Stourbridge News Column, 20th September 2018

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 20th September

I am writing today’s column a couple of hours before I travel to Mary Stevens park to see the unveiling of Frank Foley’s statue. I am delighted to be able to welcome the Duke of Cambridge to Stourbridge as guest of honour. The statue, close to where Major Foley lived after the Second World War, is a fitting tribute to his heroic actions, and I know that people from all around the area will visit and sit with him, to reflect and to learn about his life. My thanks again go to Ian Austin MP, who has done an amazing job and campaigned tirelessly for the statue, and to former Chancellor George Osborne, for agreeing to fund the project.

As Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, I am responsible for the Government’s policy on nuisance calls. Since I took up the post in January, I have wanted to do more to address this problem. This month, I was able to announce more measures to combat nuisance callers, particularly companies calling about PPI or personal injury claims. From this month, people must be given the choice to ‘opt-in’ to these calls. If you do not opt-in, those companies are banned from harassing you. The Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcement, so please do report unwanted nuisance calls at ico.org.uk so they can take action. We have also made directors of firms who break the law personally liable – they could face fines of up to £500,000.

 

Residents in Lye and Cradley are concerned about a recent planning application for a travellers site in the area. I visited the site in question on Tuesday and was able to speak to the owner. We had a good discussion and I mentioned the opposition from local people to the ‘transit’ element of the application. To be clear, the site is quite small and would consist of two static caravans and space for six others. It would be nothing like the situation facing Withymoor residents in recent years. The owner and I agreed to have further discussions which I hope will be productive, and I am hoping he will take on board the concerns of local residents to provide a more agreeable proposal.