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It's a busy schedule working as the MP for Leicester South. We try to make sure we keep everyone up-to-date with important issues, topics that affect constituents. We do this with regular updates on the website, including this page, where we highlight news items.
You can also visit archive news items shown in the menus below.
 
     
 
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OCTOBER 2012

Jon Ashworth MP on a blindfolded walk around Leicester city centre with a guide dog in support of ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind' charity

Friday October 26 2012

Jon Ashworth MP was taken for a blindfolded walk around Leicester City Centre with a guide dog and representative from the ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind' charity in order to experience the difficulties faced by visually-impaired and blind people.

Speaking before the walk, Jon said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to do a blindfolded walk around Leicester with a guide dog. Guide dogs are such an important aid for people who suffer from visual impairments, and I hope this walk will demonstrate just how dependent people can be on their guide dogs.”

‘Guide Dogs for the Blind' is a national charity that campaigns for the improvement of services for the blind and partially-sighted. Their campaigns aim to raise awareness about the rights that most people take for granted, and they are currently working on five main campaigns to improve access to services and safety for those people who suffer from visual impairment.

Jon commented: “Guide Dogs for the Blind' have launched five campaigns to assist those people who rely on guide dogs, and one of the most important of these campaigns is to improve town and street designs. Cities should be designed to be more accessible for people with guide dogs, and even for those who don't rely on guide dogs.”

“In a busy city like Leicester, where everyone must deal with increasing levels of traffic, guide dogs can be essential for some people. Hopefully my blindfolded walk will raise awareness of the good work that Guide Dogs charity does on a national level.”

Jackie Elshaw, Guide Dogs' Engagement Officer, said: "We are delighted to be in Jonathan's constituency and for his support. At Guide Dogs we are committed to ensuring that all blind and partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everybody else. But the reality is that they have to overcome extraordinary challenges every day to do the things that the rest of us take for granted. It is only by being able to meet with people like Jonathan and for them to experience sight loss that we can hope to achieve this".

 
Jon with Tim the guide dog
Jon and Neil Rance from ‘Guide Dogs’ charity crossing the road with Tim
Photos show Jon with guide dog Tim and Neil Rance from ‘Guide Dogs' charity, making their way around Leicester city centre.
 
Jon being led through Leicester city centre by guide dog Tim
Jon being led through city centre shops by Tim the guide dog
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Jon Ashworth MP spoke in Parliament about the decision to end Glenfield's children's heart services and move the children's ECMO service to Birmingham

Monday October 22 2012

A debate was held in Westminster Hall today as a result of more than 100,000 people signing a petition which urged the government to reconsider its decision to end children's heart services in Glenfield and move the ECMO service to Birmingham.

The campaign has been spearheaded by Liz Kendall MP for Leicester West, Jon and other Leicestershire MPs and has received huge support from local supporters.

Speaking in today's debate, Jon stated: “This issue has caused considerable concern, not only in my Leicester South constituency but across the East Midlands region. It is no surprise to those of us who have been involved in the campaign that the e-petition has hit 100,000 signatures.”

Jon highlighted the importance of the specialist services provided in Glenfield, and argued that the government's proposals would have a wider effect on paediatric care:“

 
There is concern about how the decision will affect the wider paediatric cardiac intensive care on offer in Leicester, with the potential closure of the unit at Glenfield increasing pressure on the other Leicester hospitals and, more generally, reducing the supply of paediatric intensive care across the east midlands and placing more demand on Birmingham.”

Expanding on the issue of moving the ECMO service to Birmingham, Jon challenged Ministers by stating that whilst the ECMO equipment would be transferred, the specialist knowledge and expertise of Glenfield's staff would not be, as most specialists and medical staff based in Glenfield are unable to relocate to Birmingham:

“The ECMO service at Glenfield is the longest-established and provides 80% of ECMO capacity nationally. Many of its staff have more than 20 years' experience. Glenfield's ECMO service has some of the very best mortality rates. The mortality rate for ECMO at Glenfield is 20%, but the national mortality rate is 50% higher.”
 
