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Over the next few years, our trading relationship with the world is likely to change fundamentally. As the Government pursues the UK's withdrawal from the European Customs Union, new trade deals will need to be negotiated and rules re-written.

We are urging as many people as possible to sign the Co-operative Party's petition calling on the Government to

  • Put in place trade rules that allow the poorest countries to import their produce into the UK tariff-free, without forcing them to do the same for ours.
  • Make it easier for farmers in developing countries to process and package their produce themselves, increasing the value of their exports.
  • Guarantee that new trade deals will incorporate existing commitments and standards on the environment, human rights, and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Increase democracy and transparency by giving Parliament the ability to scrutinise the final terms of new trade deals as they are negotiated.

Please sign the petition here.

 

Don't Make the World's Poor Pay for Brexit

Over the next few years, our trading relationship with the world is likely to change fundamentally. As the Government pursues the UK's withdrawal from the European Customs Union, new trade...

The Chancellor Philip Hammond said nothing in his recent Budget about Social Care. The Conservative Chair of the Local Government Association described this as “hugely disappointing”.

The economy is struggling. There is no end to austerity in sight. Leicestershire County Council is continuing to reduce its services.

Investing in our children

The County County has a statutory duty to provide transport to school for children with Special Educational Needs. This duty only applies during school age years up to the age of 16. It is now consulting parents and taxpayers. Should the Council stop providing this transport?

It is cuts like this that make me angry. A child with Special Educational Needs need special educational provision. That provision is not always convenient. Children with Special Educational Needs have physical or behavioural problems. They often need special help simply to get to school.

Handing the responsibility to parents in the form of a personal budget is not good enough. Parents need to be able to choose the best education for their child post-16. They should not have to worry about how the child is going to get there. This is important for all parents. It is all the more important for parents of children whose educational needs cannot be met in a local school.

Please support parents of children with Special Educational Needs.

Tell the County Council that this is a cut too far.

The deadline for consultation is Thursday, 21 December.

Fill in the consultation online by visiting www.Leicestershire.gov.uk/school-transport-policy-changes To request a paper copy of the consultation call 0116 305 0002 or email passengertransport@leics.gov.uk

No Mention of Social Care

The Chancellor Philip Hammond said nothing in his recent Budget about Social Care. The Conservative Chair of the Local Government Association described this as “hugely disappointing”.

Coalville_Town_station.jpgCllrs Terri Eynon and John Legrys spoke to a packed RailFuture’s conference at Leicester’s Curve Theatre this weekend to raise support for the National Forest Line.

At a meeting attended by rail industry leaders as well as Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester City Mayor, the two Labour Councillors made the strategic economic case for reinstating passenger transport on the former Leicester to Burton line.

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland councils are currently creating a strategic growth plan for houses, jobs and transport. Cllrs Eynon and Legrys explained how opening the National Forest line to passenger transport could regenerate Coalville, provide access to jobs in the employment areas around East Midlands airport, reduce congestion on the road network in North West Leicestershire and potentially assist Leicester City with its housing problem

Cllr Terri Eynon, Leicestershire County Labour Group Leader said “The cost of reopening the National Forest Line as a tramline would need to be met by central government through the submission of a robust business case demonstrating sound value for money in terms of transport economics and wider economic benefits.

“I believe that the economic case for regenerating Coalville, in partnership with Leicester City, is strong. I look forward to meeting with Sir Peter Soulsby and his team to discuss it further.”

BACKGROUND

In its Local Plan, North West Leicestershire, commits itself to supporting the provision of public transport on the Leicester to Burton line. This ongoing commitment is in direct contrast to the County Council.

In 2009, just before the 2010 General Election, County Councillors were told that, in the case of the Leicester to Burton line, "reintroduction of passenger services was a valid long-term aspiration". Stung into action by the prospect of a further general election in 2015 the County Council commissioned a report from respected rail industry consultants AECOM to look into the potential costs and benefits of reinstating passenger transport along the Leicester to Burton rail corridor.

