Ian Lucas
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Ian Lucas: I'll fight to keep jobs in Wrexham
WREXHAM’S Ian Lucas has pledged to fight for North Wales to keep a tax office in Wrexham.
A series of Parliamentary questions put down by Mr Lucas before Parliament was dissolved confirmed that HMRC are considering centralising tax offices into regional centres – and that, under current plans, Cardiff would have Wales’ “regional centre.”
In a reply to the written Parliamentary questions put down by Mr Lucas, Tory Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke states: “HMRC has set out its early thinking about the principles that will determine its future location strategy, which involves bringing teams closer together in a smaller number of large, modern, adaptable Regional Centres. These centres will be supported by a UK-wide network of smaller specialist and touchdown sites.
“HMRC has told staff that it believes that Cardiff is the most suitable location for a future Regional Centre in Wales, since it is already the biggest HMRC location in the country. However, no firm decisions have yet been made on the precise location or timing of a new HMRC Regional Centre in Cardiff or the nature and timing of impacts on other HMRC locations in Wales.”
Mr Lucas said: “I don’t agree with HMRC’s plans, and I don’t think many in Wrexham or North Wales will either.
“North Wales has a strong regional identity and the Government should be working to bolster our region – not undermine it. I will oppose these plans, and tell HMRC they should keep services here in Wales.
“I will be meeting staff representatives locally about these proposals and will work with them to oppose moving these jobs from Wrexham.”

Labour's VAT plans will help Wrexham
RULING out a VAT rise will be welcomed by Wrexham’s shops and shoppers, Ian Lucas has said.

Mr Lucas was speaking after the Labour party ruled out a rise in the tax. A long-standing critic of raising VAT, Mr Lucas has raised the issue repeatedly with Government Ministers throughout the past five years.
He said: “Much has been done to help support Wrexham businesses locally in recent months, but the good work being done here needs Government support too.
“When wages have fallen as much as they have in Wrexham – by more than 7 per cent - then any additional costs hit people in the pocket. They then have to make choices about where they spend their cash – and Wrexham businesses suffer as a result.
“The impact of VAT on people’s spending should not be underestimated. Businesses know this, and I regularly have queries about the impact of VAT on Wrexham businesses of all kinds.
“That’s why I am pleased at this announcement. Shops and shoppers also need certainty to help them make decisions – and today’s pledge gives them that certainty.”

The Government must listen over prison plans
THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to listen to recommendations made in a Commons report about the town’s proposed prison.
Ian Lucas has backed recommendations made in the Welsh Affairs Select Committee report about prisons in Wales. Among the recommendations made is that the UK and Welsh Governments continue to work together on the proposals, the work of the Youth Justice Board in Wales in cutting the number of Welsh offenders continues – and that, crucially, the Ministry of Justice learn lessons from the opening of HMP Oakwood, in the West Midlands.
Mr Lucas visited HMP Oakwood in June last year. The prison is run privately and Mr Lucas pressed the Government after his visit to ensure that Wrexham’s prison was run in the public sector instead.
He said: “There are many lessons to be learnt from HMP Oakwood and the Welsh Affairs Committee has made clear the Government should examine the problems there closely.
“A publicly run prison is important and I have always supported it. I believe, after the problems HMP Oakwood experienced, even the current Government was forced to accept the proposed prison for Wrexham had to be run in the public sector. It is good the Ministry of Justice finally realised this after months of lobbying.
“They should now listen to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee when they say there are further lessons to be learnt.”

Further and sharper cuts for Wrexham because of Tory budget plans
WREXHAM will face further and sharper cuts in the coming years under Government plans revealed in the Budget, Wrexham’s Ian Lucas has warned.
And he has said that Wrexham people are not feeling the results of an economic recovery – with working people’s wages lower at the end of the current Parliament than they were at its start for the first time since the 1920s.
Mr Lucas said: “The Chancellor may have suddenly discovered an optimistic side but the news for many in Wrexham is not good. Working people’s wages have fallen during this Parliament and will be lower at its close than they were when it began for the first time since the 1920s.
“That squeeze on wages can be seen on our high streets and in our shops – it is a testament to Wrexham’s retailers that they are doing so much to keep our economy going in the face of such pressures on wages.
“Meanwhile, we see all kinds of services being cut, scaled down or passed over to voluntary groups to run in the county as the Government’s cuts work their way through.
“So the Office of Budget Responsibility’s assessment that the Budget assumes ‘a sharp acceleration in the pace of implied real cuts to day to day spending on public services’ between next year and 2018’ will cause real worry for many in Wrexham.
“I have many other concerns – such as what the proposed halt to onshore windfarms will mean for the Wrexham companies who help supply their parts, or how many Wrexham people could find themselves mis-sold pensions when rules are relaxed.
“But it is the combined effect of continued lower wages, and further and faster cuts to come, which will cause the most concern for many after today’s Budget.”

