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  • Localism Bill Debate
    and local councils the local view is that developers eventually ram through inappropriate developments on appeal Stephen Gilbert Does my hon Friend agree that one thing missing from the Bill is the third party right of appeal which would be another tool in the armoury of local residents Alok Sharma My hon Friend makes an interesting point and I am sure that the Minister will take it up when he responds to the debate The perception is that there is little upside for local communities in taking larger developments in their area All such developments seem to offer is more traffic more congestion more pressure on local public services the loss of valuable green spaces and amenities and a detrimental impact on the local environment Overall the current planning system seems to lead in many larger development proposals to a gladiatorial contest pitting local residents against the might and resources of developers Neil Carmichael Will my hon Friend give way Alok Sharma No I will not Some of those who are opposed to localism will argue that the Bill will encourage nimbyism but I could not disagree more with them Let me give hon Members a couple of recent examples from my constituency that demonstrate that communities are willing to accept new homes that fit into the local area The Bath road reservoir site is a 5 4 acre green lung in the centre of Reading It is owned by Thames Water which first tried to get planning permission to build on it 13 years ago Three years ago it resurrected its plans to develop the site and proposed a scale of development that was completely unacceptable to the local community and out of character with the local area With the fantastic local campaigners of the Save the Bath Road Reservoir campaign group I met the then chief executive of Thames Water As part of our discussion we suggested that it may want to consider a smaller and more appropriate development but the local community s voice fell on deaf ears Thames Water submitted a planning application that did not have the support of the local community The application was subsequently rejected by Reading borough council but Thames Water appealed the decision We found out last week that thankfully the appeal has been rejected What was the result of the 13 years of time effort and money spent by all parties involved Zero new homes were built on the site A more collaborative approach might well have delivered some housing The Underwood road precinct site in Calcot in my constituency is another example The site has lain derelict for many years Local residents want it developed but it is the same story all over again The developer refused to listen to the views of the local community and proposed a development on a scale completely out of keeping with the local area A hugely motivated local residents campaign group formed to oppose the inappropriate plans and ultimately the planning application

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  • Higher Education Fees Debate
    time that he started scribbling on it The Opposition have raised a number of objections to the proposed tuition fees increase They say that it will put people off going to university that it will have a negative impact on social mobility and that overall the increase is just not fair Let us examine each of those points Will the increase put students off going to university Tuition fees have been in place for more than a decade and the number of students has increased by 44 Why the increase It is because students realise that having a good degree adds value to their prospects and is a passport to a better job OECD figures clearly indicate that UK graduates earn on average 50 more than those who finished education at A level Mr MacNeil Will the hon Gentleman give way Alok Sharma No I will not just now because I want to make some progress The proposed changes will be an important step in ensuring that the money follows the student and will go further towards making universities more accountable to students as customers I do not subscribe to the view that the proposal will reduce social mobility because it ensures that no one has to pay anything up front and no one has to repay anything until they earn at least 21 000 a year a 40 increase on the current figure Everyone whatever their background will be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a university education Mr MacNeil If the hon Gentleman is such a supporter of tuition fees will he pay 9 000 for every year that he was at university Alok Sharma Another tax rise That is what we get from the Opposition Another tax rise They left us with the biggest budget deficit of all time and now the hon Gentleman proposes that we increase taxes further That is their answer to absolutely everything Let me continue with the proposed extra help Through the national scholarship programme the increase in maintenance grants and the required checks to ensure that universities take people from disadvantaged backgrounds before they are able to charge more than 6 000 social mobility will be further encouraged But social mobility Several hon Members rose Alok Sharma No I will not give way because I do not have much time left Social mobility starts at school and a report in November 2008 by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme called Widening participation in higher education concluded that a lack of attainment at secondary school was the biggest factor in non participation in higher education So it is highly disappointing to see the OECD figures published over the last few days which show that secondary school pupils in the UK have fallen well behind their international counterparts a fall presided over by the previous Government Between 2000 and 2009 we slipped from seventh to 25th place in reading skills from eighth to 28th in mathematics and from fourth to

