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Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire

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Latest figures demonstrate the scale of Government support for self-employed North Herefordshire

  • 3,300 self-employed people in North Herefordshire have received support through the second grants available through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
  • 4,500 self-employed people supported in total
  • In total, more than £160 billion of Government support has been provided to help individuals and businesses in all parts of the UK

New statistics showing the huge Government support to self-employed workers in North Herefordshire have been welcomed by local MP Bill Wiggin.

3,300 self-employed people in North Herefordshire have accessed £8.6m worth of Government grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’s second tranche, which brings the total number of people supported since the pandemic began to 4,500. These grants do not need to be paid back and will help to cover lost earnings.

This is in addition to the support given to self-employed workers through the first grant – worth £14.8m in North Herefordshire.

Self-employed people have had six months of income support during the coronavirus pandemic – one of the most generous schemes in the world.

  • A first grant, covering up to 80 per cent of average monthly profits was made available for March-May
  • There has been a second grant covering up to 70 per cent of average monthly profits, available for June-August.  

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservative Government has provided a huge and unprecedented package of economic support to protect both lives and livelihoods – worth more than £160 billion.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“I know this year has been hugely challenging for self-employed workers in North Herefordshire, and these latest figures demonstrate the scale of support that the Conservative Government has put in place to support their livelihoods. “Never has the Conservatives’ agenda to level up the whole county been so important – giving our entrepreneurs the confidence they need as they look ahead to the future.”

Bill delighted with Historic England funding for Leominster

After the trouble our High Streets shops have had with the Councils ill-judged road restrictions and closures, Bill Wiggin MP is delighted that Historic England have announced that Leominster will be receiving money through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme to aid local economic recovery.

Bill commented: “This is just what we need and I am delighted that Historic England have made £1.8 million of government funding available for the revitalisation of Leominster’s high street.

Leominster is a beautiful town with a wealth of important historical buildings and our main shopping streets need to reflect this.

I hope this money will go a long way towards both restoring and preserving the heritage of our town Leominster for residents, visitors and future generations.”

Bill Wiggin Press Release

Enclosed is a letter I have written to the media in North Herefordshire highlighting my concerns about links between the Green County Councillors on Herefordshire Council and the law-breaking Extinction Rebellion group.

Also enclosed is an email shared by Dr Chowns with all County Councillors.

Bill Wiggin MP letter:

I am writing with concern that Green County Councillors on Herefordshire Council have appointed the group Extinction Rebellion to consult on the environmental future for our County.

In a recent email Cllr Ellie Chowns described how a Steering Group formed by the Council had deliberately appointed to its membership individuals belonging to the local chapter of Extinction Rebellion.

Surely such connections between elected officials and Extinction Rebellion are at best unwise, especially given the latter’s recent activities, including the blockading of printworks, and the attempt to disrupt the newspaper industry.

This extraordinary and alarming political alliance between Green Councillors and the law-breaking group cannot be in the best interests of Herefordshire.

After all, David Attenborough is quoted in The Sun on Extinction Rebellion’s illegal protesting saying:

“I don’t think it is sensible politics to break the law… If you are any good at all, some of your demands will be met and then you will be demanding people abide by those new laws. You can’t have it both ways.”

If you are any good at all – you can’t have it both ways!

Will the County Council now ditch Extinction Rebellion from their Steering Group and publicly condemn this law-breaking organisation or perhaps they support law-breaking?

Email from Dr Chowns to Councillors:

Dear colleagues

I’d like to update you on Council work to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

As you know, on 8 March 2019 the Council unanimously adopted a declaration of climate emergency.  We’ve committed to become a zero carbon council and county by 2030.

We’re making excellent progress towards our Council-specific goals. Herefordshire Council’s emissions are down nearly 50% on 2009 levels, and our Carbon Management Plan sets out how we will get to zero by 2030.

However, the council itself is only directly responsible for about 1% of county emissions. Tackling the other 99%, to become a zero carbon County, is more challenging.

