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Stephen has revealed the staggering amount lost on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in East Ham as the Government consultation on the maximum stakes allowed on these machines, draw to a close. 

Stephen pledged his support to see the maximum stake reduced to £2 on these machines at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs’ ‘Pledge for £2’ event in Parliament. The highly addictive machines which have been dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookmaker environment.

New research shows that FOBT problem gamblers could be imposing a cost of £1.5 billion on themselves, their families and their wider social networks. The report published by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), found that those on lower incomes or in deprived areas are the main beneficiaries of a reduction to a £2 stake. 

Supporters of the campaign which includes the General Synod of the Church of England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties, have called on the Government to take action on these machine in order to protect the most vulnerable in the society. 

Lending his support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Stephen said: “The case for action on FOBTs is clear and I urge the Government to view this process as an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable members of our society from harm. 

“These machines have had devastating effects on families, individuals and communities, causing unemployment, violence and in some cases even, suicides.  We cannot go on with this situation. 

“I am extremely concerned to hear that £9,683,104. was lost to FOBTs in Eat Ham in 2016. The Secretary of State has a unique window of opportunity to cut the stake on FOBTs to £2, a level at the which the harm to families and individuals is significantly reduced.

“ I would urge anyone affected by these machines to respond to the Government’s consultation by visiting the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport website.” 

The Government is seeking to reduce the stake on FOBTs from £100 to between £50 and £2, and has launched a 12 week public consultation on the stake options, which closes, midday on 23rd January.

The FOBT APPG is chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and is supported by groups including Bacta, The Hippodrome Casino, Novomatic, Praesepe and the Royal Society for Public Health.

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Sales of products containing dangerous levels of acids and corrosive substances have been banned for under 18-year-olds under a new voluntary government plan aimed at stopping acid attacks. 

Some of the country's largest retailers including Wickes, B&Q, Screwfix and Tesco have signed the list of commitments, which include checking the age of buyers both in store and online. Under the ban - which is not legally binding - the following products will not be sold to those under 18:

  • Products that contain 12% or above of sodium hydroxide, such as some drain cleaners and paint strippers
  • Any liquids with 10% or more of hydrochloric acid, which includes brick and patio cleaners
  • Products containing 10% or above of ammonium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite, which includes many cleaning products.

Stephen welcomed the voluntary ban on under-18 sales, but called on Ministers to do more: "I think what's happened is some people who're intent on committing crimes have worked out that it's less risky for them to do it with the help of an acid bottle that they're carrying than if they were carrying a knife or a gun because there are much clearer and stronger laws in place against carrying knives or guns than there are against carrying acid," he said.

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Stephen week joined charity Parkinson’s UK to mark 200 years since Parkinson’s was first recognised as a condition.

At a parliamentary reception in Westminster, Stephen met with representatives from the charity and people affected by Parkinson’s to hear about the charity’s ambition to bring forward the day when no one fears Parkinson’s. Stephen talked to staff and volunteers about the strides that have been made in understanding the condition since James Parkinson’s Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817, but also the work that is still to be done as there is no cure for Parkinson’s and current medication can’t stop the condition from progressing.

Parkinson’s UK highlighted the issues faced by people with Parkinson’s, including getting the right financial support to help with the extra costs of living with the condition. Stephen heard how 25 per cent of people with Parkinson’s are losing some or all of this support as they are moved from Disability Living Allowance to the replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment, leaving people unable to pay for aids and adaptations, energy bills and transport. 

Parkinson’s affects one in 500 people in East Ham and can cause a myriad of symptoms including insomnia, depression, and hallucinations, robbing people of their independence. But through more research, improved services, and empowering people with Parkinson’s to take control, their lives can be turned around. 

Stephen also met crime writer Jessica Mann who spoke at the event about her own Parkinson’s diagnosis and the need for better mental health services for people living with the condition.

Parkinson’s UK wants to see quality services as standard for the 127,000 people like Jessica with Parkinson’s in the UK. They also want people with Parkinson’s to feel empowered to take control of their lives, and to take part in clinical trials in their local area to help find better treatments and a cure in years not decades.

Stephen said after attending the event:  “I want to help ensure that people in East Ham are not losing out as they are moved to Personal Independence Payment. I look forward to raising this issue nationally to ensure people get the support they need and feel empowered to take control of their life with Parkinson’s.”

Parkinson’s UK Chief Executive Steve Ford said: “With 2017 marking such a significant anniversary for us, we wanted to reflect on what we have achieved and what we have yet to do in order to improve the lives of everybody affected by Parkinson’s, but we can’t do this alone. 

“That’s why it’s brilliant Stephen has pledged to help us ensure people with Parkinson’s are getting the financial support they desperately rely on. 

“We look forward to seeing the difference Stephen can make in East Ham and how he can help us to keep Parkinson’s on the political agenda.”
 

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Stephen has visited London City Airport’s ‘STEM in Aviation Day’ at the ExCeL London. The day encourages students from six East London boroughs to consider the application of STEM subjects in aviation.

As part of the event, London City Airport brought together some of the leading innovators in the sector to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers. For example, experts from NATS demonstrated the UK’s first digital air traffic control tower whilst staff from Accenture’s Innovation Hub revealed how facial recognition technology can be used in airports.

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: “I am delighted to attend the STEM Aviation day and would like to thank London City Airport for taking the trouble in putting together such an exciting day for students drawn from in and around Newham. 

“We have very talented young people in East London East Ham and it has been wonderful to see how much they have learnt today. I hope many of the students here today will now consider careers in STEM. This will put them in a good place to take advantage of the opportunities which will arise as London continues to move East.”

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Stephen has pledged his support for families with disabled children this week at a parliamentary event organised by the Disabled Children’s Partnership  - a coalition of more than 50 disability and children’s charities working together to improve health and social care services for families with disabled children.

At the event the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) revealed its 5 step plan, developed to help address the growing crisis in health and social care services for disabled children and their families.

The 5 steps includes a reviewing funding of short breaks (respite) provision for disabled children and families.

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: “The event organised by the Disabled Children’s Partnership was a great opportunity to meet with families and learn more about the realities of caring for disabled children - and why good quality health and social care services are so essential for the health and wellbeing of their family. 

“These services provide a lifeline for many families and often it’s quite basic services such as short breaks or equipment and adaptations to the home, that help them stay together, work and have a quality of life most families take for granted. Families with disabled children give back to our community and economy in so many different ways and that’s why I’m proud to pledge my support to the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s 5 step plan to improve vital health and social care services for families with disabled children.”

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact and chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, said: “Families with disabled children face four big challenges: There are not enough services, many of those that exist are not good enough, families cannot access them easily, and services do not always work together and communicate well with each other.

“This event and our 5 step plan marks the next phase of the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s Secret Life of Us campaign and pushes for real change while shining a light on the challenges that families with disabled face and the changes we want to see to help overcome them.”

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