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  • MP welcomes free school moves
    the Centre for British Teachers and the Friends of All Saints school to move forward to the next stage of setting up a free school in my constituency with the aim of opening a 120 pupil school in September next year That local school is backed by local people and the whole of the local community Mr Wilson Of course I welcome that My hon Friend has done a great

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  • Budget Debate: Alok Sharma welcomes support for small businesses
    in retirement for our pensioners but to fund high quality public services we need a vibrant private sector to lead growth and recovery Businesses in my constituency in the past few years have invariably told me that they feel overtaxed overburdened by red tape and regulation and overwhelmed by a complex tax system They want help in getting credit flowing The base rate may be 0 5 but that bears little relation to the spreads that businesses must pay when they go for bank debt We need to get to grips with that Above all businesses want us to tackle national debt and to get some confidence back into the country That is what we hope the Budget will do We talked about over regulation and the tax system Because of the previous Government we now have the longest tax code in the world According to the Federation of Small Businesses small businesses spend seven hours a week filling out forms According to the British Chambers of Commerce new regulation since 1998 has cost British businesses almost 77 billion The Thames valley and Reading are relatively prosperous parts of the country but the recession did not pass us by Shops closed businesses folded and people lost jobs Labour Members say that Labour did a lot to help local businesses but I can tell them that local businesses in my part of the world and the rest of the country got by because they helped themselves They increased productivity and took pay cuts and instead of people working five days a week they worked four There has been a lot of pain in the private sector Heather Wheeler South Derbyshire Con My hon Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the fact that small and larger businesses have taken the hit We hear so often from Labour Members that they are worried about what is happening in the public sector but that sector needs to take a leaf out of the book of the private sector in which people have taken 10 cuts and four day weeks That has not happened at all in the public sector We are looking for an increase in productivity A 25 reduction does not necessarily Mr Speaker Order I just very gently say to the hon Lady that an intervention must be just that it must not be a mini speech Alok Sharma Thank you Mr Speaker On Government help for local businesses during the height of the recession I attended a meeting of more than 100 people from businesses in my constituency That was when the then Business Secretary Lord Mandelson was parading all over the place to tell us about all the schemes he was introducing to help local businesses When I asked those business people whether a single one of them had been able to access any of the funds that Lord Mandelson was talking about two hands went up in a room of more than 100 people Both those people

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  • Banking Reform Debate
    not very clear from what the shadow Treasury spokesman said In the past three or four years when we have debated the reform of parts of the banking regulation sector the problem has been that the then Government were unable to engage in the fundamental debate about whether the architecture was right They failed to address that question and that led to a new Government addressing that question and putting

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  • Alok makes his maiden speech
    the villages of Theale Tidmarsh and Pangbourne in the west to the more urban areas of Coley and Whitley towards the east I grew up and went to school in Reading and for me Reading is quite simply home It is a confident and vibrant town full of aspirational and hard working people As a settlement Reading was founded in the 8th century and was listed in the Domesday Book as a growing population centre much as it is today Reading abbey was built by Henry I in 1121 where he is also buried Although Reading has a long and honourable history it is now very much a modern place Originally famous for producing beer biscuits and bulbs Reading is now a high tech and service industry hub and is home to many locally grown businesses as well as international companies such as Microsoft Oracle and Cisco Reading also offers culture with the internationally renowned Reading music festival being held every August Hon Members with a liking for contemporary music should know that a few tickets are still available for this year s festival The very fine Madejski football stadium is located in my constituency and I am sure that before too long we will see Reading football club return to its rightful place in the premiership In their maiden speeches many Members have mentioned great historical figures who are connected with their constituency but as I said Reading is a modern place so I would like to mention just two of the recent renowned sons and daughters of our great town Kate Winslet was born and grew up in Reading Her parents are constituents of mine We are very proud of Miss Winslet s Oscar winning achievements Locally Miss Winslet s mother is also a winner Last year she was awarded first prize in a local pub s pickled onion making competition Who says Reading cannot match Hollywood s glamour The comedian and actor Mr Ricky Gervais grew up in Whitley not far from where my parents lived when they first moved to Reading I do not know Mr Gervais personally but it is entirely possible that we loitered in the same shopping precinct when we were youngsters Of course one of us has now gone on to great things and the other has become a Member of Parliament I am very pleased to be making my maiden speech during this debate on emerging economies one of the largest of which is India I know a little of the country My family hails from India originally I have advised European companies on doing business there and some months ago I visited India on a research project and interviewed a range of corporate leaders civil servants and opinion formers to hear their views on India s development and economic ambitions What is absolutely clear is that over the past decade the relationship between emerging economies such as India and China on the one hand and the industrialised nations in the

