Stourbridge News Column, 7th June 2018

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 7th June 2018

Parliament was not sitting last week which gave me more time to devote to my digital and creative brief in government, and issues here in Stourbridge. Firstly, on nuisance calls. This has been a challenging issue for the Government to tackle. That is because when the companies making and organising those calls are reported and fined, they often liquidate to avoid the debt and then start up often under a different name. Quite wrong. Our new proposal is to hold company directors personally responsible, with fines of up to half a million pounds. We are determined to beat the plague of nuisance calls and I expect these measures to go some way towards combatting them.

The second issue for me was so called ‘secondary ticketing’, where companies buy tickets for big shows or sporting events and sell them at a profit. We are making progress towards fairer access to events but one of the larger secondary ticketing companies, Viagogo, has failed to put in place recommendations made by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the transparency of its ticket prices. I have been receiving many emails from people across the country with stories about the various ways in which Viagogo has ripped them off. On Radio 5 last week I advised people not to buy tickets from Viagogo. I echo those comments again today, there are rival sites that play fairer by consumers who are prepared to pay more than face value for a ticket.

In Stourbridge on Friday, I welcomed Google back to the town, this time offering advice to small businesses and marker traders about how to increase and improve their digital footprint. Local businesses received training on ensuring their businesses appear on search engines, in the use of social media and on how to build a digital marketing plan. I also had the chance to try out the Google Street View camera, which was brilliant. Following the event, I met the Chief Executive of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP). LEPs are organisations set up to champion jobs and growth in their respective areas. One of the ways they try to do this is through improving education and skills – vital for our future economy. I had a good discussion about how we can increase digital skills here in the Black Country in preparation for exciting upcoming technological advances, such as the rollout of 5G mobile broadband.

If you want to get in touch with me about anything at all, please do email me at margot.james.mp@parliament.uk or write to me at my constituency address, 1a Worcester Street, Stourbridge, DY8 1AH.