Victory for A595 campaign!

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Transport Secretary that work will begin to build a bypass at Grizebeck, providing relief for locals and commuters alike.

At Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the first five upgrades to the Major Road Network. One of these is at “the infamous farmyard bottleneck’ at Grizebeck.

Speaking at the Conference, Simon Fell said:

“I’m glad that after years of campaigning on this issue, the Government has pledged action to fix the A595. I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of many who have doggedly campaigned on this issue.

“It beggars belief that one of the main roads in our area runs through a farmyard and I look forward to this dangerous bottleneck being removed.

“I took Chris Grayling to Grizebeck with Trudy Harrison last year to see the bottleneck for himself. He was staggered by what he saw, and I’m very glad that his warm words are being translated into action.”

Labour’s not-so-secret plan to scrap Trident

At Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Monday, Senior Labour MP Fabian Hamilton laid bare his plans for the Dreadnought programme and Barrow’s shipyard.

Speaking at a CND fringe meeting, Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Minister for Peace’ said that he and Jeremy Corbyn want to scrap Trident and begin a ‘defence diversification’ programme that would see shipyard workers retrained to work in other sectors.

Simon Fell, the Conservative Party Spokesman for Barrow and Furness said:

“This deeply worrying and entirely naive policy would decimate Barrow and the surrounding areas.

“Labour have gone back to the 70s. This pie-in-the-sky idea would lead to highly-skilled workers leaving our area and a generation of talent lost.

“It’s not just the Yard that would be hit, but also the wider supply chain, apprenticeship programmes, and retailers. It would also be harder still to make the case for further investment in our schools, Furness General, roads and rail network with such a major employer brought to its knees by Jeremy Corbyn’s reckless Labour Party.

“It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn and his ‘Minister for Peace’ to think again so that these dangerous ideas are never allowed to rip the heart out of our town.”

Statement on John Woodcock's resignation from the Labour Party

On Wednesday 18th July 2018, John Zak Woodcock MP resigned the Labour Party whip. Barrow and Furness is now represented by an independent MP.

Commenting, Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, said:

“I was saddened to read John’s resignation letter and have laid bare the absolute mess that the current Labour party is in.

“We now have an MP with zero influence either with the government or the opposition - a sorry state of affairs. Similarly, John’s actions have only highlighted that Labour are also divided and in chaos locally.

“John admitted himself that he was elected on a wafer-thin margin on the back of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity last year. His actions now clearly break that trust.

“I’m glad that John has now stated that he will seek to support the government, especially as we now face the critical task of honouring the wishes of the 60% of Barrovians’ who voted to leave the EU.

“The hard-left Labour Party is a risk to Barrow’s prosperity. We can’t trust them with Barrow’s future, or our country's economy.”

Simon Fell welcomes latest jobs figures in Barrow & Furness

Figures out today show that the number of people in work is at a record high. In Barrow and Furness, the number of people who are unemployed has fallen by 652 – a 37% per cent drop – since 2010.

Employment has increased in the North West with 3,435,016 people in work – an increase of 256,016 more people in work since 2010.

Simon Fell has welcomed the new figures, which show that unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 and that the number of young people out of work has fallen by over 415,000 under the Conservatives. 

Conservative Spokesman for Barrow & Furness, Simon Fell said:

“Under the Conservatives, a record number of people are now in work and the unemployment rate has reached its lowest level in over 40 years. And with wages rising faster than prices, pay packets are going further.

“That means that more people than ever in Barrow and Furness have the security of a job and can provide for their families. There is more to do to deliver more jobs and higher salaries, and our welfare reforms and modern Industrial Strategy aim to do exactly that. Labour would put all this at risk.

“Only the Conservatives will continue to take the balanced approach our economy needs to support businesses to create better, higher paying jobs, ensuring a better future for Britain.”

Simon Fell welcomes latest construction figures

Simon Fell welcomes latest construction figures

Figures out today have revealed that the value of all work in the Construction industry has increased by 7 per cent since 2016-17, meaning more higher-paying jobs, better infrastructure and a growing economy.

The value of new housing work has increased by 13 per cent, as the Government is delivering more homes for people across the country.

The figures are a welcome boost in the North West where the value of new housing output has increased by 241.8% since 2009-2010 and the value of overall construction output has increased by 50.6%.

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, welcomed the figures, which show that the value of construction output in the North West was £4172.5m in the first quarter of 2018.

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

“This is welcome news, but there’s more to do to build a stronger economy with better, higher-paying jobs.  That’s why, through our new Construction Sector Deal and our modern Industrial Strategy, the Conservative Government is working to recruit and train the next generation of high-skilled construction workers in Barrow & Furness. 

