Author - Stuart | YLF

Local MPs support virtual English Tourism Week

English Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, a week dedicated to showcasing England’s tourism offer. For this year’s virtual event, being held from 25-31 May, VisitEngland and local destinations are asking MPs, local authorities, the UK Government and other stakeholders to shine the spotlight on the importance of tourism to the local, regional and national economy and pledge their support to the sector’s recovery.
VisitEngland is administering a £1.3m emergency fund to support local tourism organisations throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Under the scheme, destinations will be able to receive up to £2,500 per month for two members of non-furloughed staff who provide crucial business support services and up to £5,000 to cover operating costs.
Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing more than 2.6 million people and generating more than £106 billion a year for the English economy. Between 2016 and 2018 Milton Keynes welcomed on average 485,000 overnight trips per year, contributing £83 million per year to the local economy. With Milton Keynes being home to a range of loved destinations and sites for tourists.
And while the current situation means tourism is a little different at the moment both Hazard Alley and the historic Bletchley Park are offering virtual tours. Many of MK’s stunning parks and lakes, including Willen Lake remain open to enjoy the sunny weather.
Ben Everitt, the MP for MK North commented, “Now more than ever having outdoor green spaces to enjoy is so important for our mental health and MK is lucky to be full of beautiful parks, woodlands and lakes which you can enjoy during the recent sunny weather.
“It’s also great to see the innovation of places like Bletchley Park and Hazard Alley in making sure people can still attend virtually, but of course nothing beats the real thing so make sure you pay a visit when they’re safe to reopen!”
Milton Keynes South MP, Iain Stewart, commented, “We are lucky in Milton Keynes to have so many attractions right on our doorstep. It has been a source of solace to many in the current difficulties to be able to walk or cycle through our woods and parks for exercise. For me personally, it has been a real joy to see the emergence of flora and fauna in Howe Park Wood as we moved through spring and into summer.


“Hopefully it will not be too long before our great museums, music venues and other attractions can once again welcome visitors from near and far.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said:
“English Tourism Week is all about highlighting the economic benefits that tourism brings to local economies, celebrating our diverse and exciting sector, and showcasing the quality, range and value of English tourism.
“While we cannot run events as usual this year, the spirit of the week has never been more important.  Tourism has been one of the first and hardest hit economic sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s virtual week is dedicated to showing support for the industry, the millions of people who work in it and the hundreds of thousands of businesses impacted.
“It is also about looking towards the future recovery and doing everything we can right now to ensure that tourism can bounce back to once again become one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”

Mums take the lead on home schooling – with only 12 percent of dads stepping up to the mark

Mums are picking up almost all the home teaching burden during schools lockdown, with just 11.8 percent of fathers taking the lead on helping their children keep up to speed.

That’s the shock finding from a survey of hundreds of parents of primary school-aged children carried out by leading education resources and lesson plan experts PlanBee.

PlanBee’s Oli Ryan, a former primary school teacher, said: ‘We know that not all families are willing or able to help their children with home learning, but we were amazed to find that there was such a huge gender disparity in terms of who was taking up the teaching mantle.’

He continued: ‘The vast majority of primary school workforce are women, but we still find it surprising that when it comes to home teaching Dads appear to be doing so little. If it’s a sign that teaching young children is considered to be “women’s work”, it’s pretty alarming.’

And parents – the vast majority, women – are allocating significant parts of their day to home schooling, with over a quarter (27.7 percent) spending more than four hours a day on it.

And it seems that an extremely limited number of subjects are being sent to pupils at home by their schools. Nearly all respondents said they had received work in maths (93.04 percent) and English (92.17 percent), with science in third place at just 38.26 percent.

Fitting in home schooling with other work and other commitments was the top challenge for parents, with over a third (35.29) per cent citing it. Keeping their children engaged with learning was second biggest bugbear, at 31.09 percent.

And only 11 percent said they were loving home-schooling their children!

Nearly 40 percent of the respondents are primary school teachers as well as parents. And home-schooling is having a big impact on parents’ perception of teaching, with nearly one-third (33.6 percent) saying it had altered their attitude.

One respondent remarked: ‘Trying to get children engaged to learn is very hard! I know it’s a challenging time, but my Year 4 struggles to engage if he doesn’t like the subject and I can see how that would translate in the classroom! Hats off to all teachers!’