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  • International Yoga Day | Alok Sharma MP - Member of Parliament for Reading West
    Seminar Battle Health Petition Boosting primary school places in Reading Delivery of Purley Bund Flood alleviation for Keswick Close and Ogmore Close Flood alleviation for Kingsley Close in Whitley NatWest Branch Closure in Pangbourne No to Pincents Hill Development Number 33 Bus Route Number 33 Bus Route Survey Save the Bath Road Reservoir Campaign Southcote rat infestation The Reading Futures Fair Underwood Road Precinct Development Visitor Parking Permits Letters Gallery Contact Links International Yoga Day Alok Sharma the Member of Parliament for Reading West was the chief guest on Sunday 21 June at the International Yoga Day celebrations hosted by Reading Hindu Temple on Whitley Street This year marked the very first international celebration of yoga after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied the United Nations to declare 21st June as International Yoga Day Pranyoga Reading which is a branch of the Pantanjali Yog Peeth Trust charity organises two yoga classes a week which are held every Wednesday from 6 30pm to 8 00pm and every Saturday from 7 00am to 9 00am at Reading Hindu Temple The sessions are run by volunteer teachers and attendees are asked to make just a 2 contribution to cover the cost of hiring the hall The Reading celebrations commenced with Mantra meditation followed by Sun Salutations and Asanas Pranayama and then meditation Alok was invited to speak at the event and as well as praising the Temple Committee for making the Temple available for community events talked about the benefits of yoga to help maintain both good physical and mental health Alok Sharma said It was a pleasure to be invited to attend the very first International Yoga Day celebrations at the Reading Hindu Temple Yoga is an excellent way of staying healthy both physically and mentally so it is fantastic that

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/content/international-yoga-day (2016-02-14)
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  • Holybrook Festival | Alok Sharma MP - Member of Parliament for Reading West
    Sewage problems in Theale Supporting Heathrow Airport Tackling overcrowding on trains Tackling potholes in Reading West Past Campaigns Exporting for Growth Seminar Battle Health Petition Boosting primary school places in Reading Delivery of Purley Bund Flood alleviation for Keswick Close and Ogmore Close Flood alleviation for Kingsley Close in Whitley NatWest Branch Closure in Pangbourne No to Pincents Hill Development Number 33 Bus Route Number 33 Bus Route Survey Save the Bath Road Reservoir Campaign Southcote rat infestation The Reading Futures Fair Underwood Road Precinct Development Visitor Parking Permits Letters Gallery Contact Links Holybrook Festival Alok Sharma the Member of Parliament for Reading West together with his dog Olly yesterday officially opened the Holybrook Festival in Calcot The Holybrook Festival which was held in Linear Park is an annual event organised by Holybrook Parish Council The theme of the Festival this year was centred on Father s Day Attendees at the Festival were able to enjoy a high energy street dance demonstration by Has Reading Got Talent Finalists First Edition from Dance Reality Studios based in Tilehurst as well as the opportunity to meet Batman and have a picture taken with the Bat Bike to raise money for Prostate Cancer charity There was also a tug of war competition a dog show a super hero fancy dress competition a circus skills workshop African drumming and a classic car display Alok Sharma said I was delighted to be invited back again to open the Holybrook Festival which was as ever a great success A big thank you to Holybrook Parish Council for organising the festival which provides a great opportunity for everyone from all sections of the community to come together to share a fun filled day and raise money for good causes Photo Alok Sharma and his dog Olly with

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/content/holybrook-festival (2016-02-14)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-21