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Business Secretary congratulates Harlow MP Robert Halfon for standing up for Harlow workers in parliament
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 05/16/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon has raised the case of Tesco workers who are losing their jobs with the closure of the company’s distribution centre in Harlow during a parliamentary debate.
He spoke about three issues - equal pay, the treatment of
disabled workers and what the Government can do – before Business Secretary
Vince Cable replied praising Mr Halfon for raising the issue and in doing so
having taken “a big step forward in helping these workers”.
Mr Halfon highlighted the town’s Tesco staff, which he
described as “second to none” and the contributions the company makes to local
He said: “I have absolutely no grievance with Tesco workers;
this is about decisions made by senior people in relation to the workers in
Harlow and the distribution centre.
“It came as a shock to the whole of Harlow when Tesco
announced that it would be closing its depot, affecting approximately 800
“This has been exacerbated by how Tesco has treated its
staff, in particularly in three areas: the notice staff were given, the reduced
pay and conditions offered to those able to transfer to an alternative site,
and its treatment of disabled workers.”
Mr Halfon said that when the new Tesco site in Dagenham was
announced, staff in Harlow were assured the extra distribution site was in
addition to the Harlow depot, to allow further expansion into London, rather
than a replacement.
He added that USDAW union representatives were “continually
reassured”, at director level, by Tesco that the Harlow depot would stay open,
and those assurances were passed on to workers.
“That continued to be the case just a week before they
announced the Harlow site would be closed.
“Naturally, workers feel aggrieved that Tesco was not
upfront about its intentions, and they feel it was making plans to close
the site behind the scenes.
“Harlow workers are particularly upset that their hard work
has made the Harlow depot one of the best performing sites in the country.
Tesco has chosen to reward that hard work by closing the site and making them
Mr Halfon has already written to Tesco chief executive and
UK distribution director of Tesco but said he was disappointed with their
Despite a comment from Tesco in a letter to Mr Halfon that
the company remains “committed to keeping as many of our colleagues in Harlow
in work as possible”, he said there remains “a serious number of problems”
regarding relocation and transfer payments, agency workers and the rights of
Speaking in the debate, Mr Halfon said: “It is wrong that
Tesco depot employees should be facing such anxiety. I believe the Government
should send a strong message to Tesco that its treatment of Harlow workers is
unacceptable and not in the tradition of the company’s values.
”In some areas, Tesco receives grants from the British
Government - for example, in Bolsover, where Tesco received money to set up its
distribution factory, which it is now closing, too.
“Any type of supportive grant should be stopped unless Tesco can guarantee fair treatment for its workers.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable praised Mr Halfon for the
“very passionate and lucid way in which he set out his case”.
He added: “He has been an assiduous constituency MP when
faced with a major closure and a lot of personal hurt. I very much admired how
he presented his case and how he brought together the local community - the
trade unions and the council as well as the business.
“He raises an important issue about a big international
corporate, which in my role as Business Secretary I support in many of its
“Tesco is a big operation, making £300m in profit... He has
pointed to a big gulf between the nationally declared set of objectives and
principles, which I am sure are sincerely intended, and the way in which the
local management has applied them in an insensitive way and with poor
Mr Cable added: “I am sure he (Mr Halfon) will
acquaint the senior management of Tesco with what has been said in this debate,
which reflects very badly on its national reputation.
“I am also sure that by achieving this Adjournment debate he will have taken a big step forward in helping these workers.”
Harlow MP Robert Halfon calls for tougher sentences for the owneers of dangerous dogs following attack on Harlow teenager
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 05/16/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon is calling for tougher sentences for the owners of dangerous dogs following an attack which left a Harlow teenager with a severed artery and a 5cm wound.
Mr Halfon has tabled a parliamentary motion and is seeking a
meeting with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in a bid to persuade the
Government to take action.
Mr Halfon’s Early Day Motion states: “That this House notes
that the Ministry of Justice fully understands the need for tough sentences
regarding those who own dangerous dogs; further notes however that the owner of
a dog which inflicted a 5cm flesh wound and a severed artery… has escaped
unpunished whilst the dog’s walker was handed a £250 compensation order; and
asks the Secretary of State for Justice if he will consider reviewing the
legislation on dog attacks in public areas to help put an end to such
In a question in parliament, Mr Halfon asked the Leader of
the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, whether he agreed that sentences such as
a £250 compensation order for the attack were unacceptable.
Mr Halfon called for an “urgent statement” to review the
sentencing for dangerous dog attacks and asked Mr Lansley whether he would
write to the Justice Secretary about the matter.
