blog Live - Sharia-lite is wrong

Douglas regularly posts comments on CentreRight.com

Read Douglas' latest comments on the Archbishop of Canterbury's call for sharia law here:

Sharia-lite is wrong

Unlike Rowan Williams, Sayed Qutb - the intellectual architect of political Islamism - was never noted for his nuance. Qutb's 1964 manifesto, Milestones, is to the point; sharia - the law of God - needs to be forcefully imposed on a decadent (jahili) world by a revolutionary Islamic vanguard.

Qutb argued that God's sovereignty over all the earth is violated wherever there is no sharia. Anyone who therefore ignores sharia in favour of man-made laws cannot be a true Muslim.

However one looks at what Dr Williams said - and millions on Al Jazeera have - his comments can only have encouraged those inspired by Qutb's teachings.

As the BBC has been quick to point out, Dr Williams was not apparently arguing for nasty hand-chopping sharia. No, he simply wants a little bit of civil sharia. Just in a few cases. Domestic disputes, you understand. By consent, of course. No "blank cheques", whatever that means.

Yet, if Qutb's Milestones is anything to go by, the kind of folk who want sharia - bar the odd Anglican clergyman - are unlikely to be satisfied with sharia's limited application in a few civil cases.

The Archbishop's "clarification" that he does not want a parallel legal system does not really reassure. Williams "only" seeks an acceptance by the English legal system of some aspects of sharia. Perhaps this is a nuance they will miss in some madrassas.

And that's surely the point. It's not really about what Church of England clergy think, nor even what the majority of us think they think. What counts is how this plays among Muslims. For pious British Muslims, devoted in their faith, yet steadfast in rejecting Qutb's absolutism, Dr Williams just made an increasingly difficult position a bit less tenable.

The Archbishop seems to genuinely think his "sharia lite" will help community cohesion. Yet even just calling for it has done the precise opposite. Qutb's once outlandish notion that without sharia one cannot be a true Muslim has been made a little more mainstream.

Worse than what Dr Williams said is his justification for saying it. Apparently "sharia lite" is necessary since not all those living in our country are now able to relate to Britain's legal system.

Think about that. What can possibly have possessed the most senior clergyperson in the Church of England to believe that since not everyone can relate to the English legal system, we need to change our legal system? It is an affliction called "multiculturalism".

Dr Williams no doubt believes he was talking about Islam, but his opaque utterances reveal far more about muddled Western ways of thinking. Williams has inadvertently highlighted the enormity of the problem caused by the cultural relativism of our own Western elites.

Once you stop proclaiming allegiance to a common culture, and kid youself that all cultures are of equal worth, the Archbishop's position becomes almost logical. If all is of equal worth, and some who live here cannot relate to what is here already, changing what is here - as opposed to helping adapt the attitudes of the newcomers - becomes your norm.

Rather than social cohesion, public policy built on this bogus series of assumptions will make for fragmentation. The politicians we elect have belatedly begun to wake up to this reality, but so what? Multicultural assumptions are now the default setting of the British State, its unelected institutions and unaccountable quangos - not merely the Anglican Church.

The most inspirational book I've read in a long time is Ed Hussein's The Islamist. Why am I uplifted by a book which depressingly confirms that such a large chunk of youth in London, Birmingham and Bradford now heeds Qutb's call? Because ultimately Hussein seems to show that Islam, and being a British Muslim, could be made compatible with the ideas of the Western Enlightenment.

How sad that the Archbishop should now put his church at odds with the ideals of the Enlightenment. How tragic that our own nuanced elites should be the ones who break with what are universal ideals.


04 FEB 2008

One in ten infected in local hospitals

MP exposes unacceptable infection rates

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has expressed his dismay over revelations that almost one in ten local people admitted to hospital acquire an infection when in hospital.

"This is shocking" says Douglas Carswell MP "and it is simply not acceptable. Hospitals are there to cure us, not make us ill. Yet almost one in ten people admitted are now infected".

The news came in a letter to the local MP from Peter Murphy, Chief Executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust. Douglas Carswell MP had written to him asking how many patients are dying as of healthcare acquired infections.

Mr Murphy replied "About 8% of hospitalised patients develop a healthcare acquired infection". He went on to admit that they simply do not know how many died as a result - "We are therefore unable to answer the specific question posted about the numbers of patients dying of healthcare acquired infections".

Douglas went on to say "I asked the question in the first place because there are so many local people worried about hospital acquired infections, and I wanted to get an idea of the true picture. Yet far from allaying their concerns, news that almost one in ten are getting infected will add to peoples' angst".

"This is a disgrace and proves that there is something profoundly wrong with the way local services are being run".

Douglas now intends to step up his campaign by writing to each individual hospital manager to ask for details about infection rates.


17 JAN 2008

Commons Diary

17 January 2008

Douglas' regular column in the Gazette and Standard

Clementine and I wish everybody a very Happy New Year! We really value all the messages of goodwill that we have had from Gazette readers as we settle down to our married life together. Thank you.

As 2008 begins, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about what I think we need to do to improve our area over the coming year.

Close to the top of my list must be action against yob culture and anti-social behaviour. Think how rife vandalism is in Clacton or Walton or Frinton in 2008, compared with say 1958 or 1978 or even 1998.

I refuse to accept that in the modern world higher crime and more yob culture are inevitable. If the jobs of those officials responsible for tackling yob culture depended on how successfully they dealt with it, we would soon see less anti-social behaviour. It is time to make our remote criminal justice system answer to local folk. Perhaps it is now time for us to elect our top police chiefs and public prosecutors?

As your MP, I also promise to back our local police officers 100% in their current dispute over pay. The Home Secretary has used sleight of hand, and I have had an enormous number of letters from local officers. I hope that the Home Secretary resigns soon – her disgraceful behaviour has undermined our local police in Clacton and Frinton directly.

Second on my wish list is to see an improvement in local health services. Many readers rallied to defend Peter Bruff ward last year. And local GP services before that. And other services before that. Why do we constantly have to fight to safeguard basic public services that should be locally available by right?

It was recently revealed that Jaywick is one of the most disadvantaged places in Britain. At my last Advice Surgery in Brooklands, I was asked by one woman why it is that despite all the millions of pounds of public money that get spent in Jaywick, local people never see any improvement on the ground?

In the past year alone, officials talked big about a new Jaywick “master plan”. Then they engaged expensive “consultants”. Yet so far, absolutely nothing has happened. Officials poured £14 million into the brand new Bishops Park College. Now they threatened to close it down. How can Jaywick possibly be helped with this level of official incompetence?

Every time I demand answers, the council and the quangos pass the buck. Using jargon, they tell us that it is a “multi-agency initiative”. In plain English, “multi-agency initiatives” seem to be the ones where no one takes responsibility. In 2008, public money spent on Jaywick needs to be start being spent in Jaywick – not on remote officials and their dust-gathering strategy plans.

Finally, I have a lot of coffee mornings and Advice Surgeries in my diary for 2008. My next coffee morning is in Great Clacton and then Walton, and I do hope to see many of you there.


15 JAN 2008

Douglas raises concerns about Bishops Park Closure

MP raises concerns about government's education failure during Commons debate

Douglas Carswell MP took the government to task over its failure to provide better education and skills training during a debate in the House of Commons.

Read the debate below:

Mr. Douglas Carswell (Harwich) (Con): I believe that the Bill is another piece of legislation designed primarily to make the Government appear effective. It will do little to improve education and skills. If passing laws were enough to tackle social problems, Britain would be a utopia. If education Bills alone raised levels of education and skills, we would be the wisest, most skilled and best educated people on earth.

Education and skills are desirable. We need to see people participating in education not just to 18 but throughout their lifespan. Higher levels of education and skills are good not only for the individual but for wider society. In view of the many economic changes and competitive pressures from the far east, it could be that improved education and skills are not just a good thing but a prerequisite for our country. On a recent Select Committee visit to China, I was struck by the appetite of the students I met there for education. In deciding what course to take or what university to attend, not only the student but the entire family-often several generations-participated in the decision. In the light of the challenge from China and other countries, we do not face competition simply in the manufacturing industry sector; we also face it in the sphere of intellectual value-added capital.

All that means that we need to enhance this country’s education and skills. The question remains, though, whether this particular piece of legislation
14 Jan 2008 : Column 733
enhances education and skills. Like so much else done by the Executive in recent years, this law is built on an assumption that top-down Government action through Acts of Parliament best achieves the ends sought. I believe, however, that that is a flawed assumption.

In my own area of Harwich and Clacton, the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training is very high. Indeed, I believe it to be one of the highest in the country. It is not simply a case of statistics; these are real people whose life chances are being ruined. Does the Minister really think that an Act of Parliament is going to change that? Surely, all the Bill will do is raise the costs and, for want of a better word, the hassle of hiring a young person while reducing their chances of employment.

Kelvin Hopkins: Many Conservative Members have said that the Government should not be doing this and that there should not be top-down attempts to deal with these problems. Without Government action, however, the system would be left to itself and things would get no better.

Mr. Carswell: With great respect to the hon. Gentleman-I agree with his views on many things, not least Europe-I profoundly disagree with him on that issue. I believe that many things around us are the product of individuals pursuing their own interests rather than of officialdom and central Government planning. Many great, innovative things have come into existence in my short lifetime without any involvement of the Government. Indeed, I would say that most of the great things around us in the world are usually the product of individual action, not of Government.

Mention has already been made of the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which I shall briefly touch on. The Government have not only made many laws on education, but spent a great deal of money on it, which no one can really dispute. In the Clacton area of my constituency, for example, they have spent £14 million on a brand new school, Bishop’s Park college. The problem is not spending that money on education, which is excellent, but the fact that after just two years, they are trying to close the school down. It was opened formally by the previous Prime Minister two and a half years ago, yet it now faces closure.

Jim Knight: The hon. Gentleman said that “they” are trying to close the school, implying that the Government were trying to close it, but is it not the case that we do not have that power? It is a decision for Essex county council, which is controlled by the party that the hon. Gentleman represents.

Mr. Carswell: The Minister well knows-I have written to his Department-that the decision to build Bishop’s Park college was taken by central Government. Indeed, I have asked for the correspondence between the local authority and the Department to be released, so that we can resolve whether the decision was made centrally or locally. Thus far, the Minister has refused to release the correspondence. If he released it, I am pretty sure it
14 Jan 2008 : Column 734
would show that the decision to build the school was made in Whitehall, not the town hall. I would be happy to discuss the matter further here or elsewhere subsequently. Bishop’s Park college shows that despite a great deal of money being spent, little regard for local need was shown. The fate of the college shows in microcosm what happens when education decisions are taken centrally and on high. It bodes ill for the Building Schools for the Future initiative.

The Education and Skills Bill graciously permits-I say that with a sense of irony-young people to remain in work provided that they are engaged in part-time training. That is a further extension of the “Government knows best” philosophy, and is wrong because it means that officialdom needs to approve before young people can do what they wish to do. It will make hiring young people more costly and bureaucratic, which is a bad thing.

It is a conceit of politicians that they can run things efficiently and better. All the evidence suggests to me that they cannot, and that is also the case with raising standards in education and schools. I venture to suggest that any improvements will take place despite, not because of, the Bill. People will gain skills and education because they want to do so, and choose to do so, not because Government decree it. It would be good if more young people remained in education and training. Rather than extend officialdom, however, Government should empower young people; instead of placing an obligation on young people, Government need to give them more freedom.

The Bill will entrench the power of officialdom in LEAs, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Learning and Skills Council to determine what skills are taught. As a member of what was the Education and Skills Committee, I have been deeply uninspired by some of the officials who have appeared before the Committee from time to time. Using officialdom to determine what skills are taught is a form of central planning. Economic change makes it likely that the country will need new skills, yet it is almost impossible to know accurately what those skills will be. Twenty years ago, who could have known what software design skills were needed? Five years ago, who could be certain what know-how was required? Economic change requires innovative skills. I very much doubt that officials at the LEAs or the QCA are best placed to know what innovations are around the corner. It was not those people but a university drop-out who gave us Microsoft.

To conclude, let me put two questions to the Minister. Truancy today is at its highest for a decade.

Jim Knight: Wrong.

Mr. Carswell: From a sedentary position, the Minister says that that is wrong. I am happy to dispute the statistics with him. The statistics to which I have access clearly show that truancy today is at its highest level for a decade. No amount of spin can deny that.

Jim Knight: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way to me a second time. The mistake that he makes, which is made by most Conservative Members-and by most newspapers, it is true-is to conflate unauthorised absence with truancy. The two
14 Jan 2008 : Column 735
are not the same. If we were to ask any head teacher in the country whether unauthorised absence is truancy, they would say no. Much of the unauthorised absence is due, for example, to parents wanting to take their children on holiday during term-time and head teachers refusing to authorise that. I do not equate that precisely with truancy. I do not condone it-I think parents should ensure that their children attend school-but I do not think it is the same as truancy.

Mr. Carswell: I am flattered that the Minister should intervene on me twice-and I say yes in a sort of Jeremy Paxman-esque way, with due cynicism. I have statistics in front of me on pupil absences in England; I am quoting a document produced on 25 October 2007, and I would be happy to share it with him afterwards. I stand by what I say: truancy today is at its highest level for a decade. If the Government cannot get all those truants to remain at school at age 16, how on earth will the Bill keep them at school until 18?

The second point that I make to the Minister-again, I would be happy for him to intervene-is that rather than focus on the time spent in education and on the quantity of education, why do the Government not focus on the quality of education until age 16? Surely it is a failure of the Government to provide good education up to age 16 that explains why so many choose to leave school at 16.


16 DEC 2007

MP weds

16 December 2007

Local MP marries Clementine

Douglas Carswell married Clementine Bailey just before Christmas.

The wedding took place at Burford in Oxfordshire, and Daniel Hannan MEP was best man.


19 NOV 2007

Commons Diary

Reflections on Remembrance Sunday and the week in Westminster.


13 NOV 2007

Help design MP's Christmas Card

Douglas Carswell wants you to help choose this year's card


12 NOV 2007

Douglas asks government to take action on sea defences

Douglas Carswell, local MP for Holland-on-Sea, has asked the Environment Minister "what steps will be taken to ensure that funding is available to allow the sea defences at Holland-on-Sea and Clacton-on-Sea to be reinforced?"


23 OCT 2007

MP takes action to give PCSOs more consistent powers

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, this afternoon helped give the green light in Parliament to important legal changes that will ensure local Police Community Support Officers have more consistent powers.

