David Heath MP, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Somerton and Frome

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David Heath congratulates county council on another accolade

David Heath has this morning congratulated Somerset County Council on yet again being told by an independent body that they are providing excellent quality services.

For four years running Somerset County Council’s Adult Social Care Services have been given the highest possible 3 Star “Excellent” rating by the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Not only have they been given an excellent rating, but Somerset County Council’s service has been declared the best in the whole country.

The services, which work with older people and adults with a learning disability, physical disability or sensory loss, are rated “Excellent” for both ‘Delivering Outcomes’ and ‘Capacity to Improve’.

Somerset County Council is the only County Council in the country to achieve that accolade in both the key judgement areas.

David Heath MP said: “Yet again Somerset County Council has been awarded an ‘excellent’ rating, making them the best in the country at providing Adult Social Care. The Council should be justifiably proud of their achievements and local residents accessing this service can be confident in the quality of care provided to them.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to the officers and councillors of Somerset County Council for all their hard work in achieving this award.”

The County’s awards are in stark contrast to the recent Audit Commission rating of Mendip District Council’s strategic housing service, which rated it as poor with uncertain prospects for improvement.

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David Heath speaks out at national Gurkha rally

David Heath today led calls for justice for former Ghurkhas who are denied the right to settle in Britain.

Mr Heath joined actress Joanna Lumley, wildlife campaigner and actress Virginia McKenna and thousands of ex-servicemen in a demonstration in Parliament Square followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph and the presentation of a 250,000 signature petition at 10, Downing Street.

The rally follows years of campaigning for a fair deal for all the ex-Gurkha soldiers who have fought for Britain over centuries.

The wreaths were laid by the two surviving Ghurkhas VCs from the Burma campaign in the Second World War.

In September the high court ruled that the government had acted unlawfully in refusing permission to remain in Britain to Ghurkhas who served in the British forces before 1997, but the necessary changes in immigration rules still haven’t been made.

Mr Heath told the rally: “I am not here because there is a large Nepalese community in my constituency who I want to please. Nor am I here, as many are, because I have had the privilege of serving alongside men of the Ghurkhas regiment. I am here because I hate an injustice when I see one, and this is simply not fair to brave men who have served our country, and died for our country, over many years.

“I think successive governments have acted shamefully in the way they have treated the Ghurkhas, and we clearly owe a debt of honour which should now be paid. The question, after the court case, is not whether but simply when, and I hope this show of support from people across the country and MPs of all parties will encourage ministers to do the honourable thing quickly and to put right this injustice.”

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David Heath warns of carbon monoxide risk

David Heath has urged residents of Somerton and Frome to protect themselves against the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

Research shows that around 1.7 million households in the south west of England are putting themselves at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by not taking the necessary safety precautions.

A new national campaign has been launched to encourage people to use an audible carbon monoxide alarm. The ‘Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed!’ campaign also encourages people to have all their gas, oil and solid-fuel burning appliances serviced annually be a registered and qualified engineer.

The campaign is backed by victims’ charities, energy companies and professional organisations, and by Kirstie Allsopp, of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location.

Commenting David Heath said: “Audible alarms cost £15 and can be fitted in seconds. They could save you life. I urge every household to make sure that they have an alarm and that their fuel-burning appliances are serviced each year by a professional.”

The ‘Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed!’ campaign came to Parliament on the 12th of November, David was amongst the Members who took part in a briefing held by the campaign.

David also took part in a breath test to check his carbon monoxide levels - you'll be pleased to know that he is well!

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David Heath welcomes Government u-turn on Post Office

David Heath welcomed the news today that the government has abandoned its plans to put the post office card account out to tender and renewed the contract with the post office.

Mr Heath said: “This will come as very welcome news to sub-postmasters and post mistresses across the country, and may save up to 4,000 additional closures of small post offices. It comes after a concerted campaign both inside and outside parliament, and I am glad that we have been able to make a difference.

