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Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire

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Bill Wiggin MP critical of Herefordshire’s Coalition Council plan for town centres

Bill Wiggin MP for North Herefordshire has voiced his concern over Herefordshire’s Coalition Council and Balfour Beatty’s plan to reduce access to Market Town Centres as the lock down is lifted.

The proposed plans involve timed closures of roads in the centre of the market towns throughout the constituency of North Herefordshire.

This will occur throughout the day, exactly when shops will be open and looking forward to welcoming new trade from near and far.

Only cyclists will be permitted to use the streets. Whilst this sort of plan may work in a city, North Herefordshire is an incredibly rural area where villages and towns are not easily linked.

Other proposed measures would include removing traffic lanes on wider roads, restricting roads to one way, adjustments to parking arrangements and the introduction of 20 mile per hour zones.

Mr Wiggin questioned the proposals, voicing his concern that this would harm shops that are just beginning to re-open following the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting, Mr Wiggin said:

“Right at the moment when people are permitted to go shopping again and shop owners are looking forward to welcoming back trade, Herefordshire’s Coalition Council’s proposed measures will effectively put the brakes on this.

This Council must think again before changing our town centres. People wishing to travel in, not only from our rural areas but further afield will no longer be able to get in to the market towns and spend money. Instead, they will simply use big supermarket car parks.

It is my great concern that this will destroy what hope small, independent retailers have just when they need it the most.

Shops on the high street will eventually be replaced by yet more charity shops. Charity shops are eligible for 80% business rates relief and when you consider that business rates go to Council funds then this seems a damaging plan.

I understand that the Coalition Council are trying to get Government funding but I would ask, is it really wise to shut down our already suffering town centres just as retail is coming back to life?

North Herefordshire is not the same as Hereford City – people cannot easily use bicycles safely to travel in from rural areas and many of my constituents rely cars as their only means of transport.”

Bill Wiggin MP’s comments have coincided with his support for Independent Bookshop Week, adding:

“The last few months have been a very challenging time for businesses, and it is important that, with the easing of lockdown restrictions, we support our local stores.

This week is Independent Bookshop week, and I would encourage my constituents to get out there and shop.

Please pop in to one of North Herefordshire’s wonderful independent bookstores.

Let us hope that the Council’s restrictive plans will not dampen the appetite for people to get out and support our smaller retailers that are such an important part of our towns.”

Food Standards Commission – 05.06.20

Thank you to those who have contacted me regarding the setting up of a Food Standards Commission.

I think this is a sensible and positive suggestion which I would like to support.

The current Food Standards Agency is not accountable to Government and while it is funded by the Health budget I am sure we can do so much better.

As a farmer myself, I have always been a keen advocate and incredibly proud of the high food standards this country is renowned for.

I am optimistic that this improves as we leave the EU and enter the world stage.

It is my hope that a Food standards Commission could oversee the improvement of food labelling which informs and empowers us as customers.

If we know how and where our food is produced we can ensure the British consumer has all the tools at their disposal to buy quality British produce.

The government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.

All food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements.

At the end of the transition period the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU standards into domestic law which is why the Agriculture Bill did not need amending.

These include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in both domestic and imported products.

Nothing apart from potable water may be used to clean chicken carcasses. Any changes to these standards would have to come before parliament.

Bill Wiggin MP praises scale of government support for Herefordshire during coronavirus

  • Total government support for local government and communities since the beginning of the pandemic is almost £27 billion.
  • This includes direct support for local authorities, emergency funding to support rough sleepers, business rates relief, grants for small business and support for local transport systems.
  • Local authorities have received an additional £3.8 billion to ensure they have the resources they need to respond to coronavirus and deal with additional pressures on social care.
  • Councils in Herefordshire allocated total of £11m to continue providing essential services and support to those who need it the most.

Communities and businesses across Herefordshire have benefited from £105m in government funding since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, helping to support some of the most vulnerable people, alongside the sectors that have been hardest hit.

In total, the Government has announced almost £27 billion for local communities since the start of March. This includes billions of pounds in grants for small businesses and business rates reliefs for industries such as hospitality and leisure that have not been able to operate during lockdown.

As part of this, local authorities across England have received an unprecedented level of additional support, sharing £3.2 billion in direct grants of which £11m has gone to Herefordshire, and a further £600 million to help prevent transmission in care settings. This has meant local councils have had the resources they need to respond to any additional pressures created by coronavirus and been able to continue providing essential services, such as adult social care and children’s services.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“The scale of the Government’s support for people in Herefordshire is very welcome and without question above and beyond what many would have expected when this crisis begun.

“Whether it’s the additional funding for councils or direct support to protect businesses that are vital for local jobs and our communities, this has already made a massive difference to the lives of many people and businesses in North Herefordshire, and I’m confident the Government will continue to do whatever it can to help our community get through this difficult period and to rebuild for the future.”

Commenting, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“We said at the start of the pandemic that we would make sure our councils and communities had the resources they need to respond to the coronavirus, and that’s exactly what we have done.

“In total, we have provided almost £27 billion to help local communities weather this difficult period, providing additional financial support in the form of grants, business rates relief and direct support for councils on a scale that is unprecedented in living memory.

“Council workers across the country are working tirelessly to ensure this support gets to where it needs to be, helping local people and businesses to navigate this difficult period. They are the unsung heroes of this crisis and we are all incredibly grateful for the huge contribution they are making to their communities.

Bill Wiggin MP statement on Dominic Cummings

Thank you to those of you who have contacted me about the Prime Minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings.

I first wish to thank everyone for all you have done to observe the lockdown and to help us to defeat the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

I appreciate how hard it has been for everyone at this difficult time.

During the last two months I have been contacted by many constituents who have been struggling in many different ways.

Some of that correspondence has been about whether someone can see family members who are ill or in fact seek help from family members when ill.

In those cases, I have suggested that my constituents consult their GP and exercise their own judgement to whether their actions were in line with the Coronavirus lockdown guidelines.

I have had no dealing with Dominic Cummings and know nothing of his family circumstances.

Therefore, if he has broken the law then it is a matter for the Police and as I have no extra information, I believe it inappropriate to comment directly on his circumstances.

During this unprecedented time we have seen large and often painful reductions in our usual freedoms. Those making the laws must of course show leadership and follow the law.

The guidelines for staying safe during this virus have not changed.

It is crucial that we keep on abiding by these guidelines as we start to emerge from the grips of this dreadful virus.

I understand that some will feel aggrieved by Mr Cumming’s actions, but ultimately these guidelines are in place for your own and everyone else’s safety.

The health and well-being of the people of North Herefordshire remains paramount and I would urge you not to endanger yourself and others especially on account of Mr Cummings.

To those who have and are continuing to abide by the rules whilst making huge personal sacrifices in the process, I once again remain tremendously grateful.

Herefordshire to receive an extra £2,718,590 to support local care homes through the coronavirus pandemic

 

  • Government is providing an additional £600 million to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in care homes
  • Herefordshire set to receive £2,718,590 as part of this package
  • Part of wider support for care home residents and staff, including protecting wages and access to PPE training

The Government has announced that Herefordshire is to receive a share of a £600 million Infection Control Fund, launched to reduce the transmission of coronavirus on care homes.

Herefordshire will receive £2,718,590 to support local care homes. There are currently 2,118 care home beds registered in the area.

The funding will be used ensure that care homes can continue their efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus by helping them cover the costs of implementing measures to reduce transmission. This includes:

  • Rolling out training on infection control for staff
  • Reducing transmission by supporting providers to reduce workforce movements
  • Stepping up NHS clinical support to care homes

The fund comes on top of £3.2 billion that has already been made available to local authorities to support key public services, including social care, since the start of the crisis. It forms part of a wider package of support the Government is making available to care homes, which includes ensuring all care homes have they support they need with staffing and accessing PPE, and providing a named clinical contact from the NHS for every single care home. The named contact will assist care homes with weekly check-ins to review patients while helping staff with the use of equipment and medication.

The Government has also rolled out a new wellbeing package for social care staff, including two new helplines, led by the Samaritans and Hospice UK, to support care staff with their mental health and welling.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, said:

“Care staff are the heroes of this pandemic – working tirelessly to support those in our community who need it the most.

“I do not underestimate how challenging a time this is for people living and working in care. This new funding will make a real different to local care homes in North Herefordshire.

“By putting in place stronger prevention, we can ensure that we continue to drive coronavirus out of our care homes, making them safer and better able to look after people who need it the most.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“This £600 million Infection Control Fund will help as we continue to reduce infections in care homes and save lives.

“From the very start of this outbreak, we have been working to protect our brilliant social care workforce and the most vulnerable in our society.

“Our package sets out clearly the extra steps local councils and care homes should be taking as we stamp out the spread of this virus.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“We have already provided councils with over £3.2 billion during this pandemic so that they can respond to the immediate pressures they are facing, including supporting social care.

“This new funding will be distributed to councils based on the number of care home beds in their area and will be passed on quickly to care providers. It will fund new measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in care homes, minimise infection, keep staff and residents safe and, ultimately, save lives.”

Businesses across North Herefordshire given boost with furlough scheme extension

Workers and businesses across North Herefordshire have been given a boost by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has announced the current furlough scheme would be extended by a further four months with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.

From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.

“This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects.”

New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

Commenting Bill Wiggin, the MP for North Herefordshire said: “The extension of the Job Retention Scheme will be welcomed by businesses across North Herefordshire.

“The scheme is a lifeline which has been hugely beneficial in helping small employers keep their staff in work and shows that the Chancellor is listening to them.”

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August.

The Chancellor’s decision to extend the scheme, which will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy, comes after the government outlined its plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bill Wiggin MP welcomes new funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirus

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, has welcomed news that England’s dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new funding will help support dairy farmers – who together continue to produce over 40 million litres of milk every day – who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close.

Today’s announcement is the latest action from the government to support dairy farmers, building on the unprecedented levels of support already announced by the Chancellor and our recent action to temporarily relax some elements of UK competition law to allow suppliers, retailers and logistics providers in the dairy industry to work more closely together on some of the challenges they are facing.

Commenting on the announcement, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“This new funding is welcome and much needed support for our dairy farmers in North Herefordshire and across England.

Dairy farmer’s work is vitally important in keeping the population fed and it is right that the Government are taking extra measures to support them in these most difficult times.

I would urge farmers in my constituency to contact me should they need help accessing the funding.”

With some dairy farmers facing financial difficulties and excess milk, the new fund will provide support for those most in need. Eligible dairy farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during April and May to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

It also comes as the government today backed a £1 million campaign to boost milk consumption and help producers use their surplus stock.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we are doing all we can to ensure they are properly supported during this time.

We’ve already relaxed competition laws so dairy farmers can work together through the toughest months, but recognise there is more to be done. That is why today we have kick started a new campaign to boost milk consumption and have announced a further package of funding.

We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.”

The dairy sector is the UK’s largest farming sector, with milk accounting for 16.85% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2018. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.

While many farmers have already rerouted their milk supplies to retailers and supermarkets – which have seen increased demand in recent weeks – today’s move will give the farmers in the greatest need the financial assurance to ensure they can remain operational, sustain production capacity and continue to meet animal welfare demands at this time.

Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

It comes as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has today launched a new marketing campaign to increase consumption of milk in UK households, funded jointly by the AHDB, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Dairy UK.

The £1 million promotional campaign will to help increase sales of dairy products by encouraging the public to drink more milk.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s Chief Marketing Officer said:

“This new innovative marketing campaign is a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when industry and Government join together to meet a common supply chain challenge.

