Saturday, 21 October 2017

Public Sector Pay Cap

Lorna Smith from UNISON Northants County Branch and Anjona Roy outside the Guildhall after lobbying a Conservative MP for Northampton on the public sector pay cap

Yesterday I went with Lorna Smith from UNISON Northants County Branch to lobby one of our MP's about the Public sector pay cap. The argument was made to us that that if the pay cap was lifted there would be less money to deliver local services. We said that this made public sector workers have an unfair burden of delivering local public services. We also pointed out the extreme financial pressure families of public sector workers are under after years of pay restraint.

If you want to find out how much impact the pay cap has had on you, there's a really handy tool you can use developed by our colleagues in PSC here. Try it out. You'll surprise yourself.

Monday, 16 October 2017


The most indebted place per capita in the country is Northampton at £749. Consumer debt in the UK has soared by almost 10% in the past year. Unsecured consumer credit topped £200bn in June, prompting the Bank of England to warn about the potential threat of growing debt to the economy. The average consumer debt per person in the UK stood at £603, while the average household debt was £1,441 at the end of 2016. This debt for local people is made of personal loans, overdrafts, credit cards and car loans. The rising cost of living as wages have stagnated has contributed to this as the extortionate cost of housing with many families having to downsize,  move out of town or access other helps such as food banks to manage. Northampton North needs a Labour candidate who understands the realities of what people are facing. The crippling impact of austerity has meant that public services aren’t meeting the needs of local people with these pressures.  I have been a part of the voluntary and community sector in Northampton over the last twenty-seven years which has tried to respond by the development of food and clothing banks and street kitchen. The most effective response is to get a Labour Government in to ensure better paid and more secure work. Managing a discrimination advice service, has given me first hand experience of the way that the move to pseudo-self employment and zero hours contracts have affected local people.

The Labour Party has launched a petition urging the government to rethink Universal Credit. You can sign it here.

Other things that you can do on this is to support the TUC  public rally to be held on October 21st, 12.00-14.00, Northampton Working Men's Club, 56 Sheep Street, NN1 2LZ.
Speakers include:
-          Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary
-          Lee Barron, TUC Midlands
-          Louise Regan, NEU President
-          Sara Carpenter, Unite Head of Health
-          Rachell Wilkins, GMB
-          Alan Hackett, NASUWT NEC
-          Gareth eales, CWU
-          Andrew Lloyd, PCS Regional Secretary
-          Penny Smith, Northants UNISON
Labour party members who have been members for more than 6 months get a vote. If you are in this fortunate position please support Anjona Roy’s campaign.
If you know other local Labour Party members please talk to them about Anjona Roy’s campaign
If you have friends and family that are not members please encourage them to join.
It’s our Labour Party and we’re campaigning for the many … Join us

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More Money on Services Needed by People in Northampton


Nick Spoors of the Chronicle and Echo has set up a petition calling on the government for a fairer allocation scheme to better reflect today’s population growth and levels of deprivation in Northamptonshire. You can see it here.

He highlights Surrey as better funded.  You may remember they benefitted from a sweetheart deal from the government to persuade their Tory controlled County Council not to hold a referendum to increase Council Tax.  Jeremy Corbyn confronted Prime Minister Theresa May in February with leaked text messages involving the leader of Surrey County Council that appeared to show negotiations over a deal. Read more about it here.

Northamptonshire has been underfunded according to a number of commentators for decades, so it’s interesting to explore why so many Tory council leaders and Tory MP’s are suddenly drawing attention to it now. Whilst in control the Conservative administration in the County and the Borough has successively failed to put up Council tax to pay for services, essentially awarding themselves less and less income to manage delivering essential public services. Despite Labour calls to press government for more cash for our increasing needs and increasing population, Tory Councillors have failed to act over a number of years. Instead they have sought miraculous panacea-like solutions that they have invested hand over fist into. One of the latest of these was an online portal on which they spent £1 million pounds but which has just been abandoned after just 5 years. 

The Tory County Council administration has failed to increase income either by raising Council Tax or asking Government for a better settlement, nor has it managed finances well. The investment of £54 million on new offices was something that even Tory controlled Daventry District Council pleaded with the county not to go ahead with. The building remains 30% empty. All of this while axing 30% of the council's spending on vital services.

