Category Archives: Children

MP opens new Rosebery Road recreation ground

Mark Reckless MP joins local councillors and residents to open new Rosebery Road recreation ground

Mark Reckless joins local councillors and residents to open new Rosebery Road recreation ground

Mark Reckless MP was delighted to open the newly installed children’s playground on the Rosebery Road recreation ground between Lansdowne Road and Beresford Avenue in Rochester South and Horsted ward.

Despite the current financial difficulties, local councillors Trevor Clarke, Sylvia Griffin and Rupert Turpin managed to obtain funding to allow the installation of a new playground in this area. The location will make it ideal for the use of children from the two Balfour schools.

Apparatus is aimed towards the younger children. However, improvements will also be made to the current football pitches to accommodate both a juinior pitch and a mini pitch.

Speaking after the opening, Mark Reckless said:

I know the local ward councillors fought hard to secure the funding for a new playground in this area. I was delighted to open these new play facilities which will benefit so many children locally.

My congratualtions to the ward councillors for their hard work in delivering these improved facilities.”

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Couples earning £100,000 to keep child benefit?*

We promised to restore recognition of marriage to the tax system. Instead, this budget tells millions of parents that they can only keep child benefit by both going out to work.

If Mum stays home to look after the kids then Dad can only earn half what they could take home as a couple before the family loses child benefit.

All the Chancellor has done in the budget is raise the threshold above which benefit is taken away by around £7,000 and replace his previous ‘cliff-edge’ withdrawal of benefit with a steep taper that leaves single earners with children facing implied marginal tax rates of well over 50% if they have one child, and nearer 80% if they have four or five.

George Osborne has done nothing about the main problem with this policy – a single earner household losing their benefit while a dual earner couple earning up to twice as much keep theirs.

A single earner household, say with Mum staying home to look after the kids, will lose child benefit if they earn between £50,000 and 60,000, but a couple where both parents go out to work can keep their child benefit even if they earn £100,000 between them.

What is Conservative about that? And why on earth is the Chancellor still trying to do it even though colleagues have tried to explain the problem to him time and time again.

*if they both go out to work

Child Benefit 40% Tax Policy in Trouble

The government’s plan to withdraw child benefit from households in which one or more taxpayers pay 40% income tax is in serious trouble.

I have just come from a parliamentary debate in which Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch, exposed a whole series of problems with the policy to which the minister, David Gauke MP, had few if any answers. The government line is simply not convincing, one suspects because the policy was drawn up in a rush before our 2010 Conference without being properly thought through.

More seriously still from the government’s perspective, it is not clear that it has a majority in Parliament for the policy. The LibDems, of course, love the idea, but Labour appears set to oppose it, having somewhat opportunistically deemed the households affected to belong to Ed Miliband’s rather elastic “squeezed middle”.

Meanwhile, a very significant number of Conservative backbenchers have concerns and, in many cases, these are sufficiently serious that I would expect them to be expressed in the voting lobbies.

The policy is particularly toxic for colleagues who want to see the government do more to promote marriage and the traditional family, given the lack of movement so far on the government’s promise to recognise marriage in the tax system. However, the policy is also objectionable for those who want the tax system to be neutral between personal choices, since it clobbers single earner householders, most usually with a stay-at-home Mum, relative to dual-earner couples.

Ministers cannot answer colleagues who question them about the sheer unfairness of one family with a single earner on £45,000 losing their child benefit, while a family with two earners, each earning around £40,000, get to keep their child benefit. Certainly, I don’t feel that I am currently able to give constituents a satisfactory answer as to how this is fair, particularly when we continue to pay child benefit to many thousands of children in EU countries such as Poland and Lithuania, where costs are much lower, even when they have never set foot in the UK.

Given the four figure sums involved, the equivalent of £4,000 of marginal gross income for a family with three children, it is no surprise that many people have contacted their MP on this issue. I have had several dozen constituents raise it with me, but another MP says that he has been contacted by over a thousand people. Adding to the weight of such representations is the fact that, at least in my case, they do not appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign.

Colleagues had expected the Treasury to come forward with proposals to mitigate the unfairness of the policy, but now it is suggested that this would be too complicated and difficult, given the implications of household means testing for independent taxation.

If so, the Treasury would be well advised to use the Budget to drop this policy. The alternative may be that it is defeated on the floor of the House.

Chance to be Chancellor

Mark Reckless is supporting the launch of Chance to be Chancellor 2012 and is calling on schools and young people in Rochester and Strood to take up in the challenge to learn about, and share their opinions on, Budget 2012.

Run by the Citizenship Foundation, in partnership with Aviva, Chance to be Chancellor is open to all 14-18 year olds across the UK.

Running until the 20th February, participants can enter into a national competition to win great prizes and visit HM Treasury inLondon.

