Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley Chronicle, 24 October

Last Thursday I handed a petition to local justice officials against the closure of Dudley’s criminal court.

GOVERNMENT SHOULD LISTEN TO 1,200 LOCAL PEOPLE ON COURT PLANS

Last Thursday I handed a petition to local justice officials against the closure of Dudley’s criminal court.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the campaign the petition got a great response, and there were 1,200 names on it when it was handed in. That’s a clear message to the Government that local people are completely opposed to these plans.

But the campaign hasn’t stopped there. The next day I handed in my response to the consultation on the plans, together with comments from people directly involved with the courts.

Their comments show just how damaging the court’s closure would be, with fewer victims of crime testifying against criminals in court and a huge loss in local expertise with many local Magistrates set to resign.

I’m going to continue fighting on this issue over the coming weeks, and I’ve called for an urgent meeting with the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to make sure local people’s concerns are heard at the very top.

PAYDAY LOANS

Payday loans are another issue that I’ve worked hard to campaign on, and I was pleased to hear last week that Ed Miliband wants to take tough action on the issue.

I think the growth of payday loan shops on Dudley High Street is an absolute disgrace, and I want them driven out of town.

I hear from families who are struggling to make ends meet all the time, and these predatory businesses are making their money by piling debt upon debt and making poor people poorer.

That’s why I’m backing Ed’s call for a levy on the profits of payday lenders. The money raised will be spent on doubling the funding available to low-cost alternatives, like Dudley’s Castle & Crystal Credit Union.

That comes on top of action to cap the cost of credit and stop the payday lenders setting up on the high street.

HIGH STREETS

People get in touch with me about the town centre every week. Everyone knows this is a difficult issue, and it’s hard to know what to do to turn our town centre around.

Like everyone else from Dudley I remember the town’s past. I grew up here and spent my Saturdays wandering from Graduate Records to Beatties or meeting friends at the cafe upstairs at Littlewoods. I had my first job in McDonalds on the High Street, and my parents bought my first bike from Criterion Cycles on Kings Street.

Since then the town’s had some real knocks, but I’ve backed lots of local campaigns to improve the town centre, including the building of the brilliant new Dudley College campus.

As high streets struggle, many small businesses are struggling to pay business rates that sometimes are higher than their rents. That just doesn’t make sense, so Labour have pledged to cut business rates to 1.5 million small businesses. That should help fill empty shop units in our town centre with small businesses instead of endless payday loan shops.

If you’ve got any ideas on how to improve the town centre, please get in touch. I love this area and I want to see things improve, so I’m always happy to listen to local people’s ideas on this and I will keep on fighting for our town centre.

 

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published this page in News 2014-04-30 16:08:50 +0100

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