Mr Lansley said: “I completely understand why my hon. Friend
raises an issue of concern to him and, no doubt, to his constituents.”
he said the issue could be raised in the Second Reading
debate on the Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill on Monday, June
Mr Lansley said he would raise the issue of sentencing with
the Justice Secretary adding: “My hon. Friend will understand that Ministers
should not seek to allow our own views to intrude on the sentencing decisions
being made by courts under the guidelines.”
Speaking later, Mr Halfon said: “I am very disturbed about
this attack on Harlow resident Brandon Elston.
“I have tabled a Commons Motion and am urging the Government to have tougher sentences for owners of dangerous dogs. This kind of savagery must never happen again in Harlow.”
Robert Halfon’s question on tougher sentences for the owners of dangerous dogs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awlphjmTjq4
Harlow MP Robert Halfon has praised "amazing" Harlow Town Cricket Club as it sees its new pavilion officially opened.
England women's cricketer Lydia Greenway attended the
opening ceremony on Friday.
The new £290,000 pavilion at Ash Tree Field was previously a
football changing room.
Mr Halfon said: "I was delighted to support Harlow Town
Cricket Club on their special day. It is an amazing club and deserves every
“It was especially good to be with Passmores students and
women's cricket stars who came along."
Mr Halfon added: "I was pleased to be able to write to 70 businesses seeking their sponsorship and support and it was great that a number of businesses are supporting the club."
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 04/24/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon is stepping up his actions over the loss
of hundreds of jobs with the closure of the Tesco distribution centre in Harlow
1. Mr Halfon has raised
“significant concerns” over the maltreatment of workers, and Tesco’s decision
to close its distribution centre in a formal letter written directly to Tesco
CEO Phillip Clarke.
Mr Halfon is applying for a full debate on the issue in the House
of Commons and seeking a meeting with Business Secretary Vince Cable, having
already met two Ministers at the Department for Business to discuss the matter.
Finally, following his meeting with hundreds of Tesco staff and
trade union USDAW, Mr Halfon raised the issue yesterday in the House of
Commons, and has since tabled two Parliamentary motions.
The most recent motion states:
"That this House notes that whilst Tesco has stated that it
has no plans to re-open its Harlow site at a future date, there is evidence
from the USDAW trade union that Tesco gave the same assurances when it shut the
Feny Lock plant, which was later reopened with workers on lower pay; regrets
therefore that many Harlow workers are now facing redundancy and, despite
promises of support, many are still without jobs to go to; further regrets that
Tesco's corporate pay protection policy appears only to apply to certain
elements of salary rather than to total compensation; therefore urges Tesco to
explain why managers from the closing Harlow plant will be able to move to the
Dagenham plant with full terms and conditions, but that this is being denied to
Harlow workers; and further urges the company to allow its Harlow workers to
move across to the Dagenham plant with their full existing level of pay."
Mr Halfon’s formal two-page letter to Tesco CEO Phillip Clarke
focuses on pay and conditions for Tesco staff. It asks a series of questions
about alleged maltreatment of Harlow staff and asks for urgent answers.
In his letter, Mr Halfon adds: “The local rumours about what is happening are damaging to Tesco and its reputation. To those whose jobs are at risk and their families, lives are being turned upside down."
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 04/17/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon said: “Truly great people come along
once a generation and Margaret Thatcher was one of our greatest Prime Ministers
and our first woman PM.
“Mrs Thatcher made Britain a power in the world, reformed
our economy, established popular capitalism and enabled millions of lower
earners to purchase their own Council Homes under Right to Buy. She was a real
One Nation Conservative.”
He added: “She was a huge influence on my own politics - and
was one of the reasons I first decided to become a Conservative. Her influence
on the Conservative Party as a whole is almost unparalleled.
“Margaret Thatcher's statue in the House of Commons Members
Lobby will be all the more special now.”
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 04/17/2013
An announcement from Local Government Minister Eric Pickles that local authorities will be given more freedom to issue stop notices and hefty fines to travellers who flout planning rules has been welcomed by Harlow MP Eric Pickles and Conservative councillors.
Councils will be given stronger powers to stop illegal
travellers' sites being set up under the changes announced by the Brentwood and
The move is aimed at preventing another incident like Dale
Farm in Essex, where a long-running legal battle was fought before bailiffs
moved in to evict travellers from the site.
Mr Pickles said: "Drawn-out cases like Dale Farm
threatened to bring the legal system into disrepute.
“I'm determined that we do all we can to avoid situations
like that in future.
“In breach of planning law, travellers move in over a bank
holiday weekend and it can take years for councils to remove them.
“Such episodes give the whole Travelling community a bad
name and fuel community tensions. But these new powers will stop those caravans
in their tracks.