For a number of years I have attended and spoken at County Council budget- setting meetings arguing about the human cost of cuts. Austerity, from the coalition government’s time to the present day, has been critiqued as a damaging response to our economic situation by the majority of academics in the field. The fact that it has no economic justification exposes its true purpose; it is an ideological attack on working people. 

Last month, a number of senior Tory politicians sought to change tack and, after all these years, requested more from government. Local MP Michael Ellis, as of 14th September, is yet to state his position.


Is Northamptonshire underfunded? Yes.
Should local people be asking for more investment into the area? Yes, but we want it so that all areas get fair funding with well managed, well funded services so that all those in our community that need support get it. If you want to do something practical towards this, yes sign the petition, but also join those of us in the Labour party campaigning for a better more hopeful tomorrow. For a government which rejects austerity in favour of building public services and funding them in a way that works for all of us.

If you agree with these views, please support my campaign to become the Labour Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Northampton North. Get in touch and let me know that you are supporting me.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017



Every single person who works in public services needs and deserves a pay rise. It’s time for the pay cap to be scrapped, for the government to provide additional funding and for employers to put up public sector workers pay. 

I signed a petition to Parliament on this issue a few days ago.  It’s part of the campaign on public sector pay organised by a number of unions, including my own, UNISON. The Petition has so far attracted over 230,000 signatures. This morning the Government responded with the following statement from the Treasury:

“Public sector workers deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded. On 12 September we announced a move away from the 1% public sector pay policy, towards a more flexible approach on pay.
We still need to deal with our country’s debts to ensure we have a strong economy to enable us to invest in our public services. This means that we will continue to take a balanced approach to public spending.
The Government will consider each specific workforce to ensure pay is set so that we can continue to both attract and hold on to the excellent staff that support our world-leading public services.
Before we make final decisions on pay awards, we will seek the views of the eight independent Pay Review Bodies, which will consider the evidence on how we ensure we attract and retain the very best people within our public services, like giving people more flexibility over their working hours.
They will report in Spring 2018, at which point we will consider their recommendations and announce public sector pay awards for each of those workforces.”

The government response has been to:
  • Ignore the critical nature of the problem.
  • Divide and rule by stating the pay cap will be lifted for some workers and not others depending on what service they work in.
  • Say that the pay cap will be lifted but do not fund it, placing the responsibility on implementing this with the same budget through job losses or other service cuts (in the police and schools)
  • Ignore the fact that our public services need investment and are on their knees after seven years of austerity.

More and more staff are leaving the public sector resulting in the loss of billions in staff development and training. In addition to this, public sector agencies fill the gaps using agency staff often at an extortionate cost. In the last few weeks, there have been calls from a number of senior Tory Councillors and local Tory MPs for more investment. At the same time, they have been asking Council workers to accept compulsory unpaid days as a means of balancing their budgets.

After the snap general election, the Conservatives found the money to keep them in power by bribing the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) . Now they’ve found the “Magic Money Tree”, working people deserve their fair share of its fruits.

What can you do?


Attend and help promote the TUC and Northampton Trades Council event: 

Northampton Needs a Pay Rise
Saturday 21st October  
12pm till 2pm
Northampton Working Men’s Cub 
Sheep Street
Northampton 
NN1 2LZ 

Speakers:
Matt Wrack General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union
Louise Regan President of the National Education Union
Sharon Wilde from the GMB
Lee Barron from Midlands TUC
Alan Hackett from NASUWT
Sara Carpenter from UNITE the union
Penny Smith Northants County Branch UNISON

Support my campaign for selection as Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North. 

If you want to support me please get in touch using the contact form on the right or by commenting on this post.

If you are not a member of the Labour Party, join today here and help fight for a future for the many not the few.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


So pleased to have come across the new National Education Union video here. Take a look.



Does your child go to school in Northampton North?

