Over 19,000 people signed the ambulance petition and I want to thank each and every one of you who did this.
The future of our ambulance service provision will be decided later this month and I am meeting the management in advance of their decision making. I hope to use your support to influence their decision making.
I am pleased to see a review of the decision to close the cells at Worksop police station. It will be vital that Ken Clarke MP does not force the closure of Worksop Magistrates Court, in order to consolidate the case for the police cells. Justice should be fast and it should be local. The mania for shifting everything to big cities is a fundamental mistake by the current Government.
I have been discussing the options for local authorities and pension funds setting up a financial vehicle that allows them to invest in businesses. In the past there were a few grants kicking around, but they have virtually disappeared. I do not think grants are the way to assist business. What I would like to see is a local vehicle created that invests in growing businesses through soft loans and equity investment.
Soft loans are ones that are repaid as the business advances, but at no risk to the individual entrepreneur, so it is a safer way of growing a business than being reliant on overly expensive bank loans. Equity investment is when shares are taken in a business in return for a cash investment. I think that this is an appropriate way for local authorities and pension funds to carefully support good businesses.
In addition I want to see a national investment bank that is managed on a regional basis and does the same thing using government money. Too often government has given out financial assistance but has not had a contract that collects the money back in when the business succeeds. This can then be recycled to help more businesses.
I think a different model suits community sports facilities and we need to see much more progress in local authorities and others in the public sector handing over the running of sports fields and other facilities to community clubs and using the expertise of their professional staff to help these clubs develop. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a solicitor from say the County Council available to show local clubs how to draw up leases and contracts, or a planning officer seconded to help draw up imaginative plans for a church or a community centre. I think this is where we need to go in the future, working as a community with councils and government bodies effectively using their resources to enable the community to prosper.