Praise for Church House
WREXHAM’S Ian Lucas has praised Gresford’s Church House as “a true community asset” after visiting the premises.
Mr Lucas – who has lent his support to funding applications for Church House – visited to see work which has been carried out to improve the premises and to hear about further improvements planned in the coming months.
During the visit, Mr Lucas saw community rooms at the building, which are now used by a diverse range of organisations, including Gresford’s MyPAG – which helps maintain the village’s former quarry site for the community – and singing group the Sirenians.
He said: “I have lent my support to all kinds of funding bids in recent years, including Church House, and I try to visit places to hear how the funding has helped.
“In Church House, a historic building is being maintained and sympathetically improved and, in the process, is becoming a true community asset. All kinds of groups are using the premises, and in the process a piece of Gresford’s history is playing its role in its present. I’m very pleased to have been able to help Church House and I really enjoyed my visit.”

Aiport links boost bid backed
A BID to link increase rail services between North Wales and Manchester Airport has been backed by Wrexham’s Ian Lucas.
A proposal has been put forward by Arriva Trains Wales to extend nine weekday and 11 weekend services between North Wales and Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Airport. The application, made to Network Rail, has been declined but an appeal is to be made to the Office of the Rail Regulator to allow the services to be extended.
Mr Lucas has added his support to the appeal, which is also being backed by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board.
He said: “These proposals make sense. Manchester International is the main airport used by people from North Wales and its current public transport connections to it from North Wales are very poor.
“Our roads are becoming ever more congested – as recent issues on the A483 have shown. We need to encourage people to use public transport where possible – and this proposal would help those who want to travel by train to Manchester Airport from North Wales.
“That boost would help holidaymakers – but, crucially, boost links between international employers based in North East Wales and a major international airport.
“These proposals would help businesses, help ease congestion and help holidaymakers – they make sense to me and I’ve given them my full backing.”

Closure of Wrexham's Vic Studios opposed
A MUSIC studio which has helped young musicians from across Wrexham should not be axed by the council, Ian Lucas has said.
The Vic Studios – based at the Victoria Centre on Hill Street, Wrexham – has provided rehearsal rooms, studios and recording help for young musicians in Wrexham for the best part of a decade. However, those who use the service have now been told that its future is uncertain after Wrexham Council began a consultation on its future.
Mr Lucas attended the opening of the studios alongside singer Feargal Sharkey and has also taken Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to visit. He has called the decision “short-sighted” and written to the council to make clear his opposition to the closure.
He is also encouraging those who feel the same way to make their views known.
He said: “Wrexham has a vibrant local music scene – something which does not happen by accident. That scene, with events like Focus Wales, brings people into the town, brings trade to the town and helps put Wrexham on the map.
“Helping support music at a grassroots level – in the way the Vic Studios do – is hugely important and, I believe, is vital to the lifeblood of the town. Closing this studio is, I believe, a short-sighted decision. I made clear my opposition to any plans to close the Vic Studios and would urge others to let their views be known too.”

Minsters should apologies for A483 delays
WORK on the A483 is likely to take at least a month longer than expected, Ministers have admitted.
Ian Lucas tabled a series of written questions about the work, which has led to long delays for motorists using the crucial cross-border junction between the A483 and A55. The questions are the latest in a series of measures Mr Lucas has taken to hold Ministers to account over the way the works have been handled.
In a reply to Mr Lucas’ question, Transport Minister John Hayes states that the work – due to be completed by the end of the month – is not now due to be completed until May 10. The delay is blamed on “adverse weather, and problems encountered with drainage and bridge strengthening works.”
Mr Lucas said: “I have been pushing Ministers to take charge of this situation for weeks – it is clear there are big problems with these works.
“It was only last week that motorists faced delays because of faulty traffic lights – with the engineer who was supposed to fix the lights caught up in the traffic himself.
“While it was inevitable that some delays will occur when a large project like this is carried out, I do think that there have been real problems with the way these works have been managed.
“Those problems have caused major disruption for businesses and members of the public, and Ministers now say the work will continue for a further month. They should look at this project, work out what has gone wrong – and apologise.”

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