Latest Local News from in and around Milton Keynes

With so many news stories from local businesses, charity groups, clubs, our local MP’s and societies it is hard to keep up with all the happenings.

Here is a collection of the stories we have received and were unable to print in yourlocalflyer

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.”

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: www.TheBlossomAwards.org.uk

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

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: https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/plasma-trial/

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

https://youtu.be/x2axKYqLXso

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.”

Local MP Highlights Support For Domestic Abuse Victims

Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, has highlighted key helplines for people at higher risk of domestic violence due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The Home Office has announced £2 million funding to immediately support helplines and online support. People are being asked to use #YouAreNotAlone on social media and put a photo of a heart in their palm on windows to show solidarity to those trapped in abusive households.

If you are in need you can call the 24-hour freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline number on 0808 2000 247 or Milton Keynes’ local domestic violence service MK ACT between 9 and 5 on 0344 375 4307.

Ben commented: “You are not alone. I know this is a worrying time for people living with abusive partners so please pick up the phone or use online support services.

“If you are in immediate danger call 999 and press 55 if you’re unable to talk safely.

“The UK has shown its heart over the past few weeks and I’m sure it will do it again as we show support and compassion for people suffering domestic abuse.”

Conspiracy theories, false information, and photo-shopped images… As covid-19 spreads, so does the fake news.

Social Media giants are struggling to keep-up as they work with the government’s rapid response unit trying tocrack down on misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trying to distinguish fact from fiction is increasingly difficult, especially when world leaders have repeated inaccuracies to their millions of followers.

Ruth Sparkes editor of teen magazine, Future Mag give us some top tips on identifying when we’re being fed fake news – here are her top tips…

  1. Where did the info come from?

Look at the publication or site and look at its other stories – consider whether there is any other possible dodgy content.

  1. Is it current?

Sometimes a story from years ago can be re used to give the impression of ‘new’ news.

  1. Look closer

Check whether the story has been published on other credible sites.

  1. What’s underneath the headline?

Some publications and websites use ‘click-bait’ headlines as a way to encourage you to ‘click’ on the story.  Sometimes the actual story bears no resemblance to its headline.

  1. Research the author

If the article has a writer’s byline – Google them or checkout their social media accounts to see what other articles they’ve written, and to work out whether they might have a hidden agenda or a particular line to push.

And lastly,

  1. Check the facts

There are some great fact-checking websites such as: fullfact.org and www.snopes.com/fact-check/ to use when you’re really not sure about a story.