Local MP pushes for supermarkets to do more to protect dairy farmers

Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker is urging the government and supermarkets to do more to protect dairy farmers from sharp falls in milk prices.

Norman is concerned that farmers are being forced out of business, a view being shared by The Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee which said farmers were forced out of business every week by factors beyond their control.

Norman saysWhile supermarkets are raking in record profits, dairy farmers are being screwed into the ground, forced to sell their product at less than the cost to produce

Supermarkets also have a moral duty to ensure their suppliers are not having the screws turned to force unfair prices that do not meet the costs of supply

“Clearly, the current system is not currently working in the best interest of all dairy farmers and I agree with the report and are calling for the Groceries Adjudicator to further improve the relationship between dairy farmer and supply chain, including supermarkets.

“Ditchling fly problem should not be avoided like the plague” says local MP

Ditchling MP Norman Baker has commended the efforts of everyone involved in dealing with the resurgent plague of flies in the village but the return of the pests shows that more urgently needs to be done.

Norman has previously contacted the Lewes District Council to highlight his own and constituents’ concerns following the increased number of flies that have infested the area in recent years.

The problem was particularly bad last summer but the unseasonably hot weather, including the heat wave in July, was considered the source of rampant fly numbers. Unfortunately it appears that they have returned early this year and the measures taken over the winter to address this problem have appeared to not have been enough.

Norman says:

“I am very concerned that a large number of flies still seem to be besieging some of my constituents in Ditchling. I have been in close correspondence on this matter with the council and I am confident that they are taking this issue very seriously. I am also very pleased to see that local farmers have not shied away from addressing the problem. 

“I hope to continue to work with all the parties affected in order to solve this issue and put an end to this unwanted and unhealthy plague.”

Boost to local superfast broadband rollout

Local MP Norman Baker has welcomed news that East Sussex County Council will receive a further half million pound grant to support the rollout of super fast broadband.

The money is part of a recently announced £250 million of extra government funding nationwide that will help business start-ups and job creation in some of the UK’s hardest to reach rural areas.  The investment is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future by providing access to superfast broadband, and in allocating funding the government has worked to ensure as many families and businesses as possible benefit.

This funding is in addition to the £1.2 billion already invested by central and local government and will ensure 95% of UK homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband by 2017.

Locally, East Sussex’s ‘go e-sussex’ project to rollout superfast broadband across the region is currently well ahead of schedule despite the recent torrential downpours and flooding. Despite the wettest winter since records began engineers have already installed new fibre cabinets which will bring new areas online and work on the ground has already started in a number of new locations including Newick.

The current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested. As well as improvements in the productivity of broadband enabled firms, faster broadband will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024, and the work involved in the current roll out is expected to provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies, with approximately 35,000 job-years created or safeguarded over the period to 2016. By 2024, the government’s current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275 million every month, or around £9 million every day.

Norman Baker MP says:

I am glad to see East Sussex County Council is really getting the ball rolling on the local high speed broadband across the area. The lack of high speed internet access in rural locations is an issue that many constituents have raised with me in recent times. Without high quality internet access local businesses are being restricted and residents are being left out of the loop. I hope that this latest funding from the coalition government will quicken the work even further.”

Sums don’t add up for local schools

Changes to the way schools are allocated funding has led to problems amongst a group of local schools, says local MP Norman Baker who has now has thrown his weight behind teachers and parents from Priory School, Chailey School and Uckfield Community Technology College in their fight for a fair deal.

Norman Baker arranged a meeting at the Department of Education in London between the head teachers of the affected schools and David Laws, Lib Dem Minister for Schools, so raising concerns at the top level of government. The minister has promised to look into the case personally and will examine the way that East Sussex County Council is allocating funding.

Some local schools have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds cut from their annual budget while others seem awash with money. Potential impacts of these cuts have been raised by the head teachers of the affected schools including:

•    Further increases in class sizes.

•    Reduced ability to improve outcomes for the students, including vulnerable learners and students with special needs.

•    Greater instability in staffing levels (retaining staff becomes more difficult when other schools can offer higher wages) and all our schools have been through restructuring rounds, including redundancies.

•    An increasing ‘gap’ in educational resources between schools.

Last year the Lib Dems introduced the pupil premium, additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers. Without this the situation would be a lot worse.

Norman says:

“I am concerned that despite the Lib Dems bringing in measures at a national level, like the Pupil Premium to help disadvantaged students along, local Tories on the County Council have changed the criteria for school funding in a way that is unfair and has led to problems for many local institutions.”

“Parents are up in arms at the fact that some schools are being left behind in this way whilst others have such excessive budgets that they can afford to buy frivolities like an iPad for every child. More needs to be done to spread the wealth.”