To find out more and get involved visit: www.chancetobechancellor.org.uk

MP delighted to open Demelza Hospice shop in Chatham

Opening Demelza Hospice shop in Chatham

Demelza Hospice Care for Children officially opened its 18th shop on Friday (November 4th) in Chatham High Street.

MP Mark Reckless cut the ribbon to launch the store at 173 High Street. He was joined by Mayor of Medway, Councillor Ted Baker and his wife, Mrs Sylvia Baker.

Mr Reckless said:

“I am delighted to open Demelza’s 18th fundraising shop in Chatham with a 19th soon to follow in Rochester. I am impressed that Demelza extends all the way from Eastbourne to Eltham.

They have a wide range of goods in stock when times are tough and you can help an organisation that does so much for children across Kent.”

Cameron and Lisa Edwards with Mark RecklessCameron Edmonds, aged 11, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and has used Demelza’s hospice in Sittingbourne for a year also came to the opening with mum, Lisa and cut the cake specially made for the occasion.

Claire Jordan, Demelza’s Head of Retail Operations said:

“Thank you to everyone who has supported our new shop in Chatham, either shoppers or those who have donated goods for us to sell. We have been extremely busy since we opened our doors which means we need more of your unwanted items.

By clearing out your wardrobe you are helping to support our children and families as profits from our shops go directly towards the work in our hospices. So please continue to support us.”

Demelza is set to open another shop in Medway later this month when a special `boutique style’ shop opens at 72 High Street, Rochester.

MP Offers Residents ‘No Trick Or Treat’ Posters

Mark Reckless MP is inviting residents who do not wish to be disturbed by trick-or-treaters this Halloween to download his ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster for their door or window.

Speaking about the poster, Mark said:

“Halloween can be a really fun time for children and I hope they will enjoy it this year. However, there are many elderly or vulnerable residents who are clearly worried about opening their door to strangers.

Many will simply pretend they’re not at home in the hope that they will be left alone, and may then worry about being tricked.

This poster can be printed off and placed in their window so that children and responsible adults know not to call in order to make Halloween an enjoyable and peaceful event for everyone.”

Click Here Or On The Image to download the poster

Academy Status For Cliffe Woods Primary School

Mark Reckless congratulates Principal Tim Watson of Cliffe Woods Primary School on conversion to Academy

Mark Reckless congratulates Principal Tim Watson of Cliffe Woods Primary School on conversion to Academy

Cliffe Woods Primary School has officially become Medway’s first new-style academy.

Cliffe Woods Primary School, which has been one of Medway’s top performing schools, is the first Primary School in Medway to break away from local authority control and become a publicly funded independent school.

It comes after the coalition Government announced last summer that academy freedoms would be extended to the country’s best performing schools.

The school became an academy on July 1 and was personally visited on this date by the local MP – Mark Reckless.

Mark Reckless said:

“I was absolutely delighted to visit Cliffe Woods Primary School on its first official day as an Academy. Cliffe Woods has consistently been one of Medway’s top performing primary schools and will now benefit from increased funding and the freedom and flexibility that Academy status brings.

I was really impressed by my tour of the school. It was fantastic to see how the pupils and teachers are working together to reach high levels of personal achievement. I am really pleased for all the children attending Cliffe Woods Primary School who are being given the best opportunity to excel academically.

I would like to congratulate the Principal at Cliffe Woods Primary School, Mr Tim Watson, on the school’s continuing success, and for his hard work in securing Academy status. This will allow the school to manage its own budget and set its own priorities away from the National Curriculum. I would also like to congratulate all the teachers and staff for providing such a stimulating and welcoming environment for the local children who attend.

Well done to all concerned!”

The Principal – Tim Watson  said:

“The conversion will have a positive impact on the service and provision that we provide for our pupils.  It will allow the school more flexibility in the delivery of the curriculum and the organisation of resources, which in turn will allow us to tailor teaching and learning more appropriately to the needs of the pupils in the school.”

Mark Reckless meets pupils at Cliffe Woods Primary School

Mark Reckless meets pupils at Cliffe Woods Primary School

Under the previous Labour Government, only poorly performing schools could apply to become academies which were “run” by outside sponsors in a bid to raise standards.

But under the new coalition Government good and outstanding schools can apply for academy status.  New style academies do not need outside sponsors but have been judged able to govern themselves.

Principal Tim Watson said:

“We are all excited about becoming an academy.  This change is about doing what is best for our children, staff and community.  It has given us the freedoms and flexibilities to continue to raise standards even higher.”

Cliffe Woods Primary School has been consistently one of Medway’s top performing schools over the past few years and last year was top of the league tables for children achieving the expected level in both English and Mathematics. 

Although Cliffe Woods is the first Primary in Medway to take up Academy Status, other top Medway schools also now enjoy new academy freedoms, such as Rochester Grammar for Girls and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School.