Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

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21 March 2017

Simon Danczuk, Rochdale’s MP, has urged parents responsible for ‘parental alienation’, the process whereby a parent manipulates their child against an ex-partner or spouse, to be punished in the courts.

Sadly, ‘parental alienation’ is rarely talked about in Parliament, with only eight questions having been asked since 2010 prior to Simon’s debate.

Simon has spent much of his time investigating and exposing allegations of child abuse when politicians, the media and the state were too slow to act.

He introduced Parliament’s first debate on the issue, saying: “Parental alienation is another form of child abuse that has gone both unreported and under-discussed. While Westminster remains silent on the issue, parents and children suffer. The Government and the courts need to recognise parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse, and as such they need to step up efforts to prevent it and, in some circumstances, punish perpetrators”.

Speaking of his own experience, Simon said: “When my parents separated when I was five, my mother portrayed my father, perhaps on occasion faithfully, in a very poor light. In contrast, my father would refuse to say anything bad about my mother”.

He also added: “I have had to work at avoiding being negative in conversation with my two youngest children since my second marriage broke down. Thankfully, my second wife Karen and I, for all our differences, work really hard at putting our children’s emotions first. That is down to good and regular communication”.

While many fathers’ rights groups have rightly been campaigning on this issue for many years, Simon made the crucial observation that both parents can be the victims of ‘parental alienation’. Simon said: “It is important to note that mothers can be the victims as well as the perpetrators”.

Simon concluded his speech by encouraging other MPs to raise awareness of the issue during Parental Alienation Awareness Day next month on 25 April.

Justice Minister Oliver Heald thanked Simon for his contribution, saying: "it is right to say at the outset that the Government are considering family justice matters at the moment with a view to having a Green Paper later this year.

"With that in mind, [Simon] has highlighted an important concern. I was sorry to hear of his own personal experience of parental alienation, which must make this an issue of particular concern to him, and the House will have been moved by that".

 

 

 

 

Simon Danczuk leads Parliament’s first ever debate on ‘parental alienation’

  21 March 2017 Simon Danczuk, Rochdale’s MP, has urged parents responsible for ‘parental alienation’, the process whereby a parent manipulates their child against an ex-partner or spouse, to be...

*From Rochdale Online, 20 March 2017 (available at: http://bit.ly/2mIwMoC)

20 March 2017

Mini Mees nursery, on Healing Street, off Oldham Road, has been officially opened by Simon Danczuk MP.

The nursery caters for children from infants to pre-school. It also runs before and after school clubs and holiday clubs for school children.

Mr Danczuk praised the new owner Nicola Mee for her enterprise and hard work in setting up the nursery.

He said: "Nicola has been an exceptional child-minder for many years. She has taken the brave step of setting up a new nursery and has invested her life savings in creating a wonderful place. It has flown through all the Ofsted inspections.

"Mini Mees is a great facility; welcoming, safe and caring. And she has opened it in an area that needs more quality nursery places. Well done to her and her small team."

Nicola said: "It has always been my ambition to open a nursery to provide a service for the local community and supporting local schools in providing a school holiday club to help support working families.

"Council Leader and local Councillor Richard Farnell has been a massive help. I couldn't and wouldn't have been able to sort the planning application out if it was not for all his time, effort and full support."

Councillor Farnell said: "Hats off to Nicola and her team. She has saved a rundown office from ruin and turned it into somewhere special that will be a real asset to the local community.

"It is a first-class facility for local children. She ran into difficulty with some silly planning rules and I didn’t hesitate to help when she got in touch for assistance.

“I know Nicola will go from strength to strength now she’s up and running.”

Mini Mees nursery opened by Simon Danczuk MP

*From Rochdale Online, 20 March 2017 (available at: http://bit.ly/2mIwMoC) 20 March 2017 Mini Mees nursery, on Healing Street, off Oldham Road, has been officially opened by Simon Danczuk MP. The...

10 March 2017

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, did little on Wednesday to calm the storm around business rates when he delivered his budget to Parliament.

