In the last month there have been three serious house fires in Bassetlaw resulting in two tragic deaths. The causes will be determined by the appropriate authorities, but the spate of fires should make us all take extra care this Christmas. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue has released advice on the hazards most likely to cause problems at this time of year. They advise avoiding overloading sockets with plugs for several sets of lights, turning off and unplugging Christmas lights, taking extra care if using candles and never leave cooking unattended.
Firefighters from Bassetlaw were in fact in Parliament this week to attend a debate on the Government’s plans to dramatically alter their pensions. They have been put in a terrible position by the Government which has forced them to go on strike this year. The proposals will lead to job losses and seriously affect firefighters’ pensions. We could all be affected as firefighters as old as 60 would be required to carry people out of the window of burning houses. That worries me. The Government can find the money to pay each member of the House of Lords £300 a day for turning up to Westminster and thousands of extra pounds for every useless Minister that is fired from their job. Unfortunately the vote to support the firefighters was voted down, but there is still time for the Government to do the right thing.
There is currently a lot of debate around “English votes for English laws.” The real issue here is that communities do not have enough powers over the decisions that affect their local area. The same principles apply to determinations on housing and fracking. I made this clear in Parliament last week - if local Bassetlaw communities say that they do not want fracking or housing on a particular site they should have the right to make that decision, not a Government Minister or Inspector.
Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities in Bassetlaw work hard to raise money over the festive period to fund their work throughout the year. Almost all collections are genuine but occasionally we come across people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. It’s vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place. The Charity Commission and Fundraising Standards Board have to come together to issue a few simple tips for donating with confidence this Christmas: Always look for a charity’s name, registration number and landline on fundraising materials. Then ask to see a collector’s ID badge and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Extra information about charities can be found at www.gov.uk/charity-commission. Always make sure that clothing collection bags are clearly branded with a charity’s details and always check email and web links are genuine before donating. If you are still unsure you can always contact your favourite charity directly to donate.