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22 December 2009
“I saw roads being gritted from first thing Monday morning, but the weight of snow meant that no amount of gritting alone could keep the roads clear.
“Cold weather has left pavements and residential roads icy and dangerous since last Thursday night. Yet in some areas of the town grit bins have been found to be either empty or have not been refilled.
“The lack of grit is a problem some areas experienced when snow hit last February. The system is clearly not working is some areas of the town and needs to change.”
17 December 2009
14 December 2009
The Government’s proposals include:
This comes as the country’s debt is forecast to reach £1,500,000,000,000 – equivalent to £23,000 for every man, woman and child in Basingstoke. The Government will spend £64 billion a year on debt interest. This is equivalent to the amount of money raised each year from fuel duty, inheritance tax, stamp duty and council tax combined. The debt will also push up interest rates over time, meaning more expensive mortgages and credit card bills.
Maria said: “Every family in Basingstoke will be paying for this Governments mistakes for years to come, our country faces the biggest overdraft in our peacetime history and the Government has already started to hike taxes on Basingstoke’s residents to pay for it.”
4 December 2009
Mark Hoban MP for Fareham and demonstrates the Hampshire wide concern about the lack of investment in local services to meet the needs generated by houses built to meet the Governments centrally driven targets.
Speaking before the Bill is presented in the House of Commons tomorrow Maria said, “ This Bill would make it a legal requirement to ensure that new house building goes hand in hand with investment in local services including roads, medical services and schools. In the future I want house building to be determined by locally elected representatives not dictated by central government. It should be for the community to decide how our town and villages develop. This Bill will ensure that any future development would have to be coupled with a plan to expand services to meet the needs of new residents and that the funding required to do this is in place in advance of the first brick being laid.”
3 December 2009
Maria warns that the Chancellor must make a statement about how the Government plans to tackle the UK’s national debt once the recovery is secure, while seeking to protect the most vulnerable from financial hardship.
With very little money available for the Government to use to support the country at this difficult time, choices will have to be made. People in Basingstoke want their jobs to be secure and for the most vulnerable people in our community to get the support they need:
Maria said “Basingstoke residents want honesty from the Government and a realistic assessment of the tough economic challenges this country faces. Basingstoke has seen unemployment double in the past 12 months and more people are finding it difficult to get another job. The situation is particularly difficult for school leavers. We all want to see the Government act responsibly in these difficult times with policies that are affordable, not just vote winners. Instead of introducing yet more ad hoc measures, the Government must urgently set out a reliable long term package of measures to get our national debt back under control.”
26 November 2009
On 15 October, the Government announced that weekly and monthly Territorial Army training would be cut by a massive £20 million – wiping out training for tens of thousands of Territorials. This £20 million was in addition to cuts of £23 million earlier in the current financial year. This represents a third of the Territorial Army’s annual budget. However, following pressure the Government has dropped the plans.
Since 2002, some 20,000 reservists have seen active service in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, most of them from the TA. Fourteen Territorials have given their lives. Today 550 Territorials are serving on the front-line in Afghanistan. Dozens more serve in the Balkans and other places across the globe. In 1997 there were 57,000 members of the Territorial Army. Due to the funding cuts twelve years later the numbers have fallen to 35,000.
Maria said: “Through good times and bad, the Territorial Army has given this country a proud century of service. I welcome this announcement and it is only right that the Government abandon this damaging and ill-thought out plans to cut TA training. Common sense has prevailed.
“Sadly the embarrassing U-turn cannot undo the damage to morale and trust. The TA plays an important role in our community and nation, and we should always stand up in support of their invaluable work and service.”
24 November 2009
Speaking after the debate Maria said, “Many Basingstoke residents particularly in the Popley area are connected to the public sewer system by a network of pipes that have never been adopted by the appropriate authority and are therefore deemed to be privately owned.
In the debate on Tuesday I was able to confirm with the Government that these pipes and 200 000km of other un-adopted sewer pipes in England will be transferred to local water and sewage companies by 2011. This will help to put an end to the misery experienced by too many Basingstoke residents when this network of sewage pipes flood into gardens and even houses as a result of a lack of proper maintenance.
I will be asking Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for their help in monitoring how the handover of responsibility will be managed and exactly how the programme of much needed maintenance will be put in place by Thames water who will have responsibility for the network of un-adopted sewer pipes from 2011.
The problems caused by this network of un-adopted sewers, has led to so much heartache for so many residents. Finally it will be clear that Thames Water has responsibility for the maintenance of these pipes from 2011. This change is long overdue and a victory for common sense.”
Maria backs plans to help protect local post offices, pubs, libraries and parks
23 November 2009
20 November 2009
Council tax rebanding: The official local government manifesto, published recently at the Labour Party conference, calls for a council tax revaluation and higher council tax bands “to make it a more genuinely progressive tax”. This comes as reports have revealed that the Party deputy leader, Harriet Harman, is already drawing up plans for council tax rebanding. The Government has changed the law to allow Ministers to impose higher council tax banding; this change was supported by the Liberal Democrats.
Council tax bills in Basingstoke have risen by 108% since 1997, taking the bill on a Band D home to £1,338. A Government review has sketched out how council tax rebanding could work, and suggested a new ten-band system. More homes would be sucked into the higher bands, and the amount that higher bands pay would also increase. This could mean that council tax bills in Basingstoke may reach as much as £7,132 under the new system.
Higher business rates: The manifesto calls for above-inflation rises in rates for local firms. Currently business rates are linked to inflation.
Bin taxes: The manifesto advocates a “move away from dealing with residual waste in the black bin”.
Road pricing taxes: The manifesto signals a new tax assault on drivers, with the imposition of “road pricing” in urban areas, with no offsetting tax cuts elsewhere. It also signals the extension of workplace parking taxes, currently being trialled in Nottingham.
Maria said: “This shows that Basingstoke could face massive hikes in local taxes if this government clings on to the fourth term. This is a tax bombshell primed to explode after the general election. I fear that new council tax bands will be used to penalise Basingstoke families and pensioners who have saved and invested in their homes, with some bills hitting the £7,132 mark. I am opposed to these tax hikes which would hit Basingstoke residents hard.”
12 November 2009
Gurkha’s from Basingstoke came to Westminster to talk to Maria about the pension problems that are still to be resolved following the Government’s U-turn on their right to settle in the UK in May.
Maria said after the meeting, “Basingstoke has become home to many Gurkha ex-service men and their families. As their Member of Parliament I will do all I can to help ensure they are treated with the honour and dignity that befits veterans of our armed forces who have served our country.
“I have every sympathy for the position Gurkha’s find themselves regarding pensions. I will do all that I can to listen to the concerns of Gurkha residents and help ensure these concerns are heard. It is only fair that the plights of Gurkha’s is considered along side claims from other veteran groups for retrospective improvements in their pension terms, which also have merit. The critical issue is that any changes would of course involve significant additional funding at a time when Government spending is under pressure.
I will be asking for a meeting with Ministers to hear what progress is being made on resolving this issue.”
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