Speaking in Parliament, Simon Danczuk, Rochdale’s MP, warned: “I suspect that some business people will be sceptical about the Chancellor’s announcement that he is to conduct a review of business rates. The last Chancellor (Mr Osborne) proposed a review in the run-up to the 2015 general election, but we have seen nothing of it”.

In particular, towns like Rochdale have been at an unfair disadvantage because of the current system.

Simon said: “businesses in towns such as Rochdale have had to carry a disproportionate burden for additional years when their ratable value had actually fallen as a result of the impact of the recession. Businesses in London, and particularly in the south-east, were advantaged by the revaluation cancellation”.

Businesses in Rochdale and similar towns will now be sceptical about the new £50 cap on any business rates increase, not least because no such limit was offered to them when they were experiencing difficulties throughout the past four years.

The Chancellor also announced a £1,000 discount in business rates for 90% of pubs. Commenting on the discount, Simon said: “I suspect that it will not go very far”, adding that “it will be ‘small beer’ for pubs that face major business rate increases this year”. Simon has long been a champion of pubs, and backed the Baum’s successful bid for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA’s) Pub of the Year 2012. The Baum faces a ratable value rise of 377%.

Raising the point that pubs’ business rates are based on turnover rather than rent levels, he said: “In many respects, that is a tax on entrepreneurialism”.

Simon also welcomed a £300 million discretionary fund for local government. He said: “Rochdale council has already led the way in devising a business rates reduction scheme to help new independent retailers in the town centre, so I understand the logic, but we now need to see how that £300 million will be shared between local authorities across the country”.

Simon praised measures from the Chancellor to help drive local economies: “I believe that the Government were right to adopt a 50% business rate retention scheme for local authorities, and I welcome the piloting of a 100% retention scheme”.

Looking forward, Simon proposed a vision for the future of rates reform: “First, there must be a proper review of the whole business rates scheme, including the Valuation Office Agency, which clearly is not fit for purpose. Secondly, I welcome councils retaining business rates, but the Government must now give local authorities more freedom over how they allocate, set and collect this tax. Thirdly, the Government needs to overhaul them to the point where they are seen as fair and equitable across all towns and cities in the country, not just some.”

Following the budget, Simon criticised the Government’s broken manifesto promise not to increase national insurance credits: “The Government should be encouraging entrepreneurialism. Instead, it is stifling the self-employed by raising taxes”.

On a more positive note, Simon welcomed the news that social care was to benefit from a £2 billion windfall. However, he was sceptical about the Government’s ability to deliver it: “There is no doubt that social care is the new frontline for our public services. I welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to provide an extra £2 billion. However, the Government must now ensure that these funds are allocated to local authorities fairly. I fear that it may not be enough to prevent the decline of social care into a postcode lottery”.

Chancellor’s budget is “small beer” for local businesses, says Rochdale’s MP

10 March 2017 The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, did little on Wednesday to calm the storm around business rates when he delivered his budget to Parliament. Speaking in Parliament, Simon Danczuk,...

 

10 March 2017

Simon Danczuk has continued to press the Government to look into fraudulent uses of legal aid.

Speaking in Parliament, Simon asked the Minister for Court and Justice (Sir Oliver Heald): “What proportion of legal aid is allocated to cases of foreign nationals convicted in the UK who are appealing against deportation?”

Unhelpfully, the Minister was unable to answer, saying that: “It is not possible to isolate cases of that type using the data recorded by the Legal Aid Agency”.

Commenting on the Minister’s response, Simon said: “The Minister couldn’t answer a simple question. I find it remarkable that the Government doesn’t have a clue about the amount money it spends on legal aid”.

Highlighting the alleged bad practice of the lawyers for the Rochdale grooming gang, Burton and Burton, Simon said that Justice McCloskey had condemned them for “gaming the system” for their own advantage. Simon asked: “What steps is the Minister taking to look at the bad use of legal aid?”

The Minister replied: “As the hon. Gentleman may know, the Legal Aid Agency does investigate cases that are brought to its attention, and there have been recent examples where contracts have been removed. It is also important to make the point that, even where there is the possibility of legal aid and representation for foreign national offenders, it is limited to cases involving the refugee convention”.

