Category Archives: chatham

Supporting Medway jobs and apprenticeships

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From left: Sue Harrison (Employer, Provision and Partnership Manager for Medway, Jobcentre Plus) with Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch

Since the General Election in May 2010, unemployment in Rochester and Strood has fallen from a rate of 4.5% claiming Jobseekers Allowance to 3.9% currently. While this compares favourably with the national average of 4.4%, it is obvious that there is still more to do to get people, particularly our young people and the long-term unemployed, into work or training. More employers in the private sector are starting to create full-time, permanent jobs, moving away from the part-time, low-paid jobs which we’d seen previously, and, nationally, employment has risen by 80,000 in the past three months alone.

So I welcomed the opportunity last Friday to attend two events in Medway which highlighted the fantastic work which is being done in both the public and private sector to increase the employment and training opportunities which are available.

From left: Mark Reckless MP, Mike Rayner (Early Intervention Office, KCC), Tessa Oversby (Head of Employability, Barclays), Jade Dellbridge (Cashier, Barclays) and Marin Adamson (Senior Barclays Business Manager)

From left: Mark Reckless MP, Mike Rayner (Early Intervention Office, KCC), Tessa Oversby (Head of Employability, Barclays), Jade Dellbridge (Cashier, Barclays) and Martin Adamson (Senior Barclays Business Manager)

First up was the Barclays LifeSkills breakfast meeting where I met the extraordinarily impressive Jade Dellbridge who joined Barclays as an apprentice, and has progressed to becoming a cashier at their Chatham branch. Jade was a most persuasive ambassador for the Barclays apprenticeship scheme.

Launched in 2012, Barclays has already employed over 1,000 apprentices, with the hope of another 1,000 to come, and is aspiring to get another 10,000 additional apprenticeships created in the wider business community through their LifeSkills Bridges into Work programme.

I am really encouraged that a large national employer like Barclays, one of the banks which declined to be bailed out at the taxpayers’ expense, is creating opportunities for our young people locally through its apprenticeship scheme, and I hope that other companies, particularly those which have benefited from public money, will follow their lead.

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I then popped over to the Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham to open the Medway Jobs and Apprenticeship Fair 2013, along with my colleague in Chatham and Aylesford, Tracey Crouch.

Organised by Medway Council and Jobcentre Plus, the Jobs Fair attracted businesses from across Kent who were looking to recruit staff, and I was pleased to see so much interest from the public.

With a number of important indicators pointing towards a faster than hoped for recovery thanks to the actions which Conservatives have taken in government, it is important that we ensure that everyone benefits from the increased opportunities presented as our country turns the corner.

In his speech at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week, David Cameron stated:

Aspiration, opportunity: these are our words, our dreams. So today I want to talk about our one, abiding mission. I believe it is the great Conservative mission. That as our economy starts to recover, we build a land of opportunity in our country today.

As the recovery takes hold, we must ensure that we build a land of opportunity for the many, not just the few, and it is vitally important that nobody gets left behind or condemned to a life on welfare and handouts.

My congratulations to everyone involved in organising the jobs fair, and to all of those working to provide the jobs, training and opportunities which benefit our whole country.

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Filed under Apprenticeships, big society, Business, chatham, Cllr Jane Chitty, conservatives, david cameron, economy, education, Employment, mark reckless, medway, medway council, MP, rochester and strood, tracey crouch, UTCs

Making Medway Hospital Better

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, today announced that the government will give £6.12 million extra to Medway hospital.

This very significant sum, and one of the ten largest grants to any hospital in England, is to support the hospital to reconfigure our Accident and Emergency (A&E) department and better deal with pressures this winter. The minister confirmed to me in Parliament that this was additional money and that our local GP Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should not cut back the amount of money that it might otherwise have provided to the hospital.

Mark Reckless: Hospital staff have acted with extraordinary enthusiasm to, as they put it, reboot Medway following the Keogh review. Can the Secretary of State confirm that the £6 million or so extra that he may provide to help our A and E should be in addition to anything that the clinical commissioning group might otherwise have agreed to provide?

Jeremy Hunt: Yes, I am happy to confirm that it is additional money. I thank my hon. Friend for the interest that he shows in his local hospital, which is going through a very challenging time. We are absolutely determined that where hospitals are failing or delivering inadequate care, we will not sit on those problems; we will expose them and deal with them. That is the best thing we can do for my hon. Friend’s constituents and people all over the country where there are, unfortunately, problems with local hospitals.

I was also able to highlight to Parliament and the Secretary of State the huge amount which is being done at Medway hospital to improve following the recent Keogh Review.

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I have seen that work in train, not only at the hospital Board and in repeated meetings with the hospital Chair and Chief Executives, but through shadowing doctors and nurses in their work.

