Welcome to my June email newsletter. Opening with the marvellous Platinum Jubilee celebrations and closing with some of the largest rail strikes in a generation, this has once again been an eventful month for Amber Valley. And as the country and our locality faces many challenges as we move forward, I want to better understand your thoughts and feelings about the most pressing of these issues. To this end, my Annual Residents Survey is now live and can be found below.
You will also find updates on: the ongoing bid for ownership of Derby County Football Club, the local rollout of the £150 energy payment to help people with their bills, this month’s rail strikes, my work as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pensions, and NHS waiting times in our constituency.
Amber Valley Residents’ Summer Survey
I am pleased to announce that this year’s Amber Valley Summer Survey is now live. This is where you can express how you feel about the most important issues facing our constituency and nation.
The survey takes around 5 minutes to complete and is immensely useful for me to understand your thoughts on present day issues. Surveys like this one help inform my decisions on how best to represent you in parliament, how to vote on important legislation, and what local issues I should focus on within the constituency.
We have had fantastic results from our previous surveys so I am hoping the residents of Amber Valley can outdo themselves once again. You can find the survey using the link below:
Derby County Football Club
I am happy to update constituents that Derby County Football Club looks set to exit administration soon. As many of you will already know, Clowes Developments LTD have this month acquired Pride Park stadium and have submitted a formal bid for ownership of the club. This is truly excellent news as the acquisition of Pride Park stadium has been a significant challenge in relation to the sale of the club.
If someone had told me 30 years ago, when I watched Notts County cruelly deprived of a championship play-off place, that I would have some role to play in trying to save Derby County, I might have expressed some doubt. But it is at this sort of time that the football family comes together. The only reason we have rivalries is because our rivals stay in existence; no one wants to see any club go out of business, least of all a club with the size and history of Derby County.
Alongside a number of other local MPs from across the political spectrum, I have been engaging with stakeholders, the club’s joint administrators Quantuma, and the EFL on a regular basis. I have also attended a number of debates in Westminster on this matter, and at times the club’s future has seemed uncertain. I am therefore, especially pleased that a deal has been reached, and the future of the club looks more assured.
The local rollout of the £150 Council Tax rebate
Last month, I welcomed the Government’s announcement of further measures to help households with the rising cost of living and higher levels of inflation; caused largely by the fallout from the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine. As part of this support, the Government pledged to give households in council tax bands A to D a £150 energy payment through a council tax rebate.
The council tax rebate is being rolled out by local authorities, and households in Amber Valley who pay their council tax by direct debit will have already received the £150 payment directly into their bank accounts, a number of weeks ago. However, as many of you will be aware, the payment to those in Amber Valley who do not have a direct debit set up with the council was delayed by a number of weeks.
The explanation Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC) gave for the delay was that the council had to acquire new software so that bank accounts for those not on direct debit could be validated to prevent fraudulent claims. On the 22nd June I spoke about the local ramifications of this delay in the House of Commons, and throughout the month I have been engaging with AVBC and colleagues in Westminster in an attempt to expedite the rollout of this support.
I am happy to update residents that the application form for the £150 energy rebate for those who do not pay by direct debit, is now live. You can find the form online here.
Alternatively, if you are not able to access the website or do not feel confident to complete the form online then AVBC’s Customer Services are available to assist you. Please use the following number: 01773 570222. You are also able to go directly to the council building in Ripley with your Council tax bill and bank account details to complete the process in person.
The Platinum Jubilee celebrations
It was wonderful to see so many of you turn out to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the beginning of this month. Amber Valley put on a fantastic show for the occasion, with events held across the constituency. I know many of you will have attended the tea parties, lighting of beacons, and late-night festivities that make occasions like this so special.
It was an occasion to take pride and give our thanks to The Queen for her exemplary service over the past 70 years. All of it dedicated to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
We have been extremely lucky to have The Queen as our head of state for so long, bringing stability through a time of tremendous change.