“The construction industry makes a vital contribution to our economy, which is why we need to ensure that we have the skills we need to deliver homes, schools and other buildings across Barrow and Furness and build a country fit for the future. One only needs to look at the exciting work at Barrow Waterfront to see how construction is changing our town for the better.”

This follows a recent Government announcement of a new £420 million joint government-industry Construction Sector Deal to transform the industry, supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade.

Simon Fell: £394 million a week is the birthday present the NHS deserves

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, has wished happy birthday to the NHS as it celebrates its 70th birthday on Thursday 5 July, marking 70 years of access to healthcare which is free at the point of use.

The NHS belongs to all of us. It’s a legacy we pass down from generation to generation. And it’s a legacy this Government will protect.

That’s why the Government has announced that it will increase NHS funding by almost £400 million a week – more than £20 billion a year – by 2023/24 as part of a historic long-term funding plan for the NHS.

The NHS must be supported and protected so that it can continue delivering the best quality care for the next 70 years and beyond, which is why the NHS will also produce a new ten-year plan, setting out a long-term vision for the health service to ensure every penny is well spent and services are fit for the future.

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

“I am delighted to wish the NHS a happy 70th birthday. Much has changed since the NHS was founded in 1948, but the fundamental principles are the same: a service which is universal, comprehensive, and free at the point of use.

“The NHS has been there for all of us over the past 70 years, and we must ensure it continues to be there for everyone in the future. Theresa May’s historic funding announcement will guarantee this, and is a fitting birthday present for our world-renowned health service.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said:

“As we celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, this Conservative Government remains committed to its future with a historic long-term funding announcement. £394 million extra a week by 2023-24 will ensure the NHS can continue delivering valued services, and improve and adapt for the future.

“This year we have also announced a pay rise for nearly a million of the dedicated staff who make the NHS what it is, and over £200 million of funding for vital health research which will prepare the NHS for the next generation of health challenges.”

Simon Fell welcomes £200 million deal for new nuclear

This deal is a welcome boost for the 261 jobs in the civil nuclear sector in Barrow & Furness and over 14,000 jobs in the local area. 

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, welcomed the £200 million deal announced by the Business Secretary, securing the future of the Civil Nuclear industry in the UK and driving down energy costs for customers. 

Nuclear energy has been powering the UK for over 60 years, with a world-leading record for safety, and today generates around 20 per cent of our electricity.  

The civil nuclear industry employs 65,000 people across the country, however currently only 22 per cent of the workforce are women.  

This deal will deliver up to 100,000 jobs overall in nuclear by 2021 and diversify the workforce, with a target of 40 per cent women working in the nuclear sector by 2030

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

“Nuclear energy doesn’t just keep the lights on, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation. 

“I want to build on our strengths and the vital contribution that the industry makes in Barrow and Furness, up the road in Copeland, and across the country, to make sure that the UK continues to be at the forefront of nuclear industry in the future.  

“This deal, and the investment, will drive innovation, create jobs and boost the economy across the country and crucially drive down energy prices for consumers.”

Simon Fell welcomes £394 million a week for the NHS

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of an additional £20.5 billion a year for the NHS.

In a speech last week, Theresa May outlined our plans to develop a long term plan for the future of the health service, underpinned by an offer which will see the NHS budget increase by £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023-24. 

This equates to nearly £394 million a week by 2023-24, and will support the NHS to make the right decisions for the long-term, setting it on a sustainable path to continue delivering world class care. 

In return for this investment, the Government will ask NHS leaders to produce a new ten-year plan, led by clinicians and professionals, and supported by local health and care systems across the country. The plan will set out a long-term vision for the health service and ensure every penny is well spent, while waste and inefficiencies are reduced. 

Some of the extra funding will come from money we no longer spend on our annual membership subscription to the European Union, and taxpayers will be asked to contribute a bit more for the NHS in a fair and balanced way.

The funding will result in average annual increases of 3.4 per cent for the NHS, significantly higher than Labour’s offer of 2.2%, which they said would ‘restore the NHS to be the envy of the world’.

Commenting, Simon Fell said: 

“The NHS has been there for us whenever we need it for 70 years, and this historic funding announcement is a fitting birthday present for our world-renowned health service. 

“This additional £20.5 billion will benefit services up and down the country, including Furness General. The provision of a multi-year funding settlement gives the NHS the opportunity and certainty to develop a long-term plan for areas including staffing, prevention, and technology.

A long-term plan will ensure the NHS is fit to support us for the next 70 years and beyond. It will be led by professionals, with input from the public and patients, and set out a sustainable and efficient vision for our health service.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“No one in this country underestimates the importance of putting the NHS on a steady financial footing, which is why I am proud to announce our commitment to a long-term funding settlement for the NHS.