Steve Hams, Medway’s new Chief Nurse, has brought non-clinical staff, who usually work behind the scenes, on to the wards to help solve design, administrative and IT problems which can hinder medical staff. For example, when I saw doctors queuing to use a computer on one ward, I was told that this was due to there being one less data port than needed, something which Denise Harker, who chairs the hospital Board, has promised me she will now take up.

There is still much to do and I continue to have rounds of meetings with key decisions makers in the NHS to make sure the hospital gets the support it needs.

Partly support means money, and as well as the £6.12 million A&E money just announced we will get the necessary funds for additional training, but staff from most junior to the most senior at the hospital also need to know that they are valued, and that both their NHS partners and the wider community believe in them.

Let’s show them that we do.

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Filed under Blog, chatham, conservatives, Gillingham, Health, Jeremy Hunt, Mark In Westminster, mark reckless, medway, Medway Maritime Hospital, nhs, Parliament, rochester, rochester and strood, strood, youtube

VIDEO: Help for Heroes Hero Ride 2013

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, congratulates participants in the 2013 Help for Heroes Hero Ride 2013 as they arrive in Chatham on the penultimate day of their marathon journey from Paris to London.

Please show your support for Help for Heroes by visiting http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk or text RIDE to 70900 to donate £5 to Help for Heroes. You will be charged £5 plus your standard network rate.  Mobile Text Telephone helpline – 01494 750 500.

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Video: A day in the life of an MP

A fascinating behind the scenes look at the daily work of Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless. Follow Mark through a typical day in Westminster to find out more about the vital work which MPs undertake to serve their constituents and our country.

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Video: MP visits Medway Queen

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Filed under Apprenticeships, chatham, Chatham Docks, conservatives, dunkirk, Employment, Gillingham, mark reckless, rochester and strood, youtube

MP hails success for Medway UTC bid

UTCMark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, has hailed the announcement that Medway’s bid for a University Technical College (UTC) has been successful.

The UTC – billed as a new concept in secondary education – has been given the green light by the Department for Education. The Medway UTC was one of 13 new UTCs announced today, bringing the national UTC total, when fully operational, to 45 which will cater for up to 27,000 students.

The UTC in Chatham will specialise in engineering and construction, traditionally at the heart of Medway’s economy, and will be sponsored by the University of Greenwich, MidKent College, Medway Council and local employers.

Work to get the college up and running will start immediately.

Speaking of the news, Mark Reckless MP said:

“I am delighted that at the third time of trying we have succeeded in our application to have a University Technical College founded in Medway. Along with so many in the Council and partnership team I have lobbied ministers furiously to bring a UTC to Medway. We have succeeded.

We must now all work together to establish a first class vocational college to develop craft and technical skills for a new generation as the Dockyard did for previous generations.”

A number of local employers and businesses pledged their support to the college as part of the bid, including leaders in the construction and engineering industries BAE Systems, Delphi Diesel Systems, BAM Construct UK, Denne Construction and Gainwell Futures, along with the Royal School of Military Engineering.

Lord Kenneth Baker of The Baker Dearing Education Trust, which was founded by Lord Baker and Lord Dearing to promote University Technical Colleges and provide advice and guidance to proposer groups, said:

“Today’s announcement shows a continuing growth in the size and impact of the UTC movement. I am delighted that UTCs enjoy all-party support and that the Coalition has continued to back them. UTCs are employer-led and university supported – more than 400 companies and 45 universities are now supporting UTCs.”

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Les Wicks, said:

“Medway has a rich history of construction and engineering and a college specialising in these subjects will not only continue this tradition, but will also equip a new generation with first class technical skills that will help them pursue careers in these important sectors at all levels.

“This is great news for the young people of Medway who deserve this opportunity. My thanks go to everyone who has shown their support for the bid and backed it throughout. Now the plans can really start.”

Medway Council Director of Children’s Services Barbara Peacock said:

“This is great news for Medway students. The council and its partners have always been committed to the delivery of a university technical college for Medway.

“Medway’s economy will benefit greatly from having a UTC and now we are able to get on and make it a reality.

“A UTC will enable a degree of specialisation prior to age 16 that is currently unavailable and which will re-engage and enthuse students.”

Professor Alan Reed, Director of Regional Development at the University of Greenwich and Chair of Medway UTC Partnership, said:

“We are delighted that the government has agreed to fund a University Technical College in Medway.

“This college will provide a third option to secondary education, as well as a lasting legacy to Medway and the wider sub-region. I thank all those who put in so much time and effort into making this happen. The partnership now looks forward to turning its vision into a reality for the young people of Medway and surrounding areas.”