At the start of this year, a steering group was formed to help the council address this challenge. Membership was drawn from key stakeholder groups with experience of previous climate-related work in Herefordshire:

•             Herefordshire Business Futures, Herefordshire Business Board

•             Farm Herefordshire, Herefordshire Nature Partnership

•             Herefordshire Council

•             Herefordshire Extinction Rebellion

•             Herefordshire Green Network

•             Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

•             National Farmers Union

The Steering Group has two objectives:

1.            Steer and oversee the development of a new collaborative countywide Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Action Plan for Herefordshire, to be published in December 2020.  The CEE Action Plan will aim to achieve net zero carbon, and a significant increase in biodiversity, in Herefordshire by 2030.

2.            Establish a representative and accountable governance structure to oversee and support the delivery of the CEE Action Plan from January 2021.

The CEE 2030 action plan and future stewardship

The Action Plan won’t be a ‘blueprint’ that just sits on a shelf. Instead, we want it to be an inclusive, iterative process. We need to engage as many people as possible in Herefordshire, across all walks of life and sectors of activity, on an ongoing basis.  The council can support and encourage action for zero carbon and abundant wildlife, but ultimately it is the actions of others that will determine whether we can meet these goals collectively.  So we need to engage people to create a shared understanding of what the issues are and what needs to be done, when, and by whom. 

The Action Plan that will be created by the end of this year is the first step. Going forward we also need to establish a body to steer this work sustainably over the long term – a formally-constituted Stewardship Board that will keep on bringing people together around our shared climate and ecology goals, and will keep on encouraging & evaluating action.

I’m deeply grateful to the members of the Steering Group and subgroups who’ve volunteered their time and expertise to help shape this work so far.  In the coming months we will consult widely on both the Action Plan and Stewardship Board.

What the action plan will focus on

In recent months, subgroups – each engaging a wider range of key local stakeholders – have been developing draft ‘chapters’ on key topics:

•             Transport

•             Housing and buildings

•             Energy

•             Agriculture and land use

•             Food

•             Waste

•             Community engagement

These chapters include:

•             A summary of the issues and the scale of the challenge

•             Mapping of key stakeholders

•             Good practice that we can build on & learn from

•             Ideas for action.

The chapters are intended to be a starting point for broad public consultation – a basis for an informed conversation.

Next steps

We plan to upload this background work to a dedicated website shortly, and to launch a broad public consultation process in the autumn. Here’s what I hope the timetable will look like for the next steps:

Sept       •             Draft chapters and consultation questions uploaded to new website

Oct         •             Key stakeholder meetings and public consultation meetings

•             Online consultation

Nov        •             Finalisation of the chapters and sector-specific Action Plans

•             Finalisation of Stewardship structure

Dec        •             Stakeholder and public meeting to finalise the overall Action Plan & Stewardship structure.

Jan         •             Formal launch of the Action Plan & first meeting of the Stewardship board.

I will of course let you know as soon as the website and consultation go live. Please do get involved, and encourage others to do so too!

I do hope that, like me, you are excited about the potential this work has to engage people across the county in our joint journey to zero carbon and abundant nature.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know!

All the very best,

Ellie

—–

Dr Ellie Chowns

Herefordshire Council

–              Ward Councillor for Bishops Frome and Cradley Ward

–              Leader of the Green Group

–              Cabinet Member for Environment, Economy and Skills

Coalition Council forced into major climb-down on Town Centres blocking plans

Herefordshire Council’s Coalition Leader, Cllr Hitchiner and his coalition suffered a humiliating climbdown when shopkeepers and residents shot down his ludicrous plans to close off our market town centres.

The sensible and vociferous opposition to the proposed Emergency Active Travel Plans, along with a dose of budget reality has saved our treasured market towns.

At a time when businesses need support from their local authorities, Herefordshire County Council’s plans were unnecessary, ill-judged and damaging, leaving many unanswered questions over the Coalition Council’s true allegiances.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire said:

“I welcome this climbdown over the council interpretation of the Emergency Active Travel Measures.

Herefordshire County Council and their ridiculous, ineffective ‘Green’ agenda was seen off by the common sense of the local people.

Cllr Harrington, Cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport, said on record that the Government would come in and act if he did not.

This is now proven to be, at best a misunderstanding, people must wonder how his statements can be taken seriously ever again.

