A CAMPAIGNING MP’s fight to save a West Lancashire village post office from closure has ended in victory.
The district’s Labour MP Rosie Cooper won her battle to save Newburgh Post Office, on Course Lane, before the official consultation period had even started.
It was reported the branch’s future was left hanging in the balance because another branch in Lytham-St-Anne’s, near Blackpool, was saved.
Rosie acted immediately by securing top level governmental talks including with Secretary of State John Hutton and Post Office minister Pat McFadden.
Last week, she attended a specially-arranged public meeting in the village where she reaffirmed her support to save the branch.
Rosie said: “I’m completely over the moon that this plan has finally been ditched."
“Right from the start, I’ve told people, including the hundreds of villagers who wrote to me, that I will fight tooth and nail to keep the Newburgh branch and that is what I have done."
“During that time there have been some very robust discussions with people in high places, and they were left under no illusion what I and many other people in West Lancs thought of the plan."
“I was convinced that we had a strong case and the U-turn reflects that."
“I know Irene Allen, the postmistresses at Newburgh, is immensely grateful for all the support she has received from local residents and Newburgh Parish Council."
“Hopefully she can now look forward to a bright future at the branch knowing full well that she has the full support of her loyal customers and local organisations behind her.”
Irene said: “Throughout all of this, Rosie has been incredibly supportive and has kept in constant contact to keep me fully informed."
“She has pulled out all the stops for me and I am forever indebted for the vital role she played in securing what is basically my livelihood."
“I know that all the villagers, including myself, are immensely grateful for all she has done to help save this important service for the people of Newburgh and West Lancashire.”
Rosie's responses to questions: Gordon Ramsay, 10p tax
Question regarding 10p tax
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “I have raised the issue on behalf of my constituents in meetings with both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Exchequer on several occasions and am delighted that a result has been achieved which will ensure that no one is out of pocket as payments will be backdated."
“However, as a Parliamentary Private Secretary I am bound by the Ministerial Code of Conduct and I am therefore unable to sign motions or amendments.”
Question regarding Gordon Ramsay/Ofcom
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “I am immensely proud to have been elected as MP for West Lancashire, and that role includes making representations on behalf of my constituents both collectively and individually."
“I respond to all my constituents’ concerns, and the requests I receive for help are very diverse and cover a wide range of topics."
“For instance, I was asked by one constituent to make representations to the Mexican government calling upon them investigate the circumstances around singer Kirsty MacColl’s death."
“In addition, I have received many letters about the disgraceful way the Tory-controlled council left grieving families for years without a place to bury their loved ones. I took up the fight on behalf of those residents and I have now delivered a successful result."
“It is important that people feel they can contact me about issues in the knowledge that their views and concerns will be raised with the appropriate authorities."
“With regard to the representations I have received regarding the Gordon Ramsay allegations, I feel that we have a proud history of high-quality TV programmes in this country and any allegations regarding their content should be investigated fully and if necessary the appropriate action taken.”
MP’s anger as council snubs disability campaign
West Lancashire’s MP was stunned after the district council snubbed a campaign calling on them to give disabled people every opportunity of becoming employees.
Rosie Cooper wrote to West Lancs District Council in support of Skelmersdale-based South West Lancashire Trades Union Council’s ‘Two Ticks’ campaign.
But in an official reply, the council said it already has a “very robust Equal Opportunities Policy” so didn’t think it was necessary to adopt the ‘Two Ticks’ scheme.
Rosie, Labour MP for West Lancashire, said: “I find the council’s attitude very disappointing. ‘Two Ticks’ is a symbol all employers should be proud to adopt as an example of their commitment to the rights of disabled people."
“I’m told that the council’s Tory-controlled cabinet is reviewing its policy in May and hopefully they will eventually do the right thing and sign up to this scheme.”
The Two Ticks scheme, sponsored by Job Centre Plus, is a recognition that the employer has agreed to take action to meet five commitments regarding the employment, retention, training and career development of disabled employees.
The five commitments are:
1) To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities
2) To ensure there is a mechanism in place to discuss, at any time, but at least once a year, what can be done to make sure they develop and use their abilities
3) To make every effort when employees become disabled they stay in employment
4) To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
5) Each year to review the five commitments and what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Job Centre Plus know about progress and future plans
Rosie Cooper MP said: ""The Chancellor has said quite clearly that he cannot rewrite the budget but will be returning to this issue in the future, which I welcome.
“It is important to remember that under the Tories the basic rate was 23p in the pound and that was with no tax credits other than the limited benefit from family credit. That meant even the poorest taxpayers paid 23p in the pound."
"Contrast that with what we have done - it is now 20p in the pound with a major increase in tax credits for those with and without children."
"Giving low income families a negative income tax rate, like a tax credit, is better than leaving in place the 10p rate as it is the best way to lift people out of poverty."
"For the poorest child, the payment in 1997 was £27. It is now £70 and through the pension credit no pensioner need live on less than £124 a week – far more than can ever be delivered through the income tax system.
"We are creating a fairer system of taxation and there is a package of financial measures which are being targeted at some of the most vulnerable in society."