In a rare example of cross party cooperation, Douglas teamed up with other MPs on the House of Commons delegated legislation committee to approve changes under the 2002 Police reform Act. As a result, PCSOs will now have appropriate powers to support neighbourhood policing and to deal more effectively with anti-social behaviour.
Douglas says "This is a practical step to help our local PCSOs. I don't see PCSOs as simply being auxillary police, but as playing a key role in the fight against crime and disorder".
"Giving PCSOs better defined powers will help them to do their job better - and that is good news for people concerned about vandalism and yob culture in Clacton, Frinton and Walton."
"We need to give PCSOs greater recognition and support for the work that they do".
"When I decided to back this important legal change, I very much had local people in Clacton, Frinton and Walton - who have been troubled by vandalism and yob culture - at the front of my mind".
"Giving police and PCSOs the tools to fight crime, coupled with greater accountability to local people for how they then tackle crime, are going to be absolutely essential features of policing in future".


22 OCT 2007

Save our Post Office meeting on Friday

Local residents invited to a meeting on Friday to protest against proposed Post Office closures

There will be a meeting of local residents in Walton-on-the-Naze this Friday to protest against the proposed closure of local Post Offices.
The meeting will take place from 7:30pm at the St Georges Hall, Hall Lane, Walton-on-the-Naze and press and journalists are most welcome.
The event has been organised by local Cllr Mick Page, and will be addressed by local MP Douglas Carswell.
The recent announcement could see many local Post Offices being shut in this one part of Essex. Closures could involve rural, suburban and urban branches. The impact of the proposed closures would be particularly badly felt as the area has one of the largest number of retired people in the country.


22 OCT 2007

Its official - there is no need to promote Polish or Urdu in Tendring

Government MInister confirms that there is no statutory requirement for local councils to provide public documents in languages other than English.

Its official; there is no requirement for Tendring council to promote the use of Urdu, Polish, Gujerati, Turkish, or any other language other than English.
Minister Parmjit Dhanda has formally replied to local MP Douglas Carswell to say that "In England, there is no statutory requirement for local councils to provide public documents in languages other than English".
While the Minister goes on to say that there will be "new non-statutory guidance", the Minister admits there is nothing forcing the council to do what they are doing. Moreover, Mr Dhanda goes on to say that the government "do believe knowledge of English is a vital part of integration into British society, as well as a personal advancement".
Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, says "I don't often agree with much that this government says, but the Minister is right. There is no requirement for Tendring Council to promote the use of Urdu, Polish, Gujerati, Turkish, or any language other than English."
"Tendring council is promoting this folly not because anyone voted for it, nor because the government has decreed it. It is happening because unelected council officials have decided that it should happen"
"According to a national newspaper, this sort of translation costs many millions of pounds. Yet even Tendring council admits that no one has asked for these translations. The council is being doubly foolish"
Douglas adds that Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi, wrote last week that "multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation. It has allowed groups to live separately, with no incentive to integrate and every incentive not to. It was intended to promote tolerance. Instead the result has been, in countries where it has been tried, societies more abrasive, fractured and intolerant than they once were."
"Encouraging the use of English creates cohesion. That is a good thing"
"It is time for Tendring council to stop this nonsense. This is England - and public documents must be in English".


11 OCT 2007

Post Office closures - its stinks, says MP

Douglas tells government Ministers just how angry local people are over proposals to shut local Post Offices.

Local MP Douglas Carswell told government Ministers just how angry local people are over proposals to shut local Post Offices.

In a fierce exchange on the floor of the House of Commons this morning, Douglas questioned the logic of closing local Post Offices that do pay their way - and on which many local older folk depend.

Douglas says "The government wants to shut our local Post Offices in Walton, Kirby, Clacton, Harwich, Dovercourt - in fact right across Tendring.

This proposal stinks. Post Offices that pay their way - and on which many older folk depend - could be closed down. This defies economic sense, and is grossly unfair. Post Masters have been gagged from speaking up. The so-called proposals seem to be presented to us as a done deal - despite that fact that I had written to the Minister on several occasions asking him to tell us what was going on"

"Here we have yet another consultation leading to yet another local service closure."

"Post Offices in Walton, Clacton and Kirby are under threat because of the government's decision to axe 2,500 Post Offices nation-wide - after an entirely bogus consultation."

Meeting with Post Office officials yesterday at the House of Commons to express his anger, Douglas demanded to know if any of the currently announced closures involved shutting a Post Office in the consituency of a Cabinet member. "How many Post Offices are being shut in Gordon Brown's constituency?".

"This decision cannot be seen as a rational economic one. First, the Post Office has admitted to me that Post Offices that pay their way could well face the axe. Second, Post Masters have been threatened with a gagging order if they speak out. Third, if you look at where these cut backs are happening, there seems to be a blatant partisan bias. I was shocked to learn from Post Office officials that if an election had been called last week, these closures would not have been unveiled. The implications of this are so cynical that it is shocking".

Douglas will be addressing a public meeting on October 26th in Walton called to organise opposition to the proposals by local Cllr Mick Page.


09 OCT 2007

It's Plain English - says MP

Douglas steps up his Plain English campaign

Clacton's MP has stepped up his campaign against local officialdom’s promoting of languages other than English in England.

After his local council offered him public documents in seven different languages other than English, including Urdu, Polish, Gujerati and Turkish - and having discovered that no one had yet in fact asked for a translation in Urdu, he has now raised the matter in Parliament.

Douglas says "Having asked local officialdom why they promote social division and seperateness, they tried to imply that they were mandated to do so by central government. I simply don't believe that - where is the law that forces them to be politically correct?"

Stepping up his Plain English campaign, Douglas has asked the Minister if she can:

Provide details of the statutory and non-statutory guidance for local councils on the provision of public documents in languages other than English?

What advice does the Minister's department offer local authorities about the provision of public documents in English, and will she make a statement?.

Does the minister believe that providing public documents in languages other than English enhances or diminishes a sense of social cohesion and inclusiveness?.

In light of her plans to provide local councils with £50 million to enhance social cohesion following the report by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, will the minister also review guidelines for local government on the provision of public documents in languages other than English?.

Douglas adds “I'm worried about my country’s cohesion. I don't think that the so-called "multi-cultural consensus" has worked, and I hear even Trevor Philips saying we need more integration, rather than seperateness."

"Yet local officialdom is promoting cultural relativism. Who voted for that? "

"Promoting the idea that it is okay not to learn English is harmful to everyone - especially those people who would be socially excluded by their inability to communicate effectively. Without a common language we are denied the tools to create common understanding with one another. That means tensions, divisions and social fragmentation."

"It is wonderful that in this country people celebrate their different heritages. We've been a plural society since the time of Cromwell - if not before. In the private space, it is good that people have the particular and the distinctive. But in the public space, we need common cultural reference points - and that begins with language. That language is English."


09 OCT 2007

Douglas demands answers

Douglas demands answers about the cost of the consultation over the future of the Peter Bruff ward.

"What was the cost of consulting over the future of the Peter Bruff ward?"; that is the question local MP, Douglas Carswell, has put to health Ministers today.

News that Peter Bruff ward would not close came in an email from local health chiefs to Douglas, and the decision was revealed in direct response to a campaigning video he posted on local website www.TalkClacton.com . The decision was then formally confirmed by the local Primary Care Trust last week.

Welcoming the decision to keep Peter Bruff, Douglas says "The PCT claims that it decided not to shut Peter Bruff because there is not any chance of alternative local provision for those vulnerable people who might otherwise depend on Peter Bruff."

"Any number of local people could have told them that in five minutes. So why the lengthy and costly consultation? Why consult if it is so obvious that the ward is so clearly needed"

"The cost of this consultation can be measured not only in terms of money, but in the stress that the uncertainty has caused very many local people"

"It is a sad fact that today we need to maintain a constant vigilance to safeguard our local services".


09 OCT 2007

Commons Diary with Douglas Carswell MP

 Douglas gives an insight into his busy Commons Diary.

The highlight of my week was a visit to Colbayns High School. A group of young people had invited me to talk to them – and answer questions. They were really interesting to listen to, and my hour with them flew by. If there are any other readers out there who might want me to visit their school, please do let me know on carswelld@parliament.uk.

Last week, I also held my 60th local MP advice surgery. In the two and a half years I have been your MP, I have tried my very hardest with a regular local surgery. Thousands of local people have contacted me or come along to my local surgeries for help. As your MP, I do not manage to solve every problem, but I promise to always try.

Readers will be relived to learn that the Primary Care Trust has now made formal its decision to keep Peter Bruff ward open. The health Trust first contacted me with the news that the future of the ward was secure in direct response to a video clip I had posted on to www.TalkClacton.com. Wendy Gavin, the Gazette and other campaigners I worked with to safeguard Peter Bruff all deserve praise. I wonder if this is not also the first example of the internet being used by local people to hold decision-makers to account?

I was recently in sunny Blackpool for my own party’s annual conference. Having been at the forefront of a national campaign to axe inheritance tax, I was really pleased to hear that this has now become my party’s policy. I have spoken out about the need to scrap inheritance tax for a long time now – and it will make a big difference to people in Clacton, Frinton, Walton and Holland who might want to pass something on to their children.

Thank you to all those who have got in touch to back my “Plain English” campaign. A couple of weeks ago I suggested that public documents in England should be in English – not translated into half a dozen languages including Polish, Urdu and Gujerati.

I had expected politically-correct officialdom to try shouting me down. Instead I got a flood of support from local people backing me. It cheers me to know that so many Gazette readers reject multiculturalism precisely because they want a society that is united and together.

Any day now, the government will announce to Parliament that it will be making millions of pounds of your money available to local authorities in order “to promote social cohesion”. Perhaps a better place to start would be to stop promoting seperateness? With one hand officialdom promotes cultural relativism. With the other, it throws our money at the very divisions its politically correct agenda has created.

My website can be viewed at www.TalkClacton.com


20 SEP 2007

MP Challenges "Politically Correct" Council

Tendring District Council local documents written in 8 different languages.

Why does Tendring District Council make public documents available in different languages other than English, including Polish, Urdu and Gujarati? That is the question being asked by local MP, Douglas Carswell.

Douglas has written to Tendring District Council, asking why it is that public consultation documents are being issued in many different languages. He wants to know if it is because the district council has decided to, or because central government is forcing the local council to make documents available in different languages.

Douglas says, “the July 7th 2005 terror attacks forced the political establishment to re-think mullticulturalism. Many people now recognise that cultural relativism has failed Britain. It has let our country down by creating social fragmentation rather than cohesion."

"I believe that in order to build sense of Britishness, we need to encourage social cohesion and the use of English. I am appalled to see my local council encouraging social division and fragmentation by promoting languages other than English."

"This is England. Public documents should be in English"

"None of us voted for this political correctness - so why is my council being politically correct?"

“I wanted to know how much the local council spends on translating different documents. And what percentage of Tendring has as their first language a language other than English."

"It is wonderful that people celebrate their different heritages. In the private space, it is good that people have the particular and the distinctive. But in the public space, we need common cultural reference points - and that begins with language. That language is English".


13 SEP 2007

Peter Bruff ward will not close - says PCT

Action by Douglas prompts PCT response

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has been told by the local Primary Care Trust that the Peter Bruff ward at Clacton hospital "will absolutely not close".

Fears that Peter Bruff ward would close prompted a massive response from local residents. Gazette readers joing local campaigners to fight the proposals, and make sure that those responsible for making the decision were aware of the strength of feeling. Local MP, Douglas Carswell, joined a delegation from the Gazette to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Health in Whitehall.

Douglas Carswell MP further piled on the pressure with a local video highlighting the danger to Peter Bruff, which has now been watched by thousands of local people (CLICK HERE to view: http://www.talkclacton.com/viewtopic.php?t=462 ).
As a direct response to the Douglas' video campaign, the head of the PCT, Paul Zollinger-Read wrote to Douglas to say Peter Bruff "will absolutely not close."

Mr Zollinger-Read went on to say "We … took the decision …. that we would not sanction the closure of beds at this moment. Closure would take us down to about 17 beds per 100,000 population; at present we have about 24 per 100,000. ….. to get from 24 to 17 requires development of community services in advance of bed closures. It would be foolish to close beds and hope that the community services could manage."

He went on to write "We have put aside the funding for the wards in our area".
Douglas said "This assurance is immensely encouraging. If it is indeed the case that the future of Peter Bruff is now secure, then it is a victory for local people, for local campaigners - and the Gazette".

"We still need to be careful that local mental health services are properly provided for. I would like to see the details about the mental health strategy for the area in due course - but this is a good news for our local services, and for the campaign to safeguard Clacton hospital".


04 SEP 2007

Douglas meets protesters on seafront

Douglas raises concerns about sea defnces in Holland-on-Sea

Over 80 local residents gathered on Saturday on the sea-front in Holland-on-Sea to protest against the neglect of the areas greatest asset. Members of the local beach hut owners association invited Douglas Carswell MP to come along to listen to their concerns.

Douglas says “The sea front is one of our area’s greatest assets. It needs to be properly maintained. That means:

Investing in sea defences
Action to keep in clean and tidy – and free from rats and vermin
Protecting beach huts from vandals
Douglas Carswell MP has been outspoken in his defence of the sea front before, once embarrassing the council into picking up litter by doing the job himself. On another occasion, he spoke out against the way the council seemed so much better at taxing beach hut owners than at acting to stop vandalism.

Douglas told the meeting that he had written directly to the Prime Minister to highlight local residents concerns about the sea-defences. He had also beach hut owners concerns directly with Tendring Council’s Chief Executive. Douglas was applauded when he told the gathering that he would continue to campaign to ensure that breach hut owners were listened to.


04 SEP 2007

Coming to a shopping centre near you...

Douglas now holds advice surgeries at local supermarkets and shopping centres

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, now holds advice surgeries for local residents at local supermarkets and shopping centres.

Since becoming an MP two years ago, Douglas has had over 4,000 local people approach him for help. Many of those have come along to Douglas’ regular surgeries or coffee mornings. Douglas is now holding surgeries in supermarkets to ensure he even more accessible to local people wanting advice.

Douglas says “I really look forward to meeting people at my local surgeries and coffee mornings. I get lots of people from all walks of life and all different ages. The other day I had someone well into their nineties. The variety is what makes them so interesting”.

Last week, Douglas was at both Burrs Hall, Clacton, and the Frinton shopping triangle.

If you would like to contact Douglas as your local MP, call his office for details on 01255 – 423 112.


04 SEP 2007

Clacton shoppers demand more parking

Douglas meets with local retailers to highlight their concerns

Local retailers in Clacton say that the town centre desperately needs more parking. A delegation recently met with local MP, Douglas Carswell, to highlight their concerns, and demand action from the council.

Douglas says “I am worried to hear that business for many retailers in Clacton has apparently taken a nose-dive. Some even spoke of a 30% fall in trade.

“If this is the case generally, then it could be very bad news for our town”.

“Changes to the town centre must have the interests of local shoppers and shop keepers at heart. If our local shops and small businesses suffer, we will all feel the effects”.

“Having listened to local shoppers and shop keepers, I think that one priority must be to ensure that there is enough available parking – and parking that is in the centre of town”.

“Without central parking spaces, business could be pushed out of our town. I will be contacting the council directly to ask what more can be done to provide central parking for shoppers".


