Ahead of Friday, I want to wish a very happy Vaisakhi to my many wonderful Sikh constituents, and everyone who is celebrating across the UK and around the world. Vaisakhi is a celebration of the creation of the Khalsa by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It’s a time for us to reflect on the devotion of the Panj Pyare, the five beloved ones, and the values on which the Khalsa Panth was founded — the defence of freedom, equality, and the betterment of all.
The teachings of the Gurus remind us that the human race is one under God, and how we should work towards the wellbeing of all, sarbat da bhallah. Now it is more important than ever for us to think about how we can further global equality and tackle the issues around social justice that we are often seeing on a daily basis. I hope that you’ll be able to visit your Gurdwara, celebrate safely with your families and join some of the many virtual Vaisakhi events taking place this week. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Tory sewage scandal sullies Edgbaston constituency with raw sewage dumping every 3 days
Last year, the Conservatives allowed 153 spillages of raw sewage to be dumped into Edgbaston’s open spaces, new figures have revealed.
Analysis of Environment Agency data shows that in 2022, raw sewage was discharged into Edgbaston’s water for 213 hours, the equivalent of there being a continuous flow of sewage taking place for a staggering 9 consecutive days.
The research points to 153 sewage dumping events having taken place locally last year, a damning indictment of the Tories allowing raw sewage to polluting the places in which people live and work.
The data comes after Labour analysis revealed that nationally since 2016, a new sewage dumping event has taken place an average of every two-and-a-half minutes, with rivers, lakes, seas, and beaches having faced a staggering 1,276 years’ worth of raw sewage over just a seven-year period.
Our constituency is so fortunate to have beautiful open spaces like Bartley Green Reservoir, Woodgate Valley and the Bournbrook. However, it is horrifying to think that these incredible assets are being turned into sewers.
While we have heard much about sewage being dumped into our seas, as a land locked city, many don’t think this issue affects us here in Birmingham. However, this new data shows that, that is simply not the case.
This is an issue the Conservatives have actively encouraged. Conservative MPs not only voted to allow water firms to continue sewage dumping, but blocked a Labour-backed amendment that would have progressively eliminated sewage dumping. I am horrified that Birmingham-based MPs Andrew Mitchell and Gary Sambrook could have voted for such measures.
The news will inevitably once again spark serious concern at the environmental, health and economic impact that sewage dumping is having on communities across the country. That the Tories have allowed villages, towns, and cities across the country to be treated as open sewers shows that they have no respect for places where people live, work and holiday.
Communities in Edgbaston Constituency should be able to just enjoy the place where they live without having to worrying about encountering filthy raw sewage.
The next Labour Government will end the Tory sewage scandal, delivering mandatory monitoring on all sewage outlets, introducing automatic fines for discharges, setting ambitious targets for stopping systematic sewage dumping and ensuring that water bosses are held to account for negligence.
How Labour will revitalise local high streets
High streets have been the target of rising costs due to Tory economic mismanagement, steep tax rises and spiking energy bills. Meanwhile, a decade of low growth means footfall has plummeted across the country and firms have struggled to attract customers. All of this has led to more boarded-up shops, making high streets less pleasant places to shop, eat and relax.
The UK has lost over 6,000 pubs, nearly 4,000 local shops and 9,000 bank branches from local high streets under the Conservatives.
Yet, it isn’t just businesses who are feeling the impact. Local customers have also fallen victim to the harsh increase in price of everyday essentials, as costs have skyrocketed by a further £3,500 due to Tory mismanagement of the cost of living crisis.
Labour has announced a new plan to reverse the 13 years of decline and revitalise local high streets, with policies to cut business rates, cut energy bills, stamp out late payments, revamp empty shops and tackle anti-social behaviour.
Cut business rates: high street businesses shouldn’t face big tax hikes whilst online giants are let off the hook. Labour would cut business rates for small businesses on the high street, paid for by properly taxing online giants. Our policy would be worth over £2.6k to the average pub, café or restaurant.
Cut energy bills: many beloved high street businesses face an uncertain future due to spiking energy bills. Labour will help them cut their bills for good with vouchers for energy efficiency measures – such as double glazing at a local cinema, a new heat pump in a café or an electric vehicle for a takeaway.
Stamp out late payments: high street firms shouldn’t be forced to wait months to be paid for work by big clients. Labour would introduce tough new laws to stamp out late payments and make sure more money gets to high street firms.
Revamp empty shops: people won’t visit high streets blighted by unsightly boarded up shops. Labour will give councils strong new powers to bring empty shops on their high streets back into use.
Tackle anti-social behaviour: people should feel safe when they go out to shop, eat or have fun on their local high street. Labour will get 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on our streets and introduce tough new measures to crack down on anti-social behaviour that blights local high streets.
Apply to join my brilliant team!
I’m recruiting a new communications and campaigns role in my constituency office in Edgbaston. Edgbaston constituency covers Harborne, Bartley Green, Quinton, Edgbaston and part of North Edgbaston.
I am looking for someone who is experienced, dynamic and as driven to solve problems relating to anti-social parking as they are to campaigning for an end to poverty pay.
So, if you have a passion for brilliant communication and want to join my team, please look at the job description and apply. The closing date is 19 April at 5pm.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton