Tuesday, 30 November 2010

It's Snow Joke For The Elderly

If you have urgent needs because of the bad weather with which the council may be able to help please call Customer First on Medway 333333 during business hours or Medway 304400 if it is an emergency out of hours.

Details of school closures can be found here and weather and travel updates can be found here

Once again I would like to take the opportunity to call on local residents to please take the time to check on their elderly or vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are safe and well. Even if the snow does ease during the day, our roads, streets and alleyways will remain virtually impassable to our less able residents for quite some time due to the icy conditions that will no doubt follow.

If you know anyone locally who you think may need some assistance then please call in on them. It really doesn't take long to just have a quick check on how they are and see if they need some help with shopping or clearing their paths.

Kent Police advice for drivers in bad weather:

If you do have to drive make sure you have full visibility before setting off, so allow time to de-mist and de-ice all windows. Poor weather conditions mean it can be harder for drivers to see, so use your lights.

When the roads are wet and icy it can take twice as long to stop your vehicle, so slow down. In poor visibility be extra alert for hazards.

Carry warm waterproof clothing, food, water and a torch in your vehicle in case weather conditions mean you have to stop. Make sure you have plenty of fuel for your journey before you set off.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mark Reckless MP Questions Government On Train Fares

Mark Reckless MP asked the Secretary of State for Transport to explain the Government’s policy: “on the application of a cap on fare rises on train services provided by Southeastern under its franchise agreement which enables a different rate of fare rises to that applied by other franchisees” and requested that the Minister make a statement on the issue.

The Government Minister replied that: “The Southeastern Franchise Agreement agreed by the last Government specified that from 2007-2011, regulated fares on the network would be capped at RPI +3 per cent”. She explained that: “next year will be the final one in which Southeastern has a different fares regime to most other parts of the network. From 2012, RPI +3 will become the standard formula for prices regulated by the Department for Transport, including Southeastern”.

Mark Reckless said: “I believe that Kent was not given a fair deal by the last government, which agreed a contract with Southeastern providing for our fares to rise faster than elsewhere. This will stop after January and Southeastern will henceforth be treated the same as the rest of the country. I hope that Southeastern, having been given four years of higher fares than other providers, will now improve their service to passengers”.


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Questioning The Chancellor On Ireland Bail-out

From Hansard (22 November 2010):

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood, Conservative)
Is not the fundamental problem that Ireland has the wrong interest rate and the wrong exchange rate, and that Irish politicians made a fundamental mistake by joining the euro? Does the Chancellor agree that we must stand and support Ireland, and that should Ireland seek a return to sterling, it must have a seat on the Monetary Policy Committee?

George Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer, HM Treasury; Tatton, Conservative)
The first time I met my hon. Friend was when we were both at university together, and he gave a speech about exchange rates and the European exchange rate mechanism. He was absolutely right in his prediction of what would happen shortly thereafter, so it is good to hear him talk about exchange rates here in the House of Commons. I would make this observation: decisions on people's currencies must, as I am sure he would agree, be decisions for the nation state involved. I have made the observation-just because there has been some interesting speculation about this-that much of Ireland's sovereign debt is denominated in euros, which would remain whatever its currency was.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Tesco for Schools

I was delighted to have been asked to present computer equipment to schools in my constituency on behalf of Tesco via their excellent voucher scheme. Here are some photos from the day.

Thanks to all the children who came along. I hope they all make good use of the new equipment they now have.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Supporting Ireland, Not The Euro!

Mark Reckless MP today called on the coalition government to allow a full debate on the financial crisis in Ireland.

Speaking in the House, Mark proposed that the British government give the people of Ireland "whatever support is necessary to support an orderly return to sterling" and called on the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, to send out a clear message that not a penny of UK taxpayers' money will be spent on bailing out the Euro.


Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): May I repeat the request for a debate on Ireland? My grandfather served in the Dail for Fianna Fail, and if he could see it now, he would be turning in his grave. Surely the message from this House to those politicians must be that we will not vote for a penny to bail out their euro, whereas the message to the Irish people must be that we will give whatever support is necessary to support an orderly return to sterling.

Sir George Young: I understand where my hon. Friend is coming from. I repeat what I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh). The Chancellor of the Exchequer will want to keep the House informed in the light of the discussions that are taking place in Dublin about the support that may be needed, but which, as I understand it, has not so far been requested by the Irish Government. This country has an interest in a stable and prosperous Ireland and, as I have said, we stand ready to do what we can to secure that objective.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Better Option For Ireland

Ireland is being bullied by Euro-zone countries to act in their best interests rather than its own:

• Portugal's finance minister urges Ireland “to do the right thing for the euro and accept a bail-out”;

• Spain’s finance minister tells Ireland to make the “proper decision”; and

• Angela Merkel can’t decide whether to protect German banks, who have over-lent to Ireland, or German taxpayers who would fund a bail out.

Ireland though will act in its own interests - and it has a better option than the two that were open to Greece. The Greeks had to do what they were told by the Germans, or re-establish the drachma.

In the long-term it might be best for Greece to go its own way. In the short-term though the costs of inflation, default and exclusion from the international capital markets would be high, and would only partially be offset by an inflow of bargain hunting tourists.

Unlike Greece, Ireland would not need to re-establish an independent currency, with all the short-term difficulties that would entail. Ireland could simply rejoin sterling and have a monetary policy more suited for Irish needs.

Germany’s Irish loans could be deemed to have been made in sterling, so as to provide a fair return but allow Ireland to start exporting its way back to growth. We would benefit from closer relations with Ireland and keep the spur of Irish tax competition which the EU would snuff out.

Every MP I have spoken to says they would be happy for Ireland to have a guaranteed seat on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. This would mean that, unlike before 1979, Ireland as a sovereign country would have a proper say in setting sterling interest rates.

When we raised the idea with David Liddington, our Europe minister, at the Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday he was positive, if Ireland wants to explore this option. I know the Chancellor will want to help Ireland stand up to bullying at ECOFIN today.

What better way than to let them know they can come back to sterling if the euro isn’t working for them?


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Transport Minister Pressed To Fully Fund Medway Tunnel

Medway tunnel could be fully funded by the government in the future if a local campaign is successful.

Mark Reckless MP and the local councillor responsible for transport, Phil Filmer, met with the Transport Minister, Mike Penning, on Tuesday (9th November) to discuss the future funding of the tunnel.

Currently Medway Council is the only unitary authority in the country to have responsibility for such a tunnel, which serves 46,000 vehicles every day.

Nationally, most tunnels are either funded from tolls or are on major roads where the funding comes directly from the government.

In contrast Medway Council only receives funding for the length of the road inside the tunnel, which is the equivalent of 725 metres, and not for its running costs. This means the council has to rely on its own highways budget.

At the meeting, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Mike Penning MP promised to raise the issue with his fellow minister to see if the tunnel could be included in a new asset register from 2012.

If this were to happen, the council would then receive the necessary funding from the government, as part of its formula grant, to manage the Medway tunnel.

Mark Reckless is also writing to the Transport Minister Norman Baker to see if he would be willing to visit Medway to see the tunnel for himself. This follows on from a campaign by local councillor Herbie Crack who is working in partnership with Mr Reckless to get the minister to come to Medway.

Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services Cllr Phil Filmer said:

"The minister was very sympathetic to Medway’s position as the only unitary authority in the country which has to maintain a tunnel with a value of £120 million from its highway budget. Funding for the tunnel is purely based on the equivalent of a section of duel carriageway 725 metres long, which does not take account of the tunnels running costs and needs to change".

Mark Reckless MP said:

"I was very pleased with how this issue is being progressed by the coalition government and, in conjunction with what other councillors are doing locally to convince ministers to visit the site, will hopefully result in a positive outcome and see the tunnel getting the funding it requires."


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Mark Reckless Calls For Action On Student Loans

Mark Reckless MP has called on the Government to take action over continuing delays in students receiving their funding, following a warning from the National Audit Office that the Student Loans Company scheme was at "substantial" risk of being hit by delays again this year.

In a question to the Secretary of State for Education, Mark Reckless called for action to be taken on behalf of students who have started the new academic year, but are still waiting for their loans to be processed. He called upon the Secretary of State for Education to "take action over the longstanding issue of student loans not being processed in a timely manner."

