Monday 23 August 2010

‘No ID, No Sale’ policy to stop children buying alcohol and tobacco.

Today I called on local retailers to support the ‘No ID, No Sale!’ campaign which seeks to ensure that only adults can buy alcohol, tobacco and other age-restricted goods.

I visited Dave’s Off Licence on Chantry Walk, Bryn Road, Ashton in Makerfield, where I was joined by proprietor Dave O’Neill, Wigan Council Licensing Enforcement Officer John Brabbin and CitizenCard’s Marketing Manager Nigel Catlow.

The decision by the government to abolish National ID cards make schemes such as CitizenCard an essential weapon in the fight against under-age alcohol and tobacco sales.

I’m urging all young adults in Makerfield to obtain a CitizenCard or similar ID that contains the police-endorsed PASS hologram. Only then can retailers fully implement the ‘No ID, No Sale!’ policy which allows adults to buy whatever they wish whilst ensuring that children cannot buy alcohol, tobacco and other restricted goods.

Dave O’Neill told me that his staff faced dozens of attempts every week to buy alcohol and tobacco. He has no wish to supply alcohol or cigarettes to children and he promotes to younger customers the CitizenCard which means they can prove their age. If the young person cannot present valid ID his staff always refuse the sale.

More than two million CitizenCards have been issued across the UK since the scheme was launched by then Home Office Minister George Howarth in February 1999. I am pleased that the new government has continued the previous government’s policy of supporting the police’s endorsement of CitizenCards and other cards bearing the PASS hologram.

Application forms for a CitizensCard are available at thousands of retailers across the country and can be downloaded here.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Why I welcome mobile giants decision to dump fees on text donations

Both Vodafone and 02 have confirmed that UK-based registered charities will receive the full amount donated by the network’s customers to UK based charities.

I welcome this decision because the popularity of text donations is now recognised as a vital new tool in the fundraising activities of charities with analysts predicting that text message donations could be worth £100million a year by 2015.

The Institute of Fundraising launched a campaign in 2006 to encourage operators to slash their fees (which then amounted to 55p per £1.50 donation), only to abandon the effort in the face of stiff opposition from the operators. The campaign was revived in 2008 in a bid to get movement on the issue.

This will make a big difference to the fundraising potential for charities and in the current economic climate is to be particularly welcomed.

This initiative by two of the UK’s leading mobile operators will assist charities many of whom depend on small donations from the public for their existence. I hope that other mobile providers will now follow this lead as the impact on the charity sector could be significant.

Monday 16 August 2010

Friends of Leyland Park

I really enjoyed visiting the first ever fun day on Leyland Park yesterday.

Organised by The Friends of Leyland Park and supported by local Labour Councillors Jim Talbot and Jim Eccles-Churton the event was rain free and saw a whole range of activities - bouncy castle, slides, face-painting, live music and the first ever public performance by the Hindley Roses Morris Dancers.

A special mention must go to the Friends of Leyland Park who have worked very hard over the past few months to make the fun day the success it was. I hope that more people will get involved and take ownership of their local park.

Hindley Roses Morris Dancers meet at St Benedicts Hall, Hindley on Thursday evenings. For more information contact Lucy 07851579820 or Nina on 07518457661. All ages are welcome.

Friday 6 August 2010

All aboard for the Worsley Mesnes Fun Day

The wet weather certainly didn't stop the fun at the annual Worsley Mesnes North Fun Day.

The Fun Day was held at Worsley Mesnes Community Centre and I was delighted to pop along and join Cllr Billy Rotherham and Cllr Lynne Holland and the team of volunteers who had worked so hard to make the day possible.

The Fun Day is the collective effort of local community groups, along with the support of Wigan Council, Greater Manchester Police and Arena Housing. The packed day of activities assist in helping to raise the profile and funds for the groups working out of the community centre, such as the playgroup and bingo club.

Vicar of St James Parish Hilary Young and community centre volunteers Sharon Lowe, Sarah Meadows and Julie O’Dwyer were rightly singled out for praise by local Councillor Billy Rotherham.

Today’s Fun Day really does help to bring people together and goes to show that community life is strong and vibrant in Worsley Mesnes. It was fantastic to see so many people attend the event. It was a great day with people of all ages enjoying themselves, having fun and sharing common interests.

The free fun activities included bouncy castles, raffles, tombolas plus statutory agencies were on hand to provide help and advice for toddlers, teens, pensioners and people with disabilities.

A BBQ helped to keep the hunger pangs at bay and Wigan Warriors mascot, Max made an appearance to the delight of young Rugby League fans.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Summer activities in Stubshaw Cross

On Tuesday I was delighted to officially open the 7th annual Summer activities scheme organised by Stubshaw Cross Residents' Group. From now and through to Tuesday, 12th August a range of activities including arts and crafts, climbing wall, sports and thanks to the mobile media bus our young people can take part and record their very own pod casts!

Events like this help to bring local communities together and Stubshaw Cross Residents' Group deserve our thanks and support in securing funding and organising this year's event.

The children taking part on the first day were having a great time so I am confident that this year's event will be the best yet and the free pop and crisps for the children was especially appreciated!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

We need an end to 'legal' loan sharking

Today a broad coalition of citizens groups, campaigners, celebrities and myself have called on the government to end legal loan sharking. Currently lenders can charge any price for credit which means some loan and credit companies charge £82 for every £100 lent. Annual interest rate charges of over 2500% are also now common (despite the Bank of England base rate being just 0.5%). Borrowing at these rates repeatedly tips customers into inescapable cycles of debt and poverty. According to the OFT £16,000 of excess profit is made every hour in this sector.

These calls come in the same week that banks reveal vast profits. The campaign highlights that a low Bank of England base rate has not meant cheap credit for customers and further steps must be taken to ensure people have access to low cost, short term, affordable credit. Co-ordinated by the Compass pressure group, this new campaign coalition have called on the government to ban excessive prices for credit and provide alternative sources of credit eg. through credit unions like Wigan based Unify and Welcome. The government has pledged to clampdown on interest rates for credit and store cards and the campaign believes it should do the same for the high cost credit market.

The campaign will be targeting millions of people across Britain through using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

It is a national scandal that door to door lenders are able to charge extortionate rates of interest legally. The time has now come for a cap on all consumer credit. People should turn away from loan sharks and join one of the two credit unions operating in the Borough - Unify and Welcome.

Credit Unions offer a safe and secure alternative with loans available at low interest rates over an agreed repayment period. They are also a great way to save for the future.

See here for more information about this campaign and to sign up to support the campaign.