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2015 December

21 Dec


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Primary Schools in Poplar and Limehouse are being offered the chance to plant free trees with help from the Woodland Trust

December 21, 2015 | By | No Comments

Schools across Poplar and Limehouse are being offered the chance to connect with nature and improve their local area by planting trees – for free.

Children can look forward to planting a copse or hedge, which can provide a wild harvest, or a burst of year round colour.

Defra is now supporting The Woodland Trust to offer an additional 45,000 British native trees to 7000 state funded primary schools in England.

As well as free tree packs, for eligible schools, there’s help with finding somewhere else to plant if there isn’t room in school grounds; protection to help the trees grow; and on-line curriculum-linked resources to support teachers’  lesson plans.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said: “This great opportunity will help schools improve their local environment and enable children to learn about nature. Trees bring enormous benefits.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of The Woodland Trust said:  “It’s vitally important children get the chance to plant a tree. We know from our research it’s a memory they’ll treasure for years to come, and often starts their relationship off with the natural world and all the benefits that brings. This scheme offers schools which have found it hard in the past, a new way to plant trees, and bring an oasis of green into their community.”

Apply for a free tree pack by visiting the Woodland Trust website, or search ‘School tree packs’ online: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/in-your-community/apply-for-a-school-tree-pack/

The closing date for applications is January 8th 2016.

18 Dec


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18/12/2015 – Fitz Weekly

December 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

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17 Dec


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Transport for London Funding

December 17, 2015 | By | No Comments

Westminster Hall Debate

15 December 2015


Full Hansard can be read here or watch online here.

For links to all of Jim’s contributions to this debate, please visit theyworkforyou.com here.

9.58 am

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): It is a pleasure to see you presiding over our business, Mr Hollobone. I am not sure where the three finest are, but my hon. Friends the Members for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter), for Eltham (Clive Efford) and for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) are here, as am I, and I hope that we can make a contribution to the debate.

15 Dec 2015 : Column 456WH

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West (Mr Thomas) on an excellent opening speech. He comprehensively covered issues such as funding, resourcing and staff cuts, which saves us having to raise them, and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

It is good to see that the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner), is here to represent Her Majesty’s Opposition. It is also good to see the Minister in the Chamber. I congratulate him on his recent promotion, which will hopefully make him more benevolent towards London. I intend to speak briefly—certainly for no more than 10 minutes—and to raise parochial issues, given that the opening speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West covered all the major funding issues.

I start by thanking Transport for London for its briefing, and its staff for all they do to keep this great city moving, ensuring that my constituents and I can get about. Their work is highly regarded and they do a fantastic job.

I was not going to mention the Silvertown crossing, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham raised it, it will be interesting to hear the Minister’s comments about what support the DFT will give TfL for east London river crossings. Half of London’s population now lives east of Tower bridge, yet we only have two crossings there, while there are 23 crossings west of Tower bridge. As tolling will be an issue, I would expect at least the same arrangements to apply to local residents in east London as those for residents around the Queen Elizabeth II bridge. Any tolling should be discounted, but I would be quite happy to put up with tolling to ensure that we get the crossing.

East London’s air quality is poor, and it is made poorer because of standing traffic and congestion from the Blackwall tunnel. We need to get that traffic moving. When the Blackwall tunnel has difficulties, as it regularly does because of collisions or oversized vehicles, there is gridlock in east London. It will be interesting to hear the Minister’s comments about the Silvertown crossing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West talked about VED and support from licensing revenue in London. My understanding—this may be entirely wrong, so the Minister might correct me—is that the vast majority of local authorities across the country get road support grants to deal with potholes, repairs and the like, but London does not receive such grant. That gives the impression that dealing with potholes in London is paid for by tube and bus passengers, who are subsidising the missing grant.

If one thinks about financial pressures, one can draw conclusions that may be entirely erroneous. We have a new franchisee running the docklands light railway: KeolisAmey. When I started in the Commons, the DLR was carrying some 20 million passengers a year. It now carries 100 million passengers a year, including many colleagues from the Scottish National party when they travel to London City airport to fly back to Scotland on a Thursday night or Friday morning. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West set out the massive increase in journeys on the DLR. That fantastic railway is, of course, a driverless operation, which makes it separate from most of TfL’s other rail operations.

The new DLR franchise is only six months old, but its staff have already gone on strike for the first time in 23 years. One has to ask whether the resourcing of the

15 Dec 2015 : Column 457WH

DLR and pressure on the contract led the new franchisee to put pressure on staff’s conditions and wages. That is total speculation on my part, but the fact that we have had the first DLR strike in 23 years is not a good sign. It is certainly a concern for my constituents and a very worrying development indeed.