“International experts are therefore deeply concerned about the moving of ECMO from Leicester to Birmingham. One of their concerns is that the institutional memory, built up over a generation by the team, will be lost. That is one reason why I find it slightly disappointing when the Secretary of State presents the matter as just moving equipment from Glenfield to Birmingham. We have already heard that many of the staff feel that they will not be able to move.”

The Westminster Hall debate was supported by many Leicestershire MPs, and was one that demonstrated cross-party opposition to the government's proposals. MPs Liz Kendall, Keith Vaz, Edward Garnier, Andrew Bridgen and David Tredinnick all spoke in the debate. To read the full transcript of the debate, please click here:

Jon spoke in Westminster Hall about the decision to end Glenfield's children heart services and move ECMO services to Birmingham. You can view the televised session by clicking on the Play button, and then skip to 16.50.41 for the start of Jon's contribution.

 
     

Jon Ashworth MP joined Hindu worshippers to celebrate the Navratri Festival

Friday October 19 2012

Jon Ashworth MP attended both the Shree Hindu Temple and Community Centre on St Barnabas Road, and Leicester's DeMontfort Hall, to join the Hindu community in their celebration of the festival of Navratri.

The festival of Navratri is a nine-night long celebration dedicated to the worship of the Hindu Goddess Shakti. Shakti is considered to be the Mother Goddess in the Hindu tradition, and each of the different nine nights of the festival celebrates the various forms that the Goddess takes.

Jon said:“I am pleased to be able to take part in the Navratri celebrations here in Leicester, especially because it holds such significance for the Hindu community in my Constituency. The festival allows people from all generations to come together and celebrate in good spirits, and I am pleased to be able to participate in these events.”

“Leicester is a vibrant, diverse and multicultural City, and it is very positive to see people of all ages coming together to celebrate their religious festivals in such a public way.”

As part of the celebrations worshippers engage in special dance routines, and these dance celebrations are particularly popular amongst the Indian Gujarati and Bengali communities.Mr Maganbhai P Patel OBE, President of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council, and Mr Jashvantlal Chauhan OBE, General Secretary of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council, both attended the celebrations.


 
Jon Ashworth speaking at the Shree Hindu Mandir and Community Centre with Councillor Mian Mayat (right)
Photo above, Jon Ashworth speaking at the Shree Hindu Mandir and Community Centre with Councillor Mian Mayat (right)
Maganbhai Patel said:“The festival of Navratri is an important celebration in our Hindu calendar. The event is dedicated to three different Goddesses, each of whom represents different life virtues and skills in the Hindu faith. However, although this is a Hindu festival, our event is open to all and is attended by people of all faiths.

As members of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council, it is very positive to know that Leicester can celebrate its diversity and multiculturalism, and we are pleased that Jon can join us and partake in our auspicious celebrations.”
 
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Jon Ashworth and Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP with members of the Committee of Leicester Hindu Festival Council at De Montfort Hall
From Left to Right: Mr Jashvantlal Chauhan (General Secretary of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), Mr Maganbhai Patel (President of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), Mr Mahesh Chander Prasher (of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), and Jon Ashworth
Jon Ashworth with Mr Bhiku Odedra (left), Vice-President of the Shree Hindu Mandir Committee
Photo top, Jon Ashworth and Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP with members of the Committee of Leicester Hindu Festival Council at De Montfort Hall.
Photo middle
, Mr Jashvantlal Chauhan (General Secretary of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), Mr Maganbhai Patel (President of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), Mr Mahesh Chander Prasher (of the Leicester Hindu Festival Council), and Jon Ashworth.
Photo bottom,
Jon Ashworth with Mr Bhiku Odedra (left), Vice-President of the Shree Hindu Mandir Committee

Jon Ashworth MP spoke at the Ahimsa Day celebrations in London

Wednesday October 17 2012

Jon Ashworth spoke at the Ahimsa Day celebrations in the House of Commons on Wednesday October 17.

Organised by the Joint Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of India and the Institute of Jainology, the Ahimsa Day proceedings are a celebration of the Jain principle of ‘Ahimsa', meaning non-violence.

As an ideology, ‘Ahimsa' is an essential tenet of the Jain religion and continues to be a guiding ethos for many people today. Made famous by historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the principle of non-violence has been used in the political sphere as well as in the spiritual one.

