All our schools and now Parliament have finished for the summer.
It’s been quite a week in Westminster with the installation of a new Prime Minister and Government – I share my thoughts below.
Contrary to the media reports most MPs are not off on a five week holiday. I will be out and about for most of the summer taking a two week break in mid-August.
As ever, Anna
I had a very positive meeting this afternoon with the new Chair of Stapleford Town Council and various Borough Councillors from the town to discuss HS2. In short, we agreed that Stapleford must take full benefit from the East Midlands Hub at Toton Sidings which is within the town’s boundary. HS2 is not just about providing more rail capacity and improving the network between some of our greatest cities. It is widely accepted it will bring huge growth (job) opportunities to Broxtowe and beyond.
We also agreed that the Town’s Neighbourhood Plan needs an urgent overhaul to make sure the town benefits from HS2, including better roads and more opportunity for generations to come. My thanks to Councillors Tim Hallam, John McGrath, Richard MacRae, Ella Kearney and Jan Goold for a first rate discussion. There were a number of actions I undertook including working with HS2 on compensation claims and encouraging them to improve communications with all residents.
Congratulations to Awsworth Primary School who have achieved the Gold Award for Unicef’s ‘Rights Respecting’ schools campaign. They are only 1 in 437 schools across the UK to achieve the top award which acknowledges the learning of rights and equalities. I was delighted to present Head Teacher Jane Mainprize and teacher Claire Watson with the award.
It was also a great pleasure to attend Awsworth Primary’s Leavers’ Assembly where I heard all of the fantastic achievements made by the Year 6 children who will be going onto secondary school in September. Well done!
This morning I took up an invitation to “Take your MP to work” organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid. I spent time at the Nottingham Law Centre in Hyson Green and met senior solicitor Sally Denton who runs a team of 9 staff and many volunteers. The Centre does mainly Housing work funded by legal aid. As a former criminal barrister I fully appreciate the value of legal aid. I have campaigned for extra funding as it is critical we have full access to our justice system. Meanwhile if you would like to get involved with the Nottingham Law Centre please visit their website here.
Nuthall Horse Fair and travellers
This weekend’s Horse Fair will take place in Nuthall this weekend amid some controversy as it is set to attract a number of travellers. Some residents fear they will cause trouble and create mess. There have also been a number of illegal camps in Broxtowe and on our borders in the last few days and a number of constituents have emailed me to complain.
I think we need to have an honest debate about the rights or otherwise, of people to lead a longstanding traditional lifestyle. Trespassing is wrong – indeed it is unlawful, but mainly not a criminal offence. This means the land owner, often at considerable cost, must take legal action to evict travellers on their land. Leaving mess, especially human waste, is also clearly wrong.
As part of my attempt to have an informed and honest debate about what is a problem across our country, I think it is important to note that there is a distinction between Romany gypsies who have for centuries lived their traditional life mainly in the countryside and travellers of Irish descent who tend to lead their lives in more urban and suburban areas.
I also want to be equally honest in taking considerable exception to the stereotyping of any community. Frankly, some of the calls to my office and emails have verged on blatantly offensive nonsense about travellers. It is equally unacceptable for community leaders and people with a political interest to stoke fears and prejudices for their own advantage.
The question is; can we reconcile a travellers lifestyle in today’s Britain? Providing legal traveller sites with washing and lavatory facilities is part of the answer but in order to ensure we can accommodate travellers in that way, we undoubtedly need tougher sanctions to protect the rights of landowners. I welcome your views on this issue.
A worthy cause …
Congratulations to Beeston’s WEA creative writing group who have raised over £300 for the Teenage Cancer Trust in memory of one of their former members, Jenny Smith, who sadly died last August of a brain tumour at just 24. My pal Ginny Hartman told me about Jenny who was a remarkable and talented young woman. The Teenage Cancer Trust provided Jenny with terrific support during her illness. If you would like to donate in her memory please do so by clicking here.
It feels as if we have had a General Election with a new Government – a new party in power. And that is what has happened except that only 160,000 decided who would be our Prime Minister, and then he alone in turn chose our new Government. Boris Johnson in effect insisted every new Minister, notably those in his Cabinet, “signs the pledge”. Every one of them has agreed that, “do or die”, we will leave the EU at the end of October. The people Johnson has hired, notably Dominic Cummings and other architects of the Leave campaign, have led many sensible Conservative supporters to conclude their party has not only become the party of Brexit, it is implementing the manifesto of the Brexit Party.
The leader of the opposition gave a woefully inept performance in the House of Commons yesterday. Both main political parties are now firmly in the grip of the political extremes. What distinguishes Labour from the Conservatives is that at least the majority of Labour MPs do not support their leader and did not vote for him. Whether anyone from either party will have the courage to leave and help people like me to create something new, remains to be seen.
Boris seems determined we will leave the EU without a deal, which would be a disaster for our economy and peace in Northern Ireland. As his answer to my question revealed, he’s preparing for that crash out with no intention of involving Parliament.