Craig reminds everyone to get vaccinated to help protect themselves against infectious diseases

Craig Mackinlay MP today attended Westminster Flu Day, an annual vaccination clinic held in the House of Commons, to learn about the importance of vaccination to support good health at all stages of life and how he can work with the NHS locally to increase coverage rates in our area.

Parliamentarians who are not eligible for a free seasonal flu vaccine on the NHS made a £10 donation to Carers Trust. £10 is equivalent to the cost of a private vaccination.

Vaccination supports good health at all stages of life and only clean water rivals vaccines at reducing infectious diseases and deaths. When vaccination rates fall, outbreaks can occur with potentially serious consequences such as the 2012-13 measles outbreak in Swansea, which resulted in 1,202 reported cases, 88 hospital admissions and 1 death.

Craig Mackinlay MP said:

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 Make sure you are up to date with your vaccines to help protect yourself against infectious diseases. For more information on which vaccines you and your family are entitled to, have a look at Public Health England’s Immunisation Schedule.”

Westminster Flu Day is an established event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is sponsored by the ABPI Vaccine Group in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing and Carers Trust and with the support of the Department of Health and Public Health England.

The EU negotiations, Winter Flu and the return of Open Golf to Sandwich

The negativity by the media about Brexit is becoming depressingly familiar. All threats, warnings and anti-UK statements by EU officials and businesses seem to be treated as ‘fact’. Additional financial demands with mind boggling numbers of zeroes, the so called ‘Divorce Bill”, are almost cheered on by domestic ‘Remainers’ who want to re-run the referendum. I don't know about you but paying for access to a market sounds a lot like a one-way tariff. The statements by the Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, over the weekend that they would now vote against a ‘No Deal’ scenario is lunacy and likely to embolden EU negotiators even more to be beastly towards us. This indicates that no matter how bad the deal, no matter how expensive and constrictive, Labour would support it. This is akin to viewing a house and telling the seller that no matter how decrepit, no matter what the problems or the price, you will be buying it.

It is about this time of year that we have the usual dire warnings about winter flu and the likely strains on the NHS. Point one, do get a flu jab; I’ll be having mine this week. Point two, if you have an appointment, please use it. Family members and friends who work in the NHS routinely report ‘no shows’. I have at least one myself at my weekly MP surgery. This is wasted time for all concerned, and appointments that could be filled by others in need. Common courtesy is all that is required, but because there is no obvious transactional cost, the NHS being free at the point of delivery, many see it as having no real ‘cost’ or value. There is no penalty faced by not showing up, there is no personal cost by hoarding repeatedly prescribed medicines that are never likely to be used. But there is a real cost to all of us. The often repeated calls for more money to solve all perceived problems is to make a complex problem overly simplistic.

It was hugely pleasing that the primary co-ordinator of the new Community Alcohol Partnerships in East Kent received a national award for ‘Outstanding Contribution’. A big well done to Neil Butcher of Kent Trading Standards for his work in creating new partnership teams across schools and retailers to prevent under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour.

This week I am trying to conclude and guarantee that the Open Golf returns to Sandwich. The economics for East Kent are huge – up to £250 million in additional spending for the area we will all benefit from, and for a fairly meagre investment in the scheme of things to secure infrastructure improvements at Sandwich station seems to me a worthwhile dividend.

Finally, the saga of Ramsgate commercial port rolls on. The latest great plan by TDC is for a lorry park, and another announcement that a ferry is coming. Nobody would argue against the benefits of a ferry service, but we’re still waiting.

Craig celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Community Alcohol Partnerships

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Craig Mackinlay MP has attended a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs), a Community Interest Company that brings together local retailers and licensees, trading standards, police, health services, education providers and other local stakeholders to tackle the problem of underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour.

The event in London followed the launches of the Ramsgate and Broadstairs CAPs in March this year, which the South Thanet MP also attended and supported.

As part of the celebration, a number of Community Alcohol Partnerships were awarded for their efforts in reducing underage drinking and associated harms in their local community. This included an award that Craig presented to Neil Butcher of Kent Trading Standards who won the CAP Award for Outstanding Contribution due to the outstanding work that he carried out in Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

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“I am delighted that Neil Butcher of Kent Trading Standards has won the Community Alcohol Partnership Award for his Outstanding Contribution. 