NHS waiting lists
The Government is making good progress in reducing the number of NHS patients waiting the longest for treatment. At the national level, the number of patients who have waited over 2 years to receive treatment has fallen from 22,500 in January to 6,700. I completely support the Government’s efforts, and have been in regular contact with our local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to assess the scale of the challenge and the progress that is being made.
The pandemic had a tremendous impact on patient waiting times across our area, but thanks to the inspiring efforts of NHS staff and increased financial support from the Government, the backlog is now being reduced. In Derbyshire, the first week of January 2022 saw a total of 454 people who were registered as waiting longer than 2 years for treatment. However, as of 15th June there were only 161 patients waiting longer than 104 weeks for treatment.
Derby and Derbyshire CCG have told me in recent days that they are making good progress towards their target of ensuring no patient will be waiting more than two years for treatment by the end of this month. I will continue to engage with the local CCG as well as my colleagues in Westminster as we continue to work towards improving patient outcomes and reducing backlogs and waiting times. I hope to be able to update residents with more good news that shows we’re heading in the right direction soon.
I know many of you were affected by travel disruption this month as the rail unions organised a week of strikes designed to bring large parts of the country’s rail network to a halt. Strike action took place on Tuesday 21st, Thursday 23rd, and Saturday 25th June, however, due to the way the unions organised the strikes, we witnessed significant knock-on-delays and cancellations on all the remaining days of that week.
In Amber Valley, the strikes affected services from all our rail stations – Ambergate, Langley Mill, and Alfreton. With CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, and Northern services suffering major disruption and issuing statements warning customers to only travel if absolutely necessary.
My view is that these strikes are wrong. The unions have harmed countless individuals up and down the county – preventing scheduled NHS operations and treatment, disrupting students’ GCSE exams, and preventing people from attending important personal events like weddings and funerals. This is all in addition to forcing ordinary people to pay more to get into and out of work, if they can get into work at all – hitting millions of families in the pocket.
I do not believe it is fair to single out already well-paid rail workers for a substantial pay increase over and above the rest of the workforce in both the public and private sectors at this time of high global inflation. Especially when these pay increases to rail staff would have to come from either higher rail ticket prices, or the taxpayer. For the sake of ordinary working families, I hope a sensible resolution to this dispute can be found soon.
Meanwhile, the Labour frontbench continue to refuse to condemn these strikes. With a number of Labour MPs actually attending picket lines, adding to the disruption. I believe it is relevant to include here that the RMT union, who organised these strikes, have donated almost £250,000 to the Labour Party and local branches in the last decade. And five Labour MPs who have supported the strikes have received a total of £20,000 in donations from the RMT union.
Pensions dashboard: a revolution in how we plan for retirement
On Monday 20th June, as part of my role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pensions, I hosted the group’s Annual General Meeting alongside a discussion on the future of pensions dashboards. These dashboards could revolutionise how we plan for retirement and interact with our pensions.
Pensions dashboards will enable people to access all of their pensions information easily, securely, in one place online. Dashboards will provide clear and simple information about all the pensions a person has accumulated over their lifetime, including any workplace pensions and their State Pension. The aim is to create an information board where people can easily see the combined value of all their pensions, as well as a host of other personal pensions information, all in one place. Enabling better, more informed, retirement planning.
At the meeting we discussed concerns people might have regarding pensions dashboards, and I was reassured to learn of the privacy, security, and personalisation being built into these systems. For example, these systems will not allow anyone to move or interfere with their pensions accidently or deliberately in any way, they are simply designed to display an individual’s pensions information so they can better understand how much pension savings they have, and where is currently kept.
The Government has committed to work with the pensions industry to develop these dashboards, a move which I wholeheartedly welcome. I will continue engaging with the pensions industry and my ministerial colleagues on this matter as these pensions dashboards become available.
Street Watch – report it:
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
GDPR and privacy notice:
Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH