Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland has been leading efforts in Parliament to stop the practice of irresponsible lending by companies with excessive typical annual percentage interest rates of as much as 2,689%.

Companies offering such extreme rates have begun advertising on television and
Greg Mulholland has expressed concern that customers could be fooled into taking out loans without realising the full extent of repayments.

Greg Mulholland said: "These companies are tricking people into thinking that they offer a convenient solution to bridging the gap before pay day, when in reality they are charging extortionate rates.

"I think the public need to be made aware that such extremely expensive credit represents the migration of loan shark style lending from the doorstep to the internet browser."

2356 percent campaign organiser, Ian Thomas thanked
Greg Mulholland for his support. He said: "We are delighted that Greg has taken the time to draw attention to the issue of excessive annual percentage rates (APRs) that are being charged by 'payday' lenders in the UK by tabling the Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

"As a nation we are continuing to pay the price for irresponsible lending practices that encourage inappropriate sub-prime borrowing. No matter what their claims, businesses like, and should not be able to lend even the smallest amount of money at such high costs to consumers. Borrowers should be afforded the kind of regulatory safeguards that savers and investors enjoy, and that means product terms should be fair to consumers.

"The 2356percent campaign is just six weeks old but is growing all the time. The more people take part in the campaign through our Facebook Group the more chance we will be able to shape the future of 'payday' lending in the UK."


Community team members from the Care Trust Plus older people’s health and wellbeing collaborative recently descended on Victoria Street market, Cleethorpes, to promote the ‘Snug as a Bug’ campaign.

The Snug as a Bug campaign launched in August 2009 and is due to finish at the end of March. During this time the team have been able to help countless members of the public keep well and keep warm during the winter weather by informing them of local agencies that can help them.

Through the hotspot cards system promoted by the campaign (which links in with Citizens Advice Bureau, the pension services, Humberside Fire and Rescue and the North East Lincolnshire Council home energy team) older people can access free checks including home energy checks, fire safety checks and pension and benefit checks.

The team handed out thermal mugs and room thermometers (keeping a room at a certain temperature not only saves money saving but is healthy too).

Martin Wakefield, project manger for the older people’s collaborative, said: “The campaign aimed to bring together relevant organisations that can offer services to older people. By using the hotspot card system, people only needed to sign up once to receive all the free checks rather than having to approach each organisation individually.

“The event was extremely successful with 60 people asking for further information and 20 completing a hotspot card, all of whom will now receive the free checks that can really make a difference.”


“This is a very small step in the right direction towards keeping Post Offices open and giving this vital network a sustainable future," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Secretary, John Thurso.

Commenting on the Government’s proposals to launch a People’s Bank through the Post Office network,
John Thurso said: “The case for a Post Bank is compelling after years of neglect and Post Office closures by Labour.

“The Government’s apparent deathbed conversion will be greeted with a large dose of scepticism by local campaigners whose views have long been ignored.

“The idea of a Post Bank has been around for years now and many of these proposals were already under development.

“This is a very small step in the right direction towards keeping Post Offices open and giving this vital network a sustainable future.”


Nick Clegg was the only party leader who suggested a year ago that MPs should be taken out of the property game altogether, and I’m glad this has been taken up," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House, David Heath.

Commenting on the new expenses rules announced by Sir Ian Kennedy’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa),
David Heath said: “I welcome what Ipsa has published today. They’ve worked very hard to get a workable scheme up and available for the start of the new Parliament.

Nick Clegg was the only party leader who suggested a year ago that MPs should be taken out of the property game altogether, and I’m glad this has been taken up.

“I hope the proposals will now be put in place and we can start the new Parliament with much greater public confidence in a system that is transparent and fair.”


To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Hope Street clinic, and the fifth anniversary of the falls prevention collaborative, people are invited to join them for an open afternoon at Hope Street clinic in Grimsby on Thursday, April 1, between 1pm and 4pm.

Hope Street clinic first opened to patients on April 1, 1940, as an infant welfare and dental clinic and 70 years on it is still serving the local community, now as home to the award-winning Hope specialist service, which provides patient centred, individually tailored assessment, treatment and education for people with chronic respiratory disease and elderly people at risk of falls.

