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Bill Esterson MP accuses Conservatives of favouring donors and friends over established British businesses

BILL Esterson MP has accused Conservatives of favouring donors and friends over established British businesses in a terse Parliamentary exchange over ₤3.5bn of Government contracts. Sefton Central MP Mr Esterson told the House of Commons, on Tuesday, 7 December 2021, that a family run PPE manufacturer from Merseyside had not been given a:- "fair chance" at securing lucrative Government contracts during the Covid Pandemic, while Conservative party donors and friends of Ministers had enjoyed a:- "VIP lane."
Mr Esterson again raised the case of Knowsley based Florence Roby, whose owners live in Formby. Mr Esterson spent months trying to help Florence Roby secure a deal to provide washable gowns to the NHS, but said the process was slow, and that Florence Roby had not enjoyed a level playing field.
Mr Esterson told the House of Commons at Tresury Questions:- "Florence Roby Ltd were turned down when they bid for Government contracts for PPE last year despite a 50 year track record of high quality production. They weren't asking for special favours, all they wanted was a fair chance of winning Government contracts. ₤3.5bn was handed out to friends and donors of the Conservative party through a VIP lane, in stark contrast to the experience of Florence Roby Ltd. So when will good people like my constituents get access not to a VIP lane, but to a level playing field?" 

Simon Clarke MP, Treasury Minister, replied:- "Well Mr Speaker, we worked at speed to secure the PPE needed to protect our frontline workers and supplied over 58,000 different healthcare settings. We now have a 4 month stockpile of all critical PPE to make sure the NHS can continue to be protected. All of these bids are assessed in line with standard guidance and to make sure there is total equity in that process. Any suggestion to the contrary is fundamentally misleading." 

Mr Esterson later commented:- "Florence Roby were not even given the chance to put their bid in front of a ministers to be assessed against the guidance. They were given the run around for months, while firms that were new to the market appeared to get their products approved in record time. It's clear that being a friend of senior Conservative MPs, or a donor to the Conservative party, meant access to special favours in the procurement process. My constituents don't want special favours. They just wanted a chance to do what they were best at, to help the nation when it was in crisis, protect jobs and boost the UK economy. The minister, Simon Clarke says any suggestion of unfair treatment is misleading yet the Conservatives set up a VIP lane, which awarded ₤3.5 billion in contracts to friends and donors of the Conservative Party, which were worth 10% of the PPE contracts awarded. Florence Roby and countless other businesses were not given the chance to bid for contracts and jobs were lost as a result. The only person being misleading here is Mr Clarke. His Government were in the wrong. They wasted public money and they spent on their mates. That's corrupt and to say otherwise, that truly is misleading." 

PIC:- Bill Esterson MP with Jan Roby of Florence Roby, at the company's factory in Knowsley

Police Commissioner responds to publication of new policing framework for tackling VAWG

MERSEYSIDE'S Police Commissioner has responded to the published a new national framework for policing violence against women and girls (VAWG) on Wednesday, 15 December 2021.

The framework has been produced by the National Police Chiefs' Council and the College of Policing following a recommendation from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) which concluded that, while great improvements have been made in the policing response to VAWG over the last decade, these were not enough.

The report found significant inconsistencies in the service that Forces provide to women and girls across England and Wales. The inspectorate recommended a fundamental shift in prioritisation, aimed at bringing greater consistency and universally higher standards.

The publication of year 1 of the framework focuses on the areas that policing can help to improve immediately, while years 2 and 3 will focus on the wider community and partnership approaches needed to deliver sustainable change.

Commenting on the publication of the framework, Merseyside's Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, said:- "No woman or girl suffering male violence should experience a postcode lottery response from the Police. I welcome this framework which focuses on a shift of culture to ensure VAWG is prioritised and aims to ensure Police Forces across the country are providing a consistent, standardised response for all victims and survivors. It's positive to see a series of wide ranging actions laid out focused on ensuring perpetrators are relentlessly pursued, establishing a culture which roots out misogyny and concentrates on listening to women with lived experience. Police Forces will be required to implement these actions within specific timeframes and, as a result, I hope this will lead to real, tangible improvements being made quickly. Doing so will be a key way Police Forces can help to rebuild women's trust and confidence, which was badly shaken by the devastating murder of Sarah Everard and other recent cases of Police Officers abusing their position of trust. This is an important 1st step, but it is vital that this is more than just warm words or a plan on paper. It must be followed up with concrete action. As such, I am pleased this framework includes a call for all Police Forces to develop local action plans by March 2022. As Police Commissioner, I have a critical role scrutinising the performance of the Chief Constable in delivering an effective Police Force and I will be monitoring closely how Merseyside Police responds to the release of this framework. It is right though that Police Forces cannot tackle VAWG on their own. Looking ahead, it is vital this framework considers how the Police can work more effectively with partners in criminal justice, community safety and beyond so that victims and survivors know their voices and needs will be met. Long term, the goal must be to detail how the Police can support a whole system approach which aims to put a stop to VAWG for good."


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