Retford Times: 4 December 2014

The recent fire in Retford claimed one life and destroyed the flats that several other people lived in. It is important that investigators are able to piece together what happened to cause the fire and there is no use in speculating at this stage – as Councillor Alan Chambers told this paper, this is a time for Retford to support those who need it. As a general point, however, residents should be aware that safety measures in flats especially can be life-saving and it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure that properties meet the necessary specifications. If you are concerned that your property is unsafe, or it would be difficult for you to leave in the event of a fire, contact your landlord to inform them of your situation.

My plan to move Government departments out of London is gaining considerable support. The benefits are obvious - instead of cutting police numbers and support for the NHS, the next Government should sell off the prime real estate in the centre of London that currently houses several departments. The jobs in each department should then be moved further north to new premises, resulting in a net saving of millions of pounds to the taxpayer. The UK would also benefit from more key decisions being made outside of the bubble occupied by the London elite. The last few years have shown how out of touch London politicians are with the rest of the country and moving Government jobs away from the capital will give much-needed perspective. Last year I put forward proposals to Parliament which would move departments to Nottingham, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. It is time to spread wealth and jobs more evenly around the country – it is a bonus that we can make money back for the taxpayer in the process.

Last week it was announced that Stagecoach and Virgin are to take over the running of the East Coast line. The success of East Coast rail has cemented the popularity of renationalising our railways and demonstrated the folly of simply privatising everything that we own. The publicly-run line earned the taxpayer almost £1 billion over five years and rates consistently as one of the best for passenger satisfaction. It is important to remember that the taxpayer had to step in before to save the line after the private provider fell apart, but now we are selling one of our best assets. Little has been promised that will benefit Retford and the suspicion is that the sell-off has been for ideological reasons as opposed to being in the best interests of passengers.

I was delighted recently to visit staff at the TSB branch on Carolgate who have raised £4000 for charity over the past year with a variety of fundraising events. Well done to everyone at TSB and I am sure all readers will wish them well with their charity efforts.

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