For further information regarding University Technical Colleges – Click Here

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Letter from minister regarding Medway Insolvency Service

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Filed under chatham, citizens advice bureau, conservatives, Employment, mark reckless, rochester and strood, tracey crouch

Update on proposed Insolvency Service changes

Following representations from Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch amongst others, Norman Lamb MP has now further advised that The Insolvency Office has communicated to staff in the 3 affected offices – Bournemouth, Medway and Stockton – that before taking a firm decision on the future of the individual offices, they need to take stock.

As a result, the decision regarding the future of the Medway office has been deferred until the Autumn and could possibly lead to re-consideration of the proposed closure plan.

Welcoming the news, Mark Reckless said:

“While the Minister recognises in his letter that this does not provide the workers at the Medway office with the certainty they need, I still welcome the decision to look again at the impact which the proposed closures could have, not just in Medway, but on The Insolvency Service as a whole.

I would like to thank everybody who made representations to the Minister, particularly the PCS Union which on this occasion has campaigned so effectively on behalf of its members at the Medway office.”

Kevin Etheridge, Assistant Secretary of the PCS Union BIS Group, added:

“On behalf of my members at the Medway office which is currently under public consultation, I should like to thank Tracey Crouch MP and Mark Reckless MP for the representations they made to Norman Lamb Minister at our recent meeting in London to retain the office.

I wish to put on record my thanks and appreciation to Tracey and Mark for their joint, effective approach in writing to Ministers and supporting the staff and service at the Medway office.”

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Statement on proposed changes to The Insolvency Service

Please see joint statement from Tracey Crouch MP and Mark Reckless MP regarding proposed changes to The Insolvency Service which may affect Medway:

The Insolvency Service’s decision to consult on the proposed closure of its Medway office is obviously disappointing. While the plans set-out by The Insolvency Service would merge the Medway office with its office in Whitstable, this represents a poor deal for Medway. Not only would the merger jeopardise the 31 jobs at the Medway office, but it would deprive people in Medway, an area with well publicised debt issues, of a vital debt service. No decision has yet been taken on the proposed merger and having formally submitted our views to the Government and the consultation, we hope The Insolvency Service will think again.”

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Police and Crime Commissioners are one of the great reforms of this Conservative-led government

It is ten years since I joined the Conservative Party Policy Unit and helped develop our policy for direct election of those who oversee our police. It was therefore a particular pleasure for me to spend Saturday at the Conservative Selection Council to decide our final shortlist for Kent’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Tim Montgomerie described the withdrawal of Colonel Tim Collins in Kent as a ‘blow’, but it is one we barely noticed given the strength of the rest of our field. The three who made it through were:

Mark Reckless with Craig Mackinlay

  • Finance whizz and ex-UKIP Leader Craig Mackinlay (website), who came over to the Conservatives in 2005, gave perhaps the most powerful speech, showing a no-nonsense approach to budgeting, cutting crime and policing our borders;
  • Foreign Office man, Francois Gordon (no website available), who comes from a long civil service career and worked as an EU desk officer before taking on ambassadorial roles, and is now “European Strategy Adviser” to Kent Police; and
  • Jan Berry (no website available), an ex-police officer who for several years ran the Police Federation, the police equivalent of a trade union, and was persuaded by the wording of the PCC oath to stand as Conservative and not Independent.

Councillors Brian Sweetland, Jo Gideon and Mike O’Brien performed well, but with Craig Mackinlay, an ex-ambassador, and an ex-head of the Police Federation winning through against them, in what was a very tight contest, the Kent PCC contest should remain one of the highest profile.

All seventeen constituencies in Kent are currently Conservative. Our members though will be asked in three hustings (Tonbridge 9/6, Canterbury 15/6 and Hoo, Rochester 17/6) to choose between three candidates, two of whom were not previously active Conservatives. We were also given an excellent example of the proper balance between the political role of the PCC and the operational role of the Chief Constable.Until 2007, when Craig Mackinlay won a previously strongly Labour ward covering the centre of Chatham (and actually in my constituency) on a ticket to do something about it, street prostitution was endemic in Chatham, having been put in the ‘too difficult’ box by the police for at least 150 years. Now it has been largely eradicated by police working with the council, and not just arresting prostitutes, pimps and kerb-crawlers, but getting the girls off drugs and into accommodation, and often then into work or college. PCCs will be able to give that sort of lead elsewhere.

With many other areas now selecting and launching campaigns, I believe that David Cameron, Nick Herbert and the whole Conservative Party can take great pride in putting the police under proper democratic control.  After November 15th we will be able to look on directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners as one of the great reforms of this Conservative-led government.

Originally posted on Conservative Home

Visit Craig Mackinlay’s website here. Other candidate websites not available at time of posting

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