The final point I want to cover is another parochial one. I see that the Minister wearing his red ensign badge proudly as shipping Minister—there is nothing wrong with that at all, and I applaud him for it. Yesterday, I attended a Port of London authority presentation at Tower pier at which it outlined its vision for the River Thames for the next 20 to 50 years. The most striking thing about the presentation was that whereas most people think that the Thames’s heyday is behind it—we have the visuals of riggers in the past 200 years and merchant vessels in the 20th century being unloaded in the docks—and that it is now much quieter, with Thames Gateway and the port of Tilbury, as the Minister will know, London is now dealing with more tonnage than ever in its history.

With new commuter routes being opened up all the time, there is more commuter traffic than ever. Construction projects such as the Thames Tideway tunnel and, to a certain extent, Crossrail, which require the Thames to be used and that get HGVs off London’s roads and traffic on to the Thames, are welcome. The PLA’s vision is that the Thames’s best days are ahead of it, so it is really disappointing that the proposed cruise terminal at Enderby Wharf, which has been approved by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Mayor of London, does not have a ship-to-shore energy supply. That means that when cruise ships start arriving in London, they will have to run their diesel engines 24/7 to power them while they are berthed in the middle of the Thames, which is the equivalent of putting hundreds of lorries’ emissions back into London’s air. If we provided a ship-to-shore energy supply, which I believe would cost only up to a few million pounds, we could deal a big blow to London’s emissions.

Given that background, what funding does the Department for Transport provide for TfL to study air quality? Transport emissions play a big part in air quality, as they account for between 25% and 30% of all emissions. The shipping industry is growing, and we want to ensure as much as possible that its growth is environmentally sustainable and clean. Does the Minister have anything to add to the debate about the cruise terminal at Enderby Wharf? Can he say whether, even at this late stage, ship-to-shore energy supply could be introduced into the plan, given that the situation is a negative dark spot on what ought to be a positive clean bill of health for the Thames?

I again congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West on securing this important debate. I have raised much more parochial points than him, and we will be interested to hear the speeches from the three Front-Bench spokesmen.

10.6 am

14 Dec


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Oral question: Airports Capacity

December 14, 2015 | By | No Comments

14 December 2015

House of Commons Chamber

dsfdsfWatch online here.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): The Secretary of State knows that I hold him in high regard, even when I heckle him, but it took the Conservatives 18 months to get past the Liberal Democrats’ red line on increases in aviation capacity, they used the Davies commission to buy three more years to get them beyond the general election and they have bought another six months by avoiding making a statement until today. Why does the Secretary of State not just admit that this is a political fix to get us past the mayoral election in London? Given his integrity and honesty, why does he not own up to the fact that this has nothing to do with the national interest?

Mr McLoughlin: I do not mind the occasional heckle from the hon. Gentleman—indeed, I am quite used to that by now. He says that this is just a fix to move past the mayoral elections, but we have always known when those elections were, and if it had been a fix we would have simply said when the Davies report was published that we were not going to respond for 12 months. My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) has been perfectly clear about where he stands on this matter, unlike the right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan) who, when he was Minister of State and attending Cabinet in 2009, said that he was firmly in favour of Heathrow expansion.

14 Dec


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11 Dec


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On Syria, Daesh and UK intervention

December 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

As many people will be aware, MPs were given the opportunity to vote on whether the UK should extend military action to Syria last week. 397 parliamentary colleagues voted for the motion to 223 who voted against. On this occasion, I found myself in the majority. I was and still am in favour of extending our efforts to Syria.

Given that I resigned from my ministerial position in 2013 over my outright disagreement of intervening in Syria back then, I assure you my decision last week was one over which I thought long and hard.

I listened to constituents (because believe it or not, there were those who were for the action and those who were not) and took every opportunity to attend briefings and read as much as I could on the matter.

My decision was based on a genuine difference of opinion, that we need to attack the terrorists of Daesh directly and was neither an attack on Islam nor on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Daesh claims to be an Islamic state but I am sure many of you will agree that much if not all of their actions scream against the peaceful teachings of Islam.

The stabbing in Leytonstone tube station last weekend where the attacker claimed his actions were “for Syria” and the subsequent “YouAintMuslimBruv” hashtag, which trended on Twitter, is a very recent and close to home example of how un-Islamic the ideology really is. It is clear the best of Daesh’s critics are in fact Muslims.

The vote on Syria was declared a “free vote” by Jeremy solely because of the many differences of opinion which he recognised.

