Poverty wages in Weymouth and Portland – why won’t our MPs address the issues?

Thousands of constituents of local MPs Richard Drax and Oliver Letwin are struggling to get by on poverty wages. Yet both have declined an invitation from campaigners to discuss the problem.

In May, Weymouth & Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW) wrote to the MPs with a polite invitation to join in planning a local conference on wages and well-being in the area. The conference takes place on Saturday 13 October at Safewise, Weymouth.

Philip Marfleet, convenor of WeyPAW, said: “We think it’s important that our MPs are part of discussions that affect large numbers of people in their constituencies. We’re making a serious effort to understand what’s gone wrong in Weymouth and Portland – and we’re bringing in experts on wages and social deprivation to debate the issues.

“Weymouth and Portland – and nearby areas – are experiencing a crisis of falling wages combined with rising rents and house prices. Our elected representatives have a responsibility to work with local people to tackle the problem. Shouldn’t they be giving a lead? We wonder why they bluntly say ‘No’.

“Perhaps they don’t understand the predicament of many local people – or maybe they’re in denial about the problem? Others – in community groups, churches, trade unions – clearly do understand and have joined in planning for the conference. I wonder if our MPs will relent and attend?”

In addition to local experts on wages, housing and health, speakers at the conference include Professor Danny Dorling of Oxford University – one of Britain’s foremost researchers on incomes and inequality – and Eva Herman of Manchester University, who will address the special problems of women, wages and workplace rights.

Following discussion at the conference WeyPAW intends to produce policy proposals to put to all candidates in elections for the Unitary Authority soon to replace Dorset councils. WeyPAW will ask all candidates to express their view on how to tackle poverty wages, the housing crisis and continuing cuts to local services.

The WeyPAW conference is an open event – all are welcome. It takes place on Saturday 13 October from 12 midday at Safewise, Radipole Lane, Weymouth. More details at: www.weypaw.org.uk