A teacher-parent said that home-schooling was quite different from work: ‘I am a teacher but it’s different when trying to teach your own!!’

And for teacher-parents, the challenges were particularly marked: ‘I now have to teach the children in my class remotely as well as home school my own child. I respect myself and my colleagues a lot more.’

Another said: ‘Although I work in nurseries and I’m qualified as a teaching assistant, I don’t think I realised just how much work (and patience) goes into teaching.’

Another reflected: ‘I feel that people view schools as free childcare rather than a source of education. I don’t feel that teachers are seen as human – no PPE [personal protective equipment], talk of child reaction to [Covid-19] virus rather than teachers’.’

And some felt that home-schooling was an ambition too far and that the emotional state of their children was more important: ‘Some need to realise the situation that some are in with just trying to maintain mental well-being without the constant barrage from schools for replicated school days.’

Although there was wide respect for the work of classroom teachers, not all parents believed that schools’ management of home learning was up to scratch, and there were complaints that there had been scant thought about the practicalities of the school work to be done at home.

On parent said: ‘I’m actually pretty annoyed with the school – the work sent home is unrealistic, with no thought as to how this is supposed to work. We’ve been given the work with literally hours’ notice, so no prep time at all, and in spite of the fact we’re delivering it. Trying to explain two different topics [to two children] alternately is difficult at best – hence my giving up and abandoning the school work and doing our own thing so they were both working (at different levels obviously!) on the same topic.’

Awards To Recognise Local British-Chinese Achievers Launched

Milton Keynes’ MPs, Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt are calling on constituents from the local British-Chinese community to put themselves forward for a new award designed to recognise their achievements and contributions to national life.

Nominations are now open for The Blossom Awards which aim to identify high achievers from the British-Chinese Community across the country in a range of fields from science and the creative industries to business and voluntary work.

The Awards aim to recognise unsung heroes like teachers, NHS staff and charity leaders, and those who have achieved success in professional fields like engineering, technology and business.

The Blossom Awards are the first ever accolades focused exclusively on the British-Chinese Community – the country’s third largest visible ethnic minority group.

Whilst first generation Chinese immigrants typically worked in takeaways and restaurants, second and third generations of British-Chinese people, many of whom who were born or grew up in the UK, have flourished in a broad range of fields and make an outstanding contribution to our area and to national life beyond the traditional stereotypes.

Iain Stewart MP said: “British-Chinese people are doing inspirational work in communities across our area, and the Blossom Awards shine a light on their success and contribution. From business and the arts to science and the charity sector, the Awards also enable British-Chinese people to challenge outdated perceptions about their identity.

“Please encourage a friend, family member, neighbour or colleague who deserves recognition to nominate themselves.”

Ben Everitt MP commented, “We are lucky to have a really strong British-Chinese community here in Milton Keynes and I’d strongly encourage nominations for people who are making a real difference to their communities.

“At a time when the world is coming together to battle the coronavirus, awards such as the Blossom Awards can bring us some positivity and strengthen our sense of community.”

The Awards have gained the support of Alan Yau OBE, entrepreneur and founder of the Wagamama noodle bar chain, and have been co-founded by Alan Mak, the UK’s first ever MP of British-Chinese heritage.

Nominations are now open and close on Friday 12 June 2020 and must be submitted online:

Award Winners will be invited to a ceremony in central London in late October 2020.

Domestic Abuse Victims To Get Priority Housing As Government Accepts Amendment Co-Sponsored By Local MP

The Government has accepted an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill co-sponsored by local MP Ben Everitt to give domestic abuse victims priority housing.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed the Government will ensure priority needs status for social housing as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill which had its second reading in Parliament last week.

The MP for Milton Keynes North worked with national homelessness charity Crisis and other MPs cross-party to ensure no victim of domestic violence has to make the choice between staying in an unsafe household or becoming homeless.

Ben commented, “I’m really proud to have co-sponsored this amendment and I’m delighted the Government has accepted it.

“Nobody should have to choose between being homeless and being trapped in a home where they don’t feel safe. This legislation is so important to victims of domestic abuse.

“Making a difference like this is why I got into politics and I can’t thank Crisis enough for their excellent work on this issue.”

Last month the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, launched a national campaign to show support for domestic abuse victims who are currently stuck in abusive households due to lockdown.

The announcement included extra funding to bolster helplines and online support and asked the public to share a photo of a heart on their palm with the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse you can contact local charity MK Act on 0344 375 4307 or national helpline 0808 2000 247.


