Last Friday, I like so many around the country, was shocked to hear of the death of Sir David Amess MP and offer my condolences to all. Public servants choose their line of work first and foremost to help people and so to see this brutality targeted against such a dedicated parliamentarian is tragic.
Sir David’s death has also reminded us of the late Jo Cox and the other attacks on MPs like Stephen Timms and Rosie Cooper. This has led to many discussions about security over the course of the last week around how we respond to this.
While I take this threat extremely seriously and have discussed safety with my staff, I will continue to meet with my constituents and support them with the problems they are facing. I too have received threats, intimidation and have had to call the Police, more than once, to my advice surgeries.
I firmly believe it is our duty to make ourselves available to constituents. How else are we to be their voices in parliament if we are not able to freely meet with them?
However, it is often not just physical threats we face. Labour is calling on the Prime Minister to bring forward the Online Safety Bill and revisit the recommendations from the Commission for Countering Extremism that would make us all safer.
Extremism isn't a political issue. We need to start working together on a cross-party basis to tackle violent extremism and those who enable it to grow, particularly on social media. That is why Labour is committing its support should the Government bring forward the Online Safety Bill.
Voting in favour of the Environment Bill
This week I voted in favour of the amendments to the Environment Bill which seeks to end sewage being released into our rivers, for a new clean air standard to protect people from dirty air, and to ensure the safety of habitats and ecosystems.
In contrast, Conservative MPs voted against the entirety of the Environment Bill, a cause we so clearly need to protect.
Here are the amendments:
1) For water companies to end sewage releases into rivers. By allowing this to continue, we are unable to hold water companies contributing to environmental hazards to account, and this challenge is therefore shifted towards local communities to manage.
2) To implement World Health Organisation (WHO) targets on air quality by reducing air pollution levels and as a result, long and short-term illnesses. Labour acknowledges these targets and would introduce a Clean Air Act and a new right to breathe clean air.
3) To control the felling of trees in England. The rejection towards this amendment exposes the natural environment to unregulated destruction with serious knock-on effects to habitats and species.
4) To limit the powers to amend regulations relating to protected species, habitats or sites.
5) The ‘Protection of pollinators from pesticides’ clause will ensure that risk assessment of pesticides are independent & scientific, providing the public the opportunity to participate in the important decision-making process. The promotion of public participation will further help protect bees and other insects.
6) The Government also voted against the independence and funding of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). Interestingly, this amendment in particular raises concerns as it restricts the OEP and allows Ministers to regulate their own work on environment and climate change.
Climate change is the most consequential issue facing our world and will profoundly affect the world our children and grandchildren grow up in. While progress has been made since global summits in Paris and Copenhagen, it is time we recognised the importance of climate change and take urgent action ahead of the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Finding a solution for Nursery Road
I met up with Councillors Jayne Francis and Wazeem Zaffar as well as highways officers from the City Council, to address the danger of cars mounting the pavement on Nursery Road in Harborne.
There we discussed a range of potential options to solve this issue, including a potential one-way system, restrictive parking measures as well as a residents parking scheme. I am very aware of the impact that this is having on local residents and have tasked the council officers with providing us with clear data that would show the impact of introducing some of these schemes and to report back as swiftly as possible.
As this work progresses, I will continue to listen to residents and ensure that we see an appropriate resolution for all.
Getting proactive against Covid
We have started to see Covid cases once again start to reach alarming figures. Our constituency case rate is currently at 293 per 100,000 with wards like Quinton reaching a high of 431.
I have found it immensely frustrating to see the Government continue to fail to act time and again. With this in mind, I wrote to Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council regarding these high figures in Birmingham. I urged Dr Varney to look at the precautionary action we could take across the city, learning from other places across the UK.
For example, in both Trafford and Hertfordshire, local authorities have taken their responsibilities seriously and shown leadership in their regions by reintroducing masks in schools and other similar settings to reduce the number of cases. This is a simple step that could be taken and one which the government has recently released data that proves how even non-medical masks (such as cloth masks) made of two or three layers, have similar filtration efficiency to surgical masks.
Launch of Edgbaston constituency news group
Today we launch our constituency news group. This new channel will help you stay up-to-date with the latest news and information across Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green and North Edgbaston. Follow the link below to get added to WhatsApp on Birmingham: Edgbaston news.
To get access, please follow the link using your mobile phone.