"I’ve seen first-hand how tirelessly Neil has worked to launch new CAPs in Ramsgate and Broadstairs this year, signing up businesses and schools and bringing together a wide range of partners, including local councils, police, fire and rescue services, schools, retailers and the community, all working to tackle underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour in the area.

"In the run-up to the launch, over 400 pupils aged 14-17 were surveyed regarding their drinking habits, revealing that a quarter of them had been drunk in the previous four weeks.

"Neil’s determination to combat this is outstanding.”

Manchester, Party Conference and Brexit

With apologies to any Mancunians in Thanet reading this, but I report from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. As ever, it’s a few degrees cooler, wetter and greyer than our own East Kent micro-climate and as we walk into conference past the usual anti-campaigners shouting ‘Tory scum’, projectiles being thrown at Ministers and having heard of effigies on bridges with a hangman’s noose, labelled ‘Hang a Tory’, it does make me wonder why we keep coming back. On the weather point, and this point alone, Labour has got something right in deciding to hold its conference in balmy Brighton, but doubtless the new ugly face of increasingly violent and threatening Labour supporters would try to stop debate wherever we decided to go.

I am sure for many, the annual conference season is a bit of a bore. Labour’s conference oozed more ‘free-stuff’ and with it huge increases in public spending and debt to the tune of £300 billion with little illumination as to how it might be paid for, but it is sure to be younger generations and those yet unborn who will. We Conservatives are discussing in depth the issues of Brexit, public finances and how we can ensure that the Millennial generation can be part of the property owning democracy.

Brexit is dominating most events here, I spoke at a panel event on immigration post-Brexit. Brexit on local government, Brexit on education, Brexit on health; the topic is correctly being discussed in huge detail in every corner of the conference area and so it should. The PM’s Florence speech dominated headlines a couple of weeks ago: our offer to the EU is generous, friendly and ambitious but it is becoming increasingly clear that we are being played for fools. From my viewpoint it seems that the EU negotiators are behaving in a most appalling manner. We must consider very carefully over the next few weeks whether the air fare of our negotiating team in its regular jaunts to Brussels represents value for money, or whether we’d be better served spending the time and effort speaking with international friends keen to progress the UK’s global opportunities.

Constituency work progresses as ever; it is always pleasing to hear the high regard in which my staff are held by constituents. Between my Westminster and constituency team and of course myself, we meet the challenge of helping across a massive variety of issues from housing to visas, regeneration to planning. Back to normal business as we return to Parliament next week. 

Craig urges community groups and charities in South Thanet to apply to the Aviva Community Fund

Craig Mackinlay MP is urging  community groups in his South Thanet constituency to apply for funding via the Aviva Community Fund, which launched last week.

The Aviva Community Fund awards funding of up to £25,000 for local community projects across a range of categories such as skills for life, health & wellbeing and community support.  Last year Aviva had over 450 winners and this year they have even more awards up for grabs. 

 Applications can be made until 12 noon on 10 October via this link, with winners announced in January. 

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 Aviva have a team on hand to answer any queries who can be contacted at: avivacommunityfund@charitiestrust.org / 0151 284 1018. 

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“I hope all community groups and charities in South Thanet will want to apply to the Aviva Community Fund. With funding of up to £25,000 available for a variety of community projects, a successful application could make a real difference to the lives of local people. Applications are open until 10 October so there is still plenty of time to apply.”

Last week in Parliament

Last week in Parliament was both lengthy and stimulating. I took part in two debates on the floor of the House; the first as part of the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill where I highlighted the opportunities for coastal communities of a new domestic fisheries policy which would return access and profitability to our fishing fleets outside of the scandalous Common Fisheries Policy foisted upon us by the EU.

I was pleased that the second reading of the Withdrawal Bill was carried by 36 votes, and I pay tribute to many Labour members who were unwilling to support their Party’s new position of opposition to the Bill. It is somewhat strange that the Labour party’s manifesto for this year’s General Election was one of support for the referendum result, but they are clearly now backtracking on their respect for the will of the electorate. Politics before country springs to mind. Voting started at midnight and I was finally in bed at after 2am.

