Tag Archives: MP

Mark Reckless MP officially opens modern new look Strood Post Office

Strood Post Office re-opening, North Street, Strood. L-R John Elliott, Charanjit Kaur, Hardev Singh, sub postmaster Bierinder Singh Powar, MP Mark Reckless, Cllr Chris Irvine and Martine from the Post Office.

Strood Post Office re-opening, North Street, Strood. L-R John Elliott, Charanjit Kaur, Hardev Singh, sub postmaster Bierinder Singh Powar, MP Mark Reckless, Cllr Chris Irvine and Martine from the Post Office.

To celebrate the refurbishment of Strood Post Office, Mark Reckless, MP for Strood, officially opened the modernised main-style branch on Friday 29 August.

As part of Post Office plans to modernise the network and extend opening hours, Strood Post Office, 13-17 High Street, Strood, ME2 4SL now opens an extra five hours a week including Saturday afternoon. The new opening hours are Monday: 8:30am to 5:30pm; Tuesday to Saturday: 8:30am to 5:30pm.

The service is be provided from five counters, including two open-plan positions, two modern screened positions and a combi-counter, where the Post Office terminal will sit alongside the shop’s retail till.

Mark Reckless MP, said:

“The branch looks great – really modern. The extra Saturday afternoon opening makes it far more convenient for customers to visit. I am delighted to be here today to congratulate postmaster Bierinder Singh-Powar on his vital community role and the improvements made to his branch.”

STROOD POST OFFICE scissors 014Mr Singh-Powar, who has been postmaster since December 2010, said:

“All the customers are coming in and commenting upon how “posh” the store is. That’s the word everyone is using. The branch is light, bright, clean and modern. The open plan counters are great – far more personal. It is far easier to see customers and to have conversations without the need to shout. We also now have customer call forward system so that customers know which serving position to go to.”

Martine Munby, Post Office Senior Stakeholder Manager, said:

“We understand how important Post Office services are to the people of Strood and we are confident this new modern Post Office service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future. This modernisation is part of a major investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office and marks a commitment to no more branch closure programmes.”

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What About Ireland?

It was good to see the Prime Minister speak of a break-up of the Euro today, without being berated by his Chancellor in the way that some European Finance Ministers were yesterday.

The sooner the Euro breaks up and Europe begins to pick up the pieces, the sooner Europe will get back to growth, to our benefit as well as theirs. The truth though is that we are bystanders to this denouncement, having failed to veto their folly at Maastricht.

We can, of course, help Mediterranean countries that leave the Euro pay their way again by holidaying there as it becomes affordable once more.

Beyond that, the decision Britain faces is what we could do on our doorstep in respect of Ireland. With Euro break-up would Ireland have to go it alone like Greece, or would we be prepared to support Ireland make an orderly return to sterling?

That, of course, was the status quo ante before Ireland’s ill-fated European currency arrangements, with sterling notes and coins continuing to circulate long after independence, and every Irish pound being backed one for one under a sterling currency board until Ireland joined the ERM in 1979.

Eighteen months ago I commissioned an opinion poll in the Republic which showed, even then, that more than a third of Irish people wanted to leave the Euro and return to sterling, with support strongest amongst the young and, interestingly, Sinn Fein supporters.

What would be in this for the UK, beyond supporting friends and neighbours to whom we are tied by history? Well, we could:

1) avoid a collapse in trade and competitiveness with one of our most important export markets;

2) protect a still fragile UK banking system which has uniquely substantial exposure to Ireland; and

3) ensure proper priority for UK creditors, by reversing their EU-inspired subordination to European Central Bank credit and the largely Germany holders of (mis-)guaranteed Irish bank senior debt.

Why we need a Police-led Border Force

Our Home Affairs Committee report today on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) insists that ministers are right to take direct control. The Home Secretary has put Brian Moore, a Chief Constable, in charge of the Border Force and I look forward to her now showing that ministers are in charge of UKBA, which should not be called an Agency when it is part of the Home Office.

Following our visit to the Greece/Turkey border the Home Affairs Committee has been calling for a much stronger focus on bringing people smugglers to justice and stiff sentences to deter others. Unfortunately, a UKBA legal case which has only just come to light once again underlines what our Committee has now been saying for a number of years – the UKBA is not fit for purpose.

The judge’s decision in R v Niru Rivindra contains perhaps the most shocking condemnation of a public body, here the UKBA, which I have read since I trained as a lawyer. The outcome of UKBA’s rank incompetence was the waste of a huge amount of time, energy and money, with any people smugglers involved getting away scot-free.

The case shows that UKBA was unable to follow the most basic procedures (e.g. taking a note of a witness interview) needed to bring an offender to justice and that, as it has until now been constituted, UKBA is quite incapable of investigating and prosecuting cases. No-one could tell the judge who was in charge and UKBA could not initially even answer the judge’s question as to who was prosecuting.

The judge in this collapsed case generally commended individual police officers for doing their best, but raised particular concerns about the role of Mr Allen, a UKBA Assistant Director. Many questions still remain unanswered and I will be asking for the Home Affairs Committee to investigate.

At least Brian Moore, the Chief Constable now in charge of the Border Force, should be able to bring some basic police rigour and procedure to UKBA people smuggling investigations and prosecutions.

VIDEO: Mark Reckless Discusses Foreign Labour