To kick off 2022, I was delighted this week to welcome Keir Starmer to Birmingham, where he gave a landmark speech to set out Labour’s contract with the British people. Our ambition is for a new Britain in which everyone gets the security, prosperity and respect that they deserve.
As we begin this new year, I know many constituents are finding it tough. The cost of living is increasing. Energy bills are going up; wages are stagnant. Tax rises are coming in April. Too many people I speak to do not feel safe in their streets. And too many are struggling to get a GP appointment when they need it.
Yet just because the Tories have broken the public’s trust, we know Labour cannot simply inherit it. Trust has to be earned.
That is why in 2022 I am going to be focused on how we tackle the big issues constituents are raising with me, and Labour are making this contract with the British people to deliver for them.
Security, because everyone has the basic right to feel safe in their own community, to know that the NHS is there for them when needed, to feel secure in their job.
Prosperity, because everyone should have the opportunity to thrive, to realise our ambitions and make a good life for ourselves, and to have the skills they need to prosper.
Respect, because everyone should be valued for who we are and what we do, and the right to live in places we care for.
While Keir was in town, I was pleased to take the opportunity to show off some of the exciting projects our city has to offer.
We visited Tyseley Energy and the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre, to see how the Council, the University of Birmingham and the private sector are working together to develop new green energies of the future and put new hydrogen vehicles on the road.
We saw a robot that can separate lithium from batteries for recycling, and got to have a look at some of the 20 new zero-emission hydrogen buses in Birmingham.
It’s great to see how our region is leading the way in green innovation, but it’s also clear from talking to businesses that the sector is crying out for an industrial strategy from government to help this great work grow.
Labour would make that happen. We are committed a culture change in government, putting the growth of local industries first, and reviewing the pipeline of all major infrastructure projects to explore how to increase the materials made in Britain and upskill workers to get the jobs of the future.
We have earmarked £28bn of capital investment in our country’s green transition for each and every year of this decade, to invest in emerging technologies like hydrogen that can create good British jobs, facilitate a just transition and tackle the climate crisis.
Welcoming the Police and Crime Commissioner to Edgbaston
This week I was also pleased to welcome the Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and the Deputy PCC Tom NcNeil.
It was good to have an opportunity to raise broad range of important issues including tackling dangerous driving, early intervention to prevent crime and his plans for rebuilding community policing.
Ahead of the police funding settlement last month, I led a debate in Parliament to plead with the Government to give West Midlands Police the funding it needs. Sadly, it confirmed that under its uplift plans we will only get back 1,218 of the 2,221 officers lost since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Under the Conservatives criminals have never had it so good. I back Simon Foster’s plan to prioritise boots on the ground and recruit an extra 450 community police officers our region desperately needs.
I’m very pleased to share the news that work is about to commence on Quinton Road West later this month, benefitting residents until the full resurfacing later this year, after campaigning by myself and our local Labour councillor Kate Booth.
This is part of a £100m investment from Birmingham City Council to fix the state of the roads across our city, to make travelling around Birmingham safer and more comfortable for drivers and pedestrians alike.