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On Monday 4th September, campaigners from the Stevenage Labour Party and Hertford residents who set up the petition to stop the planned removal of the important Hertford – Stevenage rail link were outside the Stevenage Railway Station calling for the rail link to be saved. In addition, they were publicising the public meeting in Watton-at-Stone, scheduled to take place on the evening of 7th September, in Watton-at-Stone Primary and Nursery school at 7.30pm.

County Councillor Joshua Bennett Lovell (Old Stevenage) who was present at the Station and helped organise the campaign event said, “The plans make no long-term sense. Our local residents and people commuting into and through Stevenage depend on this rail-link. Removing it and replacing it with a bus service between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stops cyclists from taking their bicycle on their trips, puts additional traffic on the busy A602 creating more congestion chaos at rush hour, increases pollution, and also makes access to important infrastructure such as the Lister Hospital far more difficult.”

“We need a solution that focuses on the needs of our residents, and our local environment. The local Labour Party strongly encourages Hertford, Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage residents to go along to the public consultation meeting and demand a change in this decision. The lack of joined-up thinking involved here is unfathomable; there are increased public-health risks and safety concerns with this rail link removal. We are calling on our Hertfordshire MPs and Govia Thameslink Railway to think again on the introduction of their 2018 timetable and keep this vital local link open.”

The change.org petition to stop the planned changes to Govia Thameslink Railway’s 2018 timetable has gathered over 2700 signatures online and can be found here: https://v.gd/Eb8jCC

The UK Government rejected an initial petition calling for this service to be retained as this was not considered within the remit of the Government’s control (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171337). This in itself was described by Councillor Bennett Lovell as “bewildering.” He said “The Government’s response demonstrates that they have handed over all control of our local railway transportation network to a private rail operating company who clearly, as this case has shown, do not have the concerns of our residents in mind. Nationally, Labour is calling for the re-introduction of a fully publicly owned and run railway network, which we fully support. Only by making our transport system publicly accountable can we control which routes and services are run, and ensure that the cost of these is reduced as much as possible for rail users.”

 Stevenage Labour Party calls for the introduction of a 5th platform to be accelerated which will provide the infrastructure needed at our railway station to strengthen our local economy, improve the connectivity between Stevenage and the rest of the UK, and ensure that this important rail link can remain operational when needed by people in our town.

Opposing Planned Hertford – Stevenage Rail Link Removal

On Monday 4th September, campaigners from the Stevenage Labour Party and Hertford residents who set up the petition to stop the planned removal of the important Hertford – Stevenage rail...

Within the space of a week, workers in Stevenage have been served a double helping of terrible (state pension age increases) and brilliant news (the Supreme Court decision that employment tribunal fees are unlawful).

State pension age changes will cost an estimated £10,000 extra per person, and affect over 11,000 people in Stevenage alone (those born between 6 April 1970 – 5 April 1978). This is an enormous sum of money at a time of unprecedented inequality, and further suggests that greater pension age misery is on the horizon for people born after April 1978. Bizarrely, the Tories didn’t mention raising the state pension age in their 2017 General Election manifesto.

 

On a much brighter note, the announcement that employment tribunal fees, introduced by the Tory and Liberal Democrat Coalition government in 2013, have been deemed illegal, following a lengthy legal battle won by the trade union, Unison, must bring great joy to countless people in Stevenage. For many, the cost of these fees are more than they earn in a month, and have meant that people who had been unfairly dismissed could not afford to seek justice after being sacked. It is wonderful news to hear that the government will now be reimbursing people these costs though it is a pity this decision did not come sooner for so many. Justice for all workers sacked without the ability to challenge their employers must now be the next step in rectifying this debacle.

Having been made aware of mail sent to local residents from our Tory MP on this very matter, his lack of support for our residents being forced to pay thousands of pounds to access justice deserves to be highlighted following the Supreme Court ruling. It is a pity he didn’t Stand Up For Stevenage in 2013, when he was absent from the vote in Parliament on introducing employment tribunal fees.

 

Employment and pension rights are crucial for ensuring that all of us are guaranteed a decent standing of living whilst in work, and when we retire. These must be protected and extended. I encourage everyone reading this article that if they are not already, to join a trade union and join the Labour Party to help fight these draconian changes to employment law (please see the links below).

Both of these recent news items serve as timely lessons to us all as to how far the Tories and Liberal Democrats are prepared to go to inflict austerity budget cuts, pass more anti-working-class laws, and keep all of us working into increasingly older ages. This is a victory for the workers in a battle for employment justice, but all our efforts are still required to reverse the backwards steps taken over recent years.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union 
https://join.labour.org.uk 

County Councillor Joshua Bennett Lovell – Old Stevenage Division

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"Victory for Workers in Battle for Employment Justice" - Councillor Bennett Lovell

Within the space of a week, workers in Stevenage have been served a double helping of terrible (state pension age increases) and brilliant news (the Supreme Court decision that employment...

“There can be a different future. It’s a future where you invest in public services. It’s a future where you treat people with dignity. It’s a future where you really care about the next generation.” – Keir Starmer MP

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Meeting attendees with Keir Starmer ahead of his speech

Following a hectic double whammy of local and General elections, Stevenage Labour Party took a breather on Saturday to reflect on the last five months, look forward to the next set of elections, and discuss the state of Brexit negotiations, with Keir Starmer MP.

Kicking the afternoon off with an election debrief, the fighting spirit was still clearly burning for many after a very positive, if sadly unsuccessful, General Election campaign. With a 9.2% increase in votes for Labour (1.75% swing), the Conservative MP’s majority was slashed to just 3,384 – the best parliamentary result locally since 2005. Lessons learned this time around will be put to good use making our next campaign smarter and stronger, so we can turn Stevenage Labour again.

The focus then turned to the local stage, with current Stevenage Borough councillors and former candidates talking about their experiences of running for office across Stevenage, ahead of our selection processes for 2018. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for councillors talking about their experiences in local government over the next couple of months, and do get in touch if you want to stand for the Labour Party!

Special guest Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn & St Pancras, and Shadow Secretary for Exiting the European Union, gave an inspiring talk about ending austerity, and his work across Europe as Brexit negotiations continue. Keir’s criticism of Theresa May’s election performance was scathing:

“One of the tragedies of the election is that the result has got the Brexit talks off to the worst possible start. The UK has lost authority because Theresa May has lost authority.”

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Keir with Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council (just one of many selfies with members!)

With Theresa May’s grip on power significantly weakened after the GE, she now needs to “reset her tone and approach” to Brexit negotiations to a more collaborative tone, since she can no longer force through her extreme version of Brexit. In contrast, Labour is taking a larger role in Europe, as the government in waiting Senior Shadow Ministers such as Keir Starmer have been meeting with EU Officials to outline our approach – one that puts people, jobs, and the economy first.

Keir also spoke about the need for Labour to keep campaigning and the additional sense of purpose and unity in the party forged during the General Election:

“We need to step up and really take on the challenge of winning the next election…And we can do it!”

We’re looking forward to welcoming Keir back for our election victory party – whenever that may be 😉!

A huge thanks to all who came on Saturday and took part - the fight continues! Our next All Member meeting will be in September and we’d love to see you there (look out for details in emails to follow).

 

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Members from across North Herts CLPs with Kier Starmer 

“The sooner the next election comes the better!” Keir Starmer MP Fires up Post-election All Member Meeting

“There can be a different future. It’s a future where you invest in public services. It’s a future where you treat people with dignity. It’s a future where you really...

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