Sudden demand for beds shows folly of closure plan

The surge in demand which led to the emergency opening of wards for patients being discharged from Royal Stoke University Hospital (Royal Stoke) over the weekend shows the dangers of the rush to close beds, says Rob

The Sycamore ward at Bradwell hospital was due to close at the weekend but was kept open at the last minute, and a children’s ward at Royal Stoke has had to be repurposed to meet demand following an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug in three of its wards.

“This is a very timely reminder of the dangers of closing community beds”, said Rob, “and there is no question in my mind that the lack of beds will severely damage health care in our city.  We are not even into the worst of winter and already we’re seeing these beds being needed, yet the CCG is still forcing through closures?  Yet again the whole process is shown to be a shambles driven by accountants not doctors.”

Rob calls for compensation for cheated British lorry firms

Rob is demanding lorry owners receive thousands of pounds compensation after it emerged they have been cheated by a cartel of manufacturers.  British hauliers were ripped off by as much as £9000 per vehicle because the group fixed prices at inflated levels.  Big names including Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF have been hit with a £2.52 billion fine for secretly passing on the cost of tougher emission controls to customers.

“Anyone who bought a new truck between 1997 and 2011 from one of the cartel cheats should be due a payout and they shouldn’t have to go to court to get it,” said Rob, who is a member of the Transport Select Committee and chairman of the All Party Group on Freight.  “These big companies have been sitting on cash belonging to British businesses for years and they should be forced to cough up without waiting for a solicitor’s letter.  It’s hard enough for players in our freight sector, especially the smaller ones, to make a decent living, without being conned by giant global corporations.”

The government delay which could be costing every driver £50 per year

Rob is demanding that the government stops dragging its heels over releasing the results of a consultation about whiplash injuries in car accidents.  Experts in the insurance industry suggest possible changes to the law could mean drivers would save £40 - £50 each on their premiums, as they have promised to pass any savings to customers.

Rob says, “Back in May, the minister, Lord Faulks, said the consultation findings wouldn’t be released until after the referendum – an excuse which, like the minister himself, now seems to be well and truly expired.  His replacement, Oliver Heald, presumably has the document sitting in a drawer somewhere.  Has he read it?  If so, isn’t it time the rest of us had a look, please?”

Blame for High Speed 2 missed opportunity “lies squarely at the coalition’s door”

Rob and fellow local MP Ruth Smeeth have blasted the ruling coalition on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as a new report made it ever more unlikely that the city will see any benefit from the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway line.

The latest publication from HS2 Limited proposes a link between Stafford and the HS2 line but makes hardly any mention of Stoke-on-Trent at all, instead providing simple assurances that quicker journey times to Stafford will boost the economy as a whole.

“I am absolutely stunned by this recent development”, said Rob, “and I am furious with the City Council - what on earth have they been doing these last 18 months?!

“As soon as it became clear that we were going to be denied a proper HS2 stop the Council should have been doing all it could to get the maximum possible benefit for the city.  That’s what they said they were doing, so they’ve either decided not to bother or failed miserably in their efforts. 

Rob calls for more police to combat “mobile madness”

Without more investment in traffic police the number of drivers putting lives at risk by using their mobile phones on the move is bound to keep rising. 

Rob said, “Evidence to the transport committee showed that the number of specialist road policing officers in England and Wales fell from 7,104 to 4,356 between 2005 and 2014.  Those numbers fell by almost a quarter between 2010 and 2014, ie under this government.  At the same time, the number of recorded traffic offences dropped from more than four million to one and a half million.  Does that mean people are driving better?  Obviously not; it’s just easier to get away with dangerous behaviour.”

Airports and steel workers – why some are more equal than others

With the Government looking set to back a third runway at Heathrow, Rob says that in reality the decision is a smack in the face for the thousands who have lost their jobs in industries such as our beleaguered steel sector.  “The Prime Minister’s claim to want to ‘use the power of the state to build a fairer Britain’ is clearly a lie”, he says.

Rob, who is a member of the Transport Select committee and chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freight, says it was right for Mrs May to stop dithering about how to enlarge the country’s air capacity.  “However,” he says, “once again the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people are ignored while selective big business is showered with government support, in this case to the tune of £9 billion pounds.”

Rob says he has no problem with the decision to choose Heathrow for expansion if that is the right one for the country.  He says what has angered him is that, “another Tory government is preparing to throw huge amounts of cash at what might turn out to be a highly profitable project for a private company, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd., which is primarily owned by Spanish, Qatari, Canadian, Singaporean and Chinese investors.  Does anyone really think there would be such a clamour for more capacity if big business didn’t stand to make huge amounts from it?  I have no problem with that.  We want our companies to be successful.  The question is, why does the taxpayer, including those steelworkers facing the destruction of their industry, have to pay for it?  The Tories say they don’t believe in state intervention in industry.  Tell that to the people of Port Talbot, Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.  Tell it to people in Redcar and Scunthorpe.  The money’s coming out of their pockets.

“Mrs May told her party conference she wants to, ‘stand up for the weak... up to the powerful.’  It didn’t take long for those easy words to prove to be hollow and empty.”

Rob urges transport and freight sectors, “Get your Brexit bids in quickly”

Rob Flello, says the freight and transport sectors need to decide quickly what their bottom line is on Brexit or risk not having any say at all over the future.  The MP says he has heard a whole host of demands from different voices in the industry but that the time has come to decide precisely what the priorities are.

“We all know the government is rudderless over Brexit,” he says, “and frankly hasn’t a clue what its negotiating position is going to be.  The final deal, if one is ever reached, will be a mess, and a lot of people will find decisions have been made which dramatically affect how they can do business.  It is vital for the transport and freight sectors to work out what their most pressing concerns are and then lobby government hard to ensure that the most basic conditions are met to enable them to trade successfully in future.”

Extra mental health training for Police Officers shows Government’s failure, not progress

Rob has questioned the motives behind news that Police Officers will now receive a minimum of two days training on mental health issues to address the increased demand on their services.  Over the last decade the use of powers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, which allow the police to remove someone from a public place, have almost doubled nationwide, placing increased demand on already-stretched police resources.

“While extra training is always welcomed”, said Rob, “it should be to enable officers to enhance their skills, not to replace mental health staff.  I have noticed a definite increase in the number of people who are seeking my assistance due to problems with mental health services, and all too often when they reach crisis point the only advice I am given by mental health professionals is to call the Police.

Rob condemns Government’s economic U-turn as millions continue to suffer its austerity measures

Rob has condemned the Government’s ‘muddled’ economic policy, as new Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced a U-turn on 6 years of Conservative policy at their annual conference.

Speaking on Monday, Hammond announced that the Government would cancel George Osborne’s plan to balance the nation’s books by 2020 and instead invest its way out of the deficit, exactly echoing Labour Party policy from 2010 which the Tories had previously derided as unworkable.

Rob says new rail deal must put Stoke-on-Trent at the forefront of improvements

Rob has given a cautious welcome to the extension of Arriva’s contract to provide Cross Country rail services, but he is warning that improvements must be made which benefit his constituents.

The Department of Transport has announced an extension to the deal to run until October 2019.  The company has agreed to improve journey times between Manchester and Birmingham by nine to twelve minutes and to provide “free and faster Wi-Fi” to customers. 

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