Read more on how MKAct and how you can help MKAct

MK MP To Donate Blood Plasma As Part Of Fight Against Coronavirus

Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, has signed up to donate blood plasma as part of a potential clinical trial to help with the national effort against the coronavirus.

The trial, if approved, will tell us how effective plasma from people who’ve had coronavirus is for treating patients of the virus.

Ben suffered from symptoms of the disease in March but has since made a full recovery and wants to directly help others in the fight against the pandemic.

He commented, “From experience I know how awful it is having coronavirus and I believe I only had a mild form of it so I want to do anything I can to support the NHS in tackling the coronavirus.

“I would encourage anybody else who has had it, or symptoms of it, to sign up to the trial so we can beat this virus together.”

If you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have had symptoms of the virus you can sign up to the NHS’s plasma trial, subject to some criteria:

Milton Keynes’ MPs Call For Messages of Support and Optimism

Iain Stewart MP has joined Ben Everitt MP in his launch of the #ShareYourRainbows campaign. The campaign’s aim is to encourage people across Milton Keynes to send in their rainbows they have been creating to keep spirits up during the coronavirus lockdown.

After being inspired by seeing so many windows in MK full of rainbows, whether they’d been drawn, painted or crafted in another way, the MPs want to share them all over their social media and website to make sure the positive messages are as widespread as possible.
Whether it is a picture, video or a song, they want to see your messages of support and optimism for the people of Milton Keynes whilst we tackle COVID-19. As a sign of appreciation, Ben and Iain will issue an official certificate of achievement to individuals who are willing to share their positivity.
Anybody who wants to send in their entries to the MPs can do so by sending it by email or tagging them on social media. Please do include your name and address so they may send a certificate in return. Here is how you can get in touch with the Members of Parliament:
Ben Everitt MP (MK North)
Facebook – BenEverittMK
Twitter – @Ben_Everitt
Instagram – @BenEverittMK
Iain Stewart MP (MK South)
Facebook – iainstewartmksouth
Twitter – @iainastewart
Instagram – @iainstewart4mk
Ben commented, “It’s been so inspiring seeing young people in MK getting creative in difficult times like these. I’ve seen everything from rainbows made out of chalk to paper mache rainbows.
“It really does show just how our whole city has come together to support one another so please send in your pictures and I’ll share them across my social media and website, and send you a certificate to say thank you for everything you’re doing.”
Iain said, “When I am outside for my daily walk around where I live in MK, it is really uplifting to see so many rainbows and words of thanks and hope in so many windows.

“Hopefully, this little initiative will help spread this even further round the community at this difficult time.”

MP encourages local businesses to apply for new billion pound innovation fund

Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, has encouraged local businesses to apply for the newly announced billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus.

The £1.25bn funding includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis, made up of funding from government and the private sector.

SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans, and with Milton Keynes being at the heart of innovation in the UK local MP Ben has encouraged local businesses to apply.

He commented, “MK is the home of innovation from driverless cars to delivery robots.

“I hope that our amazing local businesses can benefit from this new fund, set up to support innovation and technology as we come together to deal with the coronavirus crisis.”

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, added, “We are the tech and creative capital of Europe, and it’s crucial to maintain our place.

“This funding will protect high growth businesses and enable the unicorns of tomorrow to thrive so that tech is in pole position to drive our post COVID recovery.”

Local MPs Confirm Pilot Drive Through Coronavirus Testing Facility For MK

Milton Keynes MPs Ben Everitt and Iain Stewart have confirmed a pilot for a new drive through COVID-19 testing facility will launch at the city centre.

The new facility is due to commence tomorrow (19/04) and if the pilot is a success, the fully operational site will allow NHS, carers and their family members to get tested for COVID-19 as part of the Government’s plans to ramp up testing and protect health care workers.

Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, commented, “I’m really pleased to be able to confirm the opening of a drive through coronavirus testing facility in Milton Keynes.

“We are making sure our wonderful health care workers who put their lives on the line for us every single day are absolutely priorities to get tested and this is making sure they are getting put first.

“I can’t thank NHS, social care workers and so many others in the health industry enough for all their hard work at such a difficult time and I’m pleased local workers here in MK will be able to benefit from extra testing.”

Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, said, “This will be an important additional facility to help monitor the spread of the disease and help us return to normal at the appropriate time.

