Category Archives: Press Releases

MP fights to give local people more say

Local people must be given more priority in planning decisions, Natascha Engel MP has argued.

Questioning the Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, the MP for North East Derbyshire, Ms Engel, asked whether the department would ensure that the views of local people would be given priority in large-scale housing developments.

Whilst Ms Engel agreed that North East Derbyshire was in need of new homes, she continued: “The issue is that local people want to have a say in where those houses go, but their opinions and the decisions of the local planning authority are being overruled by the Government’s planning inspector. This is the opposite of localism.”

Campaigners in Wingerworth were left in shock after rejected plans to build 51 homes on a greenfield site off Nethermoor Road and Deerlands Road were approved on appeal.

The same situation arose in Winsick when, despite the plans being thrown out by North East Derbyshire District Council after a two year campaign, a government inspector overturned the decision and gave planning permission for 160 houses behind Mansfield Road.

Killamarsh Residents Against Greenfield Erosion (RAGE) are in the process of campaigning against plans to build 350 homes on part of the former Westthorpe Colliery site.

Ms Engel added that she hopes that the group’s views are given top priority when a decision on the planning application is made.

View the Hansard of the debate here

MP continues to lead the fight against HS2

The Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, Natascha Engel, continues to campaign against the case for HS2 and demand that the Government gives more say to the people who will be directly affected by the project.

As well as presenting a No to HS2 petition, signed by hundreds of angry residents, to Parliament, Ms Engel also spoke in a recent debate on the HS2 Hybrid Bill.

Arguing that the business case for HS2 is flawed, Ms Engel said: “I am for improving the rail network, for better connections between cities, especially in the north, and for greater capacity where it is needed.

“However, this is not the right project. A report by the Institute of Economic Affairs undermines the economic argument will HS2 will regenerate the north and close the north-south divide. It will not.”

Ms Engel went on to criticise the lack of consultation that has taken place with the people whose homes and businesses will be severely affected by HS2.

With the proposed route for the high speed train set to cut straight through many areas of Derbyshire, including Killamarsh, Renishaw and Staveley, hundreds of angry residents put their names down to protest against the plans.

The Killamarsh & Renishaw HS2 Action Group, who hold monthly meetings have also been campaigining against the project and raising local awareness.

Group Chairman, Peter Howarth added: “We’re annoyed at the total disregard that has been given to our villages when the planning for HS2 went ahead.

“The blight caused now and for the future throws a massive dark cloud over all of us and, at present, we do not see a way out.

“We oppose this development at every level and will continue our fight to protect our village.”

Follow the link here for the full transcription of Ms Engel’s speech.

STATEMENT ENDS

For further information contact:
Natascha Engel MP
Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire
Tel: 0207 219 4709 (Westminster office)
Tel: 01246 439 018 (Constituency office)
http://www.nataschaengelmp.org.uk

MP seeks protection for leasehold home owners

MP calls for protection of leasehold homeowners
Managing Agents of leasehold homeowners should be regulated

In a question to the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government, MP for North East Derbyshire, Natascha Engel asked what the Government was doing to safeguard leasehold homeowners from being exploited by managing agents.

Natascha Engel raised the case of two of her constituents who, along with other elderly residents, had received a demand for almost £200 from their managing agent despite having paid their annual management fees.

At present managing agents of leasehold properties are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority or any other watchdog and yet this business involves the safeguarding and spending of millions of pounds every year.

Commenting following her question to the Secretary of State, Natascha said:

“It is appalling that in the 21st century leasehold homeowners have no recourse against managing agents who at any time can demand more money. Making a complaint is far from easy and so it is time the Government brought these agents under the regulation of the Financial Services Authority or some other Watchdog. My constituents told me of the distress that many of their neighbours faced when they received a demand for more money. Many of the people affected are elderly who live in specialist retirement homes and their distress comes at a time when they should be enjoying retirement and not worrying if another demand will fall through the letterbox.”
Hansard link to Parliamentary Questions: House of Commons Hansard Debates for 04 Feb 2013 (pt 0001)

T9. [140783] Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): Two elderly constituents who live in a retirement complex recently received a bill for £200 from their managing agent completely out of the blue. Managing agents of leasehold housing are completely unregulated, so those elderly constituents have nowhere to turn either to appeal or to demand a review. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that managing agents of leasehold housing are brought under the regulation of the Financial Services Authority?

Mr Foster: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising an important issue. Many Members of all parties are concerned about managing and letting agents. As she will know, a detailed investigation is being carried out, and as I have said before from the Dispatch Box, the Government are listening. After we have seen that report, we will bring forward recommendations.

STATEMENT ENDS

 

Press Release: Natascha Engel MP concerned about HS2 proposed route

Commenting Natascha Engel said:

“HS2 is an exciting opportunity for investment and jobs, but we need to look at the details to ensure that local communities are as little affected as possible.”