“People will, rightly, want to know that every pound being invested into the NHS budget will be spent wisely. It is therefore critical that the whole NHS improves productivity and efficiency as part of this plan. In its 70th year, we want our NHS to make strides towards being the safest, highest-quality healthcare system in the world.” 

Simon Fell welcomes support for construction

Recent figures show that the latest wages in the Construction industry are £92 a week higher than they were in May 2010.  

 

These figures are a welcome boost for the 1,500 plumbers, joiners and builders across Barrow and Furness.  

 

Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow & Furness, welcomed the figures, which show that weekly earnings went up by 4.5 per cent over the last year – nearly double the rate prices are increasing. 

 

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

 

‘This is welcome news, but there’s more to do.  That’s why, through our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re working to recruit and train the next generation of high-skilled construction workers.  

 

‘The construction industry makes a vital contribution to our economy, which is why we need to ensure that we have the skills we need to deliver housing across the country and build a country fit for the future.’

 

 

  • Investing in a Transforming Construction programme.  Supported by £170 million of government investment over three years through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and £250 million of match funding from industry, the deal will bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors in a new hub to commercialise technologies capable of building assets which are both cost effective and energy efficient.

 

  • Launching a modern Industrial Strategy to secure our future as a competitive, global nation creating better higher-paying jobs.  The modern Industrial Strategy will build on Britain’s strengths, extend excellence into the future, make the country one of the most competitive places in the world to start and grow a business, and close the productivity and wealth gap between different regions – so we can create a country that works for everyone.

 

  • Launching a Construction Sector Deal.  As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re launching a transformative Sector Deal will help modernise the industry and recruit and train the next generation of high-skilled construction workers.  The deal that could add billions of pounds in value to the UK economy through delivering better homes and infrastructure.  

 

Number of Construction workers by constituency

 

Source: NOMIS, Employee Jobs: Construction, accessed 22 May 2018, link.

Record employment and rising wages

New figures show that more people are in work than ever before, with 3,405,525 people in work in the North West – an increase of 226,525 more people in work since 2010. 

While in Barrow & Furness the number of people claiming the key out of work benefits has fallen by 787 – a 41 per cent drop – since 2010.

Simon Fell has welcomed the new figures, which also show that the level of people out of work is at its lowest level in over 40 years, and the number of young people out of work is down by nearly 408,000 since 2010. 

Conservative Spokesman for Barrow & Furness, Simon Fell, said: 

“Under the Conservatives, unemployment continues to fall to record lows, meaning more people have the security of a job and are able to provide for their families.

“And with wages rising faster than prices, pay packets can go further. We know there is more to do. That’s why we launched our modern Industrial Strategy, to help build an economy fit for the future and deliver more well-paid jobs.

“Labour’s reckless and ill-thought-out policies would put all this at risk.”

  • Employment: 32.34 million (up 396,000 over the last year and up more than 3.3 million since 2010).

 

  • Employment rate: 75.6 per cent (up 0.8 points over the past year and up 5.4 points since 2010) – the highest since comparable records began in 1971.  The UK has the 3rd highest employment rate in the G7.

 

  • Unemployment: 1.42 million (down 116,000 over the past year and down by almost 1.1 million since 2010). Youth unemployment has fallen by 43.4 per cent since 2010.

 

  • Unemployment rate: 4.2 per cent (down 0.4 points over the past year and down 3.8 points since 2010) – the lowest since 1975.

 

  • Wages: Wages are rising faster than prices – this is good news, but there is more to do. Wages rose by 2.9 per cent in the three months to March, compared with inflation of 2.5 per cent over the last year.

 

  • Youth unemployment: There are over 407,700 fewer young people out of work since 2010

Looking back on a memorable few months

It’s been a remarkable few months for Barrow and Furness Conservatives.

We’ve had visits from the Prime Minister in support of the SLDC elections: Jake Berry MP, the Northern Powerhouse minister, to launch a new round of Coastal Communities funding; the Health Minister to view the South Lakes Birthing Centre, and also the Defence Secretary to announce £2.4bn in funding for Barrow’s submarine programme, securing over 8,000 local jobs.

Less glamorous perhaps, but it’s also worth noting that the government announced a £152,000 fund to repair more than 27,000 potholes across Barrow. Your cars’ suspension will thank us!

These visits and announcements speak to a bigger story: we’re back on the map and the central party considers us a force to be reckoned with and one to be supported.

You only have to think of how far we’ve come -

In 2015, when I first fought Barrow & Furness, it was a safe Labour seat - now it’s ultra-marginal. In 2017, we came within spitting distance of taking Cumbria County Council. And this year, we made strong gains - especially compared to the national picture - in the South Lakes elections.