Following the event, Jon said: “The principle of ‘Ahimsa' is one that should be celebrated, and it is one that has particular relevance for people in my Constituency. The Jain Centre in Leicester South is an excellent example of how different communities can live alongside one another, and Leicester as a whole is a city that represents a unique diversity that we should be proud of.”

 
Photo shows Jon speaking at the Ahimsa Day celebrations in the House of Commons
Photo shows Jon speaking at the Ahimsa Day celebrations in the House of Commons
Click photo for enlargement
 
The Ahimsa Day event was attended by roughly 140 attendees, and Leicester was well-represented in this congregation. George Ballentyne, Equality and Diversity Officer with the Leicester Council of Faiths, also attended and addressed the attendees at the London event.

Mr Ballentyne spoke about the significance of the Jain Centre in the Leicester South Constituency, and praised it as a model of inclusiveness and community cohesion, highlighting its popularity among visitors to the city who are interested in seeing examples of Leicester's famous diversity. Leicester's Jain Centre will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013.

Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth speaks out in Parliament against HMRC
nursery closures

Tuesday October 16 2012

Speaking in the House of Commons Jon Ashworth criticised Government plans to close the nursery at HMRC in Leicester's Saxon House and demanded that ministers announce a moratorium on all the nursery closures.

Referring to the Leicester HMRC nursery Jon said in the Commons: “Leicester's Saxon House will not remain open, even though it is oversubscribed and there are 15 staff on maternity leave who will want to use the nursery when they return to work.”

Jon continued: “The Minister should announce a moratorium on these closures, otherwise children will face upheaval and staff will be made redundant.”HMRC announced earlier in 2012 that the nurseries on its sites around the UK would all close at end of November.

 
HMRC contracts private companies to run the nurseries on eight of their sites around the UK, which includes Saxon House in Leicester.

The nursery at Saxon House, which was opened in 1997, provides care for 50 children and has a waiting list. While the nurseries are run by a private company the decision to shut them from November was taken by the Department.

Speaking after the Debate Jon commented: “The decision to close the nurseries is at odds with the Government's stated aims of helping women back to work, making work pay and reducing unemployment.”
 
Jon speaking in the House of Commons

Photo above: Jon speaking in the House of Commons

Click photo for enlargement

Jon Ashworth MP visited St Hugh's Church cafe for breakfast before heading out onto Eyres Monsell Estate

Saturday October 13 2012

On Saturday, 13 October, Jon had breakfast at the cafe at St Hugh's Church.

Before the visit on Saturday 13 October, Jon said: “I'm looking forward to having a good breakfast and meeting people from Eyres Monsell. If people have any problems or issues they want me to look into, or if you just want a chat with your local MP, then please come along to St Hugh.”

After his breakfast, Jon was out and about on the Estate with local Councillors.

Jon commented: “I'm often in Eyres Monsell - I recently visited Rolleston School and before that I went on the beat with the local Sergeant.”

As well as getting out and about in Leicester South, Jon holds regular surgeries at his office on Charles Street and throughout his Constituency.



 
Jon at Welford Road after the anouncement

For an appointment, or to contact Jon about any local or national issue, please call his office (251 19279) or email Jon on jon.ashworth.mp@parliament.uk.

 
Jon having breakfast with Mrs Smith

Photo above: Jon having breakfast with Mrs Smith
Photo courtesy Mike Sewell – Leicester Mercury

Click any photo for enlargement

Jon Ashworth MP spoke at the launch of Leicester's first Mental Health Housing Consortium

Friday October 12 2012

Jon gave a speech at the launch event at Voluntary Action Leicester on Friday, October 12.

Jon stated: “Good housing is crucial for good mental health, offering stability and security. So good quality housing related support is essential to those recovering from mental health illnesses and to prevent deterioration of mental health.”

“With the current pressure on budgets it is important that the quality and level of housing related support services are not adversely affected, and especially the services offered by small locally based organisations.”

The government's mental health strategy for England stresses the importance of housing for everyone's mental health and particularly for those recovering from mental health problems.

Dave Keysell, Floating Support Team Leader at Foundation Housing Association, stated: “The importance of housing for mental health recovery is clear, and housing-related support significantly more than pays for itself through savings to other parts of the public purse, such as reducing the need for people to take up expensive hospital services.”

