Sunday, 16 February 2014

Campaign update blog: Less than 100 days to go.....

It is now less than 100 days until Polling Day for the European Parliament elections.

The campaign here in the East Midlands is now in full swing. Thank you to the campaign teams working hard in all parts of the region. Thank you especially to the campaign teams that have welcomed the European candidates to Leicester, Loughborough, Northampton, Corby, Lincoln, Boston, Nottingham and Broxtowe for our recent 'Super Saturday' campaign days.

It has been great to see so many activists out joining us on the campaign trail along with our MPs including Jon Ashworth in Leicester South and Andy Sawford in Corby. We have also been joined by Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidates including Lucy Rigby, Sally Keeble, Matthew O'Callaghan and Nick Palmer.

East Midlands Labour 'Super Saturday' in Nottingham.

In Lincoln with our PPC Lucy Rigby and team.
The team will be campaigning across the region in the coming weeks. For details and to sign up for our campaign events visit the East Midlands Labour website.

In the past few weeks I have also visited Corby and Erewash Labour Parties to speak at their constituency meetings about the campaign and Labour's vision for a fairer Europe. It was also good to speak at a meeting of the Leicester Labour Campaign Forum.

A few weeks ago I met with Labour's candidates for North West Leicestershire, South Derbyshire and Burton to discuss the need for the Ivanhoe Railway/ National Forest Line to be re-opened for passenger trains between Leicester and Burton. This would have real economic benefits for the area and I am supportive of the campaign. I will be working with Jamie, Cheryl and Jon on this campaign in the coming months.

Meeting with Labour PPCs Jon Wheale (Burton),
Jamie McMahon (North West Leics) &
Cheryl Pidgeon (South Derbyshire) to
discuss the Ivanhoe/National Forest railway line.

In recent weeks I have also met with Leicestershire Ramblers Association to discuss the importance of good footpaths in the area and also visited the new Food Hall at Leicester Market which is under construction and which is backed by £2 million of EU funding. The timber used in the construction is all from sustainable sources. The the city council is one of the first 40 organisations to sign up to the European Sustainable Timber Coalition and to reach the Gold pledge in the WWF's sustainable timber procurement campaign.

You can find on this site other updates from the campaign and news. Thank you again to everyone campaigning in the East Midlands and across the country for May's elections.

Remember, to keep tweeting about your campaigning. You can follow me on twitter @Rory_Palmer and my Facebook page is at

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

100 days to go

It is 100 days until election day for the European Parliament elections.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the East Midlands Labour European campaign so far.

We are setting out why Labour is the only party with the serious answers to the cost of living crisis facing families across the region. Labour is on your side. We will fight to protect important rights at work, including maternity and paternity rights.

We will also work to bring new investment to the East Midlands to create jobs and apprenticeships and to get our young people back to work.

If you want to help Labour win in May why not sign up to join the East Midlands Labour European team campaign sessions across the region. Sign up here.

Remember to keep tweeting about your campaigning using #labourdoorstep and #EP2014.

Thank you to the campaign teams across the region.

Twitter @Rory_ Palmer | Facebook

Friday, 7 February 2014

Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival

Good luck to Geoff Rowe and the team at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival for this year's festival.

The Festival gets underway today. The Leicester Comedy Festival has become known as one of the best comedy festivals in the UK, if not the world. I always look forward to the festival, it is a key part of Leicester's cultural calendar and is a major event in the region.

I am sure this year's festival, the 21st, will be another big success.

Launching the official brochure for this
year's Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Councils should have stronger planning powers

I have written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking that he reviews current planning laws to give councils more powers. 

Local communities should have a stronger voice in the planning system via local councils to help protect local shops and shape the future of our local high streets and shopping areas.

My recent Leicester Mercury column argued for this. The full text of my letter to the Secretary of State is below.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Campaigning in Corby & Northampton | Thank you

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the East Midlands Labour European campaign sessions this weekend in Corby and Northampton.

It was also good to speak at Corby CLP on Friday evening about the campaign, thanks to all those who attended for an enjoyable and interesting discussion.

For details of future campaign events across the region see here.

Reforms needed to protect local shops | Leicester Mercury column

Column calling for planning law reforms to protect local, independent shops. A version of this article was published in the Leicester Mercury on Saturday 1 February.

In December we celebrated the UK’s first Small Business Saturday, an important opportunity to recognise the contribution local small businesses make to Leicester. These small businesses are the engine room of our economy and independent shops play a vital role.

In Leicester we are fortunate in having a diverse range of independent shops in the city centre and in the popular neighbourhood shopping areas. Whether it’s the Golden Mile, Narborough Road, Stoneygate shops or Evington Road – to pick just a few – shoppers find an exciting range of independent shops.

As well as variety and decent prices people shop at local independents because they are motivated to back local businesses. Whether it’s the butcher, baker, greengrocer or florist, these are quintessential mainstays of our high streets and we would miss them if they were gone.

This is why the campaign against Tesco’s plans to open in Clarendon Park is so important. If this store opens it will present a very real threat to local independent traders. Small businesses in parts of the city where supermarkets have opened report falls in their trade.

I am not against supermarkets. They make a significant economic contribution and provide many jobs. I am against an unfair balance in favour of large, powerful companies at the cost of local, small independent traders. At the heart of this debate is an important principle.

Over two thousand residents have signed a petition and hundreds attended a public meeting against Tesco’s plan to open in Clarendon Park. Locally elected councillors for the area are opposed. Councillors for other parts of the city have expressed concern, recognising this could repeat itself in other local shopping areas.

There is a real frustration that the city council is limited in what it can do to prevent a supermarket like this opening. Current laws allow for ‘change of use’ from a bank to a supermarket without the need for full planning permission. Minor permissions are needed for things like illuminated signs or cash points, often granted as a matter of course. This loophole needs addressing.

Councils should have real power to decide whether or not new supermarkets should open, and this should reach beyond routine planning matters. Councils should be able to take into account the impact on local, small businesses and wider community concerns.

The principle at stake is one of local democracy. Planning law at present deals a much better hand to big business than it does to local communities. The Secretary of State should act and could do so at the stroke of a pen.

A version of this column first appeared in the Leicester Mercury, Saturday 1 February 2014.