20 AUG 2007

Douglas comes out fighting wind farm

Douglas demands a full public enquiry into Earls Hall wind farm

Douglas Carswell has come out strongly against Earls Hall wind farm on the edge of Clacton. He has written to the Minister for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, demanding a full public enquiry into the proposal.

Douglas, who has met with campaigners, says that the fact that the monster turbines will be so close to people's homes makes the site unsuitable for this development.

Douglas says "I can't understand why this proposal has even got this far. There is a massive off shore wind farm being built, and that is the place the put these things. Not outside people's front doors".

---------------------
Text of letter to Minister:

Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London
SW1E 5DU

Re: Planning Application 07/00433/FUL: Earls Hall Farm Wind Farm

I am writing to you to draw your attention to the above planning application, and to ensure that it is subject to a full public enquiry. There are several issues which must be given due consideration.

Firstly, the proposed wind farm will be sited within 1km of West Clacton, a densely populated area in my constituency. In addition, Tendring District Council plans to further extend its housing stock in this area by 2011, building on land even closer to the proposed site. As such, the wind farm at Earls Hall Farm will be completely inappropriately sited and will have a detrimental effect on local residents, some of whom will be as close as 700m to the wind turbines.

Local residents will also be subject to the adverse effects of the wind farm in terms of the noise that will be generated at close proximity to their homes, and the permanent damage to the local landscape and wildlife. The proposal will inhibit local agricultural development, and will have a detrimental effect on the visual impact of the historical and rural character of the landscape.

Finally, the Gunfleet Sands off shore wind farm will begin operations in 2009 with a capacity fifteen times that of the site proposed at Earls Hall Farm. The Clacton area is therefore already disproportionately contributing to combating climate change, and the site at Earls Hall Farm offers few further benefits to this end.

The current plans contravene Tendring District Council’s Adopted Local Plan on several counts, and are unanimously opposed by local residents, businesses and local wildlife groups. I would be grateful if you could please have a look at this planning application, and let me have your views on the viability of the current plans. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Douglas Carswell MP
Member of Parliament for Harwich and Clacton


13 AUG 2007

Douglas supports Clacton Art Club

Douglas attends the Art Club's summer barbecue

Douglas Carswell has attended the Clacton Arts Club Summer barbecue.

He joined members of the group for a fun afternoon of painting, chat and excellent food.

Douglas, who has tried his hand at the occasional water colour painting before, said "What a great group of people! I really enjoyed myself, and had a wonderful time. The art was pretty good too".

Anyone interested in finding out more about getting involved with the Clacton Arts Club should look at their website on www.ClactonArtClub.org.uk


13 AUG 2007

Douglas demands action on sea defences

Douglas writes to the Prime Minister to call for more funding

Douglas Carswell has written to Gordon Brown on behalf of his local council to ask for help with sea defences.

Sea defences along the Tendring coast line are under pressure, and earlier in the year the sea wall in Holland-on-Sea started to collapse.

Douglas says "The cost of repairing the sea defences could fall on the council directly. That would affect other services".

"What we need is not a piece-meal approach each time some of our sea defences collapse, but an entirely new set of defences."

Clacton and Holland-on-Sea had been promised a brand new off-shore defences - but changes to the funding criteria meant the money ear-marked locally went elsewhere.

Douglas added "I know that with serious flooding elsewhere there will now be even greater pressure on budgets. That is all the more reason to ask the Prime Minister directly if he can make sure that the additional funding he has promised is spent on actual defences here, and not on maintaining an army of officials to sit in offices at the Environment Agency".

Photo: Douglas Carswell MP examining Holland-on-Sea's battered sea defences.

--------------------------------
Text of Douglas Carswell MP's letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

I am writing to you to ask about sea defences, and to see if my own local district council in Tendring might be eligible for support in maintaining sea defences. I thought that I should ask you, given an answer you gave the other day at Prime Minister's questions.

As I write, I am very aware that there are a number of communities who have recently faced sever flooding. While not quite the same as sea defences, I do appreciate that this recent flooding raises a whole host of questions about how we organise both sea and flood defences.

Notwithstanding, the erosion of sea defences along the coast in Clacton and Holland-on-Sea in my constituency has presented Tendring District Council with a real problem. The cost of repairing damage to the sea wall earlier in the year could be considerable, and as a local council it could have a major impact on the authority's resources.

I noticed that on July 4th during Prime Minister's questions, you said that the budget for coastal and flood defences would "rise from £600 million a year to £800 million a year over the course of the next few years, so that we may have in place proper flood defences in our country".

Can I ask if some of this additional funding could be used to help my local council maintain the sea defences in Clacton and Holland-on-Sea?

There was previously talk of a major new sea defence scheme involving off shore defences. The money for that had been ear-marked, apparently, but changes to the rules for allocating funds meant the scheme never went ahead. As well as helping Tendring District Council with the cost of repairing the sea wall, is there any chance that funding for such a scheme could be found?

Along with local residents, I fear that without properly maintained sea defences, there could one day be serious damage as a result of further erosion.

As you can imagine, this is an issue of real concern to local people. I'd appreciate it if you could let me know what help there might be available for Tendring Council.

Warm regards,

Douglas Carswell MP


24 JUL 2007

MP backs Warm Front scheme

Douglas has a warm cuppa and backs scheme to help older folk

Douglas Carswell MP is urging local residents to apply to Warm Front to make their homes warmer for the winter.

Douglas visited the home of Mr and Mrs Highfield in Clacton, who had recently benefited from the Warm Front scheme, to see for himself how it helps.

Douglas said "Mr Highfield found out that they could benefit from a Warm Front grant for heating and insulation just by making a simple phone call. I want to ensure that every local person entitled to help from the Warm Front scheme get the help they deserve".

"Too many local people are missing out on what is theirs. I want to ensure that local people - especially older folk on support - who might be entitled to help, are able to get help".

Mr Highfield said "Warm Front has meant I can heat my home without breaking the bak. Before I applied I coundn't keep the place warm - now I know I won't need to worry this winter".


23 JUL 2007

Vandalism getting out of hand

Douglas speaks up after vandals strike - yet again

Another week, and another set of beach huts have been vandalised. Over 70 huts have been vandalised in the Harwich and Clacton constituency so far this summer, says local MP, Douglas Carswell.

The latest spate of attacks came shortly after some huts were burnt down a couple of weeks ago.

Douglas says "It is time for the police and the council to take action - not just talk".

"Local people have a right to feel angry about what is going on. Mindless vandalism is one thing. But where is the actual response to it. What has actually been done to catch those responsible and to stop this sort of thing continuing?".

"Local residents in Frinton, Holland-on-Sea and elsewhere are starting to feel let down."


23 JUL 2007

Bishops Park College - Latest News

Clacton's MP raises questions in Parliament

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has raised questions about Bishops Park College in Parliament.

Following the announcement that the future of the school is under review, Douglas has tabled questions to find out why on earth a brand new school is now under threat.

Douglas says "many local teachers and students have contacted me to express their concerns. I am not going to start playing the blame game, but I do think local people have a right to know quite how we got into this situation. I have asked the Schools Minister, Jim Knight, four straight questions:

Will he release, under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of all the correspondence between his officials and Essex local education authority relating to the decision to build Bishops Park College in Clacton?

What input did his department have in the decision to build Bishops Park College in Clacton?

What was the nature of his departments involvement in the decision to build Bishops Park College in Clacton, and will he make a statement?

Was Bishops Park College in Clacton built as part of the government's Building Schools of the Future programme?.

Douglas added "As the MP I am looking to play a constructive role and ensure that the views of those at Bishops Park are heard. I have met with several teachers, students and parents. I am due to meet with governors and others this week. I want to help. I think it would be helpful if we knew what the government had in mind when it spent £24 Million building the school.

I am determined that Bishops Park continues as a centre of education and learning. We have far too many young people without the skills that they need. We must make sure that Bishops Park continues to education and train our young people".


19 JUL 2007

"Axe Human Rights law to keep us safe" says Human Rights MP

"Human rights law is preventing the government from dealing effectively with the threat from terror suspects", says Douglas Carswell MP, a member of the Joint House of Lords and House of Commons Committee on Human Rights.

"It is an open secret in Westminster that human rights law and the judges are preventing us from deporting foreign terror suspects. No one in the Westminster village wants to admit it because they fear what will happen when the voters realise, but it is the truth."

"Judges and the human rights act are preventing the government from taking action to throw terror suspects out of our country".

Mr Carswell, who sits on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, set up under the Human Rights Act to scrutinise the actions of the government in light of the Act, used to support human rights law. He has tabled a series of Parliamentary questions which show that the Government has been unable to take action to exclude and deport Islamist radicals from the UK.

After the July 7th 2005 terror attacks, the government promised:

An immediate review of policy to "exclude and deport people". The then Home Secretary stated on July 14th 2005 that the government wanted to ensure that "any non-British citizen suspected of inciting terrorism is deported immediately." (source: see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4681639.stm)
A raft of measures that would supposedly lead to the exclusion and deportation of "foreigners who encourage terrorism", according to the then Prime Minister on August 5th 2005 (source: see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4747573.stm) Mr Blair specifically suggested amending human rights laws to make deportations more straightforward (source: http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page8041.asp )
A list of certain types of behaviour was published on August 24th 2005 that would form the basis on which to exclude and deport individuals from the UK.

Since then, almost nothing has actually happened - because of Human Rights law.

Only nine people have been removed from the UK on national security groups, and noone has been deported from the UK since July 7th 2005 on the grounds of involvement in formenting or provoking others to committ terrorism. (Source: WPQ # 458. 27.03.07)

Only one single individual had been deported on the grounds of "unacceptable behaviour" outlined by the Home Secretary on August 24th 2005 as of March 27th 2007. (Source: WPQ # 458. 27.03.07)

Only 52 individuals have been "excluded" in the past five years. NB. Exclusion means prevented from entering the UK rather than removed once inside the UK. (source: WPQ # 544. 11.06.07))

Unable to remove foreign terror suspects, and prevented by the judges from detaining foreign terror suspects in Belmarsh, the government has had to resort to Control Orders.

There have been no steps to amend human rights laws to make deportations straightforward. Non British citizens suspected of inciting terrorism - such as those recently arrested in connection with the attempt to commit terrorist offences in Haymarket or Glasgow airport - could not currently be deported from the UK due to judicial activism and Human Rights legislation. Indeed, the judges continue to use Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights to prevent the deportation of non-British citizens suspected of inciting terrorism.

"The politicians in Westminster know that human rights law is preventing the government from throwing these people out. They know that the rights of terror suspects under section 3 of the ECHR is being put above the right of my constituents not to be blown up. That is madness. It makes the HRA a terrorist rights act, not a human rights act. It is time to withdraw from the ECHR and axe the human rights act".


18 JUL 2007

Douglas at the Palace

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, was invited to tea at Buckingham Palace with his new fiancé, Clementine.

Douglas says "We felt so pleased to be invited. It was a lovely occasion and a privilege to be invited by Her Majesty the Queen".

Douglas and Clementine joined other quests in the grounds for a tea party. "I had no idea at all how beautiful the grounds of Buckingham Palace are - it is a gardeners delight".


16 JUL 2007

MP tries again ... and again

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, took part in a friendly game of rugby at Twickenham last week - and scored three tries.

Douglas says "I was asked if I would join in a Parliamentarian rugby team and play at Twickenham. I jumped at the chance.

"Naturally I played on the right wing".

"The game was a fun and friendly match. It was aimed at promoting rugby and getting more young people involved in the game".

"I'd not played a game of rugby in over a decade. My limbs are still aching …."


10 JUL 2007

Bishop's Park Closure

"Appalling" - that is the verdict from local MP, Douglas Carswell, on hearing the news that the brand new Bishop's Park College is to close.

The new multi-million pound school was opened by Prime Minister Tony Blair three days before the last General Election. While visiting the school, Tony Blair said that education would be his "legacy". Moreover, the school was built specifically as part of Gordon Brown's "Building Schools for the Future" programme. Yet the new school is to shut after only a few months.

Douglas says "I try my best not to be party political, but responsibility for this shambles has to lie 100% with the government. This was a flagship school opened by Tony Blair as part of Gordon Brown's promise to invest in education. It lasted a matter of months"

"This is an appalling legacy for the government, and a shameful failure to invest properly in our young people".

"It is starting to look as if the building of the school was a pet project overseen for political reasons by Whitehall. I have papers that show that at the time that the decision to build the school went ahead there were real doubts being expressed about the local education authority numbers."

"While I welcomed the new investment at the time, it is shocking how badly it has been managed"

"Was it perhaps the case that the school was built for political reasons - because it was a pet project of the government in Whitehall - and not because it was in the interests of local children in Clacton? Is that why it went ahead? Is that why the Prime Minister himself opened the school during a General Election campaign?"

Douglas Carswell, who sits on the Education Select Committee in Parliament, is currently undertaking a review of "Sustainability in Schools". Douglas says "This is a text book example of how not to invest in sustainable schools."

"This is a massive failure on the part of the government - there can be no excuse, zero wiggle room, no passing the buck and trying to blame someone else".

"What has happened to Bishop's Park shows the government to be utterly incompetent".

Douglas has also outlined his fears for the future of the local library. "At the time, we were told that the local Jaywick library would be better off being relocated within the school. Local people were very upset at the time. What is going to happen to the local library now?"


05 JUL 2007

MP puts new Prime Minister on the spot

Less than a week after he became Prime Minister, local MP, Douglas Carswell, puts a question directly to Gordon Brown.

As the Prime Minister unveiled his plans for far reaching constitutional reform to a packed House of Commons, Douglas challenged Mr Brown on just how far he was willing to make our democracy more open and accountable.

Douglas, who began a national campaign for more direct democracy, asked the Prime Minister if he was willing to allow voters to have a say in what Parliament discussed and what MPs voted on.

Many of the ideas that Gordon Brown unveiled sounded similar to those ideas that Douglas Carswell has outlined in his Think Local series he has been writing for the Daily Telegraph. Click here to read more: http://www.douglascarswell.com/record.jsp?type=news&ID=105

Douglas said "I welcome the fact that the new Prime Minister acknowledges that our current system of democracy is not working. We need to open up the political system so that it is not dominated by the narrow interests of the Westminster elite. In two years as an MP, I have been appauled at the extent to which our political elite are out of touch and remote from the concerns of the voters."

"It is time for change. But I don't think Brown is the man to make it happen. If he was serious about open politics, he would give us a referendum on the European Union and allow voters to have a say on what Parliament discusses and votes on."


05 JUL 2007

Harwich U3A visit House of Commons

Harwich's University of the Third Age visited the House of Commons today.

A group of over 40 local residents from Harwich, Dovercourt and the Tendring area today visited their Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell. They watched a debate on the floor of the Commons from the public gallery, and then had tea and coffee, before looking at an exhibition on the Abolition of Slavery.