Past Labour Governments have not always delivered the best for local schools. There are real difficulties about the relationships between local council which still have the responsibility of providing enough school places and local academy schools working independently of each other. Many of our schools in Northampton are saddled with Private Finance Initiative arrangements which mean any changes required in the school as a result of changes in the curriculum of student needs have tear-jerkingly extortionate costs.
The private organisations that have been established as academy sponsors are increasingly finding the business of educating our children a not so profitable business. This is clear from the collapse of The Education Fellowship Trust (TEFT) academy chain which ran seven schools in Northamptonshire, including Thorplands and Blackthorn primary schools in Northampton was recently reported.
The David Ross Education Trust (DRET), which runs several Northampton primary schools and Malcolm Arnold Academy has stated that it intends to make staffing cuts worth £1million while increasing the charges it makes to its schools for administration services. It beggars belief that in this environment there has been a recent job advert issued by DRET for the post of ‘Director of Communications and Public Affairs’ (i.e. a spin doctor) at an annual salary of £70,000-90,000.
Both TEFT and DRET were among a number of local academy chains issued with ‘pre-warning’ letters by the Department for Education for unacceptably poor performance.
Essentially the education of our children is not a business opportunity for profiteers; it is a service the community provides to the young. It should not be source of profit, inflated salaries, tax write-downs and self-aggrandisement;
The academisation of schools and the creation of so-called free schools has undermined working conditions for teachers and support staff and contributed to a crisis in the sector, damaging our children’s education. With many in education stating that the system is at crisis point with the number of teachers leaving the profession. Schools should be fully-funded and accountable to the local parents through democratic processes.
If I am elected as an MP for Northampton North, I'll be fighting for your childrens local schools and to make sure your children have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Find out more about cuts to local schools in Northampton North. 
Figures obtained from the www.schoolcuts.org.uk
Look up your or your children’s school and check it out yourself. All you need is your postcode

All Saints CofE VA Primary School
-£38.5K Total loss by 2020                             -£101 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teachers lost

Blackthorn Primary School
-£166.1K Total loss by 2020                          -£462 Per-pupil loss                                        -3 Teachers lost

Boothville Primary School
-£86.9K Total loss by 2020                             -£146 Per-pupil loss                                        -2 Teachers lost

Cedar Road Primary School
-£24.9K Total loss by 2020                             -£59 Per-pupil loss                                           -1 Teacher lost

Green Oaks Primary Academy
-£44.3K Total loss by 2020                             -£208 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teacher lost

Headlands Primary School
-£51.1K Total loss by 2020                             -£121 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teacher lost

Kingsthorpe College
-£200.0K Total loss by 2020                          -£183 Per-pupil loss                                        -4 Teachers lost

Kingsthorpe Grove Primary School
-£116.0K Total loss by 2020                          -£264 Per-pupil loss                                        -2 Teacher lost

Kingsthorpe Village Primary School
-£6.2K Total loss by 2020                               -£26 Per-pupil loss

Lings Primary School
-£166.9K Total loss by 2020                          -£620 Per-pupil loss                                        -3 Teachers lost

Lumbertubs Primary School
-£85.9K Total loss by 2020                             -£425 Per-pupil loss                                        -2 Teachers lost

Malcolm Arnold Academy
-£453.3K Total loss by 2020                          -£389 Per-pupil loss                                        -8 Teachers lost


Northampton Academy
-£524.2K Total loss by 2020                          -£446 Per-pupil loss                                        -11 Teachers lost

Northampton School for Girls
-£557.3K Total loss by 2020                          -£398 Per-pupil loss                                        -11 Teachers lost

Rectory Farm Primary School
-£2.0K Total loss by 2020                               -£9 Per-pupil loss

St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
-£21.3K Total loss by 2020                             -£57 Per-pupil loss

Stimpson Avenue Academy
-£65.1K Total loss by 2020                             -£156 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teacher lost
Share this school

Sunnyside Primary Academy
-£25.6K Total loss by 2020                             -£89 Per-pupil loss                                           -1 Teacher lost

The Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School
-£59.5K Total loss by 2020                             -£162 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teacher lost

Thomas Becket Catholic School
-£13.8K Total loss by 2020                             -£25 Per-pupil loss

Thorplands Primary School
-£87.7K Total loss by 2020                             -£425 Per-pupil loss                                        -2 Teachers lost

Weston Favell CofE Primary School
-£49.7K Total loss by 2020                             -£117 Per-pupil loss                                        -1 Teacher lost
Teachers lost

Woodvale Primary Academy

-£145.7K Total loss by 2020                          -£350 Per-pupil loss                                        -3 Teachers lost

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Stop Hate Now!

