Don Foster MP
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Don Foster MP - Bath's #1 Supporter

Lib Dems stand up for tenants

Don Foster, MP for Bath, is pleased that Liberal Democrats are seeking to put an end to revenge evictions thanks to a new Bill that is making its way through parliament.

Tenancy BillLast year over 200,000 people suffered from revenge evictions and Lib Dems want to put an end to this. The Tenancies (Reform) Bill, which was put forward by Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather, will have its Second Reading on 28 November.

The Bill will protect tenants from retaliatory evictions and from rogue landlords, ensuring that tenants in the private sector get the same level of protection as those in social housing. Lib Dem Communities Minister Stephen Williams has also indicated that the Government supports the Bill too, meaning that it stands a very good chance of making it into law in the near future.

Commenting, Don Foster said: “The fact that over 200,000 people last year alone were evicted just for asking for basic repairs is appalling. I’m really pleased of the progress Lib Dems are making in ending revenge eviction and I look forward to supporting Sarah Teather MP’s Bill next Friday.”

Whilst the vast majority of landlords offer a good, professional service, a small minority of landlords use the threat of eviction to prevent tenants from simply asking for essential repairs to be made.

Lib Dem MP for Brent Central, Sarah Teather, said: “It’s fantastic to have the Government’s backing for my Bill, which I believe will make a real difference to renters in Brent and across the country if it becomes law.”

Currently, landlords can carry out no-fault evictions – where they don’t have to give any reason – under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Sarah Teather’s Bill will make a small tweak to this legislation that would prevent landlords from evicting a tenant for no reason within six months of receiving an improvement or hazard awareness notice

Commenting, Lib Dem Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: “Our private rental sector is a vital asset, providing a home to nine million people across the country. So I’m determined to root out the minority of rogue landlords that give it a bad name. That’s why we’re backing Sarah Teather’s Bill to outlaw revenge evictions once and for all – ensuring tenants do not face the prospect of losing their home simply because they’ve asked for essential repairs to be made.”

Bath charity in final of ITV “The People’s Millions” competition

November 20, 2014 by Don Foster MP in Charity support, Health, News, Press

Don Foster, MP for Bath, has welcomed news that a local charity is to appear on ITV’s The People’s Millions competition, where charities from across the UK go head-to-head in a bid to win Big Lottery funding for their community projects.

Andrew, who the charity supports at Barron Winnicott care home, being filmed by the ITV crew

Andrew, who the charity supports at Barron Winnicott care home, being filmed by the ITV crew

On Tuesday 25 November, “Growing Together”, developed by charity Action for Hearing Loss in Bath, will be up against Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust during ITV’s West Country East evening news. Residents from across Bath and the West Country will determine which project wins the prize money through phone votes, which close at midnight.

“Growing Together” will build on the charity’s 75 years of work in the area and hopes to develop a holistic, therapeutic garden with creative arts studios, a sensory ‘snoezelen’ pod and renovated greenhouse in the grounds of the Poolemead House (BA2 1RN), a complex of six residential care homes, nursing home, supported living accommodation, and day care centre for adults who are deaf and have additional complex needs such as autism, learning difficulties or physical disabilities.

Commenting, Don Foster MP, said: “This is a great charity doing amazing work in Bath and getting this funding would allow them to do even more. They’ve done really well to get this far. I wish them the best of luck and I urge everyone in Bath to get behind this worthwhile cause.”

The “GrowingTogether” garden would provide outdoor space for the 150 residents and service users of Action for Hearing Loss in Bath and will also be open to the community as a whole to increase awareness of the issues that deaf people face and to broaden community understanding and acceptance of disability through work with local groups such as those from the local secondary school, The Prince’s Trust and scouting movement.

Roy Woods, Action on Hearing Loss’ Head of Services for the South West, said: “Growing Together” is so much more than a garden project for the 150-plus people who we support at Poolemead: it will allow greater interaction and opportunities with the dozens of local groups that visit and support us through the year and create a comforting environment, enabling communication outside of the formal spoken or written processes that are not available to many of the people who use our services; hopefully breaking down the barriers and stigma, which many deaf people must face on a daily basis.”

The People’s Millions 2014 takes place at the end of November when six groups from the South West will appear on ITV West Country East. Each night two community groups will make their cases for viewers’ support to take home up to £50,000. The public then have until midnight to cast their phone votes to determine who wins the prize. In the nine years The People’s Millions programme has been running, they have made a total of 523 awards worth almost £28 million.

Open letter to Ollie Middleton

November 20, 2014 by Don Foster MP in News.

Dear Ollie,

Thank you for your open letter to me regarding the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.

I would like to begin by saying that I am absolutely opposed to this Bill because much of what it proposes is based on incorrect statements.  For example, contrary to what this proposed Bill claims, the Health and Social Care Act makes it very clear that the Secretary of State for Health remains responsible for the NHS, both politically and legally.

The changes proposed in this Bill would be a step backwards, as they would restrict the greater autonomy that has been was given to the NHS, and inhibit staff from making the innovative changes needed to secure sustainable, high quality care for patients.

I would also like to make it clear that the Health and Social Care Act did not introduce competition to the NHS, and it did not change the rules on when to competitively tender. What it does do is manage the competition that has already been introduced. I was proud that the Lib Dems worked hard during the passage of the Act to ensure that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) would not be expected to competitively tender services unless they felt it was in the interests of patients.

I believe it is important to recognise that it was the previous Labour Government that first introduced competition – and set out the original guidance for competition. The Health and Social Care Act ensures that any binding rules on competition are adhered to, through Monitor, an expert health sector regulator working in the best interests of patients. The Bill’s stated aim to repeal parts of the Act would, therefore, not stop competition law applying – it would just mean that Monitor would not be the body considering competition law’s application to the NHS. Instead, this responsibility would be given to the courts – something which I firmly believe would not be in the best interests of patients.

Furthermore, it was not the Coalition Government, but the previous Labour Government which introduced greater private sector involvement in the NHS. This included bringing in a number of controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals, and privatising Hitchingbrooke hospital.

I will always resist any attempts by other parties to privatise the NHS. As a party, Lib Dems have been very clear that while in some cases we see a role for competition and the private sector inside the NHS – just as previous Governments have – we strongly believe that the NHS should always remain free and be based on patients’ needs, not on their ability to pay. It is these principles that I am hugely proud of – principles that form a very important part of the fairer society that the Liberal Democrats are seeking to build.

Finally, the NHS is our most treasured public service and it must always be protected as well as improved. For that reason I am very pleased that, unlike Labour, the Lib Dems have committed to protecting the NHS budget. If in Government again, the Liberal Democrats will be providing an extra £1 billion of real term funding for the NHS in the years 2016/17 and 2017/18. Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb has also called for the Government to make the NHS a priority in the upcoming Autumn Statement, with a £1.5bn investment.

For the reasons I’ve outlined here, I will not be supporting this Bill.

Yours sincerely,

Don