A lot has been happening in Parliament over the past couple of weeks. I was in the Chamber for the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, where several measures were announced that will have a direct benefit to my constituents in Broxtowe. I was particularly happy to hear about the cut in fuel duty and the rise in National Insurance thresholds which will save the typical employee over £330 in the year from July.
The Government will also be delivering an additional £500 million to the Household Support Fund. This fund seeks to help the most vulnerable families in our society with the cost of living. The fund is distributed through local authorities in England, who have discretion over how the funding is used. This is expected to benefit 3 to 4 million vulnerable households, including many within Broxtowe.
I recently expressed the need to support our small businesses who were hugely impacted by the pandemic. So I was very glad to hear that the employment allowance will be increased to £5,000, providing essential help for small businesses.
I was sorry to not hear any mention of Mental Health funding in the budget. I am an avid supporter of tackling mental health, having asked the Chancellor after his Spring Statement if he would consider increasing spending on this vital area. It has never been more important than now to address this issue.
On Monday 21st March I was Vice Chair of the Cycling and Walking All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). There are lots of exciting opportunities to develop active travel here in Broxtowe such as the reopening of Bennerley Viaduct, the Stapleford Towns Deal, the Kimberley Levelling Up Bid and the Mini Hollands fund. All these have the potential to improve and expand the facilities we have for cycling and walking in the constituency.
Last week, I was pleased to join Home Office Minister, Kevin Foster MP, for a meeting regarding the Windrush generation.
I heard an update to the Wendy Williams Lessons Learned Review and the Windrush Compensation Scheme as well as efforts to improve Outreach and Engagement. As I highlighted during my maiden speech, having both my parents of Windrush origins and serving as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Commonwealth Countries of the Caribbean, this is an issue very close to my heart and something I am keen to support in anyway I can.
The Windrush generation are proud of their hard work and commitment to Britain and this is something we rightly celebrate and support.
On Wednesday 23rd March, I attended the Parliamentary launch of the Public Mental Health Implementation Centre. I discussed the importance of preventative measures when it comes to Mental Health, which I have previously spoken about in a Westminster Hall debate.
Additionally, I met with the National Association of Local Councils in Westminster. The body represents the views of Parish Councils across the country. I regularly engage with our Parish and Town Councils across Broxtowe who do an excellent job representing the needs and views of the communities they serve.
East Midlands Railway (EMR) Virtual Public Meeting
On Tuesday 29th March I initiated and chaired a virtual public meeting to discuss the suspension of the Nottingham to Matlock rail service. There were around 30 members of the public in attendance as well as Will Rogers, Managing Director of East Midlands Railways (EMR) and Andrew Commons, the company’s Head of External Affairs.
This has been an issue that has affected commuters along the route, including users of both Beeston and Attenborough railway stations. It has also severely impacted the ability for rail users in Attenborough to get into Derby and vice versa. Understandably, this has generated a significant level of local concern with many people keen to see the service reinstated as quickly as possible.
During the meeting EMR answered questions raised by members of the public and outlined their reasons for suspending the service. Whereas the service was initially reduced due to a now resolved industrial dispute, last summer it was suspended in its entirety due to the lack of available rolling stock and a reduced staffing capacity due to the pandemic. Once these issues have been resolved EMR has stated that they are confident that they will be in a position to reinstate the service.
Members of the public who attended the meeting were vocal in their view that they wanted clearer communication over the issues behind the suspension of the service and were united in the desire to see the service reinstated in a timely manner.
I am pleased that EMR agreed to attend the virtual public meeting I organised and answer the important questions and concerns that my constituents wanted to raise. Following the meeting I have written a further letter to the Department for Transport (DfT) seeking clarification over some of the regulations and decisions that resulted in EMR having to suspend the service. A copy of this letter can be seen below.
Previous assurances from both EMR and the DfT have alluded to the service being reinstated later this year and I will continue to lobby all the relevant agencies on behalf of my constituents to get it reinstated as soon as possible.
I had a brilliant time visiting WEBS Furniture Training in Beeston recently. The company has existed for over 50 years and train apprentices in all aspects of furniture manufacturing and upholstery.
I am a big supporter of expanding apprenticeship opportunities and I was delighted to see a local company taking a leading role in this.
Last week was National Tourism Week. It was great to visit Attenborough Nature Reserve and meet with John Rattray from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
The site receives over 400,000 visitors each year and is going from strength to strength. I was interested to hear about their future plans for a research hub connected to the site and their recent conservation efforts.
On Saturday afternoon I attended the Lillistone Memorial Game held at the ground of the Nottingham Casuals RFC in Beeston. Some fantastic rugby was played! The game was held in memory of John and Patricia Lillistone. It was a pleasure to attend the day and meet their son Jamie, pictured below.
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