They were met by Bernard Jenkin MP, and discussed a number of issues. They also discussed how Parliament works with Douglas Carswell MP, and discussed the work of their local representative at the House of Commons.


02 JUL 2007

Douglas gets engaged

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is due to marry

Clacton's local MP Douglas Carswell has announced his engagement to Miss Clementine Bailey.

Douglas says "I asked Clemmie if she would marry me, and I am really very pleased that she said "Yes". We are both over-the-moon!".

The wedding is expected to take place towards the end of this year.


28 JUN 2007

Summer Newsletter

Read Douglas' newsletter online

Local MP Douglas Carswell sends a personal copy of his local newsletter to each household in our area.

click here to download file





27 JUN 2007

Holocaust survivor visits Bishops Park College

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, visits Bishops Park College School

Carswell attended to hear testimony from Holocaust survivor, Gena Turgel MBE as part of a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

Hundreds of pupils at the school listened to Gena's testimony , and asked questions to get a better understand the nature of the Holocaust, and to explore its lessons in more depth.

Douglas said “It was a privilege for us to welcome Gena Turgel to our local school and her testimony will remain a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced. We are grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that by hearing Gena’s testimony, it will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

The Holocaust Educational Trust educates and engages students from across the UK about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a Survivor. Gena’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances and each of us has a responsibility to ensure that we honour the memory of those whose lives were lost and take forward the lessons taught by those who survived.

Douglas added "well done to Bishop Park College for organising this event. It has enabled students to hear and reflect on the powerful personal testimony from one who survived the events of the Holocaust. I strongly support the work of the Holocause Education Trust" .



27 JUN 2007

Gazette - Commons Diary with Douglas Carswell MP

I have been busy in Parliament, and at my local Advice Surgeries, representing local people.

My number one concern remains the Peter Bruff ward at Clacton hospital. I have continued to keep up pressure on the Health Minister with Parliamentary questions. If Peter Bruff closes and mental health services are cut, vulnerable people in our area will suffer. I am 100% behind Wendy Gavin and her team of campaigners. This is a campaign we can - and must - win.

Readers will also be aware of that other local campaign to prevent a monster wind farm being built on the edge of Clacton.

These two campaigns - to keep Peter Bruff and to stop the monster turbines - at first seem quite different. Yet they have some disturbing things in common that say much about the way we are governed.

In each instance, remote and unaccountable officials are proposing to do something unpopular. Those making the decisions are not directly answerable to local people, and it is far from clear how the officials can be challenged. In both cases it has been left to the heroic efforts of local people to show why what the officials want to happen should not happen.

This explains why each campaign has struck such a chord locally - and why people feel so powerless and angry.

As your MP for the past two years, I have begun to see quite how big the gap between the people and the remote officials who govern us now is. Peter Bruff or local planning, Alzheimers drugs or local policing - it is always remote elites who make the decisions. No one is accountable. Local people take the rap. This is how we are governed today.

It is time to do something about it. That is why I have founded the Direct Democracy campaign. A national newspaper is backing me, and the campaign's ideas for a new kind of politics can be seen at www.direct-democracy.co.uk. It will not be achieved overnight, but we need to find ways to transfer power away from remote officials and back to local communities.

Armed with this belief, I accepted an invitation to a recent meeting of leading diplomats, academics and businessmen at the prestigious Anglo-German "Königswinter" sumit. It may have been a distiguished gathering, but as your Member of Parliament, my message remained uncompromising - "Britain must quit the European Union".


26 JUN 2007

Garden Grabbing reaches epidemic proportions in Tendring - says MP

Douglas Carswell MP has uncovered shocking new information about the scale of "garden grabbing" in Tendring.

"Garden Grabbing" is the practice of building new houses in peoples back gardens as a way of circumventing planning restrictions. More than one in every four homes being built in Tendring is now a new dwelling on previously residential land. Douglas Carswell has discovered that in 2005, 28% of all new dwellings in Tendring were built on previously residential land.

"This is a shocking statistic" says Douglas Carswell MP. "It shows that houses are being literally crammed into people's back gardens, and this is having a major impact on our area".

"We do need more affordable housing, but cramming in extra houses like this is not the way forward. It will simply mean more people living in an area, without additional services and amenities".

"Local residents I have spoken to in Frinton and in Holland-on-Sea in particular, are very concerned about this. I am now getting a regular stream of local residents from Frinton, Holland and elsewhere coming to complain to me about what is happening to our area".

Douglas says "Tendring is especially bad. The average figure for new dwellings on previously residential land in the East of England is one of the highest in the country, and Tendring is one of the highest in the East of England."

"Why is Tendring so bad when it comes to these planning decisions? This is not a league table we want to be at the top of".

Douglas adds "It is a question of local accountability. When a planning application is made for someone's back garden, it is currently treated as though it was an application to build on a brown field site. That is clearly nonsense."

"We need to ensure that gardens are not treated as brown field sites, and that local councils have the power to decide planning applications to develop gardens. Without proper local accountability, planning decisions will continue to arouse strong feelings".


25 JUN 2007

The Localist Papers: 6. Democratic Diplomacy

Sixth paper by Douglas being serialised in the Daily Telegraph as part of Direct Democracy's Localist Papers

Daily Telegraph
Monday June 25th
Page 14

In the sixth and last of our Think Local series, in association with Direct Democracy and the Centre for Policy Studies, Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell suggest a revolution in British foreign policy. Parliament should be put in charge of diplomatic appointments and the ratification of treaties, and power recovered from Brussels.

Save us from the diplomats

Here’s a paradox. 650 out of 658 MPs fought the last election on the promise of a referendum on the European constitution.

Yet it now seems almost certain that voters will be denied a direct say. The really surprising thing, though, is that no one is especially surprised. People are so accustomed to having their opinions on Europe swatted aside that they no longer expect their rulers to respect their wishes.

Over the past 35 years, successive governments have transferred substantial powers from Westminster to Brussels without the approval, and often in direct defiance, of public opinion. Voters have become fatalistic about the process, but it is worth analysing why it happens. The United Kingdom is, after all, a parliamentary democracy.

Why can the electorate not impose its will on its representatives? Part of the answer is that foreign policy is conducted by officials who are effectively immune to public opinion. Although the FCO is notionally under the direction of the government of the day, it has often pursued an agenda at odds with the expressed wishes of the Cabinet, and nowhere more so than on Europe.

In 1998, the now deceased Guardian journalist Hugo Young, wrote This Blessed Plot, a history of Britain’s relationship with Europe since 1945. Although a convinced Europhile - indeed, perhaps the foremost British federalist of his generation - Young made no effort to disguise the extent to which Britain’s European policy had been driven by diplomats rather than by their elected bosses.

By then retired (mainly to the south of France), the mandarins of the 1960s and 1970s spoke remarkably frankly about how they had kept the UK’s application on track despite the instructions of often deeply sceptical ministers. As Young described it: “By 1963, a corpus of diplomats was present in and around the Foreign Office who saw the future for both themselves and their country inside Europe. The interests of their country and their careers coincided. It was an appealing symbiosis.”

Sir Oliver Wright, who has served as ambassador to Germany and the United States, describes the phenomenon as déformation professionelle: the skewing of someone’s outlook by his career imperatives. The Europeanism of the FCO is just one manifestation of its déformation professionelle.

Like all bureaucracies, the Foreign Office has several institutional tendencies. First, it generally favours stability over democracy. In China, in Cuba, in Africa, in the Middle East and, most notoriously, in Uzbekistan (where the FCO removed the British ambassador after he criticised the Karimov regime’s human rights record), our diplomats see it as their job to deal with ensconced autocrats - often in contrast to Washington, which is readier to sponsor their democratic opponents.

Second, the FCO is comfortable with supra-nationalism, both in the sense of tending to mistrust national secessionist movements and in the broader sense of wanting states to be constrained by a scaffold of international accords and human rights charters. Where the convinced democrat bridles at the idea that elected governments should be overridden by supra-national technocrats, the professional diplomat sees global technocracies as a welcome check on populism.

Third, our diplomats can be slow to adapt their outlook to new circumstances. Perhaps the most striking demonstration of this phenomenon is the Euro-centricity of our defence and strategic thinking. To this day, our largest overseas garrison by far is not in Iraq or Afghanistan but the 22,000 troops we deploy in West Germany. Our enemies these days are distant and sparse: Iraqi insurgents, Himalayan badmashes, West African teenagers.

Yet we are fighting them with alliances and (itals)mate(acute)riel(enditals) designed to defend Europe against conventional attack. Nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War, Britain has still not resumed its proper role as a global and maritime nation. The EU, of course, is the supreme beneficiary and exemplar of these three tendencies.

It is elitist, cheerfully disregarding referendum results when they go the “wrong” way. It is supra-nationalist, founded on the notion that national loyalties are anachronistic. It is technocratic, vesting supreme power in the hands of unelected Commissioners. And it is hidebound, wedded to a 1950s economic mode and obsessed with stopping the Second World War from breaking out.

It is hardly surprising that British diplomats go along happily with the communitarisation of our foreign policy: their assumptions are closer to those of their fellow mandarins in Brussels than to those of British politicians. Although MPs occasionally make a fuss about preserving Britain’s autonomy in international relations, the truth is that our foreign policy is already largely run by the EU. Go to any overseas capital, and you will find a European mission that dwarfs any of the member state legations.

On almost all the main issues of the day - whether to fund Hamas, whether to sell arms to China, whether to back the anti-Castro dissidents in Cuba, whether to engage with the ayatollahs in Teheran - a common foreign policy is up and running. How are we align British foreign policy more closely with our national interests and the wishes of our people? By democratising it.

Through a quirk of history, the Prime Minister has inherited virtually intact the executive powers that once attached to the monarchy. Crown Prerogative allows the executive - which, in practice, often means the bureaucracy - to operate almost wholly independently of Parliament. Three simple reforms would put this right. First, diplomatic appointments should be made through open parliamentary hearings. This would do a great deal to constrain déformation professionelle diplomatique.

When George Shultz was Secretary of State in the US, he would ask new ambassadors to identify their country on a map. They would duly point to Ghana or wherever, whereupon Shultz would correct them: “Nope: this is your country.” It served to concentrate minds. Second, foreign treaties should be contracted for a limited period, coming before Parliament for regular re-approval, and lapsing if they fail to secure it. Third, the supremacy of Parliament should be guaranteed over treaty obligations and international court rulings.

We have, throughout the Think Local series, stuck to our guiding principles: that decisions should be made as closely as practicable to the people they affect; that decision makers should be directly accountable; and that the citizen should be as free as possible from state coercion. Applying these principles to foreign policy, we find them directly contradicted by our European obligations.

We cannot argue for a decentralisation of power in Britain and simultaneously support the centralisation of power in Brussels. We cannot demand the abolition of quangos at home and at the same time submit ourselves to the biggest quango of the lot, namely the European Commission. If decisions are to be made as closely to the people as possible, then by definition they should not be made in Brussels.

The repatriation of power from the EU is not an end in itself, but a means to an end: that end being a freer and more democratic Britain.

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England

Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich

click here to download file


18 JUN 2007

The Localist Papers: 5. Local Welfare

Fifth paper by Douglas being serialised in the Daily Telegraph as part of Direct Democracy's Localist Papers

Daily Telegraph
Monday June 18th
Page 14

Let's devolve social security

The welfare state has proved intractable to reform. In the fifth of our Think Local series, in association with Direct Democracy and the Centre for Policy Studies, Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell propose a radical new approach: devolve social security to our county and metropolitan authorities.

The world has known one outstandingly successful reform of the welfare state. For more than half a century, most Western countries have watched their social security budgets balloon with little appreciable effect on either poverty or inequality. Benefits which were intended as one-off and transformative have instead become permanent, as recipients arrange their affairs around qualifying for subventions. Millions have become trapped in the squalor of disincentives and low expectations.

The exception is the United States which, in 1996, thoroughly overhauled its welfare system. On every measurable indicator, the reforms have been a triumphant success. Poverty, unemployment and welfare budgets have fallen sharply, while satisfaction among former benefits claimants has soared.

It is true that the 1996 Act was passed at a time of strong economic growth; but this alone does not explain the almost miraculous shift from dependency to gainful work. The number of families on welfare has fallen from 5 million to 2 million. There are 1.6 million fewer children in poverty. And, perhaps most impressive, the reforms lifted groups who had been untouched by every previous welfare initiative: poverty among black children fell from 42 to 33 per cent; among single mothers from 50 to 42 per cent.

So what was the magical formula? What wand did President Clinton wave to conjure so extraordinary a transformation? Essentially, he devolved responsibility. The centrepiece of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was to shift social security from the federal government to the states, and to give local authorities incentives to reduce their caseloads. Offered the freedom to experiment, the states seized it with gusto. Some incentivised employers to take on the workless; others organised schemes themselves; most made the receipt of benefits conditional on taking up job offers. Best practice quickly spread, as states copied what worked best elsewhere.

At the same time, no state could afford to carry on as before, signing cheques with a minimum of questions asked. Doing so would, as legislators well understood, make such a state a magnet for every bum in America. There was, in short, a measure of healthy competition.

Could something similar work in Britain? Absolutely. The relief of poverty was seen as a municipal responsibility – indeed, the chief municipal responsibility – for hundreds of years prior to the 1911 Liberal reforms. Most legislation, from Tudor times onwards, was concerned with enforcing localism: in other words, with keeping welfare claimants in parishes where they were known. The rationale of the vagrancy laws was two-fold. First, that local authorities were best placed to distinguish between deserving and undeserving cases: it was feared that "sturdy beggars" would pass themselves off as genuinely needy where they were unknown. Second, that it was morally better for taxpayers to alleviate poverty in their own communities: to discharge their duty to their immediate neighbours, rather than to "the poor" in general.

These considerations ought also to apply today. As things stand, we have an anomalous system whereby county councils and metropolitan authorities are responsible for the delivery of social services, but have no say over the policies which they are charged with implementing. They are obliged to pay benefits, but have no discretion over who qualifies for them.

A simple administrative reform would allow local authorities to determine entitlement levels (although, ideally, such a reform would come as part of the much wider shift towards self-financing councils set out elsewhere in the Localist Papers). Several British counties and cities have larger populations than several US states. And the most successful US states, notably Florida and Wisconsin, were the ones that devolved responsibility further, to local welfare boards and county authorities. British councils already have the staff in place to run social security. All they lack is concrete incentives to ameliorate the system.

The advantages of localism in welfare are easily listed.

First, large bureaucracies create unintended consequences. Where councils can tailor their policies to suit local needs, a uniform system that covers 60 million people is bound to contain loopholes, tempting into dependency some who were never envisaged as claimants. Second, proximity facilitates discernment. Person A may be a deserving widow who has been unlucky, while person B is a layabout. Local caseworkers may see this clearly. But if the universal rules handed down from Whitehall place the two applicants in the same category, they must be treated identically.