Simon Danczuk presses Government to look into bad uses of legal aid

  10 March 2017 Simon Danczuk has continued to press the Government to look into fraudulent uses of legal aid. Speaking in Parliament, Simon asked the Minister for Court and...

 

8 March 2017

Simon Danczuk and Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs have joined forces to ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ this March and help Marie Curie provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness.

Simon and Jason were pictured together with Marie Curie Nurses Sally Monger-Godfrey and Lib Wolley at a Parliamentary event in Westminster to celebrate the launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal, Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign.

Simon gave his support to the appeal and is encouraging local people to help the charity raise money by giving a donation and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin, available from volunteers across the country.

Simon said: “Marie Curie do great work caring for those with a terminal illness and I’m proud to support them. We can help them provide the vital care that terminally ill people need by making a donation and wearing a Mare Curie daffodil pin.

“£20 pays for an hour of nursing care. This donation can mean that families can spend time with their loved ones away from hospital and at home, which can make all the difference.

“We can make sure that no one misses out on the care they need. I encourage everyone to donate and wear their daffodil with pride this March”.

Jason, who is best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, said: “I’m delighted to be here with Simon to help launch Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.

“Please help us make every daffodil count.  The charity is also calling on more people to help with local collections.  Volunteering a couple hours of your time will make such a difference to the care and support that Marie Curie can provide.”

Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said: “Having the support of Simon and Jason makes a huge difference to Marie Curie in terms of raising awareness about what we do and helping us to reach more people who need us.

“Our services rely on charitable donations, so I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who gives a donation and wears a daffodil pin during March.”

Sally Monger Godfrey, Marie Curie Nurse and face of The Great Daffodil Appeal, said: “Make every daffodil count. Your daffodil means I can care for someone in their own home, and be there for them through the night. You make a difference to people at the end of their lives, which in many ways is just as important as at the start.”

Simon Danczuk backs Marie Curie’s ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ campaign this March

  8 March 2017 Simon Danczuk and Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs have joined forces to ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ this March and help Marie Curie provide care and support...

8 March 2017

Simon Danczuk has visited small businesses along Milnrow Road to celebrate the contribution that they make to Rochdale and to raise awareness of some of the many issues that they face.

The parade of shops on Milnrow Road, Newbold is home to a number of successful local businesses, including a Chinese takeaway, a convenience store and hair salon. These businesses are embedded firmly into the local community: the Polish Shop has been there for ten years while Newbold Refrigeration has been trading for nearly a quarter of a century.

Temptations Sandwich Bar is a family-run business. Stephanie Hillen, who owns the business, said: “Fortunately there are no major issues for us on Milnrow Road. We live and work locally and are happy with the strong spirit of community in the area”.

While business people are happy with the area, many raised concerns with business rates and one was concerned with rent levels for their property.

Simon said: “I listened to the concerns that were raised, and I am in full agreement that the Government has to do more to support the local economy across Rochdale. In particular, the current business rates system is not fit for purpose as it is a strain on small businesses and bares no relation to their ability to pay. It is a fact that rates are too high. They must be made fairer, more logical and beneficial to local businesses.

“With support from the Council, businesses in Rochdale have benefited from a number of positive moves including free town-centre parking and a £1 million fund to help business relocate to our town. I intend to help the Council build on these successes.

“I am pleased that businesses along Milnrow Road are doing well, and I will work to ensure that they continue to do so”.

Simon Danczuk listens to the voice of Rochdale’s small businesses

8 March 2017 Simon Danczuk has visited small businesses along Milnrow Road to celebrate the contribution that they make to Rochdale and to raise awareness of some of the many...

2 March 2017

Simon Danczuk has called for a UK-wide year of the dad to raise awareness of the important role that fathers play in the life of their children, following the example set in Scotland in 2016.

Fathers Network Scotland campaigned to make 2016 unforgettable as Year of Dad, highlighting the importance of a strong relationship between fathers and their children, and in the process dispelled some of the myths about fathers and celebrated the positive role that they have in their children’s lives. Simon Danczuk has called on the UK Government to build on the momentum by rolling it out not just in Scotland but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Simon said: “What I have studied of the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. That businesses, charities and public sector organisations are all coming out to promote and celebrate the role of fathers is to be appreciated”.

