Eastham Walk in Centre
I was very pleased to see Eastham’s Walk in Centre reopen this month. I attended the celebration event on the 2 December and I want to thank all campaigners for helping to get this vital service reopened. I also want to thank them for organising the celebration event. The tireless work put into campaigning and the subsequent news about the opening is a great victory. The opening hours at present are Monday-Friday 1-5 and Saturday and Sunday 12-4pm with the centre expected to fully re-open in May. I have been joining Labour spokesperson for Eastham Jo Bird on campaign session to speak to Eastham residents about the walk in centre and any other issues that they wanted to raise with us.
Vauxhall Motors in Ellesmere Port
This month it was reported about further job losses at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port. Since the PSA group took over Vauxhall there have been a number of debates that have taken place in Parliament. Vauxhall is a crucial employer in Wirral which employs many of my constituents and many people will be concerned by the latest reports. This month I have raised my concerns about Vauxhall on two occasions in the House of Commons in relation to the impact of Brexit and leaving the single market. I worry about the consequences on employment including employment within the manufacturing industry. Here is my first intervention on Vauxhall after the job loss news broke and I followed this intervention with a second question a week later.
The Council hosted another meeting on the 15 January to brief residents and businesses about the latest situation. The council submitted regeneration plans and were awaiting an initial response from the government about whether they would fund these plans. I pressed Sajid Javid in Parliament to see where a reply was up to because the Council had been expecting to hear something back from them. Sajid Javid’s response to my question in Parliament was basically a swipe at Wirral Borough Council. I was angry about this because all people in New Ferry care about is knowing whether their town will be regenerated or not. Also Wirral Council have had a lot to deal with since the explosion. The damage caused meant that people were displaced from their homes and business couldn’t trade. That means a lot of work and time was and is still is required of the council to give attention to these issues and a lot of their resources were focussed on helping people and the town. The government came back asking for some further information from the council and they are working on this. Regarding the police investigation, there is an update and there have been charges brought against an individual and a gas company. This is a significant development which I welcome in terms of progress but it is important now that we leave this to be handled in the correct way by the correct people in the justice system. New Beginnings are working hard to prepare for the opening of their new base in the old Lloyds bank building on Bebington Road. When this opens they will offer a range of community services. I wish them luck with the future and look forward to working with them.
The EU Withdrawal Bill went through its report stage this month in the House of Commons and will now go to the House of Lords for scrutiny. The Bill passed the Commons because it gained the support of the majority of MPs. The Bill’s purpose is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and to legislate for Britain when the country leaves the EU. It has been the source of much debate since it was introduced to the Commons and MPs have put forward many amendments. It’s a very large piece of proposed legislation and one that will have important consequences. I am continuing my work to campaign for our country to remain a member of the single market. I have written an article with my colleague Heidi Alexander MP about Farage's calls for a second referendum. And about Donald Trump and why I think he backs a hard Brexit.
Food poverty Westminster Hall debate
Stephen Twigg MP for West Derby held a debate in Westminster Hall last week on the issue of food poverty in Merseyside. I attended this debate to listen to Stephen address the issue and support him in bringing this to attention. (Hansard copy of debate attached) I also contributed to the debate. My office is a food bank voucher collection point and it’s always upsetting when somebody comes in to ask for a food voucher mainly due to issues with their benefits and the rollout of universal credit. This is the point I raised in my intervention during the debate. Unfortunately, during January our office was used a number of occasions for food vouchers. It’s simply not acceptable for this to be happening and it was important that a debate focussed on this issue with a specific emphasis on Merseyside. The government must act to stop from happening and look at the impact that changes to benefits are having on people. You can read the debate and my contribution here
Thornton Hough Retirement Village application
I have objected to the plans for a retirement village to be built on greenbelt land in Thornton Hough. The plans have been submitted by English Care Villages. The grounds on which I objected the application include building on greenbelt land and the disruption caused by the initial construction to local traffic. I have also raised concerns about how Thornton Hough would cope with a new influx of residents given that it is a small village and the pressures that this would bring. I sent my objections to the Head of Planning David Ball for his consideration and will continue to be in touch with residents of Thornton Hough and surrounding areas going forward as we monitor developments about this planning application. I know a lot of my constituents are concerned about it and they have contacted me detailing these concerns.
Brackenwood school visit
I will be paying a visit to Brackenwood Primary School to hear about their Unicef campaign. It’s heartening to see children recognise the plights of other children in the case of the school project it is looking at the rights of refugee children. The children will hand me letters for me addressed for the attention of the Home Secretary so that I can deliver them to Parliament.
Second Reading of the ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ Bill
Last Friday I was in Parliament for the Second Reading of the ‘Fitness for Human Habitation’ Private Member’s Bill put forward by Labour MP Karen Buck. I am usually in my constituency on a Friday but it was important for me to show my support for this Bill. The Bill aims to strengthen tenants’ rights with regards to properties which are hazardous and unhealthy and it has my full support. Of course people’s homes should be safe to live in. That should be a given. It should be expected that tenants live in habitable conditions and that if they don’t they can make a challenge to their landlord. Karen’s done great work with bringing this to the attention of the House and I congratulate her and I will continue to support the Bill. The Bill was officially backed by the government on the day.
All Parliamentary Party Group for Genocide Prevention
I chaired an event in Parliament for the All Parliamentary Group which focusses on the prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. It is so important that we all must learn lessons from the horrors of the past for the sake of future generations. Today we see still see persecution of innocent people in countries and work to prevent this from happening should never stop. The event focussed on calls for an Atrocity Prevention Centre to be to be established at the Holocaust Memorial which will be built in the shadow of Parliament. The calls came from Holocaust survivors who were present at the event.
From previous reports, you will know that I have been campaigning for a Hillsborough Law. It is a piece of legislation drafted by Lawyers and aims for public authorities and public servants to tell the truth. I have some meetings in Parliament about this and most recently one which included Jeremy Corbyn and he was very supportive. I will continue to work to make progress to get this Bill into legislation.