Third, pluralism spreads best practice. The freedom to innovate means that local authorities will come up with ideas and pilot schemes that the Department of Social Security would never have dreamed of. Those that work will be copied elsewhere so that, as in the US, councillors start speaking of "adopting the Surrey model" or "introducing Essex-style reforms".

Fourth, non-state agents – churches, charities, businesses – are likelier to involve themselves in local projects than in national schemes. As we show in "Transforming the Welfare State", the fifth of our Localist Papers, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies and available at www.telegraph.co.uk/thinklocal, such organisations are far better at taking people out of poverty than are government agencies.

Fifth, localism transforms attitudes. At present, many see benefit fraud as cheating "the system" rather than cheating their neighbours. A recent advertising campaign in North East England aimed at stigmatising bogus claims had the effect of increasing fraud, by showing people how easy it was. We would take a very different attitude toward, say, the neighbour whom we knew to be claiming incapacity benefit while working as an electrician, if we felt the impact in our local tax bill.

Finally, and perhaps most important, localism will restore the notion of responsibility: our responsibility to support ourselves if we can, and our responsibility to those around us – not an abstract category of "the underprivileged", but visible neighbours – who, for whatever reason, cannot support themselves. No longer would our obligation be discharged when we have paid our taxes. Localism, in short, would make us better citizens.

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich

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15 JUN 2007

The Localist Papers: 4. Send for the Sheriff

Fourth paper by Douglas being serialised in the Daily Telegraph as part of Direct Democracy's Localist Papers

To read the actual paper, click open the pdf at the bottom of this page

Daily Telegraph
Monday June 11, 2007

Our police fill out forms. Sheriffs fight crime
By Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell

A think tank recently surveyed a series of constabularies to ask them what their priorities should be. Their answers were predictable enough. Police chiefs felt they should concentrate on cracking down on sexist language, recruiting ethnically diverse officers and improving relations with minority groups. The think tank then asked local residents what they thought the police's priority should be. Their response, too, was predictable: catching criminals.

As things stand, there is no mechanism to align the latter with the former. The police are virtually outside democratic control. No one admits this, of course. At every election, national or local, the candidates of all three parties wearily pledge to put more bobbies on the beat. But they are promising something that is not in their gift to deliver. The deployment of police personnel is wholly at the discretion of chief constables. The only voice that elected representatives have is as a minority on the Police Authorities, which is in any case divided proportionately among local parties. Voters, hearing the ritualistic promise of "more police", but never in fact seeing any more police, have understandably given up on the whole charade.

Just imagine how different things would be if the police were directly accountable to their communities. Suppose that local Sheriffs, elected in county or city divisions, had to decide how to deploy their resources. Suppose they had to decide whether to spend their budgets on more patrols or on more speed cameras and then stand for re-election on the basis of their record.

Imagine, further, that the Sheriff was entitled to set local sentencing guidelines (although not to interfere in individual cases). People are forever complaining that the penal system bears no relationship to their priorities. How better to draw criminal justice back into the orbital pull of public opinion than by placing the powers of the Police Authorities and the Crown Prosecution Service under someone dependent on local votes?

But surely, you object, we should leave these sensitive matters to qualified professionals rather than to elected populists. Really? The same qualified professionals who have presided over the highest per capita crime rate in the Western world? The same legal system that sends a seventh conviction burglar to prison for an average of 21 months?

We all like the idea of the "expert": the disinterested technocrat who can rise above the pressures of demagogic politics. The trouble is that no such person exists. Indeed, if by "expert" we mean someone who has spent his whole career in a particular profession, he is the last person we should put in charge of invigilating it. It is precisely the demand that we should "let the professionals get on with things" that has brought us to the present pass.

The elevation of the "expert" means that we now habitually allow judges to strike down the will of Parliament. For example, four Home Secretaries have tried to deport the Afghan hijackers who arrived here by diverting their flight to Stansted. Each repatriation order has been overturned - despite the crime committed, and despite the blood and treasure invested by Britain to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban regime from which the hijackers claimed to be fleeing.

In "Send for the Sheriff", published today by the Centre for Policy Studies and available online at www.telegraph.co.uk/thinklocal, we list a series of blatant cases of judicial activism: that is, of judges ruling on the basis of what they think the law ought to say rather than what it says. The phenomenon is increasingly global, as human rights codes and supra-national courts override the decisions of elected parliaments.

The solution is to go in the opposite direction: to disperse jurisdiction rather than internationalising it. In other words, to bring the legal system closer to the people it affects.

This could lead to asymmetries: an intrinsic quality of localism. It may well happen that, for example, the Sheriff of Kent decides that shoplifters should serve custodial sentences, while the Sheriff of Surrey favours alternative penalties. One of two things would then happen. Either Kentish crooks (and crooks of Kent) would flood across the county border in such numbers that the people of Surrey would elect a tougher Sheriff. Or the people of Kent would get sick of funding the requisite number of prison places. At which point, their Sheriff might decide on more imaginative solutions. He might, for example, decree that shoplifters should stand outside Bluewater with a placard saying "Shoplifter". We don't know what people would choose: that's the essence of localism.

We can be certain, though, that the application of the law - the supreme power that a state exerts over its citizens - would be brought closer to local communities. Such a reform, even if wholly unaccompanied, would go a long way towards remedying the widespread alienation from politics.

The legal system has become too remote from the people, and too unresponsive to communities and their elected representatives;

1. Police priorities and budgets should be set by sheriffs for cities and counties.

2. Sheriffs should also take over from the Crown Prosecution Service, setting local sentencing guidelines (but not interfering in individual cases)

3. Power should pass from human rights quangos and judges to MPs and the sheriffs

4. Senior judges should be appointed after open parliamentary hearings

5. International treaties should be renewed by Parliament, and Parliamentary supremacy over foreign law codes and domestic courts guaranteed in a Reserve Powers Act

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England

Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich

click here to download file



11 JUN 2007

MP puts council tax reform onto Parliament's agenda

 

Abolish council tax and introduce a fairer way of paying for local services - that was MP Douglas Carswell's message to Minister during a debate in Parliament.

Douglas led the discussion having secured a time-slot for a House of Commons Westminster Hall debate.

Douglas says "I am pleased to have forced this onto the House of Commons agenda. Council tax is grossly unfair - especially for pensioners. I told MPs that there are fairer ways to pay for local services."

"The current system is bad for local democracy. With £3 out of every £4 spent by local councils coming from Whitehall, the town halls do not have enough local independence.

When things go wrong, town halls blame Whitehall and Whitehall blames the town halls. Amid the confusion the only certainty is that council tax bills go up."

"This is bad for local democracy."

Douglas is the first national politician to advocate a new system of paying for local government out of VAT. His proposal, which has been written up by the world renown Adam Smith Institute and commented on by national newspapers, would turn VAT into a much simpler local sales tax.

Douglas says "my proposal is a serious idea. It is being taken increasingly seriously as an option for future reform.

My proposal would mean more local democracy - and less tax. I'm delighted to put this on to the Parliamentary agenda"

Local government minister, Phil Woolas, responding for the governement, congratulated Douglas for bringing fresh thinking to the old problem of how best to pay for local government services.


11 JUN 2007

MP puts council tax reform onto Parliament's agenda

Abolish council tax and introduce a fairer way of paying for local services - that was MP Douglas Carswell's message to Minister during a debate in Parliament.

Douglas led the discussion having secured a time-slot for a House of Commons Westminster Hall debate.

Douglas says "I am pleased to have forced this onto the House of Commons agenda. Council tax is grossly unfair - especially for pensioners. I told MPs that there are fairer ways to pay for local services."

"The current system is bad for local democracy. With £3 out of every £4 spent by local councils coming from Whitehall, the town halls do not have enough local independence.

When things go wrong, town halls blame Whitehall and Whitehall blames the town halls. Amid the confusion the only certainty is that council tax bills go up."

"This is bad for local democracy."

Douglas is the first national politician to advocate a new system of paying for local government out of VAT. His proposal, which has been written up by the world renown Adam Smith Institute and commented on by national newspapers, would turn VAT into a much simpler local sales tax.

Douglas says "my proposal is a serious idea. It is being taken increasingly seriously as an option for future reform.

My proposal would mean more local democracy - and less tax. I'm delighted to put this on to the Parliamentary agenda"

Local government minister, Phil Woolas, responding for the governement, congratulated Douglas for bringing fresh thinking to the old problem of how best to pay for local government services.


06 JUN 2007

MP raises local health concerns in Parliament

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has raised questions about the future of local health provision in Tendring in Parliament

News that maternity services in Harwich are to be curtailed followed the disclosure that the future of the Peter Bruff ward is under review.

Douglas has now asked the Minister three straight forward questions in the hope of getting some straight answers:

· When does the Minister expect to see a full range of NHS services to be available at the new Harwich hospital?
· What assessment has her department made as to the reasons for the delay in providing the expected range of NHS medical services at the new Harwich hospital?
· Is she aware of any plans to cut maternity services at Harwich hospital, and will she make a statement?

Douglas says, "Our local NHS is being salami-sliced. Tendring's own primary care trust was merged with Colchester's. Last summer we lost one of the wards at Clacton hospital. Now we hear that another one might disappear, and that the brand new Harwich hospital stands under used. At the same time, local people are having to wait ever longer for even basic procedures, like new digital hearing aids".

"I am angry that local services are being cut. And like local people, I am furious at the underhand way it is being done".

"Ministers blame local officials. Local officials remain unaccountable. Amid all the confusion, services get cut."

"Local people have every right to be angry. As their Member of Parliament, I will ensure that their voice is heard".


05 JUN 2007

Alton Park children visit Parliament

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, showed a group of children from Alton Park school around the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

The group of 30 pupils from the Alton Park School's school council. They were given a tour of the House of Lords, and some of the ornate rooms, such as the Queen's Robing Room.

Afterwards the children were shown the chamber of the House of Commons, where MPs debate the issues of the day.

Afterwards, Douglas Carswell chaired a questions and answers session.

"Showing constituents around the Houses of Parliament is something I really enjoy" says Douglas. "I think it is really important that young people get to see how our democracy works (and indeed how sometimes it doesn't work) by visiting Westminster."

Anyone wanting to visit the House of Commons should contact Douglas Carswell's office on 01255 - 423 112.


04 JUN 2007

Localist Papers: 3. The Local Environment

Third paper by Douglas being serialised in the Daily Telegraph as part of Direct Democracy's Localist Papers

To read the actual Local Environment paper, click open the pdf at the bottom of this page

Daily Telegraph
Monday June 4, 2007
Page 22

Saving the planet is too important to be left to the Left

Why should environmentalism be left to the Left? Aren't conservatives, as the etymology suggests, obvious conservationists?

It was, after all, Karl Marx who wrote that nature was a resource to be plundered - a philosophy brutally realised in the smokestack Comecon states. Tories, by contrast, are natural champions of the countryside and its traditions.

Yet, for some reason, the eco-cause has been captured by people who are plainly uncomfortable with the capitalist system. Their proposals always seem to involve slower growth, higher taxes, more regulation, less freedom and a loss of national sovereignty. Much contemporary environmentalism, in short, is intrinsically anti-localist: it prefers state regulation to voluntary action, and international treaties to local initiatives. Perhaps understandably, some on the Right have come to suspect the green agenda is simply a front for a red one.

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, this was the attitude taken by conservatives throughout the English-speaking world. In consequence, the mainstream Right left the entire field to a mob of elf-locked anti-globalisation demonstrators. Few bothered to suggest free-market or localist solutions to environmental problems.

This is a pity, since evidence tends to suggest that the best way to preserve resources and reduce pollution is through localism and the extension of property rights. Consider, for example, the story of the African elephant. In 1978, Kenya banned all elephant hunting. Result? Its herds were wiped out by poachers. By contrast, in 1979, Rhodesia (as it then was) decreed that elephants were the property of whoever owned the land they roamed on, thus incentivising local people to treat them as a renewable resource. Result? Elephant numbers in Zimbabwe have exploded. As Aristotle says, that which no one owns, no one will care for.

The same applies to the protection of whole ecosystems. When rich people buy swathes of rainforest, they make sure that no one degrades their property. When, by contrast, Sting made over a chunk of the Amazon to its indigenous population, local chiefs promptly set about reducing their tribes to near-slavery, and started logging and mining on an unprecedented scale. Why? Because, as in the old USSR, the land was owned communally, not privately.

Now look a little closer to home. The EU's Common Fisheries Policy is run on the socialist principle of equal access to a common resource and, sure enough, it has led to ecological calamity. Iceland, on the other hand, has worked out an ingenious quota system that effectively privatised fish stocks, giving each skipper a stake. Its waters are teeming.

English common law can be very good at environmental protection: as early as 1608, William Aldred brought an action at the Norfolk Assizes against his neighbour Thomas Benton, who had built a pigsty adjacent to Aldred's house. The judge decided that the stink interfered with Aldred's rights and ordered Benton to move the pigsty.

Edmund Coke, perhaps the greatest jurist of the 17th century, and William Blackstone, the greatest of the 18th, believed that our common law enshrined the principle of "sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas" - "so use your own property as not to injure your neighbours". And it is certainly true that property has been more secure in common law countries than in most of the rest of the world. So why not extend the concept of ownership to cover air and water purity and the like?

And when it comes to the tricky questions of where to site incinerators, municipal tips, mobile phone masts, why not simply monetise the nuisance value of hosting the facility? In other words, let each local council name its price for accepting, say, a landfill site. If its elected representatives don't want one at any price, fine. But if, in return for taking it, they could offer their residents a 10-year holiday from council tax, there might be a different attitude.

"Think global, act local," say the greenies. Left-wingers are good at the first bit, coming up with all manner of symbolic targets that require big, supra-national technocracies. But the second bit is generally best performed by those who believe in devolving power to local communities and individual citizens.

We need to protect the environment, not empowering central government
Local environmental problems should have local solutions
Property rights and contracts can give people control over their environment
Planning decisions should be devolved to the lowest possible level
We should consider introducing elected planning officers
Offer communities compensation in exchange for building power stations, incinerators etc, then let them decide whether to accept.

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England

Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich


click here to download file


28 MAY 2007

Localist Papers: 2. Neighbourhood Education

Second paper by Douglas being serialised in the Daily Telegraph as part of Direct Democracy's Localist Papers

Daily Telegraph
Monday May 28, 2007
Page 4

To read the actual Neighbourhood Education paper, click open the pdf at the bottom of this page

---------
Neighbourhood education

By Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell

Ministers have tried everything. They have decreed literacy and numeracy hours, new timetables, discipline codes, school dinner strategies. Nothing has worked.

On the contrary, the sheer pressure of targets and initiatives has immobilised our school system. Our exam results may improve each year but, in the real world, employers and universities are offering remedial courses to bring school leavers up to the standard of previous generations, international benchmarks leave British pupils close to the bottom of the league, and grades are kept up by constantly dropping the pass mark: in 1989, you needed 48 per cent to get a C grade in GCSE Maths; 11 years later, that figure was 18 per cent.

