Today, Anthea McIntrye, MEP for the West Midlands, paid a visit to Ball Packaging Europe’s plant in Rugby where she had a chance to see a prime example of the UK’s packaging manufacturing industry. She was accompanied by Rugby MP Mark Pawsey. During her stay, Miss McIntrye recognized the plant’s role as an economic factor for both town and region and appreciated Ball’s accomplishments regarding a more sustainable can production process.

Three per cent of the UK’s manufacturing workforce – about 85,000 people – is employed in the packaging sector. This industry significantly contributes to the national economy with total annual sales of £11 billion. As a world leader in product innovation and manufacturing technology, the productivity of Britain’s packaging industry is more than twice as high as all industries’ average performance. “I can see how important the packaging industry is for our country,” said Miss McIntrye. “I am impressed by the sector’s productivity and I am happy to support their cause.”

As one of Europe’s major beverage can producers, Ball Packaging Europe contributes to the success of the UK’s packaging industry. At its UK sites at Wrexham, Rugby, Deeside and Chester, the company employs nearly 600 people. In total the can maker produces an annual volume of 3.6 billion cans and 8.5 billion ends for 12 major UK customers.

“Ball Packaging Europe serves as a great example for Britain’s packaging industry: modern, efficient and sustainable,” Miss McIntyre said. “I especially appreciate Ball’s efforts to make beverage can manufacturing more sustainable.”

This effort is demonstrated by Ball’s light-weighting achievements. By reducing the weight of a beverage can, the company is able to save material costs and reduce the can’s carbon footprint at the same time. In the course of the last 20 years, the biggest can manufactured at Rugby, the 50cl can, lost more than a quarter of its weight (26.4 per cent). “Our sustainability measures are an important part of our strategy,” says Norman Lett, Ball’s Regulatory Affairs Manager UK & Ireland. “In September 2011 we achieved one of our major goals to send zero waste to landfill at all our UK sites. For the coming years we plan to invest more than £1.1 million in energy saving projects at our Rugby plant alone.”

In addition to visiting Ball’s Rugby site, Miss McIntyre and Mark Pawsey also took the opportunity to visit the soft drink company Britvic, Ball’s next-door neighbour and key customer. Both plants are connected via a tunnel link. In a seamless production process the manufactured cans go straight into Britvic’s filling and logistics process. Miss McIntyre acknowledged the efficiency of this linked process: "It is great to see what is possible when two companies work together as closely as Ball and Britvic do here.”

Since 1989 Ball has been producing beverage cans at Rugby and has invested nearly £10 million over the last five years. Today, 142 employees are involved in the process of manufacturing three different can sizes on two lines.

Ed Miliband's proposal to interfere in Britain's labour market is deceptive and dangerous ("We're too reliant on low-wage labour", 5 January).

The thrust of his suggestion is that Britain should sign up fully to the European Union's Agency Workers Directive. He assumes this would create highly-paid jobs for British workers. In truth it would mean fewer jobs all round and a handbrake jammed on our economic recovery.

A flexible and responsive labour market is one of the reasons that we have seen 1.4 million jobs created since May 2010. Imposing the Agency Workers Directive on business, especially small enterprises and seasonal industries, would stop plans for growth and recruitment. A quarter of UK businesses use agency workers and, under Mr Miliband's plans, a typical small enterprise would have to pay an extra £2,493 a year.

Since the 2008 directive, the EU's European vacancy monitor has shown a collapse in temporary posts in those countries that adopted it. In France, Germany and the Netherlands, substantial growth in temporary vacancies turned into a fall of one-fifth. In France, vacancies in leading temporary-work agency Randstad fell by more than 20 per cent over two months.

Mr Miliband would take us down the same road for the sake of a quick headline and a wish to appear tough on immigrants.

Anthea McIntyre, MEP

Conservative employment spokesman

Ross-on-Wye

West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has said she understands that people are concerned with the potential effect of the ending of restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration and welcomed the introduction of tough new rules which aim to curb ‘benefit tourism’.

Speaking on BBC Radio WM this morning, Miss McIntyre compared the ending of restrictions on citizens from Bulgaria and Romania coming to the UK to the situation ten years ago when 8 Eastern European countries joined the EU and the Labour government allowed their residents unrestricted access to the UK but the rest of EU didn't.

“The situation is different now because Bulgarians and Romanians can work throughout the EU rather than only the UK allowing unrestricted access and it seems that many of those who wish to work outside their own country are heading to Italy and Spain or have used the transitional arrangements to secure jobs in the UK already.”

Miss McIntyre continued:  “The present government has acted to ensure that migrants don’t take advantage of the British benefits system.  As part of the government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work, a series of reforms have been put in place to make sure migrants wanting to come to this country do everything they can to find a job.

“From 1 January all EU jobseekers will have to wait for 3 months before they can apply to claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This will make sure that only people who have a legal right to be in the UK and plan to contribute to the economy have access to our welfare system.

“After 3 months, migrants will also have to take a stronger, more robust test if they want to claim income-based JSA.

“In order to pass the improved Habitual Residence Test migrants will have to answer more individually tailored questions, provide more detailed answers, and submit more evidence before they will be allowed to make a claim. For the first time, migrants will be asked about what efforts they have made to find work before coming to the UK and whether their English language skills will be a barrier to them finding employment.

“If they pass the Habitual Residence Test, EEA jobseekers will then only be able to claim JSA for 6 months. After 6 months, only those who have compelling evidence that they have a genuine chance of finding work will be able to continue claiming.”

 

(Research published in August 2013 shows that as of February 2013 over 5.6 million people were claiming DWP working age benefits. Of these 397,000 (7.0%) are estimated to have been non-UK nationals when they first registered for a National Insurance Number. This is an increase of more than 100,000 since 2008 (when the figure was 288,720).

Christmas and the New Year are times of celebration that often see large numbers of people visiting the pubs and clubs of Hereford to enjoy a drink or two as part of their revels.

Whilst the vast majority have a good time and make their own way home without incident, some  have a little too much  and need a helping hand to keep them safe.

On Saturday night local MEP Anthea McIntyre went on patrol with Hereford Street Pastors, the voluntary group  dedicated to providing Hereford’s young people with practical help and support when they may need it most.

“From 10pm through to the early hours the team were out providing simple but effective help such as first aid if somebody stumbled or providing a pair of flip-flops to go home in if the high-heeled shoes proved just too precarious at the end of a long night.” said Miss McIntyre at the end of her six-and-a-half hour patrol.

“We met lots of people having a great time without any ill-effects but some needed help – becoming separated from friends , having lost your mobile phone, wallet or handbag all seem much worse late a night and it is reassuring to know that help is at hand.

“I am so impressed with the work of the Street Pastors and believe that their work is benefiting us all by helping prevent unnecessary visits to A&E; by protecting people who have made themselves vulnerable from over-indulgence and simply by ‘being there’ to offer a helping hand when a great evening out runs the risk of turning sour.

“I’d like to thank Robert Thomas and all the Street Pastor volunteers for their remarkable dedication and contribution to our community.”

 

(Photograph shows Anthea McIntyre MEP (in florescent jacket) and members of the Street Pastors team just before they went on patrol.)

This weekend saw the first nationwide Small Business Saturday, held on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Local MEP, Anthea McIntyre, was out and about in Ross-on-Wye with the town's newest councillor, Craig Morgan, to support local shops.

Speaking about shopping locally, Anthea said: "Ross has so much to offer the discerning shopper; we have a wonderful collection of small shops offering a wide range of goods and a high quality of service. I hope everyone will think about using local shops and businesses in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

"It is really important to support small businesses - they are the backbone of our British economy and provide a high proportion of new jobs. I hope all kinds of small businesses will get involved in future. Whether you are a family business a local shop, an online business, a wholesaler or a small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is about you!

Miss McIntyre also commented on this week’s autumn statement: “I was pleased to see that the Chancellor recognised the pressures on small businesses with a number of specific announcements including a 2% cap on business rate rises in 2014 and the extension of small business rate relief for another year to April 2015.  Thousands of pubs, restaurants and small shops will receive a £1,000 discount on their rates for the next two years.

"To further encourage the creation of job-opportunities for young people, he also announced that Employer National Insurance contributions will be scrapped for under-21s, affecting 1.5million jobs. National Insurance is a tax on jobs and any measure that makes it easier to create jobs is especially welcome.

“The final measure that will particularly benefit us in rural Herefordshire is the scrapping of the 2p increase in fuel duty scheduled for 2014.

“All of these measures plus initiatives like Small Business Saturday show the important role that small businesses play in our lives is being recognized.”