Research shows that both mothers and children benefit from the fathers’ healthy involvement in family life.

Unfortunately, more support needs to be offered to fathers to help them build a strong relationship with their child. Commenting on the shockingly low number of men who take up parental leave, Simon said: “we have a lot to do to change the culture so that men feel more comfortable in approaching their employers to be able to take time off to support the children and mothers”.

Simon added: “we have to look at changes in legislation to make access for fathers easier and simpler when a separation has occurred. Another particularly important point is parental alienation, where, following a separation, one or indeed both parents psychologically harm the child—it is effectively child abuse—by convincing the child that the other parent is not doing a good job”.

Matt O’Connor, the founder of Fathers 4 Justice, has spoken about several tragic cases where fathers who have lost contact with their children have thrown themselves under trains or off bridges. He has also highlighted Department for Work and Pensions data showing that parents who leave their children are almost three times more likely to die earlier than the average.

Simon said: “Even in the best of circumstances, separation can cause and exacerbate problems for the individuals involved. I welcome the success of Scotland’s Year of the Dad campaign, which should be rolled out across the country. It would particularly help fathers who are separated from their children, and we should build on its successes”.

Simon Danczuk calls for UK-wide Year of the Dad

2 March 2017 Simon Danczuk has called for a UK-wide year of the dad to raise awareness of the important role that fathers play in the life of their children,...

1 March 2017

Following a complaint made by Simon Danczuk, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority has launched an inquiry into the lawyers acting for the Rochdale grooming gang.

Four members of the gang are facing deportation back to Pakistan to serve their time, but the process has been delayed by lawyers who were gaming the system by making repeated and unsubstantiated requests for adjournment.

The law firm, Burton and Burton, has been accused of weakening the rule of law through stalling tactics, all the while claiming legal aid fees funded by the taxpayer, and will be investigated for delaying justice for the victims of paedophiles.

Justice McCloskey, president of the immigration chamber, has said that “scarce judicial and administrative resources have been wasted in dealing with repeated requests by the appellants’ solicitors for an adjournment”.

In a letter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority which initiated the inquiry, Mr Danczuk said: “This does not appear to be a one-off but a systemic problem which clearly needs to be dealt with. It has delayed justice for the victims of these paedophiles, who I know are frustrated at the handling of this case, and has made a mockery of our justice system”.

Commenting on the launch of the investigation into the Solicitors, Simon said: “I am pleased that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is taking seriously my complaint about the solicitors Burton and Burton, and are to investigate the matter.

“I have a number of concerns regarding the conduct of this firm of solicitors, who have made repeated requests for adjournment, generating fees in the process. By unnecessarily dragging out the trial, they have allowed the perpetrators of these crimes to remain in the UK.

“By acting in this way, these solicitors are working to prevent criminal foreign nationals returning to their country of origin.

The victims of the crimes committed by the four men in question must not be forgotten. They have waited long enough for justice, and it is only right and proper that the perpetrators of these crimes now serve their time in a Pakistani jail”.

Simon added: “There is no doubt that some solicitors have been dragging out the tribunal process. We need to think about the rights of the child victims who cannot get over these horrific crimes while the legal process is being dragged out by abusers and their representatives”.

Rochdale's MP leads on investigation into lawyers behind grooming gang

1 March 2017 Following a complaint made by Simon Danczuk, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority has launched an inquiry into the lawyers acting for the Rochdale grooming gang. Four members of...

1 March 2017

For some parts of the country the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 may be a distant memory. But for many across the North West in towns like Rochdale, the recovery is still ongoing. Local businesses were hit particularly hard, with losses in stock and trade and in some cases closure of their premises. There is a real fear that future floods and the rising cost of insurance in high-risk areas will force more businesses to close or relocate.

Simon Danczuk has delivered a speech in Parliament on the devastating impact that the floods had, outlining the importance of proper Government funding to prevent future disasters for towns like Rochdale.