Excessive state intervention is the problem, not the solution. The government micro-manages our schools in ways that would be incomprehensible across most of Europe. Yet, when things go wrong, politicians of all parties promise to impose yet more solutions - synthetic phonics, or better discipline, or more (or fewer) grammar schools - from the centre.

The truth is that no minister, however well-intentioned, can thrust his hand into every classroom in the land. As argued in the second in our series of Localist Papers, published by the Direct Democracy group of MPs and the Centre for Policy Studies, the people best placed to improve the system are those with the strongest interest in the welfare of the children in it: their parents. The accumulation of their millions of individual choices will invigilate and ameliorate schools as no single bureaucracy can.

Many on the Right regard school vouchers as the charmed key that will cause the corroded and heavy padlock of state education to fall open. And it is certainly true that, in the very few instances where they have been applied, vouchers have indeed lifted standards, especially for children from poor backgrounds.

There are, though, two serious drawbacks to the traditional voucher. First, a national voucher scheme can be debauched by an ill-disposed government, as currently happens at the two ends of our education system: nursery schools are debarred if they spend too much time teaching their charges to read; and universities are denied income from tuition fees unless they accept state control of their admissions policies.

Second, freedom, at least in the field of education, is not especially popular with voters. "I don't want choice," they say. "What I want is a decent school at the end of my road." Vainly does the candidate protest that it is precisely through choice that the local school will improve. But by the time he finds himself making this argument, he has lost.
How, then, can we anticipate these two objections? For an answer, it is instructive to look at the single most popular policy of the last Conservative government, namely the sale of council houses. Margaret Thatcher shifted most of the housing stock into the independent sector, not by a mass privatisation scheme, but by entitling council tenants to buy their way out of government control.

Applied to schools, the traditional voucher scheme may be likened to the mass privatisations of the later Thatcher years. The equivalent of council house sales would be to give every parent of school-aged children the right to demand from the local authority the sum that it would have spent on the child.

To put it another way, the traditional voucher scheme is a national mechanism; the local opt-out is a legal entitlement. It specifies the outcome, not the process.
The closest equivalents to what we propose can be found in Denmark and Sweden (the latter described in detail by Johnny Munkhammar of the Swedish think-tank Timbro at www.telegraph.co.uk/thinklocal). Both countries run municipal opt-out schemes, which allow parents to claim the per capita average being spent by the local authority. Denmark allows top-up fees, although the cost is typically less than £1,000 a year; Sweden does not.

The striking thing is that, although both countries are generally run by the Social Democrats, local education credits have proved largely immune to state regulation - precisely they are guaranteed in the broadest possible terms and implemented at local level.
The level of financial entitlement would vary according to type of school - more for a secondary than a primary school, considerably more for children with special needs. Indeed, we strongly advocate starting this process with the parents of Special Needs children, who the most palpably let down by the current system, and the angriest about it. Starting with special schools, and then extending the programme to all schools, would also anticipate the knee-jerk objection to parental choice - namely that it is all about subsidising private-school fees.

Localism in education will have some hard consequences, and we should be honest about these. Freedom will include the freedom to fail. Some schools will close, and their closure will be traumatic for children (although less bad than leaving them open to blight the prospects of future generations). There will also be disparities of outcome. Then again, such disparities are a defining characteristic of the existing system, where the GCSE pass rate in our top 30 LEAs is twice that in our bottom 30.

Indeed, the phrase "postcode lottery" often trotted out to attack localism, applies more aptly to the current situation. We cannot choose our postcode, nor dictate the outcome of lotteries, nor control the quality of our local school. With a legal entitlement to choose, there would still be asymmetries; but at least they would be up to us.

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England

Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich

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23 MAY 2007

Douglas attends Royal Artillery Association meeting

Douglas meets members of the Clacton branch of the Royal Artillery Association

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, yesterday met members of the Clacton branch of the Royal Artillery Association at the Comrades Club in Clacton.

Douglas says "It was wonderful to be invited and to meet a group of people who have given so much to their country."

"I believe that we need to do more to show our support to our armed forces. Having been involved with the Royal Marines and gone with them to Afghanistan, I have come to appreciate what they do for us".

"The Clacton branch of the Royal Artillery Association seem very active. I enjoyed listening to them and learning more about what they do to ensure we honour those who serve Britain. They are also a lot of fun!".


22 MAY 2007

Post office closure fears - MP responds

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is trying to find out if the government is planning to close down our local post offices.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is trying to find out if the government is planning to close down our local post offices.

The government recently announced plans for a consultation on post office and sub post office closures. The government went so far as to discuss plans to compensate sub post masters.

Douglas explains "I have been contacted by local people who are very worried that their local post office may be affected by these closure plans".

"Local people - especially older folk - really do depend on their local post offices. In Holland-on-Sea, Clacton, Kirby, Frinton and Walton, I have met people who have all asked me "will this mean the end of our post office?".
"The government has a duty to let us know what its plans are. Will it cut the rural post offices and those in small villages first? Do they plan on closing those that are less busy? These are all questions that we need answers to".

Douglas has written to the Minister, but would very much like to hear from local people - especially post masters - who would like more information.

Text of letter to Minister:
-------------------------
Jim Fitzpatrick MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary
Department for Trade and Industry

May 22nd 2007



Recent reports in the national press appear to indicate that the government is intent on shutting down a large number of sub post offices.

There are a large number of post offices and sub post offices in my constitutency in Harwich, Clacton, Frinton, Walton, Holland-on-Sea and elsewhere. Moreover, a large number of people - especially older folk - depend on them. It would be of great concern to both them and to me, if any of our local post offices and sub post offices were to shut.

Can I please ask you to let me know what substance, if any, there is to reports of these closures?

Apparently there is a consultation underway. What form will this consultation take and what are the criteria for assessing the results of the consultation?

I am very anxious about these proposed post office closures, and I would appreciate as much information as to what you have in mind?

Warm regards,

Douglas Carswell MP


22 MAY 2007

Localist Papers: 1. Open Politics

Policy ideas by Douglas serialised in the Daily Telegraph. The Direct Democracy group of young MPs contribute their ideas

Daily Telegraph
Monday May 21, 2007
Page 16

Today The Daily Telegraph, in association with Direct Democracy, begins a six-week series that seeks your views on how to return power to the people. MPs from Direct Democracy will be discussing the issues you raise and experts will be giving their views.

To read the actual Open Politics paper, click open the pdf at the bottom of this page

-----------------------

Giving control back to councils could cut taxes

By Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell

This month's local elections were the most important mid-term poll in recent British history.

Yet, of those who had registered to vote, 62 per cent declined to cast their ballots. Of the remaining 38 per cent, few voted in the hope that it would improve their neighbourhoods: most were using the election purely to register their dislike of one or another of the national parties.

"It doesn't matter how I vote; nothing ever changes". It is the constant plaint of the doorstep cynic. It is also, to a single approximation, true. The end of weekly rubbish collection was the key issue in recent local elections, yet this policy had been imposed from Whitehall. Think of the recent campaign. The most contentious policy, at least in England, was the end of weekly rubbish collections.

Yet this policy had been imposed on local authorities from Whitehall.

Indeed, it had arguably been imposed from Brussels, in the form of the Landfill Directive. It really didn't matter how people voted; nothing would change.

British voters have become habituated to frustration. Their ballots don't determine where their children can go to school, or whether their local hospital stays open, or where the incinerator is sited, or whether the police patrol their street. Decisions which in other countries are made by local councillors are taken in Britain by unaccountable functionaries.

Human rights judges dictate school uniform policies; regional quangos tell us where to build houses; police chiefs decide whether it is a crime to possess cannabis; Eurocrats determine who crosses our frontiers.

Elected representatives now have less impact on people's lives than, say, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the Highways Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Learning and Skills Council or any of a thousand other bodies stretching right up to the European Commission which, depending on how you measure it, passes between 50 and 80 per cent of our laws. No wonder people don't bother voting.

It was to tackle this democratic deficit that a group of newly elected Conservative politicians launched a campaign in this newspaper two years ago for the devolution of power to the lowest practicable level. Our supporters, who have become known as localists, want to shift power from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to local councils and from the state to the citizen. In two years, localism has become, verbally at least, almost an orthodoxy. Few politicians in any party now admit to being against it. Yet local councils continue to be eviscerated, bureaucracies continue to grow and the very politicians who talk of local control one day cant the next about "letting the experts get on with things" and "postcode lotteries".

It is time to get specific.

Over the next six weeks, and again in collaboration with The Daily Telegraph, Direct Democracy will set out in detail how localism might shape different areas of policy. A series of publications, The Localist Papers, will propose placing the police under locally elected sheriffs; introducing a measure of pluralism in health and education; selecting parliamentary candidates through open primaries; restoring municipal responsibility for social security, and strengthening the elected legislature at the expense of the executive and judicial branches of the state.

Today, we publish the first in our series "Open Politics". In it, we propose that local authorities should become largely self-financing, so that there be a proper link between taxation, representation and spending at town hall level.

British councils are the weakest in the Western world, raising only 25 per cent of their revenue, with the rest coming from the Treasury. We suggest making them financially autonomous by replacing VAT with a variable Local Sales Tax, to be levied once at the point of retail.

Overnight, councils would be responsible for almost all their own spending and, if overseas examples are anything to go by, would become more prudent, more imaginative and more attractive to high quality personnel.

At the same time, competition between different tax jurisdictions would give Britain something it has never known before: downward pressure on tax rates. And the ability to trial new policies, and copy what works elsewhere, would supply a constant upward pressure on standards.

Along with fiscal autonomy should come legislative autonomy. English counties and cities should assume responsibility for all the powers which, under the 1998 Scotland Act, are exercised north of the border by the Holyrood Parliament.

This would have the happy side effect of answering the West Lothian question, since all Westminster MPs would find themselves on the same footing. But its chief attraction is that it would be a good thing in itself. Kent County Council administers a population three times the size of Wyoming's; yet Wyoming manages to run its own legal system, police force and welfare system.

We should make use of referendums, locally and nationally. And, in order to tackle the sense that the political caste has become divorced from the rest of the country, we should institute "People's Bills": legislative proposals placed before Parliament by virtue of having attracted the requisite number of signatures.

There would be no obligation on MPs to vote in favour of them; they would simply have to be prepared to explain themselves to their constituents one way or the other.

Taken collectively, these reforms might seem to weaken Parliament, transferring power from MPs to citizens and local communities.

But we would compensate MPs by substantially increasing their powers vis-à-vis judges, civil servants and the EU.

We would pass a Reserve Powers Act, guaranteeing the supremacy of Parliament against judicial activism, domestic and international. And we would scrap the patronage powers exercised by the prime minister under Crown Prerogative, giving Parliament the right to make executive, judicial and diplomatic appointments. These proposals about what has gone wrong in Britain are not an end but a beginning: a beginning of a revolution that we hope will restore honour and meaning to the democratic process.

We want to hear from Telegraph readers. A number of the MPs from our group will be online over the next six weeks to engage directly with readers. Please let us know what you think.

Open politics proposals:

• Strengthen Parliament by giving it the power to approve treaties and appoint officials
• Give councils the power to raise, lower and collect their own taxes
• Use referendums to give people a say in politics
• Solve the West Lothian question by devolving powers in England
• Allow anyone to select candidates for elections, not just members of political parties
• Take power back from unelected bureaucrats

Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England

Douglas Carswell is Conservative MP for Harwich & Clacton

click here to download file


21 MAY 2007

Local MP starts a national debate

Clacton's MP begins a debate in the Daily Telegraph about the way that Britian is run - and how to fix our broken political system

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has triggered a national debate about the way Britain is run.

A national newspaper today begins a six week serialisation of some radical new policy ideas, of which Douglas' is the chief architect.

(CLICK on the PUBLICATIONS section on this website to read more).

These new ideas aim to radically change the we are governed by returning power back to local people and communities.

Read the first of Douglas' six part articles here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/21/nlocal21.xml

Douglas says "The British public is more disillusioned with politics and disappointed with public services than ever. We need to recongise that politics is broken, and that we need some bold new ideas to fix it".

"As the local MP for the past two years, I have noticed that too many powers rest with remote and unaccountable officials.

"The decision to close Clacton's Peter Bruff ward is likely to be made by remote and unaccountable officials. The decisions not to prescribe new drugs to treat Alzheimers or wet-AMD are all made by remote technocrats"

"Decisions on the Earls Hall wind farm - and indeed 90% of all other local planning cases - will be taken by unelected officials".

"Who decides how many police to put on the streets of Clacton and Frinton?"

Douglas says "It is my experiences as a local MP for Clacton and Harwich over the past couple of years that convinces me that there is something rotten with our existing system of politics in this country. I believe that we need a strong dose of Direct Democracy and new localism to make the political elite listen to us".


17 MAY 2007

Letter in The Times

Localism, nationalism and the future of the Union
Read Douglas' recent letter published in The Times:

Sir,

When David Aaronovitch attacks the “exponents of the new boneheaded super-localism” who “take it as read that the smallest possible unit is preferable to anything larger” (Comment, May 1 ), he presumably means us.

Our group, Direct Democracy, advocates the devolution of power to the lowest practicable level. These days, with almost every politician claiming to agree with us, it’s a relief to have some straightforward opposition.

Mr Aaronovitch is wrong, however, to suppose that localism would mean the end of the Union. There is no power exercised by Holyrood that could not, in England, be devolved to our counties and cities.

If policing, welfare and education became, as they were for hundreds of years, mostly municipal tasks, all Westminster MPs would again be on an equal footing, and the lopsidedness of Labour’s devolution settlement would be corrected.

Such a reform would strengthen the United Kingdom. Answering the West Lothian Question is not the chief argument for English localism, which is a meritorious aim in itself; but it would be a happy side-effect.

DANIEL HANNAN MEP

DOUGLAS CARSWELL MP


15 MAY 2007

Vote to Curb War Powers

Douglas will vote to strengthen democratic control over government

Douglas Carswell, will this week vote in Parliament to strengthen democratic control over government.

In today's debate, Douglas will support an Oppostition motion to ensure that a House of Commons vote is required before UK troops are committed to conflicts.

Douglas says "Whatever party is in government, Parliament should have the final say on going to war - in most cases. Forcing a vote in Parliament before troops are committed will help ensure that governments think through very carefully before going to war".

Douglas recently visited UK forces fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. He is a staunch supporter of our armed forces, supports our troops in Afghanistan, and is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. Douglas says "I have no time for those who criticise our armed forces".

"Having spoken to soldiers in Afghanistan, I can't help asking, since when did poppy eradication become a war aim in Afghanistan? The fact that it is now a war aim seems to illustrate the problem. We need to be sure in future that we are clear about our aims and objectives before committing to war".


15 MAY 2007

Clacton's Voice Heard in Europe

Douglas invited to discuss Europe's future at Potsdam conference

Douglas was last week invited to discuss Europe's future at a conference in Potsdam, near Berlin.