“Appropriate person-centred support can be shown to reduce deterioration in mental health, enabling better health and well being, and helping people maintain their homes and manage their lives in a more positive, less stressful way.”

“The Conduit Consortium is a group of providers working in Leicester offering support to people with mental health issues and housing-related support needs. It currently provides floating support to people in their own homes, as well as residential and daytime projects.”

 
Jon speaking at the launch event
Jon speaking with Gaby Briner, Director of Network for Change

 

“All the members are established providers in their own right, and came together because they share a common set of values and a desire to make a difference and improve the lives of the people they support. They share their knowledge, expertise and good practice between their organisations for the benefit of their service users.”

 
Jon speaking at the launch event
Jon with Dave Keysell, Floating Support Team Leader at Foundation Housing Association

Photos, top left and right, Jon speaking at the launch event, Photo left, Jon speaking with Gaby Briner, Director of Network for Change, photo above, Jon with Dave Keysell, Floating Support Team Leader at Foundation Housing Association

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Jon Ashworth MP helps Saffron Pre-School celebrate World School Milk Day by handing out milk to the children

Thursday October 11 2012

Saffron Pre-School is one of thousands of schools and nurseries across more than 30 countries taking part in celebrations dedicated to World School Milk Day on 26 th September. The day encourages children to drink milk and aims to educate them about the benefits of milk.

Prior to the visit to Saffron Pre-School, Jon said: “I'm a big supporter of the School Milk Scheme. It is a great way for children to get essential nutrients and fresh milk also helps learning. I'm really looking forward to handing out the daily milk at Saffron Pre-School along with the local Councillor, Elly Cutkelvin.”

Saffron Pre-School has been running for over three years and has 90 families attending from the Estate.

In the UK, school milk is free for children in day-care or primary education under the age of five, and subsidised for school students aged five to 11. Milk is delivered fresh and chilled to the classroom, distributed by students and consumed as a group.

This process aids children's social development, including responsibility, independence and manners. Children also benefit from the nutrients and vitamins in milk, which aids their health and physical development – while also helping to ensure their hydration and improved concentration.

John Sedgwick, Managing Director of Cool Milk, confirmed that supplying milk to schools, nurseries is vital in helping children to develop important nutrition and social habits.


 
Jon and Jane Sperry, Manager of Saffron Pre-School
Jon enjoying a cup of cool milk with Jayben, Regan and Layland

Photos, top, Jon and Jane Sperry, Manager of Saffron Pre-School, above, Jon enjoying a cup of cool milk with Jayben, Regan and Layland.

John said: “Milk in schools continues to be incredibly popular and hugely successful in contributing to the healthy development of all children – but especially those from underprivileged backgrounds.”

 
Jon with Jayben
Jon and Councillor Cutkelvin with Jayben Wilson, Regan Adcock and Layland Makin

Photos, top, Jon with Jayben, above, Jon and Councillor Cutkelvin with Jayben, Regan and Layland.

Click any photo for enlargement

World School Milk Day is celebrated globally on 26th September. For more information go to www.worldschoolmilkday.com

Jon Ashworth MP responds to decision of Rugby Football Union to exclude Welford Road from the stadia to host the 2015 Rugby world Cup

Wednesday October 10 2012

Speaking after the announcement Jon said: “I am extremely disappointed by the decision of the RFU to not include the home of the Leicester Tigers as a host for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Welford Road is the largest Club ground in the country, and Tigers is the most successful professional rugby club in England. The decision not to include Welford Road is nonsensical.”

In 2009 Leicester Tigers took the decision to invest £15 million to build the Caterpillar Stand, which increased the capacity of the ground to 24,000.

Jon continued: “I have spoken to the Chief Executive of Leicester Tigers, Simon Cohen, about this inexplicable decision, especially when it is considered that the Club has vast experience of hosting international matches.”

“I have today written to the Minister of Sport, Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP, and the Chief Executive of England Rugby 2015, Debbie Jevans, to ask them to reconsider this decision. Welford Road is an ideal venue for the Rugby World Cup.”