“By making these changes, we will stand squarely behind
those who play by the rules and use the full force of the law against those who
Local authorities will be given greater freedom to issue
temporary stop notices, backed by potentially unlimited fines, against
travellers who attempt to breach planning rules.
Mr Pickles added: “The new powers for councils in England
will come into force once the current legislation is revoked, which the
Department for Communities and Local Government said would happen ‘at the
Robert Halfon MP said: “This is important news from Local
Government Minister Eric Pickles. These proposals will mean no one is above the
law and there is a level playing field for residents and travellers.
“For too long travellers who trespass on land seemed to
enjoy rights denied to everyone else.”
Nazeing councillor Richard Bassett said: “I welcome these
changes as even though Epping Forest District Council has always treated
traveller fairly in agreeing new pitches there is always concerns that some
people abuse the planning rules and take advantage of the process."
North Weald and Nazeing county councillor Anthony Jackson said: “This will stop the illegal and anti-social actions of a small number of travellers who bring undeserved opprobrium onto our local gypsies and travellers who make a good and valuable contribution to our communities."
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 03/27/2013
MP Robert Halfon has welcomed new steps set out by the Prime Minister to ensure
we have an immigration system that favours people who work hard and want to get
on in life.
reforms of all the routes of immigration to the UK have already been implemented
by the Conservatives and have seen net immigration fall by almost a third since
the last general election.
Halfon said: "Many people in Harlow are concerned about the issue of
immigration and after thirteen years of open borders under Labour it is no
wonder. Conservatives in Government have implemented a comprehensive policy of
reform to our immigration system to make it more robust and more
taken by the Government include:
* Cutting access to benefits for non-UK nationals after six months.
ensure people cannot claim benefits indefinitely, the Government will change
the law so that after six months a European national can no longer keep their
status as a job seeker and continue to claim benefits, unless they can demonstrate
they have actively sought work throughout that period and have a genuine chance
of finding work.
* Cracking down on those who have no right to work in the UK from claiming contributory benefits.
At the moment some immigrants are exploiting a loophole which allows them to claim contributory benefits based on their National Insurance contributions even though they do not have the right to work in the UK.
can happen when someone has overstayed their visa. Closing this loophole will
prevent payment of contributory benefits to those with no right to work in the
Stopping ‘Something for Nothing’ in social housing. Local councils will be
expected to introduce a local residency test when deciding who should qualify
for social housing. This would mean someone would have to live in an area for
say two or five years before they could even go on the waiting list. This will
stop someone from turning up and immediately gaining access to social housing.
Stopping health tourism. The Government will stop the expectation that our
health service is free to the entire world and will take new steps to ensure
the NHS can claim back money that is owed for NHS treatment provided to those
not entitled to it. What we have is a free National Health Service, not a free
International Health Service.
Halfon added: "These reforms have seen net immigration cut by a third
since the general election.
welcome the new steps which the Prime Minister has set out to ensure that
everyone who comes here pays their way and gives something back. By changing
the rules on benefits and NHS treatment we will stop our system from being a
entitlement to public services something migrants earn and not an automatic
right will stop the ‘something for nothing’ culture which grew up under Labour.
On 25 March 2013 the Prime Minister made a speech where he outlined plans for a cross-Government
system that seeks to favour those who work hard to get on in life. The speech
outlined Government plans to do this by:
- stopping our benefits system from being such a “soft touch”;
- making entitlement to our key public services something migrants earn – not an automatic right; and
- bringing the full force of government together to crack down on illegal
cut by a third
Net immigration cut by a third since 2010. The Government’s tough policies are working – net migration down by almost a third since the general election. Official statistics published on 28 February 2013 showed that net migration fell to 163,000 in the year to June 2012; down from 235,000 in the year to June 2010
(ONS, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, 28 February 2013).
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 03/27/2013
MP Robert Halfon has stepped up his campaign for greater investment on the
Harlow-London train line, and affordable ticket prices.
the past six months...
Mr Halfon has responded formally to Network Rail's public consultation,
calling for extra tracks to be built on the Harlow-London route. if adopted,
this would speed up journey times for Harlow commuters.
Mr Halfon successfully campaigned to get the formula for Harlow train-ticket
pricing down from RPI + 3 per cent, to RPI + 1 per cent, last year. Mr Halfon
was at the forefront of the campaign in the run-up to the Autumn Statement, and
wrote directly to Transport Secretary demanding action. "This is a simple
cost of living issue," he said.
Mr Halfon brought the Minister for Trains, Simon Burns MP, to Harlow for a
public meeting about smart ticketing and reducing the cost of fares. The
Minister confirmed that he would continue to add extra carriages where
possible, to reduce overcrowding on trains at peak times.