“What is unforgivable is that ministers have for six months now been telling us that they cannot do anything about the tendering process, and yet today they have ripped up what they said was legally binding and done exactly what we called on them to do many months ago. Even last week there were strong rumours that the contract had been awarded to Pay Point, and when we called a debate on the subject on Monday Ministers were unable to say anything positive.

“It is good news, but bad management of our national post office network.”

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Save our conkers, says David Heath

David Heath has called for action to save a staple of the landscape and the countryside, the British conker tree.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mr Heath told MPs that the horse chestnut is under severe threat, with attacks from the Phytophthora fungus, the Tree Leaf Miner caterpillar, and most worryingly from a new aggressive disease known as Pseudomonas syringae or Bleeding Canker.

Some estimates suggest that anything between 50% and 75% of trees are infected, and the situation is worst in the south west and south east of England.

Mr Heath said: “The horse chestnut is a beautiful part of our landscape, but the threat from these diseases is severe and a great many trees are dying. We all remember what a difference it made to our countryside when Dutch Elm Disease ravaged the elm population, and we’re seeing that repeated now with horse chestnuts.

“I want to make sure that any action that can be taken to contain or reverse the spread of this disease is being taken. It may seem trivial compared with some of the problems we face, but our environment is important too, and I don’t want a generation of children to grow up without ever seeing a conker!”

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David Heath urges businesses to enter awards scheme

David Heath is urging local businesses in the area to enter the UK’s most prestigious business awards scheme.

Firms have until January 29 to enter the battle for the ‘Best UK Business’ at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Excellence awards 2009.

Dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the business world, the Manufacturing Excellence Awards are free for any firm to enter and is the only best practice benchmarking scheme of its kind.

As well as the recognition and chance to be named the best British business, applicants will be invited to share and learn best practice and receive free advice on how to improve their business from industry experts. Deadline for entry is January 29 2009.

David Heath MP said: “I would like to encourage any firm, of any size to enter these awards. These awards are known as the international hallmark of best practice. I feel its so important that as an MP I support manufacturing and help businesses in my constituency and this scheme offers the guidance to help businesses flourish.”

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David Heath appalled at decision to axe post office card account

David Heath has called on the government to come clean about a decision that could sound the death knell for thousands more sub-post offices.

Sources within the post office say a decision has been made to take away the Post Office Card Account contract and award it to Pay Point, which means that many more sub-post offices which survived recent cuts now face an uncertain future and probable closure.

Mr Heath said: “It now seems certain that ministers have made a decision which will mean the end for yet more of our small post offices, but they’re allowing the news to leak out rather than make the proper announcement in parliament we called for yesterday.

“I have repeatedly spoken out in the House of Commons for an end to the dithering on awarding the contract that has plagued post offices, but I am appalled that it seems that a decision has now been made that will damage hugely what remains of the rural post office network.

“In my constituency we lost nine post offices in the cuts announced earlier this year. Now we face more closures and it’s local communities and vulnerable people who will suffer.

“Liberal Democrats in parliament are using one of their allotted days for debate on Monday to discuss the future of post offices, and it’s certain that there will be many on all sides who will wish to express their anger at the outcome of the prolonged process.”

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David Heath asks Government to clarify war memorial status

David Heath has urged the Government to ensure that communities can commemorate those who have lost their lives in war.

Speaking in Questions with Harriet Harman MP, Mr Heath cited the current legal status of who have responsibility for war memorials.

Calling for a parliamentary debate David Heath MP said: “There is a pressing need to establish how war memorials will be maintained appropriately. I believe that it is imperative that the Commons fully considers this issue.

“We must also ensure that there is no doubt that communities that wish to commemorate those who have lost their lives in conflicts since the first and second world wars, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, are entitled to do that.”

Speaking further about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Heath raised the point that not enough information about the two wars is being presented to Parliament.

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