Hello, I thought I’d give you a brief update on what I’ve been up to in the constituency and in Westminster during the last few weeks.
In the constituency I have been carrying on my work developing a ‘constituency strategy’. So far I have held ten different round-table meetings with local people looking at policy areas such as:
- crime & community safety and
- community cohesion
I have held round-table discussions to look at the needs of different groups, including older people and children and young people. I have also looked at the needs of different areas; the priorities of Greenfield will be different from Glodwick. The strategy will be published in early 2012.
Over the last few weeks I have been helping constituents in Uppermill who were raising concerns about train whistles sounding every few minutes close to their homes. I contacted Network Rail and they agreed to review this and I’m pleased to say that the whistling has now been almost completely stopped. Hopefully peace and tranquillity (from fewer train whistles at least!) will once more prevail in Uppermill.
Following up on my by-election pledge I attended a meeting with the Delph Traffic Group to listen to their concerns earlier this year. The key outcome from that meeting was that I would help the group by facilitating a meeting with council officers and the Police.
The meeting was held on 28th October and I’m pleased to report that action to address many of the issues raised, e.g., clear traffic signage and review of the feasibility of a 20 mph limit or zone for the village were agreed.
I have also been contacted by a large number of local residents about the decision by the Round Table to cancel the 2012 Saddleworth Beer Walk. I have been in contact with both the organisers and the police and we are working to see if there is a way forward.
This month I had the pleasure of attending Blue Coat School’s speech evening, speaking and presenting A Level certificates to school leavers. Students worked hard throughout their academic career and some made outstanding progress. I wish them all the best in their choices for future work and study.
It was also a pleasure to attend Saddleworth School’s annual presentation to present GCSE certificates and congratulate their pupils on their achievements.
Howard League held a workshop to celebrate the work being done by Postive Steps Oldham which delivers Youth Offending Services, Connexions Services, Targeted Youth Support and teenage pregnancy and substance misuse services.
On 27 November I joined parishioners at St Barnabas Church for their centenary celebration.
Oldham was given a boost when Barclays Bank opened a new branch in the town centre. I was pleased to be invited to the opening of this great new addition to the High Street.
Each November Remembrance Day is marked across the country. This year I attended a moving service at the Oldham Lyceum to remember our service men and service women who have fallen in the line of duty.
Over the past two months I have also met with the Leader of Oldham Council, the Law Centre, the Primary Care Trust and the police.
I continue to hold constituency advice surgeries. To book an appointment please call Arooj Shah on 0161 624 4248.
It has been a busy month in Westminster.
Debates in the House I participated in included:
There was also a very moving debate on the Hillsborough disaster and the call for the disclosure and publication of documents surrounding this.
I was surprised and delighted to be asked to be Andy Burnham’s Parliamentary Private Secretary which means I’m now part of the Shadow Health team. It has been a baptism of fire as the day after I became Andy’s PPS I was standing in for Liz Kendall MP, The Shadow Minister for Care and Older People at the Health Visitors and Community Practitioners conference.
Over the next few months I will be working hard with the shadow health team to oppose the damaging measures in the Health and Social Care Bill. You can follow the progress of our campaign to Drop the Bill online and on Twitter.
As a member of the DWP Select Committee I have also been examining evidence on auto-enrolment of occupational pensions which is due to be introduced in 2012 and to changes to Disability Living Allowance.
The evidence sessions that we have had so far suggest there are considerable issues with the conversion of DLA to a Personal Independence Payment in 2013. The experts we questioned were unanimous that this is a cost cutting exercise and in this economic climate will leave many people with disabilities worse off.
The introduction of auto-enrolment to an occupational pension which was part of the 2008 Pension Act is welcome. In the long run this should have a significant impact on reducing pensioner poverty. But evidence so far suggests very few people are prepared for this including the businesses that need to implement these changes.
More information is available here on the parliamentary website.
That’s all for now, but if I can be of any help to you, or any other Oldham East and Saddleworth constituents, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. See my contacts page for more details.