The Council’s pathological hatred of roads, cars and prosperity are hard to fathom but after kicking the bypass into the long grass we now see this agenda pop up again.

This time they tried to use the Governments Covid handout to try to squeeze past unwelcome change under the electorates noses.

After all the worry, confusion and anger these plans have caused, in the end, they had to backtrack on road closures and now want to make our town centres 20-mph zones.

Unbelievably, we hear that the new speed limits will be unenforceable.

The tragedy is that this Government money could have been spent on a worthwhile project if properly managed but will now just be spent on a few signs.

It is laughable to suggest that the Government would have waded in to put some unenforceable 20mph signs up in our towns.

The £4.5 million Maylord Shopping Centre is now in the hands of Herefordsire Council, however, we still don’t know what they want to do with it.

Meanwhile this is the time of year when the dry weather allows for proper road works to be carried out.

Would it not be nice if they fixed the potholes in this County and whilst they are at it, reopened the Fownhope road.

Herefordshire County Council’s ruling coalition need to rise up to what the electorate expects of them. Sadly, this seems to be proving difficult for them.”

The finalised plans approved by Herefordshire County Council can be found here: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/covid19travelmeasures

Covid-19 update from Bill Wiggin MP

Following the Covid-19 outbreak at the farm in Mathon in my constituency, I had a most informative discussion with Health Ministers.

I was keen that other local food producers and fruit farms be given the Covid-19 virus test.

We have a large population of migrant workers and ensuring everybody’s safety is in all our interests.

While we are all washing our hands and taking sensible distancing precautions, I also discovered some rather worrying patterns.

Most food operations make their workforce wear PPE but recently the last six outbreaks have been in food processing plants.

The Government is concerned that the reason for this is that despite the PPE in use, the temperature in these places is much lower at about 6 degrees Celcius.

In the hotter months, we have been winning our battle against CV-19 but the Government fear that during the winter months when the temperature falls we will be much more vulnerable.

This is not wholly proven but the consistent outbreaks in temperature controlled environments despite PPE gives us reason to be concerned.

Coupled with winter flu and colds we could be very vulnerable again.

Therefore we must do all we can to be ready for the winter by reducing the opportunity for contact with infection.

That is why the facemask is necessary in shops and why even people like myself who have had the virus should wear them.

I was told that my own, hard earned, antibodies would only last for about ten weeks and that after that the protection afforded by our immune system may not be sufficient.

The blood plasma which contains antibodies, which I and many others volunteered to donate, is helpful to patients recovering from CV-19 but after some time the plasma does not contain enough antibodies to be worth collecting.

This is particularly alarming as this means a vaccine, if one existed, would require a boost every ten weeks or so.

This also means that we will need to continue to take precautions to protect one another for a lot longer.

Our age and our reaction to Cv-19 is also immune dependent.

A person’s immunity response diminishes quite significantly at about sixty years of age.

We therefore will need to keep shielding our loved ones although young people should not be too worried.

Because of this new information I can see why the Prime Minister believes that wearing masks should be compulsory.

Especially as we get into the cooler months where the disease is expected to resurge.

More positively AstraZeneca are hoping to have their new drug available in the autumn, all being well, although this will reduce the fatalities it does not protect the healthy.

I was left with the feeling that CV-19 will be with us for a while longer yet and that we need rigorous testing at airports as well as greater powers to isolate infected people.

I have therefore spoken to both the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Transport, both of whom were sympathetic and keen to ensure that effective measures are put in place.

I am not in favour of draconian steps but without a long lasting vaccine we will need to think hard about how we protect one another.

You can watch Bill in the House of Commons by clicking the link below and going to 14:52:53.

https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/819f7588-1a3c-4c1f-be78-0fe7bcb379de

A full transcript of the session can be found at the enclosed link:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-07-14/debates/B1924131-B072-4DC1-8D52-A3C74C34DC65/PointsOfOrder#contribution-2DAF0A15-1157-40F5-90D0-CF5F88CA0BB2

Bill Wiggin MP statement on Mathon Coronavirus outbreak

Following reports of  a Covid-19 outbreak on a farm in Mathon, Bill Wiggin MP has made the following statement.

“As many people will have seen on the news, a number of Covid-19 cases were detected on a farm in Mathon over the last weekend.