Cemetery victory for MP Rosie
West Lancashire is to get a new cemetery and crematorium, says the district's Labour MP. Rosie Cooper's three-year fight for such a facility is set to become a reality after receiving assurances from the leader of West Lancashire District Council that a planning application is imminent for a site in Pippin Street, Burscough.
The news means that grieving families will no longer have to go outside the district to bury their loved ones - and face an added 'death tax' into the bargain for being non-residents.
West Lancs MP Rosie said: "This is a fantastic result for the people of West Lancashire. It's taken three years of hard campaigning to get this far and am hopeful the council will make a decision on any planning application as a matter of the utmost urgency."
"It's been an absolute scandal that it has come to a point where there are no burial spaces left in the district. But when I was elected in 2005, I made this issue a number one priority and am over the moon the wheels are now starting to turn."
"However, I want people reassure people in Skelmersdale that I firmly believe the town should have its own facilities and that any opportunities there should be fully exploited."
"Negotiations have already begun on this and there is no reason why the district couldn't accommodate two new burial grounds."
"Thankfully, the district council, after years of washing its hands of the situation by saying it wasn't obliged to provide a cemetery, seems to have finally grasped the nettle that it has a moral obligation to allow people who have lived and contributed to West Lancs to be laid to rest here."
MP Rosie comments on Gordon Ramsay TV show
Rosie Cooper MP said: “I know Gordon Ramsay’s show is immensely popular among many in West Lancashire. It is important they have full confidence that these reality shows are just that – real and not made up.
“Trust in TV programmes have taken a battering of late with various scandals including those involving Blue Peter and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway."
“I therefore feel it is important that these allegations are put under scrutiny by Ofcom and if necessary the appropriate action is taken."
“Otherwise, we could get to a point where there is a cloud of suspicion hanging over many of the shows and that would be damaging for the confidence of those working in the TV industry as well as the many of us tuning in at home.”
Ormskirk won’t be left without NHS dentists, says MP Rosie
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has welcomed the provision of four new NHS dentists for Ormskirk.
It comes after some local providers have opted to stop offering NHS care to patients.
However, after holding top-level talks with Central Lancs Primary Care Turst, the Labour MP has been assured that four new NHS dentists will be brought in for those who want to continue receiving state care. It is understood they will be based at Ormskirk Hospital.
Rosie said: "I've made it quite clear to the PCT’s acting chief executive, Nicky O’Connor, that there's no way I'm going to see local taxpayers being pushed into going private."
“I will not let that happen and that's why I’ve kept alive the campaign to get these four new dentists here as soon as possible. Ormskirk has been identified as one of the areas where the need is greatest so in terms of getting this sorted I’ve insisted we are we top of the list."
"I've also had firm assurances that there will be minimal disruption to dental services locally as a result of this and people will still be able to continue receiving the high quality care they always have had."
"Obviously, it is regrettable when independently-run practices choose not to deliver NHS services as it often leads to a lot of worry for people"
"But the bottom line is that NHS dental services will still be available to the people of West Lancashire.”
MP Rosie launches bus battle for new cemetery
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has vowed to fight for transport links to the district’s new cemetery.
It comes after the Labour MP won her battle to secure a much-needed crematorium in Pippin Street, Burscough, which can be used by everyone in West Lancashire.
This means residents will no longer by hit by a so-called Death Tax – a charge levied on families who bury their loved ones outside of their own local authority area such as Sefton or St Helens.
Rosie is now turning her sights towards getting top-quality public transport links to the site – especially from Skelmersdale which historically has a low level of car ownership.
Rosie said: “I have always firmly believed that Skelmersdale deserves its own cemetery."
“The town has masses of vacant land and I know that certain sites have already been looked at. One thing I won’t let the district council do now is sit back and think it’s job done because they know full well that Skelmersdale has desperately needed a cemetery for years."
“But the fact is that thankfully now no-one will have to pay this grossly unfair Death Tax, so that will ease the burden considerably."
“And it’s important to understand that this cemetery is for the whole of West Lancashire. No one will be losing out, whether you live in Aughton or Ashurst, Halsall or Hall Green."
“In the meantime, we have to ensure that the Burscough facility is accessible to people coming from other parts of the district – and that means top-notch bus services.”
MP calls for action over Skelmersdale grot spot
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is demanding action over a notorious Skelmersdale eyesore.
The former TPT site on Railway Road in the Old Town has been left derelict for years and has subjected to arson attacks and a spate of vandalism.
The buildings, part of which formed a section of the historic Orme Mill, used to be occupied by an organisation called Tomorrow’s People Today (TPT), which trained young people who were looking for work. It is understood the site is now in private ownership.
But over the years, the site has turned into a grot spot and West Lancs MP Rosie Cooper believes its now time for action.
She said: “The site is in a real sorry state and is impinging on the quality of life for people living on Taylor Street, Ormskirk Road and Bromilow Road. It is simply intolerable for them to have to live in the shadow of this."
“Also, it is one of the first things people see when they are visiting Skelmersdale for Ormskirk and it hardly creates a great impression does it?"
“I’ve written to the council regarding this to see what action they can take. I’ve also written to local residents and will be keeping them fully informed throughout.”