Monday, 23 August 2010

Open Letter To Kent County Council

Pension SectionKent
County Council,2nd Floor
Brenchley House
Week Street
Kent ME14 1RF


Firefighters Pension Scheme

I am writing on behalf of a constituent regarding your recent letter to them in which they are required to complete a Certificate of Entitlement.

Having read the contents of your letter and listened to my constituent’s concerns, I am concerned that the process of forcing widows and widowers of those who served so bravely in the Fire Service to prove that they are still eligible to receive their pension is, to put it mildly, insensitive.

As my constituent rightly points out, there is already a legal obligation on recipients of widow’s and widower’s pension to declare a change in their circumstances that may affect their entitlement. It therefore strikes me as being inappropriate and unnecessary to force recipients of this pension to declare their eligibility on an annual basis, a procedure which clearly does imply a lack of trust in recipients, notwithstanding your contrary assertion.

I would be grateful if you would give consideration as to how Kent County Council can go about administering this scheme in the future so as to avoid causing further undue distress to my constituent and others who are in a similar position.

I am, because of the importance of this issue to those that I represent, making my concerns known to the Kent media.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Reckless
Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood

Friday, 6 August 2010

Strood Academy Saved

We have received fantastic news in Medway today from the Coalition Government. All three of our Academies in Medway, including the Strood Academy which has already been up and running for a year albeit in old or temporary buildings on two sites, have got the go ahead to build brand new school buildings.

I am enormously grateful to Michael Gove, whom I am proud to count as a personal friend as well as someone I believe will prove to be an outstanding Secretary of State for Education, for keeping faith with us in Medway over these schools.

In these very tight economic times the Coalition Government has prioritised crucial schools funding for us in Medway and, because of the tough but necessary decisions being taken on the public finances generally, we now have funding which is not just an unfunded aspiration, but is secure and sustainable.

I did not feel able to say too much publicly before we had an official announcement. However, as constituents might imagine, following the initial announcement that funding for our three Academies was "under discussion", all three Medway MPs embarked on intensive lobbying.

I was fortunate to be able to arrange a meeting with Michael the evening after the initial announcement. I followed up with
this letter once I had spoken with Les Wicks and met with Rose Collinson to agree a strategy where I focussed my efforts on the Strood Academy in my constituency. This complemented the work of Medway officers and Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chisthi in respect of the two schools in their constituences.

Throughout the process I have believed that we had an outstandingly strong case in respect of the Strood Academy. I am delighted that this has now been formally recognised, but also that the Coalition Government has been able to give the support it has to the Bishop of Rochester and Brompton Academies, which were a year behind us in Strood.

I am really pleased for all the children who will benefit as well as for their parents and teachers. I would also like to say thank you to the council officers who have worked so hard on this. Great news!