73 people have tested positive of which 5 are believed to be symptomatic.

Public Health England have acted incredibly fast to locate the virus, test all those on-site and form a large ‘bubble’ at the farm.

I commend the action so far taken and I believe this has been a very good example of the effectiveness of the work done to combat and neutralise mini-outbreaks of Covid-19 not only in the County but also county-wide.

It is believed that a worker on the farm began feeling unwell on Tuesday 7 July.

Since that time, all workers on the site have been tested and now are completely isolated.

I continue to be in contact with Public Health England, Herefordshire County Council and the Government regarding the situation.

It is reassuring to hear that Public Health England have declared there is no immediate threat to the wider community, however, we must not be complacent.

The farm in question is incredibly rural and all those living on-site will remain isolated for the time-being.

Public Health England, Herefordshire County Council and Worcestershire County Council are working together to track and trace the movements of the workers.

I understand that residents of North Herefordshire will be keen to know if they may have come into contact with workers from the farm.

Worcestershire County Council have been informed that a minibus took workers to shop in 4 separate locations in Worcester and Malvern last week.

The shops and locations are:
Worcester: Primark, Iceland and the Romanian store.
Malvern: Morrison’s supermarket.

For further updates, please refer to local news agencies and my website.

Herefordshire remains well prepared for outbreaks like this and the response so far has been exemplary.

It is important that we all carry on observing social distancing, regular washing of hands and good hygiene practices when we are out shopping again on our high streets.

If you are feeling unwell and suspect you may have Covid-19 you must isolate, organise a test and only leave the house to go and get tested.

I wish to thank the people of North Herefordshire for their calm and resilient approach to this situation.

In particular, I wish to bring attention to those people who have come together to deliver essential supplies to the affected farm workers.

It is a tremendous testament to the kindness and good will of the people of North Herefordshire.”

The Time is Now 

Last week, Bill Wiggin MP met virtually with constituents as part of the climate change and environment lobby, ‘The Time Is Now’.

In a productive meeting, climate change activists from North Herefordshire discussed their concerns about how the UK better protects the environment. The discussions brought about a variety of key issues including, addressing the environment post-Covid, planting of more trees for carbon capture and more sustainable home building.

Commenting after the session Bill Wiggin MP said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to my constituents once again about this incredibly important issue. This year we could not meet face-to-face, however, technology allowed us to connect and for me to listen to their concerns about how we progress green issues going forward.

As we enter out of lockdown following the dreadful Covid-19 outbreak, we have a unique opportunity. It gives the country a chance to readdress how it does business; perhaps fewer car journeys can be undertaken, and more people can work from home.

What we cannot do however is neglect our already damaged economy. That is why the Government is going to deliver an economy which is stronger, greener, more sustainable and more resilient.

On 8 June, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a Green Recovery working group, bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics, to unleash Britain’s growth potential and help the economy recover from the pandemic.

This group will explore how to capture the economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero emissions.

The UK already plays a world-leading role in tackling climate change. We are the first country that has legislated to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050 and we are currently the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds.

At the same time, the Environment Bill is being introduced to protect and improve the environment for future generations, enshrining in law environmental principles and legally binding targets.

North Herefordshire can lead the way in this fight. That is why I am so surprised that this supposedly ‘Green’ council is implementing plans that will increase carbon outputs by having people from rural communities drive further to get into towns.

If the council were as serious as they claim to be about climate change, £4.5 million would not have be spent on the Maylord Shopping centre and instead spent on fixing existing roads and improving public transport links.

I would urge constituents concerned about this issue to speak to their local County Councillor and discuss what they are doing at a local level to reduce carbon emissions and take on climate change.

More can always be done, and I welcome the constructive points my constituents have raised in how we continue to lessen our footprint.

Reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change will remain a priority for this Government and I look forward to engaging further with constituents on this most pressing issue”

You can contact your County Councillor on this issue here: http://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx

 

Emergency Active Travel Fund

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire has voiced his growing concern over Herefordshire County Council and Balfour Beatty’s implementation of the Emergency Active Travel Funds, recently made available by the Government.