During the afternoon people will be able to explore the clinic, speak to health professionals and volunteers and learn more about the services provided. There will also be a variety of stalls, displays, activities and demonstrations on the day, including:
  • smoothie making demonstrations
  • tai chi demonstrations
  • promotional stands (including the Osteoporosis Society, Franklin College, falls prevention collaborative, piscatorial codgers and grouchy old men’s club)
  • Hope Street history
  • cake stall
  • old-fashioned sweet stall
  • book stall
  • Refreshments will be available from Hope Street’s educating eater cafĂ© throughout the afternoon.

Kylie Farbrace, falls lead, said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Hope Street Clinic and the fifth anniversary of the falls prevention collaborative.

“This open afternoon will provide the perfect opportunity for people to find out more about the services we can offer.”

People wanting more information about the open afternoon and the services provided by the hope specialist service can call the clinic on (01472) 313400.


A new service aimed at vulnerable and hard to reach young people launches in North East Lincolnshire this week.

Shout (sexual health outreach team) will be working alongside the existing young people’s service Choices to provide sexual health advice, contraception and chlamydia screening for young people who have difficulty accessing mainstream services.

Shout will work closely with and support existing services as the Care Trust Plus aims to build on the success of reducing teenage pregnancy rates locally. Statistics released last month indicate that conception rates in young girls aged 15 to 17 have dropped in the borough by a significant 17.6 per cent since 1998. This compares to a 10.9 per cent reduction in the Yorkshire and Humber region and a 13.3 per cent reduction nationally.

Paul Watson, Coast/ Choices team coordinator, said: “There are a significant number of young people who for many reasons find it difficult to access services, either because of where they live or their personal circumstances.

“Shout will provide targeted services to a number of agencies working with vulnerable young people, in addition to providing a rapid response to young people individually.

“In planning Shout, we have carefully listened to young people and involved four young people in the interview process to select our nurse clinicians.

“While young people overwhelmingly rate our Choices service highly, there are a number who need further intensive one-to-one work. I am confident the Shout team will make a real difference in supporting partner agencies and those vulnerable young people who need increased support.”

The service, based at Weelsby View Medical Centre, in Grimsby’s Ladysmith Road, will be delivered by two experienced nurse clinicians, supported by an administrator. The Shout team have received funding for two years during which time they will evaluate their impact.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the new service should ring Paul Watson on (01472) 255216.

Monday, 29 March 2010


70% of NHS hospitals in England are still failing to provide police forces with information that has been proven to significantly cut knife crime, according to research by the Liberal Democrats.

This is a marginal improvement on last year, when 80% of hospitals were not sharing this information.

In the ‘Cardiff Model’, A&E wards in the city have collected information about the precise locations and times of violent incidents and shared it anonymously with the police since 2002. This led to a 40% fall in violent assaults in the first five years.

The research, collected through Freedom of Information requests, shows:
  • Only 44 of the 143 hospital trusts (31%) in England that have replied to the request are following the Cardiff Model
  • The situation is no better in the nine areas in England taking part in the Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP), where only 18 out of 55 trusts (32%) are following the Cardiff Model. Essex had no trusts using the model
  • Violence actually increased during the first year of the TKAP. Hospital admissions for violence increased by 3% in TKAP areas and by 3.1% in other areas between 2008 and 2009

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said: “It is shameful that a year after we first brought this issue to the Government’s attention, seven out of 10 hospital trusts are still not sharing this vital data with the police.

“It beggars belief why anyone would ignore best practice of this kind which drastically reduces woundings.

“There is no point Labour and the Tories posturing on penalties when they won’t even endorse a proven method of what works to cut knife crime.

“Labour is missing an open goal to reduce the damage caused by the Booze Britain they have created.

“Ministers claim to be tackling knife crime but they’re not even following the Cardiff Model in their flagship TKAP areas, where violence is actually on the increase.

“Heads at the Department of Health and the Home Office must be knocked together to ensure that the Cardiff Model is used in every emergency ward in the country.”