Farcical Villiers visit to flood-stricken Calder Valley


Over the weekend, Calder Valley again suffered horrendous flooding – the fourth in eight years.

When Ban the Burn heard that Theresa Villiers, the Defra Sec of State, would be doing a walkabout in central Mytholmroyd on Wednesday between 9am and 10am, we called Craig Whittaker’s constituency office to say we would like to talk to her.

We wanted to ask when the government is bringing in promised legislation to ban peatland burning and to make sure it has no loopholes or exemptions that would allow burning to continue.

They agreed it would be appropriate for us to talk to her.

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Craig Whittaker MP claims an “authoritative study” shows there’s no need for NHS (Reinstatement) Bill – what study is this?

Craig Whittaker has posted his refusal to constituents’ requests that he vote for the cross-party NHS (Reinstatement) Bill at its second reading in the House of Commons on 11 March.

His refusal includes the claim that:

“…an authoritative comparative study of the performance of different national health systems recently concluded that the NHS, from 2010 to 2015 was the best health service in the world.”

I’ve asked Craig Whittaker’s constituency office which study he’s talking about and they don’t know but say they will ask him and let me know, probably on Monday.


The only 2015 comparative study of the performance of different national health systems that I’ve come across is the OECD report, Health at a Glance. The data in this report is from 2013 (or nearest year), so doesn’t refer to the 2010-15 period. And it is far from indicating that the NHS was the best health service in the world at that time. The OECD report also says the NHS is under financial strain, with spending having remained static between 2009 and 2013, in real, per person terms.


So that can’t be the authoritative 2012 study that Craig Whittaker MP has referred to.

Here is Craig Whittaker’s refusal to vote for the NHS Bill: Continue reading

Tax Credit Cuts: Calder Valley MP tells People’s Assembly he agrees with Osborne’s ‘direction of travel’

Calderdale People’s Assembly members and friends braved strong winds and driving rain on Saturday 7th November, to hold a mass lobby of the Calder Valley MP’s open surgery in Elland.

Their demand was for Craig Whittaker to protect low income Calderdale families from cuts to their tax credits. Continue reading

MP says future of Calderdale Royal Hospital is a “moveable feast” now it’s in special measures

The future of Calderdale Royal Hospital is a “moveable feast” since Monitor has put it into special measures as a result of its deficit, Craig Whittaker MP said at his open surgery in Mytholmroyd on Saturday 18th July.

Monitor is the organisation charged with enforcing market competition in the NHS. Its boss David Bennett (previously a Senior Partner at McKinsey, the management consultancy company that’s made a killing out of the corporate capture of the NHS under both the New Labour and Coalition governments) recently warned that if NHS Foundation Trusts don’t bring down their deficits, they will lose their freedom to decide their own strategy and the way they run their services. Continue reading

Defra must publish full unredacted report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts

In January, Plain Speaker reported that Calder Valley people had asked Craig Whittaker MP to access and make public a full unredacted copy of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, so that he could make an informed vote in the House of Commons on proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill.

Of course this didn’t happen.

But now the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that:

“DEFRA has incorrectly withheld the information  [and must] disclose an unredacted copy of the report”

in the next 35 days, in order to follow Environmental Information Regulations. If Defra fails to do this, it may be “dealt with as a contempt of court”.

You can download the ICO’s decision notice here


More the merrier – come along to Hebden Bridge “Bin the Infrastructure Bill” demo, 11am Sunday 18 Jan

Updated 18 Jan Braving the snow, several members of the public turned out for the “Bin the Infrastructure Bill” demo this morning in St George’s Square, Hebden Bridge. The demo was organised by anti-fracking activist Helen Chuntso.

Demonstrators – including me – were calling on Craig Whittaker MP to vote for vital amendments to the Infrastructure Bill, that Green MP Caroline Lucas and LibDem MP Norman Baker are putting forward. (More info below about the amendments.) Continue reading

Get full copy of official fracking impacts report before you vote in House of Commons, constituents tell Craig Whittaker MP

Some Calder Valley constituents – who are worried about proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill which MPs are to vote on in the House of Commons this week – have asked Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker to tell the government to release the full version of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts.

The version that has been published (PDF) has over 60 redactions, and Green MP Caroline Lucas has accused ConDem ministers of having “something to hide” over fracking. Continue reading

No support for recognising state of Palestine from #CalderValley MP Craig Whittaker

On 13th October, MPs voted by a big margin (274 for, 12 against) for a motion plus an amendment that:

“This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel ‘as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.’”

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Calder Valley MP’s questions find no breaches of abortion law

Craig Whittaker MP recently submitted written questions about breaches in abortion law to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s answers make it clear that the Calder Valley MP is barking up the wrong tree.

All the answers show that doctors who terminate pregnancies are totally legit; and that two doctors must certify that, in their opinion, which must be formed in good faith, a request for an abortion meets at least one (and the same) of the grounds laid out in the Abortion Act 1967. Continue reading

New supermarkets destroy more jobs than they create – open letter to Craig #Whittaker MP

Dear Craig Whittaker,

I question your statement, reported in the Hebden Bridge Times, that a proposed new supermarket to be developed on the Mytholm Works site will create new jobs.

In fact, new large supermarkets destroy more jobs than they create. One source of evidence for this is the paper “Superstores and Employment in Retailing” by Dr David Thorpe, Head of Research, John Lewis Partnership, October 1999.
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