Mr Halfon has continued the push for smart ticketing (like Oyster cards) in
Parliament, as this would cut the cost of travel for Harlow people. In
response to one of his questions, the Government confirmed £45 million for
pilot studies in the South East.
Halfon said: "I welcome what the Government have done to limit train fare
rises. Many people in Harlow commute into London, and could not afford some of
the bigger rises that were initially mentioned. Of course, expensive rail fares
have not happened overnight. Simon Carter, a Harlow resident who is also a
councillor, has the ticket stubs to prove that a season ticket from Harlow to
London went up by some 40% under the last Labour Government. But Harlow
commuters still suffer from overcrowding and that's why I have been campaigning
for investment and extra tracks on the London-Stansted line, as well as extra
carriages, so that we can have faster trains with more space."
added: "We have had some success. The franchise-owner Abellio has agreed
to hire 100 extra security staff, protect all Harlow services from cuts and
smarten up our train stations. But Essex is a major engine of the English
economy and our train fares are still too high. That is why I am urging the
Government to roll out "smart card tickets", like the Oystercard in
London, to include Harlow commuters. This would help to cut the cost of ticket
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 03/21/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon has welcomed news that net migration into the UK is down by almost a third since the general election, which is the result of tough reforms pushed through by the Conservatives.
Official statistics show net immigration into the UK in the
year ending June 2012 was 163,000; this is down significantly from 235,000 in
the year ending June 2010.
The number of visas issued also fell by ten per cent to the
lowest level since 2005, indicating that the downward trend in net migration is
sent to continue.
Mr Halfon said: “After years of uncontrolled immigration
under Labour people in Harlow want an immigration system they can trust.
“The Conservatives are pushing through much-needed reforms
which are bringing immigration back under control.
“These latest statistics show work is paying off with
another significant fall in net migration. It is down almost a third since the
election - and the latest visa statistics indicate that this trend is set to
“Immigration is still too high but the numbers are going in
the right direction and the Conservatives are determined to bring them down
Conservative Immigration Minister Mark Harper MP said: “We
will continue to work hard to bring net migration down from the hundreds of
thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament and to create
a selective immigration system that works in our national interest.”
Official statistics published on 28 February 2013 showed net
migration fell to 163,000 in the year to June 2012; down from 247,000 in the
year to June 2011 (ONS, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, 28 February
The statistics show 515,000 people immigrated to the UK in
the year ending June 2012, which is significantly lower than the 589,000 who
migrated the previous year. This decrease has caused the fall in net migration
Excluding visitor and transit visas, the number of visas issued fell ten per cent to 507,701 in the year ending December 2012 (compared with 564,807 in the previous 12 months), the lowest 12-monthly total recorded using comparable data available from 2005 (ibid).
- By Rob Halfon
- Published 03/21/2013
Harlow MP Robert Halfon’s eight-year campaign for a second
M11 junction for Harlow has taken another step forward after Transport Minister
Stephen Hammond agreed to meet to discuss the proposal.
Speaking during parliamentary questions last week, Mr Halfon
said Harlow desperately needs a new M11 junction which would “unlock” 3,000 new
jobs in the town.
He added the scheme – which has already been the subject of
a £500,000 feasibility study by Essex County Council – is now backed Harlow
District Council and the county council and is considered the number one
priority for the region.
Mr Halfon asked Mr Hammond whether he would be prepared to
meet with himself, Harlow District Council and Essex County Council and the
local enterprise partnership “to look seriously at these plans especially that
they will be part-funded by developer contributions”.
Mr Hammond replied: “(Mr Halfon) is a well-known and
renowned campaigner on behalf of his constituency and he makes that case again
He added: “I am sure he is working with the relevant local
authority to drive up and ensure that the business case is complete. I would,
of course, be happy to meet him and discuss the proper proposal.”
Mr Halfon says the scheme will be put out for public
consultation in the spring.
He said: “We are being choked to death by traffic and
motorists are suffering every day. Harlow has just one entrance to a motorway,
whereas similar towns like Welwyn Garden City and Basildon, have three or four.
We desperately need a new junction."
He added: "It has been a long campaign. I have now
raised it eight times in Parliament, including in two full debates.
“Also, I have worked to bring Transport Ministers on a
number of occasions to the town, to make the case for investing in Harlow.
“Once the junction is built, it will mean 3,000 extra jobs
in Harlow's Enterprise Zone, smoother traffic flows, and a stronger case for
regeneration in our town-centre.
“I believe Harlow should be a magnet for investment and I
will be urging the Government to put us at the top of the list for new
“A new junction will make a huge difference, help with traffic in general and make Harlow a better place to live.”