Below is an e-letter from Philip Marfleet regarding a South Dorset campaign, Weymouth & Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW), to address issues of low wages and poverty in the area.
– 3 August 2018
Greetings from WeyPAW – especially to those we met recently at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival.
We’re concerned about poverty wages and well-being in Weymouth & Portland, which now has the lowest average weekly wages in the UK. We also address problems of local housing, health, education and transport.
There’s a widely held view in South Dorset that “things have never been so bad” and concern with the lack of new initiatives for the area. WeyPAW is bringing together people who want to see change. Please see our website: www.weypaw.org.uk
In May we wrote to local MPs Richard Drax (South Dorset) and Oliver Letwin (West Dorset) inviting them to join us in planning a conference to address poverty wages, insecure jobs, “rogue” employers and continuing severe cuts to health services, welfare and education. Both MPs declined. We also wrote to all local councils with responsibilities in the area: none replied.
WeyPAW is going ahead with the conference – and we hope that MPs and councillors will attend. It will take place on Saturday October 13 (12pm-4pm) at Safewise, Radipole Lane, Weymouth. The event is supported by the South-West Region of the TUC.
Among our confirmed speakers:
– Professor Danny Dorling of Oxford University – one of Britain’s leading experts on inequality and social deprivation (www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/ddorling.html);
– Eva Herman of Manchester University – researcher on women, wages and the workplace – and co-author of Unpaid Britain (https://tinyurl.com/y9sw2myl);
– Nigel Costley, Secretary, South-West Region TUC, author of West Country Rebels. See Nigel’s speech to the recent Tolpuddle Festival – “Honouring the Women of Tolpuddle” (https://tinyurl.com/yaok7a93).
Other speakers, including local activists, will introduce sessions on health, education, housing and transport. More details on the conference soon: please put this date (13 October) in your diary!
Public consultation on the Local Plan begins in mid-August. The Plan assesses economic/social needs and allocates land for housing and commercial use, as well as for transport. It envisages up to 19,000 new homes in the Weymouth-Portland-Dorchester corridor: by the 2030s, the population of the area could increase by over 40,000 people (three Portlands!)
WeyPAW believes the Plan is inadequate to meet the needs of people in the area. It does not address the state of the local economy, the urgent need for secure, full-time jobs, or the need to upgrade local services. While W&P suffers from grossly inadequate transport links, the Plan accepts there will be no improvements in the coming years.
WeyPAW will be contributing to public consultation on the Plan, proposing policies for jobs, housing, health, welfare services and transport.
There will be discussion on our October conference and on the Local Plan at a WeyPAW Planning Meeting next week. This will take place on Tuesday 7 August at 7pm in the Centenary Club, Jubilee Close, Weymouth DT4 7BG.
This is a WeyPAW business meeting but all are welcome to attend.
HEALTH CUTS – PORTLAND
Hundreds of people have signed an Open Letter to MP Richard Drax and to Dorset Health Executive Ron Shields opposing cuts at Portland Hospital and calling for full public engagement on health services in Portland. Shields promises public consultation: more soon on this.
HEALTH CUTS – DORSET
Dorset County Council will vote on 13 September on whether to refer for independent review current plans to downgrade A&E and close the Maternity Unit at Poole Hospital. If the plans go ahead there will be a serious impact on people across the county.
Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) knew in August 2017 that at least 396 Dorset patients would be put at risk each year if cuts went ahead at Poole Hospital. Yet in their Decision Making Business Case of September 2017 they said the clinical risk to Dorset patients was “minimal”.
Please email Denise Hunt, clerk to the Dorset Health Scrutiny Committee, to request that the plans are referred because of known risks to residents. Please ask for your view to be made known to the Committee and please be polite, as the problems are not Denise’s fault! You need to put your name and address on the bottom of the email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Request from Defend Dorset NHS: please message the campaign’s Facebook page to say you’ve written to Denise Hunt and the Scrutiny Committee.
Thanks – best wishes to all,
on behalf of WeyPAW