The next day was the debate on the Finance Bill (no 2) 2017. Much of the Finance Bill brought forward in April remained unfinished because of the snap general election. I gave my analysis of various flaws in our tax code, not least its complexity and unforeseen outcomes of the proposed Bill. My contribution was, to be fair, somewhat dry and technical in nature, but that is the nature of tax. This Bill alone ran to 665 pages. We have the most labyrinthine tax code in the world, running to 22,000 pages and 10 million words. The complexity is clearly unsustainable and unnecessary.

I was also pleased to support and speak at a rally in Parliament Square organised by Compassion in World Farming. The live animal export trade in the UK is now wholly focused on Ramsgate and I committed once more to do all that I can to see this incoherent trade stopped. Pressure I and other colleagues are bringing to bear on the government will hopefully be reflected in a future Agriculture Bill that will set out the framework of post-Brexit farming.

My attempts to get common sense to apply by Belgian authorities in relation to ‘Red diesel’ and fines being levied against boat-owners continued with a meeting of the Royal Yachting Association and the Cruising Association with HMRC officials in advance of a crunch meeting in Brussels with other EU27 customs representatives.

I took part in a new initiative to reduce use of plastic bottles with independent Councillor Suzanne Brimm and Thanet Green Party. The campaign is to encourage a network of Thanet businesses, particularly around our beaches, to allow water bottle refills. Plastics are a scourge of modern life internationally, and growing, with half a trillion (that’s 500,000,000,000) bottles used annually around the world, with a huge amount discarded to landfill or ending up in the sea. There is a wider debate to be had about unnecessary packaging in general. I do hope, on a voluntary basis, that retailers take note.

I had my regular meeting with the local Chief Inspector of Kent Police. We had a constructive discussion on anti-social behaviour, particularly in the Ramsgate area. More to report at a later time.

In summary it has been a busy few weeks in Parliament and in the constituency. We are now in the conference season recess, so stand by for a further diet of politics over the next month!

 

Pupils from Newington Community Primary School interview Craig for AAA Radio

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Young reporters from AAA Radio station at Newington Community Primary School have been on a special assignment. Ruby and Macey, both aged nine, grabbed the chance to interview South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, when he visited the school on Friday 15 September.

The girls, who are in Year 5, are members of the online radio news team and they prepared questions to ask their local Member of Parliament in an recorded chat that will be broadcast via the school website and social media platform during the next few weeks.

They said: “We rehearsed our questions and were a bit nervous at the thought of interviewing an MP. But once everything was underway it was great and we had a chat with him. He answered all our questions well and we learnt quite a lot about Mr Mackinlay as a person through our interview.”

Craig was asked about how school has changed since he was a pupil, what it is like being an MP, how important democracy is for young people to understand, who he would love to meet from the past and chat with, and what his favourite type of music is. The interesting answers will be revealed when the pupils have edited and produced the audio for broadcast as part of the regular AAA Radio news magazine programmes.

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Craig was impressed with the radio set up. He said: “This is a fantastic radio suite – I have never seen anything like it in the schools I have visited. I believe music and media are areas that must be explored and taught in our schools. This radio station is a great educational learning tool as part of developing literacy and communication skills. I was impressed with the way Macey and Ruby conducted the interview and the questions that they asked me. It was quite a tough interview with good questions and I enjoyed it.”

The MP added that he will “certainly listen out for the interview with interest” once it is streamed on AAA Radio for pupils, staff, families and the community.

Headteacher Cliff Stokes said: “It is terrific for children as young as nine to get the chance to interview an MP about his life. We thank Craig for making the time during his busy schedule. The radio project is great for encouraging teamwork, self-confidence, communication and literacy skills. It is listened to in school and via our website, and it is also a great link to our world at Newington for families and friends.”

The name AAA Radio encompasses the Newington ethos of Ambition, Achievement, and Aspiration. It has already won praise from pupils, families, staff and governors. It also features contributions from staff.

Craig signs pledge to Back British Farming in South East

Craig Mackinlay MP has recognised the vital role that South East farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster last week.

