Victoria Groulef

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Thames Valley Police Force is in the top five constabularies for stress related absences in England and Wales, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Figures show that in 2013 there were 244 stress related absences in the Thames Valley force, compared to 189 in 2009.

There was also a total of 9,311 hours lost to sick leave compared to 7,975 in 2009. The total number of hours lost since 2010 is 34,500.

Anecdotal evidence suggests police officers are overstretched and taking on more responsibilities.

On a national level the police service has seen a staggering increase in the number of hours taken sick under this Coalition Government. With the thin blue line being stretched ever thinner, the health of our hardworking neighbourhood police teams is being damaged, undermining effective community policing.

On Monday Labour's Policing Minister, Jack Dromey, met with residents in Reading to hear their views on the issue.

Jack Dromey said: "Theresa May makes the Police sick. Under her watch, hours lost to sickness have soared to a staggering 8 million. That's the equivalent of 4,190 Police Officers off the beat and confined to bed.

"Little wonder because the Home Secretary tops the European league, cutting more Police Officers than any other country in Europe. With 15,000 gone, 10,000 from the front line, many Police Officers are now paying the price with their health.

"In Thames Valley Police Service alone the amount of sick hours taken has grown to nearly 34,500 since 2010. Thames Valley is now in the top 5 constabularies for stress related absences in England and Wales. Theresa May's disregard for the dedicated work our bobbies do in our neighbourhoods is placing them under undue pressure.'

Jack Dromey was joined by Victoria Groulef. Victoria said: "We need to address this issue now, local people at a community meeting in Coley today told us how much they value neighbourhood policing. We need productive community policing teams in every neighbourhood across the constituency and they need to be resourced to enable them to get on with their job."

Stress Related Sick Leave On Increase In Thames Valley Police Force

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Hilary Benn joined Victoria Groulef today at Café Couture in Dee Park to talk with customers about the costs of childcare, energy bills and rents.

Working families are on average over £2,000 a year worse off since 2010 and problems with paying the bills is one of the issues that keeps coming up on the doorstep.

Victoria Groulef said: "I'm delighted Hilary Benn joined us in Reading West to launch this survey. I keep hearing from people about how the cost of living crisis is affecting them but this survey will allow us to get a better idea of the extent of the impact.

"Last week Ed Miliband announced that the next Labour government will build a highly skilled, higher wage economy. This will mean more jobs in skilled construction trades, better quality jobs in health and caring professions and more growth in the technology sector.

"But this can't be just imposed from Westminster -- real change needs local people to make the difference and create the jobs we need. That's the key reason why I'm talking to people today and why I'm launching the survey as we need to find out what the barriers are for local people."

Labour will be running a number of coffee mornings and consultation events around Reading West to hear what you have to say about the issue. Please get in touch if you'd like to find out more.

You can fill in the survey here.

Hilary Benn Launches Cost of Living Survey in Reading

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Victoria was honoured to be a judge at the CAFOD Catholic schools public speaking competition for primary school children in Reading.

Teachers, parents, and pupils gathered together excitedly in Reading's Council Chambers to hear young people give their talks on how we can ensure that everyone has enough food to eat.

Victoria said: "This is the second year I have been a judge at this fantastic event. I want to congratulate the young people for their amazing, emotive speeches and although there could only be one winner, the scores were very, very close. The young people talked about world hunger with such maturity and sensitivity. Several speakers gave me a lump in the throat and one in particular brought tears to my eyes. I hope I will be invited back to judge next year."

Victoria is a Judge at Schools Speaking Competition

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Victoria Groulef, Labour Councillors and local people today launching a petition against the proposal by developers Campbell Gordon for a 20-30,000 garden city straddling the M4 south of Reading.

A plan for 7,500 homes on Kennet Meadows was withdrawn four years ago.

Campbell Gordon are entering their scheme for the Wolfson Economic Prize which is calling for proposals for garden cities that are "visionary, viable and popular", and the first stage of the campaign is a petition aimed at convincing the judges that the proposal is not popular, and may not be visionary or viable either.

Victoria said: "Of course we need more homes for local people, but we have to be sensible. Building a mini town on an area vital to help prevent flooding is simply ridiculous. The Wolfson Economic Prize follows from George Osborne's announcement about a new garden city at Ebbsfleet in Kent. The risk is that if this scheme were to win the prize or even be highly commended that might give it a momentum that would over-ride local planning processes -- indeed Ian Campbell is calling for a new body created by Act of Parliament with powers to push it through, and that is just the sort of thing George Osborne might go for."

Southcote Councillor, John Ennis, said "Campbell Gordon were advisers to the Prudential on their scheme, and also to the South West Reading Consortium on the scheme for 4500 homes and a raft of other stuff on Kennet Meadows in the early 1990s. It seems they will never give up, but they should know that local people won't give up either and will continue to fight for an area which is not only precious to them but also vital in absorbing rain water and avoiding the floods that have blighted so many other towns."

The petition can be signed here.

Victoria launches petition against proposal to build on Kennet Meadows

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Victoria Groulef has welcomed the opening up of marriage to couples of the same sex.

Victoria said: "It's not every day you get to make history by doing something that people do every day, but this Saturday couples did just that by becoming some of the first people in the UK to enter into a same sex marriage.

"Opening up marriage to couples of the same sex who love each other and want to make that commitment was an important moment for equality in Britain and comes after decades of progress for LGBT people.

"I'm proud that Labour MPs and Peers were able to give the Government the majority they needed to get Equal Marriage through. Throughout our history, the Labour Party has stood shoulder to shoulder with those across the UK who have campaigned for the right to be treated no differently under the law simply because they choose to love someone of the same sex or their gender identity.

"From equalising the age of consent, to ending the ban on LGBT people serving in our armed forces; giving gay couples and individuals the right to adopt children to allowing people to legally change their gender and of course scrapping the hateful Section 28 [Clause 2a in Scotland], in government we brought through historic changes which have transformed the lives of LGBT people across the UK.

"It wasn't always easy, when we created Civil Partnerships we met with opposition, but it was the right thing to do to show that as a society we value, recognise and reward that loving commitment in the same way we do couples of the opposite sex who choose to marry.

"Now same sex couples will be able to demonstrate that commitment by making marriage vows themselves in civil ceremonies and in the case of Quakers and Reform Jews, religious ceremonies too. Of course not every religious group is the same, and religious organisations will not be required by the law to marry same sex couples, because freedom of religion is also important.

"The Coalition Government need to speed up work now to allow couples to convert their civil partnerships into marriage too.

"Whilst we have come a long way towards equality in law, it is important to remember that people across the UK and the world still live with homophobia and face discrimination and sometimes persecution for their sexuality and gender identity. Labour will continue to lead this fight."

A great day for equality

Victoria Groulef has welcomed the opening up of marriage to couples of the same sex.


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