It will support dairy farmers and processors in driving demand for milk within households across the UK. It will link consumers’ love of the great taste of milk and dairy with how we are all having to manage these challenging times at home and at work.

The UK’s food supply chain remains resilient and the Environment Secretary continues to meet regularly with representatives of the food and farming industry to ensure people can get the food and groceries they need.”

Bill Wiggin MP calls on residents to commemorate VE Day during lockdown

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, will be participating in an at-home programme of activity to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May.

Mr Wiggin is supporting calls from the Royal British Legion for the nation to get involved from home throughout the day and pay tribute to the entire Second World War generation from British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces, to evacuees and those who served on the home front.

Due to the ongoing situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, members of the public are unable to attend VE Day events, and the Royal British Legion is playing a central role in the delivery of a range of activity including a VE Day broadcast, national moments of remembrance and thanksgiving, and an education pack for people to join in with from home.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“I am delighted to join in this fantastic initiative to ensure that VE Day is commemorated despite the current health crisis.

Now more than ever it is essential to learn from the lessons of history and we are fortunate that at least once a year we can come together and think about those who gave their lives so that we can live ours freely.

At 11am I shall be observing a two-minute silence to honour to our former servicemen and servicewomen whose gift of freedom is so precious to us all, and I will also take the opportunity to reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

I would urge everybody to join in this programme of moments of remembrance and show the same unity we are displaying during this lockdown to ensure we protect our precious NHS.”

Full details of the day’s events are enclosed below:

  • 1100-1102 – Two Minute Silence
  • 1115-1200 – The Royal British Legion VE75 Livestream
  • 2000-2110 – VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration, BBC One
  • 2100 – ‘We’ll Meet Again’ Singalong

Bill Wiggin MP welcomes extra £5,344,728 for local council services in Herefordshire

 

  • The Government is providing an additional £1.6 billion to local authorities so they have the resources they need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • This is in addition to the £1.6 billion already announced in March.
  • Herefordshire allocated total of £11,019,811 to continue providing essential services and support to those who need it the most.

 

Bill Wiggin MP has welcomed news that Herefordshire will receive a share of an extra £1.6 billion in funding to make sure councils can continue to support their communities and deliver vital services through this challenging time.

This extra £1.6 billion takes the total additional funding to councils through this crisis to over £3.2 billion, an unprecedented level of extra financial support in recent times.

The additional support will mean councils can continue to provide essential services, such as adult social care and children’s services, while also providing support to people impacted by the coronavirus. This includes protecting rough sleepers, with 90 per cent of rough sleepers offered safe accommodation so far, establishing shielding programmes for clinically extremely vulnerable people and ensuring there is additional support available across a range of other vital council services.

This announcement builds on other government measures, including allowing councils to defer the payment of business rates to central government and providing them with a combined £850 million in up front social care grants, that will help with their cash flows so they can continue to deliver vital services.

Commenting, Bill Wiggin MP said:

“It’s welcome that Herefordshire will receive an additional £5,344,728 from the Government to help ensure essential services are not impacted by the extra demands placed on councils by coronavirus. This means that since the pandemic started, the council will have received an extra £11,019,811.

“This is part of the additional £3.2 billion the Government is providing to councils across England to ensure they have the resources they need during this difficult time.

“Our local council is doing a tremendous job under extraordinary circumstances, helping to ensure the vulnerable are protected and supported. I will continue to champion everything they are doing for our community and work closely with ministers to ensure they always have the resources they need to carry out their important work.”

Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“Councils are playing a central role in our national fight against coronavirus and the Government continues to back them at this challenging time.

“That’s why I announced an extra £3.2 billion of support for councils to help them to continue their extraordinary efforts.

“Today I’m setting out how the latest £1.6 billion of this will be allocated to councils in the fairest way possible, recognising the latest and best assessment of the pressures they face.

“We are backing local district councils and a clear majority will receive at least £1m in additional funding.”

 

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