The prestigious Königswinter Conference brought together leading British and German political leaders, industrialist, academics and economists. Douglas used his invitation to argue the case for Britain to leave the European Union.

Douglas is one of the first MPs to support the "Better Off Out" campaign in Westminster, which seeks to get the United Kingdom to quit the European Union.
"It was an honour to be invited to such an important meeting, but I wanted to ensure that no one was in any doubt that my constituents in Clacton are deeply unhappy with the EU. My views might not be fashionable amongst the great and the good in the corridors of power in Europe, but it is time for the views of people in Clacton to be heard."

Discussing energy specifically, and the need to secure our future energy supplies, Douglas pointed out how remote and unaccountable decision-making was already proving counter productive. Douglas used the example of six giant wind turbines due to be built on the outskirts of Clacton as evidence that decision-making is already to remote.

"We need less decision-making at a European level, and more decisions made by those accountable to people in local communities like Clacton" adds Douglas.
"The gradual Europeanization of policy-making in this country has meant decisions are foisted on local people, and local folk don't get any real say. There were those at the Potsdam conference who want Europe to be made responsible for everything. I used the example of the giant wind farm to argue that remote elites are already too powerful. We should take power away from remote government, and give it back to local communities".


09 MAY 2007

Peter Bruff Ward, Clacton - MP Demands Answers

News that Clacton hospital may lose another ward has been met with dismay locally. The suggestion that Peter Bruff ward may be shut as a result of cutbacks in local PCT funding have angered local people already dismayed by the loss of services.

Douglas has demanded answers from the Health Minister in Parliament. He today asked the following questions:

What plans is her department aware of to shut the Peter Bruff Ward in Clacton hospital?

What assessment has her department made as to the impact on patient care closing the Peter Bruff ward would have?

How much funding has the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust (NEMHPT) received from a) the Department of Health and b) local Primary Care Trusts, in each of the past five financial years?

Local services are set to be cut back because North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust (NEMHPT) has lost funding from PCTs in the region.

Douglas explains "Ever since the merger of our local Tendring Primary Care Trust with Colchester’s, local people have feared a loss of services. Although the diversion of funding in the case is a little more complex, it still amounts to the same thing - services that were available locally will no longer be available locally.

No amount of spin - calling the cut back a "reconfiguration of services" - can hide the fact that this is a cut back.

Douglas says "This will leave yet more vulnerable people without the treatment that they could be getting. And it will leave more people in Clacton worried about the future of our local hospital".


25 APR 2007

Tough questions on Britain's defence

MP demands answers

Since returning from Afghanistan, local MP, Douglas Carswell, has asked searching questions about how our troops are equipped.

Douglas has asked questions on the following:

1. Why was the 51 mm mortar out of service in Afghanistan?

Adam Ingram, Defence Minister replied that: The 51 mm mortar is in service in Afghanistan but is approaching its planned out of service date across the armed forces. Ammunition stocks have been prioritised in order to continue to support its use in Afghanistan. The capability provided by the 51 mm mortar will be replaced by a combination of systems including the 40 mm Underslung Grenade Launcher and rocket hand-fired illumination and smoke rounds. In Afghanistan, this capability is being augmented by a purchase of a more modern and supportable 60 mm mortar.

2. Has the deployment of Apache helicopters to Afghanistan been affected by technical problems?

Adam Ingram, Defence Minister replied: While any aircraft will require routine maintenance during deployment, the Apache has not been affected by significant technical problems. Apaches on Operation HERRICK are receiving top priority for spare parts and maintenance, and are in fact delivering more flying hours than asked for. The Apache has successfully delivered on the tasks that it has undertaken, and reports from theatre have been very positive about this capability

3. What percentage of the UK's Apache helicopter fleet is available to UK forces in Afghanistan?

Adam Ingram, Defence Minister admitted: At present 19 per cent. of the UK's Apache helicopter fleet is available to UK forces in Afghanistan. This meets the number required for full operational capability.

It has occasionally been necessary to cannibalise aircraft in the Depth Sustainment Fleet in the UK to satisfy high priority demands for deployed UK Apache helicopters. It is possible that Apache in Afghanistan may have been maintained using cannibalised parts, from aircraft going back to the Apache Depth Pulse line maintenance system at Wattisham, though this is not a frequent practice.

Watch Douglas reporting from Afghanistan on www.ClactonTV.com


24 APR 2007

Action on illegal immigration

MP campaigns to end mass immigration

Local MP for Harwich, Douglas Carswell, spent a shift with immigration officers in the port of Harwich.

Douglas was shown how lorries are searched for illegal immigrants, and was impressed with what he learnt.

"We need to do much more to keep our borders secure. " says Douglas Carswell MP. "It is great news that we have such a professional team here in Harwich keeping out people who are not meant to come to Britain. Well done to our excellent local team here working on all our behalf. They need our backing"

"As an MP, one of my top priorites is to tackle illegal immigration into Britain. It has been going on far too long and not enough has been done about it. It is time for change"

Douglas has asked dozens of questions in Parliament about illegal immigration and has been campaigning for an end to mass immigration.


24 APR 2007

Action on abuse of older people

Local MP champions the elderly

Why are older people not better cared for in care homes? That is the question Douglas Carswell asked in Parliament.

Taking evidence as part of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Douglas heard shocking evidence about the way that older people are sometimes treated.

Douglas asked if the answer is to empower those in care homes with greater choice.

Douglas says "I am very concerned to ensure that older people in care - especially those in Clacton - get the best quality of care available."

"Ensuring that our older folk are treated with dignity and respect is an essential part of a civilised society".

Douglas is part of a committee investigating how older people might be better cared for.


08 APR 2007

Douglas in Afghanistan

Watch on ClactonTV.com

Clacton's MP, Douglas Carswell, has been visiting our troops in Afghanistan.

Douglas is taking part in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme with the Royal Marines, and visited Camp Bastion in Helmand, as well as the forward base at Lashkar Gah.

Douglas says "I am so impressed with the professionalism of our armed forces. We should be proud of them and all that they do for us.

I support our troops 100%, and I will be doing everything I can as an MP to back them."

View Douglas' report at www.ClactonTV.com


27 FEB 2007

TREE

Douglas supports TREE

Douglas Carswell urges local people to do more to support Tendring Reuse and Employment Enterprise (TREE).

After a visit to the community group, Douglas said how impressed he is with all that they do. "TREE gives real opportunities to people who might not otherwise get the chance to work." Over 30 people with learning disabilities are engaged by TREE. They work on a range of projects, including restoring washing machines and other household goods.

Douglas added "TREE is not only good news for people with learning disabilities, but it is good news for the envoronment. TREE recycles household items that we would otherwise just throw away".

Douglas says he is proud to support TREE and would like to see more done to help this first class organisation.


26 FEB 2007

Letter to the Prime Minister

Local MP demands Blair explains closures

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is so concerned about the state of the local NHS that he has written directly to the Prime Minister.

----------------------

Rt Hon Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

I am prompted to write to you following some comments that you made during Prime Minister's Questions recently. In reply to Angela Browning's question about the closure of maternity units, you appeared to imply that where there is a centralisation of services, it is happening in accordance with advice from clinicians.

Specifically, you stated in the context of why there are closures that "the advice we receive from clinicians and from those who actually deliver babies is that it is better to have a set of specialist services within maternity and midwife units." Am I right in understanding that where there is a closure of a maternity unit, the closure takes place because of advice from clinicians?

Harwich hospital in my constituency is brand new, and cost approximately £23 Million to build. Local people are very concerned that many of the services we were given to believe would be provided in the new hospital will not be available much longer. In particular, people are worried that the maternity unit, which we were specifically promised would be kept open before the last General Election, could now close.

Can you please let me know if you believe that the closure of the Harwich hospital maternity unit is likely, and if so, if it is, because of the advice from clinicians?

If you do have any evidence that Harwich hospital's maternity unit is going to be shut on the advice on clinicians, could you please provide it?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Douglas Carswell MP
Member of Parliament for Harwich and Clacton


30 JAN 2007

Jaywick Masterplan - No Compulsory Purchases

Douglas has obtained an assurance that the Jaywick regeneration plan will not mean any compulsory purchases for owner occupiers

Jaywick's MP, Douglas Carswell, has obtained an assurance that the Jaywick regeneration plan will not mean any compulsory purchases for owner occupiers.
In a letter from the East of England Development Agency, Douglas was told that "all owner occupiers who wish to remain in Jaywick would be given the opportunity to do so. … [and that any CPOs would only be used ] as a last resort in the cases of absentee landlords or where precise title has been impossible to establish."
Douglas says "many Jaywick people are worried about what the masterplan means for their community - and frankly the level of communication with local people by the agencies involved has been appauling".
"There was talk of CPOs and bulldozers - which was awful for local people trying to get on with their lives."
"I intervened when local community groups contacted me via the TalkClacton.com community website and asked for me to help."
"The result is this letter - and an assurance that owner occupiers will not be forced out of their homes. "
"I am pleased that EEDA gave an assurance not to use CPOs against owner occupiers. I am also please that they recognise the need for improved communication with local folk. They also seem to acknowledge that there has to be a greater degree of democratically accountable decision-making".
"As the local MP, I will keep on this case - Jaywick people deserve better and have every right to expect that the decision-makers are accountable to them".

------------------------------

TEXT OF LETTER
Dear Douglas

Thank you for your letter regarding the Jaywick masterplan.

As we discussed at our meeting in July EEDA is committed to helping the long term sustainable regeneration of Jaywick. In order to do this we need to have the support of the local residents in Jaywick, including those in the Tudor Estate and the Village. We need to find an option that meets their aspirations, addressed issues such as flood risk, provides housing and infrastructure of sufficient quality, and is financially viable to the public and private sectors.

This is a complex set of issues, and finding solutions to meet all these objectives is going to take time. The work undertaken by Llelwyn Davies Yeang on behalf of the Partnership to date has been exceptionally helpful in testing out these issues, including the views of the community, and gives us a helpful platform to work on.

At this stage the original 3 options that the community was consulted on have proved not to be the way forward and a 4th option that looks at a phased approach needs to be explored.

This phased approach would entail ‘demonstrator’ projects of what can be achieved on Brooklands, probably using land already acquired by EEDA (and/or in ownership sympathetic to the scheme). Another possibility with the phased approach entails acquiring a significant contiguous block of properties and using that as the demonstrator of the future community. I would always aim to only use the CPO owners as a last resort, and I can re-confirm the position I outlined to you in July - namely that all owner occupiers who wish to remain in Jaywick would be given the opportunity to do so. I would expect any CPOs to be used as a last resort in the cases of absentee landlords or where precise title has been impossible to establish. We will of course go back out to consult with the community when we have something to show them and I agree that EEDA and the Partnership need to ensure the channels of communication are improved.

We are currently appointing a project manager on behalf of the Partnership and when in post this person will be the central point of contact on behalf of all the Partners. I will keep you posted with the recruitment and with further developments. Of course, I fully accept that a paid Project Manager is not substitute for local (democratic) accountability. Tendring District Council and Essex County Council are both prominent members of the Steering Group. In terms of Brooklands/Jaywick itself, I have pressed Government Office hard to include significant community-capacity-building as part of the Safer Stronger Communities award to Tendering, and I will review progress on this at the next Steering Group Meeting.

I hope the above comments do bring you up-to-date on our latest thinking. If you wish us to meet again for a more in-depth discussion, please let me know.

Best regards

Yours sincerely


David Marlow
Chief Executive

CC: Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, MP


30 JAN 2007

Holocaust Memorial Day

Douglas joined local residents in marking Holocaust Memorial day in Clacton on Saturday.

Douglas says "This is the first time that we have marked the occasion in this way in Clacton by planting a rose bush. I feel it is vital that we mark the occasion in some way each year.

As a historian myself, I appreciate how vital it is that we ensure that the lessons of the past remain with us. We must never forget".


30 JAN 2007

Clacton and Harwich hospitals - what is going on?

Douglas demands to know what plans there are for the future of Clacton and Harwich hospitals

Douglas Carswell has demanded to know what plans there are for the future of both Clacton and Harwich hospital.

The new Harwich hospital opened without, apparently, all of the range of services available to local people. Meanwhile a ward on Clacton hosiptal closed down last summer. Now the local Primary Care Trust is talking openly of having to save money and cut back services.

Local people are justifiably concerned. It appears that all that talk about investment in the local NHS has turned out to be precisely that - talk.

One local medical professional from Harwich even said to me that the new Harwich hospital is now really just a clinic. I want to know if this is true. Why are there not more services available to local people?
Douglas has now asked the Health Minister in Parliament what is going on tabling the following questions to health Minister Patricia Hewitt MP:.

Is her department aware of any plans to transfer any services, and the provision of medial treatment currently available at Clacton hospital to any other hospital?

What medical services were intended to be available to local people at the time that construction of the new Harwich hospital began; what services are available to local people at the new Harwich hospital currently?


30 JAN 2007

Clacton and Harwich hospitals - what is going on?

Douglas demands to know what plans there are for the future of Clacton and Harwich hospitals

Douglas Carswell has demanded to know what plans there are for the future of both Clacton and Harwich hospital.

The new Harwich hospital opened without, apparently, all of the range of services available to local people. Meanwhile a ward on Clacton hosiptal closed down last summer. Now the local Primary Care Trust is talking openly of having to save money and cut back services.

Local people are justifiably concerned. It appears that all that talk about investment in the local NHS has turned out to be precisely that - talk.

One local medical professional from Harwich even said to me that the new Harwich hospital is now really just a clinic. I want to know if this is true. Why are there not more services available to local people?
Douglas has now asked the Health Minister in Parliament what is going on tabling the following questions to health Minister Patricia Hewitt MP:.

Is her department aware of any plans to transfer any services, and the provision of medial treatment currently available at Clacton hospital to any other hospital?

What medical services were intended to be available to local people at the time that construction of the new Harwich hospital began; what services are available to local people at the new Harwich hospital currently?


25 JAN 2007

Sea defences collapse in Holland-on-Sea

Seawall collapse - government to blame says MP

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, raised the issue of the crumbling sea coastal defences for Holland-on-Sea in Parliament months ago.

Back in July, Douglas asked the Minister responsible, Ian Pearson, what funding has been made available for sea coastal defences in Holland-on-Sea in each of the last five years; and if he would make a statement. Douglas also asked how the funds earmarked for sea coastal defences in Clacton-on-Sea and Holland-on-Sea have been allocated; and what the priorities were for the balance of priorities between river and sea flood defences in Essex.

Douglas was told that from April 2006, all local authority flood and coastal erosion capital improvement projects are funded by direct grant aid from DEFRA.

"Yet now we see the consequences of DEFRA in fact not making any such grant aid for Holland on Sea. In fact the proposed £24 Million project that was due to take place was scrapped by the government"

The second answer Douglas got was dismissive. Douglas says "The Minister gave a bit of a non-answer. He simply stated that "DEFRA funding is allocated to individual capital improvement projects across the country through a priority scoring system, which looks at the benefits of potential projects compared with the costs. River and sea defences are treated equally within this process."

