Sunday, 26 January 2014

Thank you: Leicester & Loughborough campaigning

Thank you to everyone who joined the East Midlands Labour European candidates for our campaign sessions in Leicester and Loughborough this weekend. 

It was brilliant to see so many activists coming along to support the campaign. In Leicester we were joined by MP Jon Ashworth, local councillors, Leicester University Labour Students and activists from local trade union branches.

For details of future campaign events across the East Midlands and to sign up please check the regional party website here.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Mental health: the need for better services and why we must tackle stigma

At today's meeting of Leicester City Council I will be proposing the following motion. I want to see better mental health services and a continued and unrelenting effort to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness in society.

Passing a council motion won't do that, but it will set out our commitment to take actions that will.

In the past year or so I have attended Mental Health Summits, organised by local organisations and Jon Ashworth MP. There is a real determination in Leicester to see better services and a strengthened approach to mental health and wellbeing. For World Mental Health Day I wrote a column for the Leicester Mercury on why we must tackle stigma and discrimination.

Motion for debate at Leicester City Council, 23 January 2014
Local authorities’ Mental Health Challenge

This council notes:

  • 1 in 6 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • Leicester’s joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy identifies improving mental health and emotional resilience as a key priority.
  • The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second most common health condition worldwide by 2020.
  • Mental ill health costs some £105 billion each year in England alone.
  • People with a severe mental illness die up to 20 years younger than their peers in the UK.
  • There is often a circular relationship between mental health and issues such as housing, employment, family problems or debt.

 This council believes:

  • As a local authority we have a crucial role to play in improving the mental health of everyone in our community and tackling some of the widest and most entrenched inequalities in health.
  • Mental health should be a priority across all the local authority’s functions, from public health, adult social care and children’s services to housing, planning and public realm.
  • All councillors, whether members of the Executive or Scrutiny and in our community and casework roles, can play a positive role in championing mental health on an individual and strategic basis and in challenging stigma.

This council resolves:

  • To sign the Local Authorities Mental Health Challenge run by Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Young Minds. We commit to: 

1. Appoint an elected member as “mental health champion” across the council.
2. Identify a “lead officer” for mental health to link in with colleagues across the council.
3. Follow the implementation framework for the mental health strategy where it is relevant to the council’s work and local needs.
4. Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community.
5. Work with the NHS to integrate health and social care support.
6. Promote wellbeing and initiate and support action on public mental health.
7. Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community and to tackle stigma.
8. Encourage positive mental health in our schools, colleges and workplaces.
9. Proactively engage and listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health.
10. Sign up to the Time to Change pledge.

Leicester City Council meetings are webcast live so you can view the debate at the Council meeting which starts at 5:00pm.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Campaign update blog: #CostofCameron, why the EU matters, campaigning & more....

At the end of December I wrote an article for LabourList looking ahead to May's European elections. The weeks and days are counting down towards the elections and European candidates and activists are campaigning across the country.

My article sets out why these elections matter for Labour and why we need to be setting the agenda in important areas like EU reform, immigration and how we work for a better and fairer EU. Central to our campaign has to be setting out the solutions to the cost of living crisis, and explaining why the Tories and UKIP do not have the answers. In my article I argue that Labour should be taking on UKIP and we should be dismantling their arguments at every opportunity.

Let me know your views on my article via Twitter (@Rory_Palmer) or my Facebook page.

On Monday 6 January I joined Jonathan Lampon on the BBC Radio Leicester Breakfast Show to talk about why Britain's EU membership matters to Leicestershire and the East Midlands and why May's MEP elections are important. It was good to talk about how EU funding is boosting important regeneration projects in the area, which arguably would not be happening without that funding because of cuts to other funding streams. In the interview I also pointed out that families in Leicester and the region are £3000 better off because of our EU membership - a figure calculated by the business organisation the CBI.

The second weekend in January saw Labour's #CostofCameron campaign day, highlighting the dreadful cost of living crisis created by the Tory & LibDem Government. It was good to join a campaign team in my council ward, Eyres Monsell, in Leicester to set out Labour's response to the cost of living crisis. 

With campaigners in Leicester for the #CostofCameron campaign day.

In Leicester I attended a public meeting organised by the Keep Clarendon Park Local campaign about the proposed opening of a Tesco Express on Queens Road/Clarendon Park Road. There is a lot of local concern about the possible impact of this on local independent businesses. I share this concern and I am supporting the local campaign. At the public meeting I asked the Tesco representative if they open in the area whether they will be paying their staff the Living Wage. In a roundabout way the answer appeared to be a 'no'. 

In the last couple of weeks or so I have joined our PPC Jamie McMahon and the campaign team out on the doorstep in North West Leicestershire, spoken about the European campaign at Bosworth and Leicester South Labour Parties and taken part in a phone-in and debate on Radio Leicester about climate change.

Over the coming weeks Glenis Willmott and the European team of candidates will be joining campaign sessions across the East Midlands. To find out more and to sign up for sessions in your area see here.

A big thank you to all the Labour Party activists and supporters campaigning across the region ahead of May's elections.

BBC Radio Leicester: foodbanks

On Monday I responded to former Tory MP and Minister Edwina Currie's comments about people using foodbanks.

My view is that Edwina Currie's comments will have caused a lot of hurt and anger. People who use foodbanks are doing so because of they find themselves in extremely desperate circumstances because of the cost of living crisis.

This sort of ignorant stereotyping might get a headline or two but it is far from the reality in our communities today. We need useful, informed and serious contributions to the debate on how we tackle and eradicate poverty.

You can listen to my reaction on BBC Radio Leicester to Edwina Currie's comments here.
(Scroll to 2 hours, 10 minutes into the show).

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Discussing climate change on BBC Radio Leicester

On Friday I joined a panel on the Jim Davis Show on BBC Radio Leicester to take calls and discuss the important issue of climate change.

You can listen to the discussion here.

Thank you to everyone who called in with questions and to my fellow panellists for an interesting discussion.

Find out more about Leicester City Council's Climate Change Action Plan here.

Monday, 6 January 2014

BBC Radio Leicester interview: why the EU matters

Earlier today I joined Jonathan Lampon on the BBC Radio Leicester Breakfast Show to discuss May's European elections and why the East Midlands is better off because of our EU membership.

I set out the need for reform in the EU to ensure a stronger focus on jobs and growth and tackling the cost of living crisis. Labour will make the case for this reform. Households in the East Midlands are £3000 a year better off because of EU membership according to the CBI.

Listen to the interview here (scroll to 2 hours, 8 minutes):