Simon said: "It is clear that real protection from flooding must be delivered. This means preventing flooding in the first place".

The River Roch flows through the centre of Rochdale, and is the main source of flooding in the town. In November 2016, more heavy rainfall hit Rochdale. Fortunately, far fewer people were affected than in the previous year's floods. Nevertheless, Rochdale Council, under he direction of council leader Richard Farnell, were quick to provide emergency funds to residents and undertake an extensive clean-up operation.

Simon said: "I am pleased that Rochdale Council and the regional flood and coastal committee are committed to managing and reducing flood risks caused by the river. They both want to see a successful flood alleviation project delivered as soon as possible, and have worked closely with the Environment Agency to put together a plan for the borough". Rochdale Council has council has contributed towards a £7 million budget to protect 800 homes and 400 businesses.

Simon congratulated Rochdale Council in their completion of rive defences in the town centre and at Calderbrook, but warned the Government that more needs to be done: "I am somewhat dismayed that rather than offering financial support, DEFRA (Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs) has asked me to find further partnership funding. Rochdale Council has worked extensively with the Environment Agency to maximise partnership funding, and I am sure that such efforts will continue, but I believe that such an urgent scheme as the one in Rochdale should be eligible for more central Government funding".

Last year, many in Rochdale had anticipated extra funding to tackle the risk of flooding but were left bitterly disappointed when no such help was offered in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Flooding can have a hugely damaging effect on people's lives, not just financially but emotionally, as people naturally have connections not just to their treasured belongings but also their homes, local shops and the wider community has a whole. Therefore it is essential that the Government puts momentum behind future flood defence schemes in order to protect us from the ravages of flooding.

Theresa Coffey, Minister for Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs, responded: "I listened carefully to what the hon. member for Rochdale said and I will follow up on the issues he raised".

 

Simon Danczuk holds Government to account over flood defences

1 March 2017 For some parts of the country the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 may be a distant memory. But for many across the North West in towns...

24 February 2017

In recent years the Commonwealth has appeared to be an irrelevance to many in the international community. Likewise, successive UK governments have failed to make the most out of our relationships with our Commonwealth partners in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Yet this can change. As we chart our course out of the EU and into the world, our vision of an open Britain must mean increased economic cooperation with the Commonwealth.

Speaking in Parliament, Simon said: “It is incumbent on MPs to ensure we get the best trade deals possible. For me, while it might not be the silver bullet to solve all our country’s economic uncertainties, increasing trade with the Commonwealth is just common sense.

“We have historical ties to these countries, and while much of our colonial history is shameful these close ties still exist. Ties, such as the English language and a familiar administrative and legal system, breakdown communication barriers between our businesses and foreign traders.”

Simon added: “Rochdale has a dynamic diaspora of Bangladeshi, Kashmiri and Pakistani communities who have contributed much to our town. Such communities can play a bigger role in driving trade and investment between the UK and the Commonwealth. They often know the countries better than any of us sitting in Westminster”.

A House of Commons report revealed that member states where not making the most of the economic and trading opportunities offered by the Commonwealth.

Rochdale’s MP also urged the Government to maintain its commitment to human rights and democracy.

Simon warned: “I worry that in the coming years Britain will turn a blind eye to police brutality in Kashmir in order to secure a free trade deal with India. Or that Awami League government attacks on political and press freedoms will be ignored as Britain increases economic ties with Bangladesh.

“If we turn a blind eye to injustices and human rights abuses in countries such as these in order to secure trade deals, it would be a damning indictment of our country and would completely hollow out the Commonwealth.

In an earlier Parliamentary debate, Simon asked: “Does the Minister agree that increased assistance to promote democracy in countries such as Bangladesh is a vital part of strengthening ties between the UK and members of the Commonwealth?”

By all means let’s promote trade with the Commonwealth, but while we do so we must remember that it’s our values which make both the Commonwealth and Britain great.

 

 

 

UK should enhance trade with Commonwealth partners, but that can’t be at the expense of our values

24 February 2017 In recent years the Commonwealth has appeared to be an irrelevance to many in the international community. Likewise, successive UK governments have failed to make the most...


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