“Our health care workers are rightly getting prioritised for testing to ensure their safety as they work to keep us safe on the frontline.”

The Government has also announced an extended list of key workers who can tested for coronavirus.

These include:

– police, fire and rescue services
– local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children, adults and victims of domestic abuse, and those working with the homeless and rough sleepers
– defence, prisons and probation staff, and judiciary
– frontline benefits workers

New lockdown guidelines drawn up by police – here’s what you can and can’t do

New guidelines have been drawn up by police chiefs on what counts as a “reasonable excuse” to leave home during the coronavirus lockdown.

The guidance comes as the government extended the lockdown for another three weeks, until May 7.

Previously, during the lockdown, people have been advised to go out just once per day for a maximum one hour’s exercise or buy essential goods, reports MirrorOnline.

Now police have said needing to cool off from an argument, buying alcohol, taking a pet to the vet or having a rest while out for a walk are now acceptable.

The National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing [NPCC] also says buying food to last “several days”, including luxury items and alcohol, is also a valid excuse to be out.

People are also able to visit those who are vulnerable or move into a friend’s home for a time in order to “cool-off” from an argument.

The NPCC said the list will help officers interpret the advice from the government.

It comes after more than 3,200 fines were handed out to people considered to be flouting the rules in England between March 27 ad April 13.

Shopping – What you can do:

Purchase several days’ worth of food, including luxury items and alcohol

Buy a small amount of a staple item or necessity (for example a newspaper, pet food, a loaf of bread or pint of milk)

Collect surplus basic food items from a friend

Purchase tools and supplies to repair a fence panel damaged in bad weather

If you’re out on your weekly shop, you won’t be stopped from browsing the “non-essential” aisles.

The document adds that people have a reason to visit shops as long as they’re open so it’s not appropriate to stop them purchasing items considered to be “non-essentials”.

Shopping – What you can’t do:

  • Police say it is not reasonable to collect DIY supplies for a large project.

Exercise – What is allowed:

  • Going for a run or cycle, practising yoga, walking in the countryside or in cities or attending an allotment
  • Driving to countryside and walking (where far more time is spent walking than driving)
  • Stopping to rest or to eat lunch while on a long walk
  • Exercising more than once per day is allowed in some circumstances.

Exercise – What isn’t allowed:

  • Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise.
  • A short walk to a park bench, when the person remains seated for a much longer period
  • Sunbathing in parks is not permitted.
  • Police say exercise “must involve some movement”.

Work – What you can do:

  • Key workers or other essential workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home.
  • Some non-key workers or non-essential key-workers can travel to work where it is not reasonably possible to work from home
  • Deliver food packages to vulnerable people.

Work – What you cannot do:

  • People who can work from home choosing to work in a local park
  • Knock on doors offering to do cash in-hand work
  • The guidelines also state that you cannot work from local gardens or parks while working from home.

Other reasons to leave home – What you can do:

  • Go to the vet for essential treatment
  • Move to a friend’s address for several days to allow a “cooling-off” following arguments at home
  • Provide support to vulnerable people.

What you cannot do:

  • Visit a vet’s surgery in person to renew a prescription (where this could be done over the phone)
  • Visiting a friend in their address or meeting in public to socialise.

Information From Yorkshire Online

Local MP Welcomes Extra £14bn Spending For Public Services Tackling Coronavirus

Local MP Ben Everitt has praised more than £14 billion spending towards public services such as the NHS and local authorities.

The Government was already giving the NHS a long-term cash boost of £34 billion before the coronavirus outbreak at the beginning of the year, but further support of over £6 billion has been confirmed.

This extra money, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, will support our health services, free up hospital beds and deliver urgent priorities including acquiring ventilators, diagnostic tests and protective equipment for NHS staff.

Alongside £1.6 billion of new funding for Local Authorities, such as Milton Keynes Council, this health service funding means that HM Treasury has provided £2.9 billion to support local services and hospital discharge, reinforcing care for the vulnerable, and meaning that those who are strong enough can leave hospital more quickly, freeing up bed space for patients that need it.

Ben, the MP for Milton Keynes North, commented, “Our public services, including our NHS staff and officers at MK Council are doing a fantastic job keeping us safe in the most difficult circumstances.

“This extra funding from the Chancellor is extremely welcome and will go a long way towards ensuring our public services have the support they need to fight the coronavirus on the frontline.”