This week, it has been made evident that the Tories will not clear the backlog or end hotel use.
New research by the Labour Party shows that criminal smuggler gangs have been given a free pass under the Tories. Convictions for criminal people smuggling have plummeted by 36 per cent since 2010. At the same time, more than 45,000 people crossed the Channel in small boats facilitated by criminal gangs – up from 300 in 2018, a more than hundredfold increase in the space of four years.
The Illegal Migration Act also cancels asylum decision making with no return agreements in place. This means it will just increase the asylum backlog with even more people in costly hotels.
Labour will reform the asylum system. We will:
1. Crack down on criminal smuggler gangs, through a new Cross-Border Police Unit
2. Clear the backlog and end hotel use
3. Reform resettlement routes to stop people being exploited by gangs
4. Sign a new agreement with France and other countries on returns and family reunion
5. Tackle humanitarian crises at source, helping refugees in their region
BBC Radio West Midlands
This week on BBC Radio West Midlands, I responded to Rishi Sunak’s out-of-touch suggestion that “it’s not the Government’s job” to bail out Birmingham City Council.
The cost of living crisis has meant that people rely on council services more than ever. The Government must not abandon Birmingham's residents, especially after it has taken nearly £1bn from the council's budget in austerity cuts.
Local economies matter. They impact nationally. The Government’s funding plan takes no account of austerity or the squeeze on living standards.
The council is not asking for a bailout. It is asking for leadership from this government to ensure that essential services are delivered.
Ticket Office Closures
This week, I have been campaigning to keep our ticket offices open at University Station and Five Ways.
I have written to the Government and West Midlands Trains opposing the closure of ticket offices and, this week, I submitted my comments to the ongoing consultation.
Both Five Ways and University Station are key stations which rely on well-functioning services. University Station, one of the busiest in the city, is particularly important as it provides citizens with essential access to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Women’s Hospital and the University of Birmingham. Many people passing through University Station will be vulnerable, and many elderly and disabled. For those users, digital ticketing alternatives can present a challenge.
Passengers have suffered enough on our railways. The last thing they need is more disruption.
The ticket office consultation has now been extended to 1st September. Have your say by writing to Transport Focus at the freepost address: RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, PO Box 5594, Southend-On-Sea, SS1 9PZ, or by e-mailing ticketoffice.WMT@transportfocus.org.uk
This week, I have been in contact with the police after residents expressed concerns about quad bikes and off-road motorcycle use in Edgbaston.
I submitted a freedom of information request to West Midlands Police after receiving multiple complaints from residents, and the police have assured me that they are taking action to tackle this problem. They told me that they have been able to identify 11 quad bikes recovered in Birmingham in the last 12 months. I was also informed that in just one operation, they seized three motorbikes, recovered a stolen moped and reported people for offences including driving without insurance, failing to stop for police and other driving offences.
It’s good to see the police working to combat this issue. If you have any concerns about quad bikes and off-road motorcycle use, please do call my office at 0121 392 8426 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Virgin Media Broadband
This week, Virgin Media assured me that its team is working closely on the network in Edgbaston to ensure services are working seamlessly. After such prolonged broadband issues, I’m glad to see that Virgin Media is taking action to resolve this problem. Please contact me if you have any concerns.
Next week, the Mobile Household Recycling Centre will be visiting Melville Road, North Edgbaston, B16 9JT, on Monday 31st July, Woodville Road, Quinton, B17 9AR, on Wednesday 2nd August, and Clapgate Lane Shopping Centre, Bartley Green, B32 3DH, on Thursday 3rd August. The centre will be open between 7am and 12:30pm, so please come along if you're local and have bulky household waste to dispose of.
Birmingham Festival 23
Birmingham Festival 23 starts this week! From this Friday, there will be 10 days of free live music, performance, and activities. There are events that cater to everyone, and loads of daytime activities for children on school holidays. Click on the link below to find a list of free activities.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton