Website set up to force out Preston MP Mark Hendrick

The website includes a disclosure about how the person behind the website is and their political history

The website includes a disclosure about how the person behind the website is and their political history

A Fulwood resident has set up a website requesting that Mark Hendrick, the current MP for Preston, step down or not contest the next election after the revealing of his claims for expenses.

The website – markhendrickmustgo.org.uk – states that Hendrick is

yet to justify himself to the public

and

we want an MP who will work hard and effectively on behalf of the people of Preston, someone who has their own mind and uses it, and who has the integrity and moral courage to stand by their beliefs. We think that it must to be someone who can show they opposed the war on Iraq for, whilst we accept that others may disagree, that is our personal test of integrity

Details of Hendrick’s expenses came out in the Lancashire Evening Post last week:

MP Mark Hendrick paid back almost £7,000 after he claimed mortgage interest payments for BOTH his Preston and London homes on his taxpayer-funded expenses.

He revealed that between April 2007 and March 2008 he overclaimed £6,850.52 in mortgage interest payments on his second home allowance.

It will be interesting to see if this kind of website can have an impact in the next general election – whenever that may be.

If you’d like to quiz Mark Hendrick yourself about his expenses or ask him about any other issue, his next ‘MP Surgery’ is on Saturday 6th June 2009 from 11 AM – 1 PM at UCLan Students’ Union, Fylde Road, Preston.

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Preston FM’s County Council elections debate

Making my way hastily to Preston’s Disability Information Services Centre (DISC) on Church Street, fearing I was late, I arrived to rows of empty chairs at Preston FM’s elections debate. It appears the MP’s expenses scandal is impacting on local politics as well as on a national level.

We had a brief introduction that had each of the candidates, Geoff Driver (Conservative), Tom Burns (Labour), Matt Tomlinson (Labour) and Bill Winlow (Liberal Democrat), explaining what a councillor did. All except Winlow are already councillors and are seeking re-election. The basis of what a county councillor does is that they represent the people of Lancashire who elect them, solve problems, manage budgets and sit in lots of meetings.

And so, the first question during a question time to candidates from the main parties (no UKIP, BNP, raving loonies here), is the expenses scandal impacting on the June 4th elections and how do we solve it?

All the candidates agreed (this happened a lot throughout the debate) that it was ridiculous what was happening at Westminister and that local politics was being affected by it as people were mistrustful of all politicians. Interestingly, as raised by Tomlinson, local councillors have had to publish expenses (they can only claim for travel and a work allowance if it’s more than four hours) online and in council media since approximately 2000 and are subject to very strict rules about expenses.

So, local politicians apparently are far more trustworthy than their national counterparts.

On the subject of apathy, Geoff Driver made the point that everyone should vote.

He said: “I often say when out canvassing, even if people aren’t going to vote for me they should vote. If people stay at home on June 4th then they could end up with someone representing them who doesn’t represent them. So please, everyone vote.”

The one question that raised the biggest debate amongst the candidates was about Lancashire Vision. The council run newspaper currently costs £350,000 (according to Geoff Driver) or £800,000 (according to Bill Winlow) and there are 10 issues produced a year.

The discussion about vision came about over a question asked about how much the local media is to blame for apathy amongst the electorate. The panel all agreed that in desparate times media become more desparate to sell papers and so follow any sniff of a story.

But, with local and regional council media being attached by local media as competition it was interesting to hear the position of the three parties:

– Geoff Driver would reduce the number of issues of Vision to twice a year

– Bill Winlow would scrap it completely

– Tom Burns and Matt Tomlinson both defended it as being a valuable public service and good value for money

Apart from that, the general concencous was that whoever is elected will work hard, answer their phone to local residents but they can’t do much as their hands are tightly bound by central government over what they can and can’t do.

Richard Lace, station manager of Preston FM, said: “Despite the disappointing audience turnout we are pleased with how it went and thanks to the candidates for giving up their time to take part. Hopefully the programme will help our listeners make their minds up before the elections next week.”

Listen to the debate online

or you can listen on 103.2 Preston FM on the following days and times:

Saturday 30th May, 9am

Sunday 31st May, 1pm and 6pm approx (after the Mr Planemaker’s Flying Machine omnibus)

Tuesday 2nd June, 9pm

Find out more about the elections and all the candidates standing

Quiz County Council election candidates at radio debate

Preston’s community radio station, Preston FM, is giving you the chance to quiz candidates standing in the 2009 Lancashire County Council elections.

Candidates vying to represent the Preston and South Ribble wards from the major political parties will be taking part in a special broadcast at Preston DISC on Church Street on Thursday May 28th from 6.30 PM.

The show will have an audience and be available on-demand online and also be broadcast on-air by the station a number of times before the elections on June 4th.

You can register to be in the audience via a form on the Preston FM website and it also allows you to submit a question in advance.

View a list of candidates standing to represent Preston areas in the County Council elections.

Lancashire County Council elections 2009: Preston candidates

On June 4th 2009 the people of Preston will go to the polls to elect the people who will represent them at Lancashire County Council.

The list of candidates standing in Preston covers the following County Council wards: Preston Central North, Preston Central South, Preston City, Preston East, Preston North, Preston North East, Preston North West, Preston Rural, Preston South East, Preston West.

To me those ward names mean nothing, so here’s the areas that are included in those wards:

Preston Central North – College, Moor Park and Deepdale

Preston Central South – Tulketh, University campus and St Georges

Preston City – Riversway (includes the docks, Broadgate and Christchurch Street area) and Town Centre (it’s weird how it’s the city ward but the County Council refer to it as the town centre, should this be updated?)

Preston East – Brookfield and Ribbleton

Preston North – Cadley and Greyfriars

Preston North East – Garrison and Sharoe Green

Preston North West – Larches and Ashton

Preston Rural – Grimsagh, Haighton, Broughton, Woodplumpton, Barton, Whittingham and Goosnargh

Preston South East – St Matthews and Fishwick

Preston West – Ingol and Lea

Polling stations are open from 7 AM to 10 PM on the day. You can register to receive the results by email.

If you have any questions about the elections, you can contact Preston’s elections officer on 01772 906 115 or s.e.harrison@preston.gov.uk or visit About My Vote.

Preston MP’s expenses

No duck houses here, Preston's MP hasn't faced the spotlight over his expenses....yet

No duck houses here, Preston's MP hasn't faced the spotlight over his expenses....yet

With the continuing saga over MP’s expenses I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the expenses claimed for in 2007/2008 by Mark Hendrick, MP for Preston.

Overall he claimed a total of £140,443. For what? Well, here’s how it breaks down:

£16,226 went on a second home allowance, £19,528 on office expenses, £77,544 on staffing, £477 on central stationery, £360 on stationery and postage, £1,296 for IT, £9,469 for comms, £15,543 for travel.

Compared to other MPs then Mr Hendrick appears good value for money, he’s about just over half-way between the most expensive and the cheapest – 412th cheapest out of 646 MPs whose figures are available.

When ranking the table on each expense, Hendrick is nowhere near the top. Apart from for travel where he’s just outside the top 100 most expensive.

Now, in April 2007 a motion went through Parliament to attempt to make MP’s expenses exempt from Freedom of Information disclosure. This was defeated, but it wasn’t Mark Hendrick who was on the side of rejecting it. He wasn’t there, as his voting record reveals. But he does have an 81.2% attendance during this Parliament, which is above average for an MP.

I suppose the big question is, do the electorate feel he’s value for money? We shall see at the next general election – whenever that may be.

You can view MPs expenses on the BBC website, which includes a rankable table.