Farming in the South East contributes £880 million to the local economy and provides 47,246 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

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Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy.

“Indeed, farming in South Thanet alone is worth £8.3 million to the nation’s economy and provides 450 jobs locally.

“These reasons are why I wanted to support the NFU’s Back British Farming event in Parliament and ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

Craig addresses Stop Live Transports event in Parliament Square, Westminster

On Wednesday,  13 September, South Thanet’s Member of Parliament, Craig Mackinlay MP, joined Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Compassion In World Farming and other like-minded organisations and individuals at a rally in Parliament Square in support of this year’s ‘Stop Live Transport: International Awareness Day’.

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Millions of live animals are transported thousands of kilometres every year. These long journeys result in immense suffering. Many animals receive insufficient food, water, rest and space to move, and face inhumane treatment at slaughter.

At the event, Craig Mackinlay MP, who is hoping to re-introduce a Private Members Bill which would remove the obstacle in UK law preventing local authorities from banning live animal exports for slaughter, addressed the rally encouraging people to speak up for farm animals and make it clear that it is time to stop these horrifying journeys.

Disappointingly, the first live animal shipment of the year left from Ramsgate on Wednesday 9 August.  

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“I was delighted to be invited to address the Stop Live Transport event on International Awareness Day and to reassure the protesters that I will continue to campaign for the removal of the obstacle in UK law that prevents local authorities, such as Thanet District Council in my South Thanet constituency, from banning live animal exports for slaughter.

“Now that we have voted to leave the European Union, this leaves the UK in a better situation to ban live animal exports. The European Commission have been firm in that they would not accept any change in UK law regarding live animal exports because it would break EU rules on the free movement of goods. I am hopeful that as negotiations progress with the EU, we will finally put a stop to this barbaric practice.

“On this issue, I will not stop until we are successful.”

Craig poses in pink at Westminster to support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research

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Craig Mackinlay MP, the Member of Parliament for South Thanet, has dressed in pink to lend his support to Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, which will see thousands of people across the UK adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday 20 October and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

Craig is encouraging his constituents in South Thanet to join him and sign up to take part in the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser. The event, which takes place during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in its 16th year and has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research.

Craig, joined by fellow parliamentarians in Westminster last week, showed his support for the thousands of women and men affected by breast cancer each year, encouraging people across the UK to take part on wear it pink day.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink, which brings together schools, workplaces and communities. All you need to do is wear something pink, or hold a pink event at home, work or school, and make a donation to Breast Cancer Now. Whatever you do, you’re helping the charity achieve its aim that, if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in eight women will face it in their lifetime, and every year around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. This is why I’m urging everyone in South Thanet to take part in wear it pink on Friday 20 October. It’s such a fun and easy way to support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research, and help stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love.

Also in attendance was Sky News presenter and former Olympic gymnast Jacquie Beltrao. Jacquie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, is lending her support to wear it pink in the hope that thousands of people across the country will take part in the event.

Jacquie Beltrao said:

“I’m very proud to support wear it pink; it’s a great excuse to dress up in pink and have some fun while raising money for a really important cause. I have had breast cancer myself and following my diagnosis and treatment have become incredibly passionate about raising awareness and funds for research.

“Wear it pink has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now, which is incredible. The event raises funds for the charity’s world-class research, which will hopefully one day put a stop to this dreadful disease. That is why I’m asking people across the country join me, and the MPs who took part in Westminster, by adding a splash of pink to their outfits on wear it pink day and donating to Breast Cancer Now. I hope lots of people across the UK take part!”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“It is fantastic that so many MPs dressed up in pink at our Westminster wear it pink event and we are really grateful for all of the support and enthusiasm shown. We hope that by wearing pink, Craig Mackinlay MP will encourage his constituents in South Thanet to get involved in their local community and help us fund life-saving research this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Wear it pink is a wonderful opportunity for communities across the UK to come together and have fun, whilst showing their support for everyone affected by breast cancer. Simply by wearing something pink and donating, you’re raising funds for life-saving research and helping Breast Cancer Now reach our goal that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live.”

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit wearitpink.org/2017 for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.