Those of you who follow news on UK military intervention will know that we have been engaged in action against Daesh in Iraq for some time, the military intervention in Syria will only be an extension of this campaign.

Further, the commencement by the international community of the peace talks in Vienna, indicate greater determination to end the Syrian Civil War.

I am well aware that attacking Daesh alone will not halt its existence but it will hinder its ability to exist. The experience of air strikes against Daesh in Iraq has been positive so far and needs to be repeated wherever they are. Further, the record of our forces minimising civilian casualties is better than other countries and we will continue to work to ensure civilians are protected from Daesh. There are also other aspects to the conflict being addressed including Daesh arms supplies, sales of oil and other revenues which are being pursued alongside military intervention.

The reason I was against military action in Syria in 2013 was because I wasn’t satisfied that these aspects of the conflict, including a post conflict strategy were not being properly addressed.

However, the story today is very different and I hope the outcome will be too.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

11 Dec


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Jim Fitzpatrick MP calls for an end to dog fighting as new report exposes extent of ‘banned’ sport in UK

December 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

League Against Cruel Sports

Jim Fitzpatrick MP is supporting calls to make it easier to convict people involved in the barbaric ‘sport’ of dog-fighting after a new report disclosed shocking new information.

The report -‘Betrayal of Trust: The Tragedy of Dog Fighting’ – reveals at least one dog fight is likely to take place every day of the year somewhere in the UK despite the cruel practice having been outlawed almost 200 years ago.

Commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports, the report is the first comprehensive look at dog fighting in the UK, and also highlights:

  • Three distinct ‘levels’ of dog fighting: Street Rolls, Hobbyist and Professional
  • Horrific injuries patched up by ‘street’ surgeons using only superglue or staples
  • Training methods using ‘bait’ animals such as cats
  • Organised dog fights that can last up to 5 hours

The authors of the report, criminologists Dr Simon Harding and Dr Angus Nurse spoke to a large range of people including those involved in dog fighting, and examined the practices, motivations and extent of dog fighting as well as the means to tackle it.

Tom Quinn, Campaigns Director for League Against Cruel Sports said:  “The UK’s dog lovers will be sickened to learn that the cruelty of dogfighting, which can result in torn flesh, blood loss, disembowelment or even death, continues to go on in this country.

“Traditionally dog fighting was hidden away in rural areas and managed almost to a professional level. Now we’re seeing a move to urban areas, where dog fighting is becoming a way of establishing dominance, often related to gang activity. Either way, it’s often about machismo and money, and the dogs will inevitably suffer.”

The three levels of dog fighting identified in the report are:

Level One: Street Rolls:

  • One on one fights in urban parks and housing estates
  • Arranged on the spot, no referee or rules, fight over in a few minutes
  • Little or no money involved
  • Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every day

Level Two: Hobbyist

  • Series of fights in abandoned buildings/bedrooms converted into a ‘pit’
  • Operate on a localised fighting circuit in urban areas
  • Often gang affiliated with gambling involved
  • Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every couple of weeks

Level Three: Professional

  • Sophisticated dog rings with highly trained dogs of reputable bloodlines
  • Always take place in a pit, with rules, referees, timekeepers, spectators
  • High stakes gambling with £100,000s wagered
  • Dogs entered in fights both in UK and internationally
  • Likely to occur somewhere in UK every few months

Dr Simon Harding, author of the report, and Senior Lecturer in Criminology in Middlesex University’s School of Law said:  ““From our interviews with people who involve their dogs in fighting, and analysing data from a wide range of sources, we found clear evidence of dog fighting in the UK ranging from the every-day impromptu street fights or ‘rolls’, through hobbyists to professional fights where huge amounts of money changes hand.”

“It is clear that regardless of the level of dog fighting, these people are all connected by a common thread of secrecy, callousness and links to other crimes.

Dr Harding continued:  “Dog fighting is a cruel and violent practice which has no place in 21st century Britain.  Offenders take ordinary animals, manipulate and exploit them for profit and reputational gain. It is a serious concern that this activity, outlawed 180 years ago, remains, and in some communities, thrives even today.  We should all work together to eradicate this practice once and for all”.

Pain and Suffering

The suffering of the dogs involved not only includes the pain – and sometimes death – inflicted during the fights themselves, but also from brutal training methods, particularly at the Professional level. Dogs reared for fighting are engineered so they are robbed entirely of their natural social behaviour and designed to fight regardless of pain or risk.

Tom Quinn adds: “As a visit to the vet would lead to awkward questions, fighting dogs are often denied proper medical attention and horrific injuries are left to be patched up with superglue or staples, often with fatal consequences.”

