Frank Field MP
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Unadulterated Joy

No dark thoughts interrupted two stunning visits in Birkenhead on Friday. There were other visits too which gave me huge pleasure, but they illustrated problems rather than the town's successes.

After a good meeting on what I call the Market Renewal Programme, and the safeguarding of our budget in these precarious times, I went off to Faiveley Transport, a company with a beautiful setting in Morpeth Dock and gave a hint of what the site will be like once Peel Holdings gets fully underway.

In the old days it would have been said that Faiveley Transport makes parts for railway carriages. In fact in today's market they are at the top of the technology cusp adding real value to railway carriages most of what we now come to think is the most attractive feature of rail travel. The control of temperature, information about where the train is going, vehicle door systems, as well as the braking system.

Faiveley Transport is in for two major contracts resulting from the huge public investment in modernising our railway system. The first is helping to produce a new fleet of Intercity Express trains and the second working on carriages for the much-anticipated Thameslink service. If anyone wants a lesson in how international companies have replaced in many respects the role the nation state once had in determining orders and thereby livelihoods they need go no further than Morpeth Dock and talk to workers at Faiveley. The customer service after care part - which are mega orders in themselves - is where Faiveley Tranpsort UK comes in.

Frank lends a hand at Faiveley Transport

Most of the employees I met at Faiveley were male. Here is one company moving against the trend in Birkenhead and elsewhere where employees can still earn good family wages. That is what is so missing now in poorer areas and it is for this group that is catered for by Jill Quayle and her hugely dedicated team at Tranmere Methodist.

The national figures on NEETs - not in education, employment or training - are appalling. Birkenhead's figures are even worse and both nationally and locally the totals are higher than when Labour came to power in 1997.

Jill's team works largely with young people excluded from school. Friday was the day on which certificates were handed out for success and success there was in abundance.

95% of last year's group are now back in employment, education or training. No other project has a success rate like this and no other project takes young people more difficult to bring up to the starting point in life.

Successful Members of Tranmere Community Project

The average cost of this success is £710 per young person. It puts New Deal and every other Government programme to shame. One of the things which, please God, will happen when public expenditure cuts start to get politicians focussing on objectives will be to shift part of the smaller budget into those areas which bring most success.
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