” Like everyone else I have only just seen the details of the proposed route of HS2 and how it will affect North East Derbyshire.   I know that there will be many people within my constituency in areas such as Staveley, Barrow Hill, Mastin Moor, Renishaw and Killamarsh who will be very worried about the proposals.  HS2 is a massive project which will affect not just towns and villages in North East Derbyshire but also the Chesterfield Canal regeneration project. I will be holding consultations in the affected areas to ensure that I can take people’s concerns directly to government.”

STATEMENT ENDS

Local MP Urges Votes at 16

Votes at 16 moved up the political agenda when the Backbench Business Committee, chaired by local MP Natascha Engel, debated the voting age in Parliament.

Natascha Engel is a strong supporter of Votes at 16 and advocated that the time had come to widen the franchise of eligibility to vote.

In her speech to Parliament Natascha said:

“Parliamentarians should not be afraid of young people at 16 being able to go along to a polling station to cast a vote but should embrace it.  Parliamentarians make decisions that affect the day to day lives of young people and yet they have no say on decisions made on their behalf.  Under the current system of voting at 18 there are many young people who because of when their birthday falls do not get the opportunity to vote in a General Election until they are 23 years old.  This cannot be the right thing for young people and neither can it be the right thing for our democracy.

To read the full transcript of the debate held on Thursday 24 January 2013 click here

Chesterfield to lose iconic store

Coop buildingHistoric Store Faces Closure

MP for North East Derbyshire Natascha Engel has expressed her sadness at the news that Chesterfield Cooperative Department Store on Elder Way has been earmarked for closure.

Commenting Natascha said:

“This will be a difficult time for staff employed at the store and a little more history will disappear from the streets of Chesterfield.  This decision is a clear reminder that a lot needs to be done to restore health to our High Streets and town centres.  The Government needs to look seriously at the big names that have been lost in recent weeks and take action to address the crisis on our High Streets.” 

Natascha writes for Derbyshire Times:

This week we heard that Chesterfield’s Co-op Department store is to close. The news will have come as a shock not only to the 80 or so people who work there, but to the whole town. A much-loved store familiar to everyone will be felt as a great loss.

The announcement comes in the wake of recent other town-centre closures, the latest of which is Comet, Jessops and HMV. Town centres like Chesterfield are facing the double-whammy of recession and “changes in retail habits”, in the words of the Chief Executive of the Midlands Co-operative. Old-fashioned department stores just can’t survive.

Mary Portas recently wrote a report on the plight of our high streets and town centres. It made bleak reading. There are numerous reasons why our town centres are emptying: out-of-town retail centres and the growth of supermarkets (more like hypermarkets these days) are attracting more shoppers, and the use of the internet to buy at any time of day or night and have everything delivered to our door.

But this announcement should be a wake-up call to all of us. Our high streets and town centres are more than just places where we shop for the things we need. They are the heart of our communities, and with every shop that shuts, we lose something more than just a retail unit.

In her report, Mary Portas says: “The days of a high street populated simply by independent butchers, bakers and candlestick makers are, except in the most exceptional circumstances, over. How we shop as a nation has quite simply changed beyond recognition. Forever.”

Well, in Chesterfield we are exceptional with our independent butchers and bakers. And if you look hard enough in the market, I’m sure you could find a candlestick maker. We must make sure that we don’t lose the treasure that is the Chesterfield town centre.

And we have to make sure that we work more closely together to replace what has gone with something that does meet our “changes in retail habits”.

Nostalgia can sometimes get in the way of practical action, yearning for a golden era gone by. And yet it is important to remember what is gone.

And while we remember, we should think of the 80 people who work at the department store, many of whom have been there for most of their lives, who now face an uncertain future. And that’s down to the government. It needs to rethink its economic strategy and start delivering jobs and growth so that more shops open for people to work and browse in.

The best way Chesterfield can preserve its jewel in the crown is for the government to help councils and private landlords develop their town centres. That would be a great way to honour the memory of Chesterfield’s largest and oldest department store and a practical solution to helping the people who work there find other jobs.

Natascha questions Minister on right to strike

20 Dec 2012

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): The right to withhold one’s labour is a mark of a country’s democracy. Does the Minister agree that any move to restrict that right is a move in an anti-democratic direction?

Jo Swinson: The hon. Lady makes an important point. It is also worth noting that strikes and industrial action at present are at historically low levels. That is a sign of positive industrial relations and is to be welcomed. Trade unions play a very important role, and although the headlines generally focus on industrial action and strikes, the excellent work that they do on training and resolving workplace disputes often does not hit the headlines and should be commended. We always keep issues under review, but it is fair to say that the industrial action laws and situations are generally working well.