We’ve managed it because we’re pulling together as a team. With an excellent campaign manager in place, an office in Dalton, and teams from across the area working to support each other, we’re taking the fight to Labour and the Lib Dems. As we lean into the Barrow Borough elections next year, we need to maintain that momentum (no pun intended!) and present a positive Conservative vision for the town.

We have a fantastic record to fight on: the economy continues to grow in spite of naysayers claims; the UK has the highest employment rate in four decades; we’ve introduced a national living wage, and - at time of writing - we’re just put paid to fixed-odds betting terminals. All this while ploughing on with the hard business of Brexit.

Over the next few months I hope to announce a speakers’ programme for Barrow and Furness, where we can get together and socialise while hearing stories from the front line of politics from some of our best MPs. Watch this space!

In the meantime, enjoy the bank holiday weekend.

Simon Fell Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

This National Apprenticeship Week, Simon Fell, Conservative Spokesman for Barrow and Furness, is celebrating the vital contribution of apprentices in Barrow & Furness.

Since 2010 there have been 8930 apprenticeship starts in Barrow & Furness and over 1.2 million new apprenticeship starts nationally since 2015. Take up of higher-level apprenticeships in 2016-17 was up by nearly 35 per cent compared to 2015 -16. In Barrow and Furness there were 1,280 apprenticeship starts in 2016-17 alone.

Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Conservative Government’s strategy to expand opportunity and develop the skilled workforce the country needs. This includes working with industry to deliver an ambitious target of 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020.

But we know there is still more to do, which is why we recently launched an education and funding review that will help people make more effective choices between the different options available to them, promoting parity of esteem between technical and academic pathways.

Commenting, Simon Fell said: ‘Apprenticeships allow people to earn while they learn, and open doors to highly skilled, rewarding careers.

This Government’s reforms are not only increasing apprenticeship numbers, but also driving up the quality of apprenticeships, meaning they have real value in the jobs market.

This is vital for Barrow & Furness, as it ensures that people have an opportunity to gain the skills they need to work in our world-class employers and remain in our area.

Only the Conservatives are working hard to ensure everyone can get on in life, and go as far as their talents and hard work can take them.

 

Sources:

  •          There have been over 1.2 million new apprenticeship starts since May 2015, and the take up of higher-level apprenticeships in 2016-17 was up by nearly 35 per cent compared to 2015 -16 (Hansard, 1 February 2018, WA, linkHansard, 10 January 2018, WA, link).
  •          The Government has set an ambitious target to deliver 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020, from May 2015. The Government’s strategy for achieving this is outlined in English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision (English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision, accessed 5 March 2018, link).
  •          Between 2010 and 2015, the Government created 2.38 million apprenticeships, which is more than double the number created by Labour in their last term. Between 2005-06 and 2009-10, there were 1,103,800 new apprenticeship starts (BIS, FE data library: apprenticeships, 11 September 2015, linkBIS Press Release, 14 October 2015, link).
  •          Employer-led apprenticeship reforms continue to improve the quality of apprenticeships. Supported by the Institute for Apprenticeships, employers are designing new, high quality apprenticeship standards to ensure apprenticeships are more responsive to their needs (Institute for Apprenticeships, accessed 5 March 2018, link). 
  •          Apprenticeships are at the heart of Government’s broader skills agenda, and will sit alongside ‘T levels’ within a reformed vocational training system. T-Levels are technical qualifications which will be as rigorous and respected as A-Levels. They are being developed in partnership with industry professionals from companies including Rolls Royce, Fuijitsu and EDF to ensure they have real credibility (DfE, 11 October 2017, link). 
  •          Under Labour, at least 350,000 young people were let down by courses which had ‘little or no labour market value’. In 2011, the independent Wolf Review found that ‘the staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort’ was ‘a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value’ (DfE, Review of Vocational Education – The Wolf Report, 3 March 2011, link).

         This National Apprenticeship Week runs from 5 – 9 March, and is marked by events celebrating apprentices and encouraging more people and businesses to get involved. The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Apprenticeships Work’ (ESFA, 5 March 2018, link). 

Thank you.

When this snap election was called, we knew we'd have a fight on our hands.

But we knuckled down, fought a strong local campaign and bucked the national trend. In the end, we were just 209 votes shy.

A huge thank you to our team of canvassers, deliverers, callers and tellers who rose to the task admirably.

And more importantly, thank you to the 22,383 people who voted for me. I appreciate, more than I can express, the faith you put in me.

Congratulations to John, and thank you to the other candidates for running such good, clean campaigns.

With all good wishes

Simon