Rachel Reeves

Member of Parliament for Leeds West

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 8 Jan 2016.....MP Rachel Reeves and Cllr Alison Lowe on Armley Town Street discuss how tackle street drinking issues amid claims it has become a booze fuelled 'no go zone' for locals. Picture Scott Merrylees

 

This is my response to the two men who were photographed on Town Street in Armley on Tuesday (Sept 5) by David Mullan, lying on the pavement in a drunken stupor. 

I said: “There are lots of positives about Armley Town Street but they are let down and we are let down in the community by a few individuals who think this behaviour – drinking in the street and drinking so much they pass out – is acceptable and it’s not. I’m determined we take back Armley Town Street for people so they can enjoy their local community.”

I stressed that there are many good things about Town Street, including its recent festival. Sergeant Chris Craven, of the Inner West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said that police had spotted the pictured men on CCTV. He said: “One was arrested and subsequently charged with being drunk and disorderly in a public place. He was given bail conditions that include an exclusion zone of Armley preventing him entering the area. “The other man needed medical treatment but was later reported for summons to attend court.”

Sgt Craven said that there had been an increase in anti-social behavior on Town Street in the last two months and officers would be “stepping up” their work. But he said enforcement cannot be used alone, and work with other agencies would continue to find “longer-term solutions”.

MP speaks out over Leeds street drinking after online picture re-ignites debate

    This is my response to the two men who were photographed on Town Street in Armley on Tuesday (Sept 5) by David Mullan, lying on the pavement in...

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Read below my comment in The Times on the Citizen's Advice findings of growing household debt due to reckless lending by banks and credit card companies: 

A new report from Citizens Advice highlights some important and alarming findings. Strikingly, one in five people struggling with debt saw their credit card limit raised without asking for it, while the same figure for all credit card holders was just over one in ten. The only way to interpret this is as an attempt to boost profits, with credit card companies and banks making money on the backs of the financially vulnerable. This culture of recklessness cannot continue.

These are not the only examples of firms acting irresponsibly. Much attention has been given to payday loans, thanks to the brilliant campaign by my colleague Stella Creasy, which resulted in the government legislating for a cap on interest rates. The Financial Conduct Authority subsequently implemented this and — when reviewing it this summer — concluded that it had been successful in curbing the worst excesses of the payday lending industry. But there is a real risk that these problem debts will simply move elsewhere.

That is why I presented a bill in parliament in April to cap charges on unauthorised overdrafts which can severely exacerbate the financial difficulties of the worst off and push them into a spiral of debt. The banks made more than £1.2 billion from overdraft charges, mostly from financially vulnerable customers.

The payday loans cap has shown that action by the government and regulator can be successful, providing a real benefit to consumers. But the first line of responsibility must fall on firms to act in a way that ensures their customers’ woes do not worsen because of their search for profits. Lenders have a responsibility to provide support to customers to allow them clear their debts, rather than pushing them further into the red.

The growth in unsecured debt, up 10 per cent in the past year, speaks to a wider problem in our economy. Credit cards account for more than a third of the total £201 billion consumer debt and has been, along with car loans (personal contract purchase plans), a driver of consumer credit.

The government treats this growth in unsecured debt, and the growth in total household debt (including mortgages) with far too much complacency. Whilst they have pushed a mantra of living within our means, the Conservatives’ economic policy relies heavily on consumer spending to drive growth. This consumer spending is increasingly funded by personal debt. Total household debt peaked at 160 per cent of incomes in 2008. Over the next 8 years it declined to 140 per cent. Since early 2016 it has grown to 145 per cent, we are storing up huge risks of another economic crash as consumers can’t continually live beyond their means.

But the squeeze on income and rising inflation has made it increasingly difficult for households to save and for many borrowing is out of necessity, not choice. Our savings ratio is now at a record low, having fallen to just 1.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, down from 3.3 per cent at the end of last year. A growing number of people are finding it more difficult to make ends meet and many are relying on debt to cover the cost of basic needs.

The government’s economic policies have helped push the burden of debt onto consumers. The banks and credit card companies have lapped it up. They have felt little obligation or incentive to help customers. It is not sustainable and action is needed. Making sure banks and credit card providers do not push people further into debt is, at the very least, a good start.

We must not allow banks and credit card companies to push the vulnerable into debt

Read below my comment in The Times on the Citizen's Advice findings of growing household debt due to reckless lending by banks and credit card companies: 

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Read my reaction to Chris Grayling comments on transportation in the North below:

The ill-judged comments of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling about transport in the North are dangerous, damaging and hypocritical.

He talked about how political leaders in the North should “take control” of our transport system when he knows full well that continued Government support, as well as any initial investment from central Government, is critical to a successful transport system.

When it comes to his vague talk of investment, all we have seen from the Transport Secretary recently are announcements about scrapping the planned electrification of railway lines in the North, as well as in Wales and the Midlands.

Despite all the old promises from ex-Chancellor George Osborne this week about keeping his Northern Powerhouse dream alive, the current Government are starving the region of the investment we need to create jobs and growth.

Yet, Grayling is still pressing ahead with plans to boost transport infrastructure and help commuters in London and his South East constituency by renewing his backing for Crossrail 2 – a new link across London – before Crossrail 1 is even up and running.

When it came to his own backyard in the South East, Grayling blocked the capital’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, taking over some poorly-run suburban rail services.  

But, with breath-taking hypocrisy, he is talking about giving Labour politicians control over services in the North – the same services he refuses to support with central Government investment.

Grayling is only concerned with one thing and that’s cutting investment, especially investment in the North where Government help is needed far more than in the capital.

His transport strategy is nothing of the sort. He is betraying the legacy of his own predecessors, like George Osborne, who recognised the need to support more investment in key rail projects and other transport schemes in the region. 

Worse still, Grayling’s comments are damaging to the prospects of future private and public sector investment in Leeds and across the North.

His remarks will also be a bitter blow to political and business leaders who are working with investors in the private sector to help grow the economy in Leeds.

The Transport Secretary’s decision to abdicate responsibility for transport in the North and starve the region of the funds needed to create a successful transport network is damaging and potentially dangerous.

His refusal to seek consensus and work with local political leaders threatens to damage our local economy and deter future investors. Just because he and his Government have run out of steam and ideas, I won’t give up fighting to help improve public transport in Leeds and across the North. 

My Reaction to Chris Grayling's Comment

  Read my reaction to Chris Grayling comments on transportation in the North below: The ill-judged comments of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling about transport in the North are dangerous, damaging...

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