Commenting on the question, Mark said:

"In recent weeks I have been contacted by many students and parents seeking my assistance in sorting out the mess we have inherited from the last government. As the MP for a constituency which has transformed itself over recent years into a major destination for students from all across the country seeking to further their education at our top-class universities here in Medway, I am dismayed that so many of our young people are still struggling to pay their rent and bills despite repeated assurances from the previous government that this issue was being addressed.

At a time when we are asking students to share a greater burden of the cost in financing their own higher education, I think the least we can do is ensure they receive their money on time."


MP Web Awards Nomination

Mark Reckless has been shortlisted for an award in BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, MP Web Awards.

Mark will be competing against 25 other MPs in the ‘social media’ category after his web presence was recognised by independent voters in a recent poll.

Mark will now have to await the decision of this year’s judges who include Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail, Mark Say, editor of Government Computing, Matthew Windle, a member of Youth Parliament and Rachel Gibson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester. Judges will be looking for sites that successfully engage, excite, provide information and encourage two-way communication between MPs and their constituents.

Speaking of the nomination, Mark Reckless said:

“I am delighted that the work I have been doing to raise the profile of the constituency is being recognised further afield. Like most politicians I realise we need to do more in terms of engaging with the public using social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, as well as by more traditional means. I certainly think younger voters particularly appreciate being able to engage with their representatives using new and developing social technologies.

There are some great colleagues shortlisted for this award so I won’t be holding my breath, but being nominated so early in my Parliamentary career is very welcome and it is something I hope to build on. Plus, it can be great fun and doesn’t have to cost the taxpayer a penny!”

Mark was also recently voted 43rd in the Total Politics Top 100 Conservative blogs category and 11th in the Top 30 MP Blogs.

The awards ceremony will take place on Monday 15th November in the House of Commons and will be hosted by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee.

For more information about the Awards please visit:


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Congratulations For Safe Exit Success

Mark Reckless has congratulated Kent Police after their Safe Exit team were presented with a national award at the Jane’s Police Review Gala Awards by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

Safe Exit scheme, which was awarded first place in the ‘Diversity in Action’ category, was launched by the Kent Police in Medway in partnership with the Medway Drug and Alcohol Team, Medway Council and NHS Medway to tackle the negative impact that street prostitution has on local communities. To date the scheme has seen over 80% of women involved in the illegal sex trade in Medway sign up to receive advice and support, enabling them to take control of their lives and leave the trade safely.

Speaking of the award, Mark Reckless said:

"I am delighted that Steve Corbishley and his team have received this award from the Home Secretary. The Home Affairs Select Committee also showcased this work after I invited
Keith Vaz, our Chairman, to Medway to learn more of our success. I will be seeing Steve Corbishley and his team tomorrow to congratulate them."

The awards ceremony took place at the London Hilton, Park Lane, London. One thousand people, including police officers and staff, were in attendance with the Home Secretary, to recognise and reward outstanding achievements in policing.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Debating The EU Budget


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Controlling Immigration

Today we publish our first Report of the Home Affairs Select Committee in this Parliament. All our eleven members were elected by, and in competition with, other MPs, rather than on the say-so of party whips, so our conclusions are completely independent of government.

However, on the ‘Immigration Cap’, the subject of our first report, I am delighted to be full-square behind the government and to have a fellow Kent MP, Damian Green, as the minister controlling immigration. After a decade during which net immigration has run at hundreds of thousands a year we are going to deliver on our manifesto promise and reduce it to just tens of thousands.

Our Report today focuses on just one area of immigration, people from outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) who apply for work visas. One key conclusion of the Committee is that the Government must move far beyond this category, and will need to impose tighter controls on students and, potentially, family migration if it is to cut net immigration to just tens of thousands a year as promised.

We cannot control some immigration, e.g. the increase last year in the number of UK citizens abroad choosing to return to the UK, so we must control others routes as stringently as necessary to cut net immigration to tens of thousands a year. This need not though mean damaging the economy, since:

• Perhaps half of Tier 1 migrants, who were defined by the previous government as being so highly skilled that we should give them a visa even if they didn’t have a job, have only been able to get unskilled work, so these visas can be reallocated; and

• If a particular business really needs a particular overseas national to work in the UK, then that can be accommodated within an overall cap by auctioning available permits to businesses which benefit most from foreign workers.