Mr Wiggin has been contacted by many residents and business owners of North Herefordshire this week, frustrated and worried that their concerns are not being heard and that actions are being taken by the Council without full consultation.

New restrictions imposed on Kington will require those travelling from the direction of Lyonshall to make a five mile detour and enter from the west in order to get into town. This extra road travel is hardly environmentally friendly and makes a mockery of the supposed ‘green’ agenda this Council proports to support.

To make matters worse Hereford and Worcester Fire Service have commented that the restrictions proposed in Kington could result in delay in response times which could lead to loss, injury or worst of all a fatality.

Jeopardising emergency response times for the sake of these restrictions defies belief.

Business owners in Ledbury are also feeling side-lined as plans for the town centre that were scrapped two years ago, have resurfaced under the guise of supposedly being a government directive. What nonsense and to suggest the Council plans are not their own rather undermines the purpose of going ahead.

Bill Wiggin MP is concerned that as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, Herefordshire Council risks hurting business owners, their staff and residents alike with these proposals.

Businesses must be promoted not sanctioned as we get North Herefordshire’s economy up and running again.

Commenting, Mr Wiggin said:

“The misinformation surrounding this directive is deeply worrying. The Emergency Active Travel Funds were recently made available primarily to discourage the use of public transport to get to work, where cycling could safely be done instead.

The funding amount was decided on census data based on how many residents in a Local Authority used public transport to get to work.

Given that the County as a whole is 95% rural, most people have no choice but to drive.

Hence, the first round of funding for these emergency works in Herefordshire is only £40,000.

There is an additional £160,000 in phase 2 for longer-term projects.

The proposals I have seen for market towns in North Herefordshire alone suggest that the Councils plans will cost a lot more than is to be made available.

Where will this additional money come from? Are the council even aware of how much they are due to receive?

The Council just purchased the Maylord Shopping centre for £4.5million.

They don’t yet appear to know what they want to do with it so perhaps no more council-tax payers money should be spent on unnecessary projects.

I urge all residents to contact their local County Councillor to have their opinions heard before plans are rushed through. ”

Information on how to contact your local councillor can be found here

https://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx

 

Bill Wiggin urges people to help tourism bounceback in North Herefordshire following reopening on 4th July

  • The Government has announced tourism and visitor attractions will reopen in England from 4 July.
  • Up to 570 businesses in North Herefordshire will benefit, following local MP’s support for reopening.

Bill Wiggin MP has welcomed the re-opening of the tourism sector on 4 July, giving a boost for up to 570 businesses in North Herefordshire, and called on people to show their support for businesses following a challenging three months.

Thanks to the efforts and sacrifice of the British people, we are bringing coronavirus under control and meeting the five tests set out by the Government needed for the safe reopening of parts of our economy. The Prime Minister has therefore set out further changes to lockdown measures in England, to ensure people can see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back to the jobs they love.

As part of this careful easing, from Saturday 4 July, pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to Covid Secure guidelines, and some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen if they can do so safely.

Bill Wiggin MP is urging people to show their support to businesses reopening in North Herefordshire, to help them bounceback.

The Government will also be publishing detailed guidance to help tourist attractions and accommodation venues to re-open safely, such as by social distancing and cleaning protocols.  A new industry standard will also be introduced by Visit England, so that the public can easily see if the venue is carrying out the new rules.

While the infection rate continues to fall, the Prime Minister has been clear that the public must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to keep coronavirus under control. The Government will keep all measures under constant review.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“Thanks to the efforts of the British people to control the virus, I am delighted we have created the space to allow people to take a much needed holiday and enjoy everything North Herefordshire has to offer.

“I hope people get out to support the tourism and hospitality businesses which are reopening and which are so vital to our local economy and jobs.

“Safety is of paramount importance and it is vital that social distancing rules and safety guidance are adhered to, and local people as well as our guests feel safe and I will continue to press that.”

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: 

“This is a significant moment for the UK’s fantastic tourism and hospitality businesses and the bounce back can now begin on July 4th. Across the country people have been looking forward to taking a day trip, weekend break or staycation following their efforts in lockdown over the past three months. Britain deserves a break and I hope people get out, support tourism businesses and enjoy a break safely.”

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