MP Jonathan Reynolds has called on the Government to offer urgent guidance to housing co-operatives, after a landmark ruling put a legal question mark over thousands of tenancy agreements.
Across the UK there are thousands of residents who live in housing schemes that are run according to a co-operative model – where co-op members collectively determine the management and maintenance of their properties.
There are fears that a ruling in the Supreme Court (Berrisford v Mexfield) could have a significant impact on the future of co-operative housing schemes.
And last night (Wed 11 July, 2012) the ‘Potential effects of the Berrisford vs Mexfield Housing Co-operative Ltd Supreme Court judgement on the future of co-operative housing in the UK’ was debated in Parliament, at the request of Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds.
Following the debate, Mr Reynolds said: “We are facing a growing housing crisis in the UK – where families can no longer rely on social housing and where it’s now harder than ever for first time buyers to step on to the housing ladder.
“Co-operative housing schemes can provide affordable, quality accommodation to residents, whilst empowering them to play a key role in decisions relating to their property.
“I believe that we should be doing all that we can to support the growth of the co-operative housing sector.
“The Berrisford v Mexfield ruling raises questions about the nature of the tenancies offered to members of co-operative housing projects.
“And the Government needs to make sure there is greater clarity to support co-operative housing projects in the wake of this ruling and in the longer term.”
During the debate Mr Reynolds outlined how the majority of the members of co-operative housing schemes are issued with ‘periodic’ tenancies, which are regularly renewed at a specific point (usually weekly or monthly) – often supplemented by a tenancy agreement, which sets out the rights of the landlord and the tenant.
However in the Berrisford v Mexfield hearing, the Supreme Court found that clauses in the co-operatives tenancy agreement - specifying particular circumstances in which the tenancy could be brought to an end - created an ‘uncertain term’.
And as no tenancy can be for an ‘uncertain term’ the Supreme Court ruled that the tenancy should be considered as a ‘tenancy for life’.
There are concerns that this decision could have potentially wide-ranging implications for co-operatives and could open the door to complex and costly legal processes. And during the debate Mr Reynolds called on the Government to assist co-operative as they try to understand the implications of the Supreme Court judgement.
“Co-operatives across the country are now scrutinising their tenancy agreements to consider what they can do to eradicate any uncertainty whilst avoiding costly legal disputes,” said Mr Reynolds following the debate.
“But currently, I understand, the only real way to determine the status of these tenancy agreements may be through the courts.
“That’s why I am calling on the Government to look closely at the implications of this court ruling and offer immediate assistance to co-operative housing organisations.
“In addition I would urge them to look at the Law – which does not yet recognise co-operative housing – to ensure there are no barriers to the growth of co-operative housing schemes in the UK.”
Last year Mr Reynolds introduced a 10-Minute Rule Bill that would recognise Co-operative Housing Tenure in Law for the first time.
Mr Reynolds argued that legal recognition would support the growth of housing co-operatives which could ease the housing crisis and enable members to build up personal equity whilst being part of the scheme.
And he believes it would help to eradicate some of the practical difficulties caused by the absence of the legal recognition of the co-operative housing model.
Published 12 July, 2012
STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has challenged the Government to publish the demographic data that determined which battalions would be axed from the Army.
Last week Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond outlined Government plans to cut 20,000 troops from the Army.
The 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – which recruits from across Greater Manchester – is one of 17 units that are due to be axed by 2020.
The Secretary of State said the decision had been made after the demographics of those recruitment areas had been looked at.
So now Mr Reynolds – who is Secretary of the All Party Armed Forces Group – has laid down a Parliamentary Question asking Mr Hammond to “publish the demographic analysis used to determine the selection of infantry battalions to be withdrawn from the Order of Battle as part of the 'Army 2020' review.
The question has been listed for answer on Thursday 12 July, 2012.
Mr Reynolds said: “Members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have served in some of the most difficult conflicts around the world, in some circumstances paying the ultimate sacrifice.
“With traditions and history rooted in Lancashire, it is no surprise that there has been a groundswell of anger following the announcement that it was to be abolished by 2020.
“The Government has indicated that the selection of particular battalions reflects changing demographics.
“Yet with a recruitment record that is one of the best in the Army it is hard to see how this decision could make sense for this battalion.
“I have now challenged the Government to publish the demographic analysis that has been used to determine which battalions are to be withdrawn.
“And I will continue to push the Government to publish the information that our serving members of our Armed Forces deserve to see.
“If the Government is to make this decision, they have a responsibility to the men and women serving in these battalions to ensure that the decision is as transparent as possible.”
Last week – when Mr Hammond announced the changes in the House of Commons - Mr Reynolds asked him what he had meant when he said that the demographics of those recruitment areas had been looked at.
The Minister pointed to a general decline in the number of men – aged between 18 and 24 – across the UK and said there were some specific issues in some specific regional geographies.
Mr Reynolds – who is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme - is calling on the Minister to release the information.
Published 12 July, 2012
MP Jonathan Reynolds has called for legislation that would outlaw discrimination against those serving in the armed forces.
Discrimination against serving members of the armed forces was highlighted in a Parliamentary debate, timed to coincide with Armed Forces Day.
During the debate MPs from across the country revealed instances where members of the Army, the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy were – on occasion – refused entry to pubs or hotels, as well as facing particular difficulties in getting a credit card or a mobile phone contract, accessing healthcare or schools.
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds called for legislation that would end discrimination against those in the armed forces.
He said: “We are all appalled that anyone could abuse a serviceman or servicewoman in uniform – it is appalling that someone could abuse anyone in the street – but we know that it happens.
“I find it even more concerning that people in uniform have been refused service in a pub, hotel or similar leisure establishment.
“We need a national, cross-party effort to stamp that out, and if it requires new legal protections and legislation, we should be willing to bring that forward.”
Mr Reynolds acknowledged work had been done to solve some of the problems associated with credit cards, mobile phone contracts or healthcare – resulting from the way service personnel lives were structured. But he said more still needed to be done.
During the debate Mr Reynolds also drew attention to the need to invest in mental health services for those leaving the armed forces, to the support needed for those taking redundancy from the Army and the importance of Armed Forces Day.
Mr Reynolds – who is Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Armed Forces Group and a participant of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme – said: “Armed Forces Day is an important national event because it allows us to show our respect not only to those who have served, but to those who are currently serving.
“We can highlight a lot of initiatives and good practice around the country that help us do that.
“In my own area, we have ensured that our war memorials are memorials not only to the first and second world wars, but to the people who have lost their lives since those conflicts. That move has been very well received by their families.”
Published 26 June, 2012
A CELEBRATION to mark the first anniversary of BBC North was held in Parliament, hosted by Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds.
MediaCityUK, in Salford, is now home to 24 BBC departments – including Children’s, Sport and Learning, as well as Comedy, Religion and Ethics.
BBC Radio 5 Live comes from the new centre, as well as flagship tv programmes like BBC Breakfast. And around 2300 BBC staff work there every day.
The first year anniversary marks the end of the first phase of the BBC’s migration to MediaCityUK – though there are further plans for expansion in the near future.
And, on Thursday, Mr Reynolds and BBC North Director Peter Salmon hosted a breakfast reception in Westminster to mark the first year.
Mr Reynolds said: “The on-going development of BBC North ensures Greater Manchester’s place at the heart of the media industry. “So I was delighted to be able to help them celebrate their success at a reception in Westminster.
“BBC North has brought with it significant opportunities for those looking for a career in the media.
“Of the 2300 BBC staff based at MediaCityUK, many have transferred from London or Oxford Road, but one in three have been recruited locally.
“That hasn’t just meant employment and training for those living in Salford or nearby Manchester – but for many people living further afield in areas like Tameside too.
“BBC North is a welcome addition to Greater Manchester that’s already having an impact – but with a wider range of locations to choose from and a greater range of accents spoken I think we’re having an impact on them too.”
In October 2011 Mr Reynolds went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Studio facilities at MediaCityUK and the BBC base, which was already partly occupied.
He heard about the many opportunities there would be for schoolchildren and visitors to tour the facilities and to take parting the programmes that would be made there. He also spoke to young people who had been enrolled on the company's apprenticeship scheme.
Published 26 June, 2012.
BURMESE pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi made history as the first woman – excluding The Queen – to address both Houses of Parliament, on Thursday.
Her 30-minute address – to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords – focussed on the nature of democracy. And it included an appeal to Britain and the world beyond to support the people of Burma.
Ms Suu Kyi – who was detained under house arrest in Burma for more than 20 years – is leader of the National League for Democracy Party in Burma.
On April 1 her party took 40 seats in the Burmese Government, making her leader of the Opposition.
Following her speech in Westminster Hall, Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds said: “Aung San Suu Kyi has battled for democracy in her country for more than 20 years.
“Her fight has been one of self-sacrifice, of patience and of courage – and she is an inspiration to us all.
“I am delighted that she was invited to address both Houses of Parliament – and I am proud to have been able to hear her speak.”
During her visit to Europe – the first she has made outside Burma since 1988 - she also collected a Nobel Prize in Norway and an honorary civil law doctorate from Oxford University, where she had been a student in the 1960s.
Others to have been granted the honour of making an address to both Houses have been French President Charles de Gaulle, South African President Nelson Mandela, American President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI.
Ms Suu Kyi is the first person to be invited make the address who is not a head of State.
Published 22 June, 2012