 
Jon at Welford Road after the anouncement
Photo above, Jon at Welford Road after the anouncement.
(photo courtesy of the Leicester Mercury)

Photos right; above, Jon with the Chief Executive of Leicester Tigers, Simon Cohen, below, Jon being interviewed by Central News about the RFU's decision.

Click any photo for enlargement
 
Jon with the Chief Executive of Leicester Tigers, Simon Cohen
Jon being interviewed by Central News about the RFU's decision

Jon Ashworth MP met staff and pupils at Rolleston Primary School and attends
the school's Sports Day

Friday October 5 2012

Jon visited the primary school with local Councillor, Virginia Cleaver. Jon and Councillor Cleaver had a tour of the school by the School Council which consists of elected members from each class. They then answered questions by members of the School Council.

Before the visit, Jon said: “I'm really looking forward to visiting another primary school in my Constituency. Earlier in the year Rolleston's work in mathematics was inspected and was found to be good, including the quality of the teaching in this key subject.”

After meeting the School Council Jon and Councillor Cleaver, who is a governor of Rolleston, called in on the school's Sports Day before meeting with the Headteacher.

Jon commented: “I was keen to meet with the Headteacher to discuss the challenges facing the school and the school's plans for the future.”

Speaking before the visit, Steve Jones, Headteacher at Rolleston, said: “Our school council representatives are very excited about the prospect of meeting Jon Ashworth MP. We hope he recognises how hard both the pupils and staff work to make Rolleston successful.”

Rolleston Primary School serves part of the Eyres Monsell Estate with over 300 pupils on roll. It opened in 2004 following the merger of an infant and junior school.

Councillor Cleaver commented: “I know that the staff at Rolleston work very hard to meet the needs of all families within the area and it is important, as a local Councillor, that staff and parents know that they can contact me.”

 
Councillor Cleaver, Headteacher (Steve Jones) and Jon
Jon with teacher (Ms Hubert) and members of the School Council

Click any photo for enlargement

 
Jon with Headteacher (Steve Jones)
Jon with teacher (Ms Hubert) and members of the School Council

Photos above left, Councillor Cleaver, Headteacher (Steve Jones) and Jon. Above top right, Jon with Headteacher (Steve Jones). Photos below left and right, Jon with teacher (Ms Hubert) and members of the School Council.

 

Jon Ashworth, MP visited Somali Development Services

Friday October 5 2012

Jon Ashworth MP met with staff and individuals with links to the Somali Development Services (SDS) centre on Abingdon Road. The SDS provides culturally sensitive support for local people to acquire skills, access employment, education, and to contribute to the economic development of the local community.

Members of the SDS gave presentations on the issues facing the Somali community in Leicester. One issue of particular importance that was discussed was family support services, the problems faced by Somali families, and how the SDS hopes to tackle these problems.

Jon said: “I was pleased to see the good work that Somali Development Services provides to the local community in Leicester. They cater not just for the Somali community, but for all local people who require their services.”

The SDS was established in 2001, and now has an annual turnover of over £150,000. They offer services in family and young people support, adult learning, employment and training, career development and cultural awareness training. They also offer drop-in sessions, where people can get help and advice with issues such as benefits, utility bills, housing, debt, education, immigration, and health.

 
Jon speaking at the SDS advice drop in
Jon commented: “At a time when the government is making huge cuts and people are struggling to find employment, it's really important that organisations such as this provid e people with the necessary help and assistance they need. I was particularly pleased to see the work they do in offering ESOL courses, as I have campaigned heavily for the government to continue funding these vital language courses.”
 
Mr Abdirazak Warsame, Ms Maryam Anshwar, Jon Ashworth, Ms Jawaahir Daahir, Ms Halima Ibrahim
Jon with Ms Maryam Anshwar
“The SDS advice drop-in sessions are also really important in guiding people and making them aware of the services that are available to them."
Photos. Above left, Jon speaking at the SDS advice drop in, top right , Mr Abdirazak Warsame, Ms Maryam Anshwar, Jon Ashworth, Ms Jawaahir Daahir, Ms Halima Ibrahim, bottom right, Jon with Ms Maryam Anshwar
Click any photo for enlargement
 
 
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