"I said at the time that that sounded like a non-answer, and now we can see the consequences of the government's failure to addess this issue".

"I agree with Cllr Shearing's view. The £24 Million project Holland on Sea needed had been agreed, but was then shelved, by the Government after it decided to change its priorities."

They failed to act - and today we have seen the consequences in Holland on Sea".


22 JAN 2007

Douglas visits Royal Marines

Douglas visits Royal Marines training centre as part of the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme.

Douglas Carswell, visited the Royal Marines training centre in Lympstone last week as part of the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme.

Douglas says "This is my bit to show support for our armed forces. What they are doing in Afghanistan is extraordinary"

"As a country, we have been asking our armed forces to do more and more, on less and less. It is a scandal that our troops have not always had the right kit, as and when they need it".

"By spending time with the Marines, I aim to learn first hand what it is like to serve, and to ensure that our service men are given what they need to do the tasks we ask of them".


17 JAN 2007

Danger to Dovercourt dental services - warns Douglas

Douglas is highlighting the danger to local dental services.

Douglas Carswell is highlighting the danger to local dental services. "There is a real danger that Tendring could lose its only remaining orthodontics service" Douglas explains.

Willem du Toit of the Dovercourt Dental Practice invited Douglas to meet at the local dental surgery to hear his concerns first hand. Mr du Toit said that he may have to suspend treatment given the failure of the Primary Care Trust to fund this service adequately.

"There is an overall shortage of dental services - particularly orthodontics, and I want to know why?" demands Douglas Carswell MP. "It would be outrageous if local patients had their treatment suspended"

"I was contacted by the local Dovercourt dental practice, and am appalled to learn that despite having a waiting list of over 500 apparently, they may have to suspend services. This is going to worry a lot of local parents" says Douglas. "I believe that this a real live example of the price that local people are now paying for the loss of the old Primary Care Trust's funding when the merger went ahead with Colchester".

"I have now asked the head of the North Essex PCT, and to the Minister of Health, to explain what is happening. I want to know why our local dental services are under threat and what they plan on doing to safeguard our local dental services".


17 JAN 2007

Colbayn's Community Centre wins the lottery

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, visited Colbayn's Community Centre in Clacton to congratulate them on being awarded £8,280 from the National Lottery "Awards for All" scheme.

The grant will be spent on recruiting volunteers to support the vital work carried out at the centre. Volunteers will receive training and supervision and will become part of a highly dedicated professional team.

Douglas said "Three cheers to Colbayn's Community Centre. Since opening, the centre has become a real hub for the local community. This award will help them to build on that".


17 JAN 2007

Clacton Town Plan

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, would like to hear from any residents or visitors concerned about the town plan work being undertaken.

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, would like to hear from any residents or visitors concerned about the town plan work being undertaken.

Douglas says "I had a look at the council's orginal ideas for the town centre, and I have to say that I am very much infavour of improvements to our town centre. I do believe that they will be good for Clacton - and help to attract business back into our town".

"yes there will be some disruption shortterm - but I believe that overall this will be good for Clacton"

"However, if anyone is concerned about the work being undertaken at present, or if the disruption is troubling anyone, please do contact me. As your MP, I want to know, and I also promise you that I will work with the local council to see if any issues that do need to be addressed, can be addressed".

"Please either write to me at 84 Station Road in Clacton, or send me an email at carswelld@parliament.uk".


08 JAN 2007

Commons Diary - Standard

your MP writes in the local paper

My best wishes to every local resident for 2007! The year just gone was an incredibly busy and enjoyable time for me as your Member of Parliament. The year ahead is likely to be even busier given some of the historic challenges Harwich and Dovercourt will face in 2007.

My greatest concern is the state of our local health service. I know that the local doctors, nurses and staff are extremely committed. But despite their fantastic efforts, the fact is that the outlook for 2007 is not good. Let us be clear about the scale of the problems:

Harwich hospital: our brand new hospital is still not providing the full range of services that local people were led to believe would be available.
Waiting lists: many local residents have had to wait ridiculously long periods of time to see a dentist, get a hearing aid fitted, or some other standardised procedure. Why are many older folk being forced to choose between going private or facing long delays?
Clacton hospital ward closure: Clacton – where the population is rising – now has fewer hospital beds following the closure of one of the wards.
Primary care trust merger: the loss of our own local primary care trust has cost us all as our surplus is used to cancel neighbouring Colchester’s debt. It has also cost us genuine local accountability.

I simply do not accept the argument that healthcare has so dramatically changed in the past ten years that services no longer need to be provided close to local people.

At the same time, our area will come under renewed pressure in 2007 to accommodate additional housing. The targets for Tendring - set by regional and national agencies, not locally – have been increased by stealth (in fact the latest announcement was snuck out over the Christmas break).

2007 will see ever greater pressure on local infrastructure. More housing will mean more people. More people, yet no corresponding improvement in the local health service. Nor indeed any other public services.

This pressure on infrastructure has a real impact. One of the reasons why Harwich has now lost the fast ferry link to the Hook of Holland is the state of the A120. For years we have been promised an upgrade. Yet 2006 passed without it actually happening. Not only is the road a danger, but without an upgrade it will be all the more difficult for our town to compete with other major ports and prosper.

Despite all that, I remain a natural optimist who still believes that this country's best days lie ahead. But from a local perspective and faced with these enormous challenges, sadly I doubt that our finest hour will come during 2007.

I can however assure you that as your MP I will continue to stand up for Harwich and Dovercourt – and to ensure that our voice is heard.

If you would like to have your say on any of these issues, or indeed any other the other challenges that our area faces in 2007, please join the debate at www.TalkTendring.com.


08 JAN 2007

Commons Diary - Gazette

your MP writes in the local paper

My best wishes to every local resident for 2007! The year just gone was an incredibly busy and enjoyable time for me as your Member of Parliament. The year ahead is likely to be even busier given some of the historic challenges our area will face in 2007.

My greatest concern is the state of our local health service. I know that the local doctors, nurses and staff are extremely committed. But despite their fantastic efforts, the fact is that the outlook for 2007 is not good. Let us be clear about the scale of the problems:

Clacton hospital ward closure: Clacton – where the population is rising – now has fewer hospital beds following the closure of one of the wards.
Harwich hospital: our brand new hospital is still not providing the full range of services that local people were led to believe would be available.
Waiting lists: many local residents have had to wait ridiculously long periods of time to see a dentist, get a hearing aid fitted, or some other standardised procedure. Why are many older folk being forced to choose between going private or facing long delays?
Primary care trust merger: the loss of our own local primary care trust has cost us all as our surplus is used to cancel neighbouring Colchester’s debt. It has also cost us genuine local accountability.

I simply do not accept the argument that healthcare has so dramatically changed in the past ten years that services no longer need to be provided close to local people.

At the same time, our area will come under renewed pressure in 2007 to accommodate additional housing. The targets for Tendring - set by regional and national agencies, not locally – have been increased by stealth (in fact the latest announcement was snuck out over the Christmas break).

2007 will see ever greater pressure on local infrastructure. More housing will mean more people. More people, yet no corresponding improvement in the local health service. Nor indeed any other public services.

The year ahead will probably also see more of those bogus “consultations”. It seems that consultations are what statutory agencies do when they have made up their mind to do something unpopular, yet want to try to find some form of legitimacy. I hope that in 2007 those responsible for the Jaywick master plan actually listen to local people.

Despite all that, I remain a natural optimist who still believes that this country's best days lie ahead. But from a local perspective and faced with these enormous challenges, sadly I doubt that our finest hour will come during 2007.

I can however assure you that as your MP I will continue to stand up for our area – and to ensure that your voice is heard.

If you would like to have your say on any of these issues, or indeed any other challenges that our area faces in 2007, please join the debate at www.TalkClacton.com.


04 DEC 2006

Axe Human Rights Law - demands Douglas

04 December 2006

MP defies Human Rights establishment

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, has used his position on the Parliamentary committee on Human Rights to call for the abolition of ludicrous Human Rights laws.

The Human Rights Committee is dominated by the Human Rights establishment. Douglas believes that Human Rights rules have meant that criminals evade justice and the terrorist threat goes unchecked.

Looking at three specific instances, Douglas issued a report to the committee that shows how the Human Rights law is letting us all down. Douglas' report is based on factual detail and complex legal arguement, and shows how Human Rights law meant:

* A convicted criminal was freed to murder

* Nine Afghan hijackers were able to remain at large in Britain

* Foreign criminals could not be deported from the UK

Douglas' report calls for the abolition of not only the notorious Human Rights Act, but more importantly, Britain's withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Douglas' report was voted down by supporters of the Human Rights establishment - most of who, it could be noted, were not actually elected.

Douglas says "People should read my minority report because it is important that people know that there is an alternative. Britain can scrap the Human Rights laws we have had imposed on us - and still protect the freedoms of those who live here.

Britain must axe the Human Rights act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. It is in our national interest to do so, and it is in the best interests of our individual freedoms and liberties. I have no doubt - despite the power of the Human Rights establishment - that in the end the Human Rights Act will go".

click here to download file


22 NOV 2006

ClactonTV.com

Local MPs initiative a first

ClactonTV.com is a new on-line TV service for people who are passionate about our local community. It is made by local people, for local people and about local issues.

More than 4,000 people have logged onto watch in the first few days alone.

Clacton TV is completely free and viewers do not even need to register to watch.

Douglas expalins "Our video clips are made by local people, about topics of local interest. Like a local newspaper, we aim to cover stories that interest you - using video clips made by you.

Normal TV only seems to feature stories that are of regional interest - not things that are really local. But ClactonTV.com always has room for local items because it is local people, not remote programmers who get to decide what we show."

If you would like to find out more, log on to www.clactonTV.com


21 NOV 2006

Help find the best Indian restaurant in our community

Local MP, Douglas Carswell, is asking for your help to find the best south Asian restaurant locally.

The annual Tiffin Cup is a competition run nation-wide to find the best Indian food locally. MPs are asked to nominate a restaurant in their constituency to compete in the challenge.

But local MP, Douglas, would like your help to find the best.

While applauding the quality of south Asian food in Britain, the competition also raises much needed money for charity. This year, the competition is in aid of the charity, Paths to Success.

Douglas says "Please can you let me have your nominations for the best Indian or south Asian restaurant in our area. There are about a dozen or so, and I think I have eaten in most of them. But I want to know what you think is our best Indian restaurant".

"Either write to me at the House of Commons or email me your nomination at carswelld@parliament.uk. I'll send in the most popular choice to the Tiffin Cup organisers and I hope we win".


11 NOV 2006

Commons Diary - Gazette

Douglas joins the Marines

I have signed up with the Royal Marines. No, I am not about to swap politics for a career in the armed forces. Rather, I have joined the Parliamentary Armed Forces scheme. As a new MP, I am very conscious that politicians sometimes make key decisions that will affect our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Personally, I have not agreed with every decision that Parliament has made – and the failure to give our troops the right kit is a national disgrace.

If I am to do something about it, it is really important that I get a first-hand understanding of what it is like to serve. The Armed Forces scheme will allow me to find out what it is like to be in the armed forces, and to show my support for our services.

I choose the Royal Marines – which will probably get me in to all sorts of trouble with one or two ex-Paras and former RAF people that I know. However, I felt that the Marines, with their multipurpose role, would be a good branch of the armed forces to sign up with.

This Sunday’s Remembrance Day service will be poignant, as it always is; a chance not only to reflect on past sacrifices, but to appreciate those currently serving their Queen and Country.

I was mulling this over in my mind during an Education Committee discussion in Parliament on “Citizenship education”. What does it take to give people a sense of citizenship, and of belonging? After the July 7th terrorist outrages last year, this question has come to the fore. I believe that it is vital that young people in Britain grow up with a sense of our shared past, if they are to have a bright future. That means teaching our island story, and in doing so, giving people a sense of patriotism and quite pride in what our forbearers did for the world.

On a totally separate note, I was lobbied in Parliament last week by some local nurses worried about the future of the local NHS. They are worried because of what has happened to our local Primary Care Trust. On top of that have been the delays in opening some services at the new Harwich hospital and the closure of a ward in Clacton hospital.

A day or so later, the Tendring Pensioners Action Group, led by Mike Le Cornu and Vic Brown, came to see me to express their concerns about the raw deal that our older folk are now getting. Pensions have not increased in line with average earnings meaning that many retired people are worse off. Added to that the rise in gas and electricity prices, and there is real cause for concern locally. Please do have a look the discussion we had outside the House of Commons on www.ClactonTV.com.

If you would like to visit the House of Commons, or just come along to one of my surgeries


10 NOV 2006

Commons Diary - Harwich & Manningtree Standard

Douglas joins the Marines

I have signed up with the Royal Marines. No, I am not about to swap politics for a career in the armed forces. Rather, I have joined the Parliamentary Armed Forces scheme. As a new MP, I am very conscious that politicians sometimes make key decisions that will affect our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Personally, I have not agreed with every decision that Parliament has made – and the failure to give our troops the right kit is a national disgrace.

If I am to do something about it, it is really important that I get a first-hand understanding of what it is like to serve. The Armed Forces scheme will allow me to find out what it is like to be in the armed forces, and to show my support for our services.

I choose the Royal Marines – which will probably get me in to all sorts of trouble with one or two ex-Paras and former RAF people that I know. However, I felt that the Marines, with their multipurpose role, would be a good branch of the armed forces to sign up with. I also wanted to do something with the navy given Harwich's ancient ties with the senior service.

This Sunday’s Remembrance Day services across our district will be poignant, as they always are; a chance not only to reflect on past sacrifices, but to appreciate those currently serving their Queen and Country.

I was mulling this over in my mind during an Education Committee discussion in Parliament on “Citizenship education”. What does it take to give people a sense of citizenship, and of belonging? After the July 7th terrorist outrages last year, this question has come to the fore. I believe that it is vital that young people in Britain grow up with a sense of our shared past, if they are to have a bright future. That means teaching our island story, and in doing so, giving people a sense of patriotism and quite pride in what our forbearers did for the world.

On a totally separate note, I was lobbied in Parliament last week by some local nurses worried about the future of the local NHS. They are worried because of what has happened to our local Primary Care Trust. On top of that have been the delays in opening some services at the new Harwich hospital and the closure of a ward in Clacton hospital.

A day or so later, the Tendring Pensioners Action Group, led by Mike Le Cornu and Vic Brown, came to see me to express their concerns about the raw deal that our older folk are now getting. Pensions have not increased in line with average earnings meaning that many retired people are worse off. Added to that the rise in gas and electricity prices, and there is real cause for concern locally.

If you would like to visit the House of Commons, or just come along to one of my surgeries or coffee mornings for a chat, please do contact me. I am always available for local people.