Links to Other Crimes

From analysing data provided by the Metropolitan Police and other sources, the report identified that young men who owned ‘dangerous dogs’ or ‘status dogs’, as defined under the Dangerous Dogs Act, were widely associated with or involved in an extensive range of criminal activity, including Robbery, threats to kill, Actual Bodily Harm and Drug Possession.

In Merseyside, 23 out of 25 dangerous dog owners had 87 convictions amongst them, while in the West Midlands 79 out of the 126 ‘dangerous dog’ owners had other criminal convictions.

The Law

The specific offence of dog fighting does not exist in the UK; it is contained within the broader offence of animal fighting prohibited under Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act with a maximum penalty of 51 weeks in prison.

By contrast, in the US dog fighting is a felony offence in all 50 states with a maximum penalty of several years in prison. But because of the clandestine nature of the activity, it is very difficult to obtain convictions.

Tom Quinn added:  “Disappointingly low conviction rates highlight the difficulties of enforcing the law when it comes to such a clandestine activity and we believe more resources and research into the problem is essential.  In addition, we are recommending measures that could help make the law on dog-fighting more enforceable, including the mandatory recording of dog fighting offences and strengthening penalties to bring them into line with other European countries”.

09 Dec


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Jim Fitzpatrick MP Pledges Support to Campaign for Slaughterhouse CCTV

December 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

1579 Jim Fitzpatrick MP

Poplar and Limehouse MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, has pledged his support to the campaign for mandatory CCTV inside UK slaughterhouses.

The campaign – which has widespread political and public support – was launched by Animal Aid, after five-years of investigating animal welfare breaches inside British slaughterhouses. The national organisation has placed fly-on-the-wall cameras inside ten slaughterhouses and found nine were breaking animal welfare laws. The footage revealed: slaughterhouse workers kicking, punching and beating animals in the head and face; picking them up by ears, legs and fleeces and throwing them; burning them with cigarettes; using the electrical stunning tongs to inflict painful electric shocks on the animals; and hacking away at the throats of fully conscious sheep. Failure to stun animals properly was also common and a serious breach of the law.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who has served Poplar and Limehouse since 1997, signed a parliamentary motion (an Early Day Motion) calling for mandatory CCTV to monitor working practices inside UK slaughterhouses and reiterated his support by agreeing to be photographed with Animal Aid’s campaign banner.

Says Kate Fowler, Slaughter Consultant with Animal Aid: ‘There is no excuse for the savagery we filmed inside British slaughterhouses, and yet it went on right under the noses of the vets who are stationed there. Clearly, this system which costs taxpayers millions of pounds is failing to protect animals. We need a more robust regulatory system, and CCTV – if properly monitored by an independent body – can play an important part in deterring and detecting welfare breaches. We are very grateful for the support of Mr Fitzpatrick in helping us stop slaughterhouse abuse.’

In a 2014 YouGov poll commissioned by Animal Aid, 76 per cent of British adults support CCTV being made mandatory in all UK slaughterhouses (with independent monitoring of the footage).

Early Day Motion 153 has now been signed by almost 130 MPs: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/153

04 Dec


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4/12/2015 – Fitz Weekly

December 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

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04 Dec


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Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver Campaign 2015

December 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

1574 Coke Reception 1 12 15- Jim Fitzpatrick MP

Jim Fitzpatrick MP backs Coca-Cola scheme that rewards Poplar and Limehouse’s Designated Drivers this Christmas

  • Jim Fitzpatrick MP encourages constituents to celebrate being a Designated Driver this Christmas, through a national scheme run by Coca-Cola in partnership with the Department for Transport’s THINK! road safety campaign
  • Local pubs in Poplar and Limehouse participating in the scheme, which rewards consumers with a free second soft drink this Christmas, can be viewed at holidaysarecoming.com/designateddriver.

Coca-Cola has launched its Christmas Designated Driver Campaign which rewards consumers who are driving to the pub this Christmas with a free soft drink.

Now in its eighth year, the festive campaign was launched at a reception in the House of Parliament at the start of December, and aims to encourage consumers to take a socially responsible approach to drinking over the festive period.

To help reduce drink driving over Christmas, licensed pubs and bars can now offer drivers a free second soft drink when they purchase a Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Life, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, a Schweppes drink or Appletiser.

The Designated Driver scheme will once again be running at thousands of pubs across the UK. This year, there is a particular focus on destination and community-based pub and bar locations with parking facilities, to help drive footfall to these pubs during the festive period.

You can find out which pubs in Poplar and Limehouse are taking part in the campaign by using the postcode pub finder here. This will be updated throughout December.

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Jim Fitzpatrick MP