On receiving the report from AECOM, Leicestershire's cross-party Environment & Transport Scrutiny Committee recommended to Cabinet that Leicestershire County Council "should continue to lobby nationally and regionally for the upgrade of the Leicester to Burton Line". With the election safely over, the Conservative Cabinet decided that "the County Council will undertake no further investigatory work on the proposal at this time."

Meanwhile the coalfield communities of North West Leicestershire are struggling to regenerate.

In 2013 the RAC Foundation reported in 'The Car and the Commute' that, outside London, 60-70% of workers need a car to get to work.

With severe pockets of income deprivation, scarce bus and rail services and slow journeys even where public transport is available, both North West Leicestershire and South Derbyshire are in the top ten English and Welsh local authorities for car dependency with 80% of working adults having to travel to work by car/van.

If HS2 ever happens it will take one hour and nine minutes longer to get to London from Coalville by public transport.

The Business Focus Team of North West Leicestershire District Council have told Councillors that we have enough jobs in our district for everyone to have one.

Lack of public transport means that, in practice, people in the former coalfield communities in the south of the District cannot get to the employment growth areas in the north. Our economy is dividing. Those able to commute in or out of the area are doing well. There is a widening pay-gap for those who are left behind, unable to travel due to personal circumstances.

A 4500 house SE Coalville development is hampered by poor highway access and the prospect of congestion on the A511. Sitting between the A42 and M1, a town that should be ideally situated for the aspirational commuter is the subject of a remedial "Coalville Project" to improve its fading shop fronts. With plenty of town centre land ripe for development it would be the ideal place to live and work in the East Midlands if it were possible to get anywhere from Coalville by public transport.

Public Health England data shows that North West Leicestershire has the worst mortality rates (5.8%) attributable to fine particulate air pollution of any Council area within the East Midlands. A significant contributor to fine particulate air-pollution comes from diesel cars and vans.

TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS

There are significant technical barriers to re-joining the National Forest line to the Midland Main Line. AECOM stated that “The removal of the east-to-north connection at Knighton Junction many years ago severed the direct link to and from Leicester station. The former alignment has been sold and extensively redeveloped, meaning reinstatement would be very expensive."

AECOM pointed out that the Leicestershire-centric Transport Model used by the county council "currently contains no bus demand outside Leicestershire at all, meaning there would be no bus demand outside the county that could potentially switch to rail." AECOM noted that "bus services between Burton and Ashby currently take 45 minutes and are every 20 minutes, while the rail service would take only 14 minutes with a 60 minute headway, which looks very good by comparison."

One solution could be to focus on a “Bagworth to Birmingham line” travelling via Burton. In their report AECOM observed that there is generally substantially higher usage of the scheme being predicted in the northwest (e.g. Burton-Ashby) than in the southeast (e.g. Leicester-Leicester Forest East).

With trains from Burton to Birmingham taking 25 minutes, it would be possible to travel from Coalville to Birmingham in less than 3/4 of an hour.

The “Bagworth to Birmingham” solution would do nothing for Leicester City‘s housing problem. For the City to benefit, we need to consider using train-tram technology from the edge of the City centre. Leaving the old line at Knighton Fields a tram could travel into town along the road network near the King Power Stadium and Royal Infirmary.

FURTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION

According to statistics released by Rail Minister Claire Perry on June 8th 2016, the East Midlands received the lowest railway investment per head in 2014-15.

With rail investment of £34 per head of population the East Midlands received less than a tenth of the funding given to London (£353) and a third of that invested in Yorkshire and Humber (£98) and the North West ( £93). Even the East of England did better (£71) leaving the East Midlands languishing at the bottom of the table even lower than South West (£35).

Does the National Forest Line have a Rail Future?

Cllrs Terri Eynon and John Legrys spoke to a packed RailFuture’s conference at Leicester’s Curve Theatre this weekend to raise support for the National Forest Line.

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