Over the period of the referendum, there has been an increasing tide of racism and unashamed refugee and immigrant blaming.  This would not have happened without the referendum. It’s been open season for any idiot to come out with the schrodinger’s refugee who both stole jobs and claimed benefits.
The BBC have run programmes focussing on how some migrants are working for lower than the minimum wage. When people have highlighted the illegality of the people employing them and their blatant flaunting of the law or the links with human trafficking. The torrent of abuse has been relentless. They include calls for my own deportation. Not sure where to, since I was born in the town I live in.
The local press have run stories of European migrants paying thousands of pounds for advice that they could have got for free, only to have a stream of comments from people saying that they should not be entitled anything and the should simply go back.
When I joined other local people to protest about chief xenophobe and hypocrite Nigel Farage coming to the town I live in, the town I was born and brought up in, I again faced abuse from those from the left, the right and people who badged themselves as coming from faith communities because this was challenging mainstream politics. Friends of mine have had their houses attacked for standing up for the their town not to be invaded by one more racist that wants to halt immigration but also wants the freedom to employ immigrants when he chooses to. Despite my taking this action on my own time, UKIP continue to want to bring my employers into this. That’s nothing new since they distributed leaflets to EVERY household in Kettering where they were standing citing the fact that the council gave money for a discrimination service (my employers) as a waste of council resources.
When talking about the level of racism in the country at the moment, a colleague said that the genie was out of the bottle and it wasn’t easy to put it back.

With the news of Jo Cox’s death, it’s time to say enough is enough and the hate must stop. Regardless of the actual motives of the perpetrator, she died because she stood up for what she believed in and the included challenging hate. The hate has to stop right here, right now.

Friday, 12 February 2016

You've got to do this NOW!

Some numbers are just too big.
Numbers like £77 million are too big.
Then something dreadful happens and the number changes to £84 million. Then if you scope in that £84 million pounds is to be taken out of Northamptonshire County Council services over just 12 months with a plan to outsource of nearly all council services, it simply is too much.
This comes on top of over £226 million cuts since 2010 and further planned cuts over the following four years.
In December 2015, the County Council proposed it budget for the next financial year factoring in £77 million of cuts. Challenging and cutting services deeper than the bone. In January new cuts were announced bringing the total to £84 million. The additional cut has brought about a situation that even in Scrutiny meetings (which are controlled by the same political party as those proposing the cuts) hear from senior officers that there simply isn’t anything more to cut.
I notice that when invited to County Hall staff are no longer allowed to offer tea of coffee to guests and when in meetings convened by the County Council agendas are shared one between three. As idiosyncratic as this may be, it is nothing compared to the really serious questions about the future of the County Council and the services they provide to local people.
It seems like the administration has high hopes for the outsourcing of the functions of the County Council. These were announced in 2014 but no business plans have been shared so really, how is it going to work? An interim Chief Executive of the Well Being Community Interest Company departed in December after six months after fronting a whole series of consultation and business development meetings with a whole range of partners over the County.

The Government have shown some mercy with an additional £1.7 million but juxtaposed the other immense numbers it is simply a drop in the ocean.

Local people have come together with a new campaign called Save Northants Services.

So if you care about local services - Act NOW. 

The budget will be agreed on Thursday at a Cabinet meeting. Make sure you get you voice heard.

Members of the public can request to speak for 3 minutes at the meeting, by contacting Barbel Gale; email:  bgale@northamptonshire.gov.uk or phone 01604 367730.

Please request the opportunity to speak also ask for a copy of the reports for agenda items 5 and 6, which are not yet published on the website.

Please note that a request to speak to the Cabinet meeting next Thursday has to be submitted before 12.00 noon  next Tuesday (16th).

Save Northants Services is encouraging as many people to register to speak as possible. Please let us know if you submit a request. Thanks