On Wednesday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made a statement showing how far the Labour Party has come in the last two years in tearing out antisemitism in the party. Under Keir Starmer's leadership, the Labour Party is becoming, once again, an open and welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, and all communities and we’re never going back.
Antisemitism is an evil and no political party that cultivates it deserves to hold power. I am proud to be in a party and a team that is working tirelessly to root it out. Labour is a party of patriotism and equality and together, we’ll deliver a better country.
Crime and anti-social behaviour in the constituency
Across our constituency, crime is increasing and it’s something residents are writing to me about on an almost daily basis.
After 13 years, the Conservatives are missing in action in the fight against crime. Communities across Quinton, Harborne, Bartley Green and Edgbaston feel under threat. But this is no wonder when the Police have disappeared from our streets and in the West Midlands, the number of neighbourhood PCSO’s have been cut by 40%.
Alongside an increase in more serious crime, we’re also seeing an uplift in anti-social behaviour. Birmingham City Council and the Police are doing what they can with the limited resources they have. However, you can’t tackle this issue on the cheap.
Across Britain, there were 1.1m incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by police last year, equating to 3,000 incidents a day and our constituency has been made to feel this.
As part of Labour’s plan to prevent crime, punish criminals and protect communities, a Labour Government would:
Introduce clean up squads for fly-tippers: with tough penalties for fly-tippers and establish clean up squads whereby offenders will clear up litter and vandalism they have dumped. They will be given Fixed Penalty Cleaning Notices that will be managed by the Local Authority.
Strengthen community sentences: Labour will increase and strengthen the use of community sentences, achieving a double win by tackling reoffending rates and giving a voice directly to victims and local communities.
Set up Community Payback Boards: The party would also establish Community and Victim Payback Boards in communities where victims and community leaders would oversee community sentences to ensure they are carried out and choose unpaid work that suits the needs of their community.
What the £150 million Conservative catalogue of waste means for our city
I doubt many people have heard of Government Procurement Cards, but in Parliament, these are the equivalent of debit cards, but instead of spending personal money, they’re funded by the taxpayer. They are used to buy goods and services in shops, over the phone and online, without having to go through normal invoicing procedures.
In 2021, almost £150 million was spent using these cards across 14 of the biggest government departments. When the Labour Party looked through records and asked questions to ministers, we found a scandalous catalogue of wasteful and excessive spending.
Taxpayers’ money being frittered away on luxury furniture, five-star hotels, and four-figure bills in bars and restaurants. Ministers spending thousands of pounds hiring chauffeur services, organising lavish events, and hosting privately catered dinners. Foreign visitors being treated to expensive gifts, lunches and receptions. And Whitehall departments spending small fortunes on corporate branding, expensive away-day venues, and ludicrous training courses.
The individual examples are enough to make you so angry, whether it’s Rishi Sunak’s Treasury spending £3,393 on 13 photographs from The Tate Gallery to hang in their office, or Suella Braverman’s media team spending £724 on a four-metre wide 'Panoramic Limestone Background' from an Italian photo company to use as a backdrop for her photos and videos.
This would all be unacceptable at the best of times, but during the worst cost of living crisis for decades, it is just unforgivable. Do Tory ministers not know how much people in communities like ours are struggling financially, or do they just not care?
If I think of just last week, I had three single mothers who got in touch with me because, through no fault of their own, they now find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to clothe or feed their young children. We are fortunate to have a baby bank in the constituency which provided clothes and formula for the children and my office arranged food bank vouchers and fuel bank vouchers for the mothers. For me, the bigger question is how our society has reached a point that we accept such things as baby banks being a part of our lives and yet, we don’t question when our government fritter away money needlessly like this. We keep being told there is no more money available to support households in situations like that, but we now discover that Liz Truss treated herself to a £3,240 VIP suite at Heathrow to freshen up after a trans-Atlantic flight. This is not right and I for one do not accept or forgive it.
These may be called Government Procurement Cards, but the Tories have clearly forgotten that it is the public footing the bill. That cannot continue, and under a Labour government, we will make sure it ends, imposing rigorous new standards across Whitehall and making sure they are enforced. But we should not have to wait until then. If you agree with me, get in touch and let me know, and I will make sure your voice is heard among all those demanding that this gravy train is brought to a stop.
You can see full details of Labour’s report into Government Procurement Card spending at www.theGPCfiles.com, and see for yourself all 66,000 items of spending from the 14 Whitehall departments examined.
Raising my concerns on our crumbling school buildings
New figures show 367 of Birmingham's 381 schools will be facing a collective £30.6 million cut to their budgets in 2023.
The Department for Education has also reported that the condition of school buildings is a 'significant risk' the Department is managing.
Given maintenance of these buildings comes from school budgets, Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, has written to all of the headteachers within the constituency to ask about the condition of school buildings and how this will impact learning.
What’s happening around the constituency
This week I visited Jiggins Lane Medical Centre to discuss NHS patient care and wider local issues in Bartley Green. It was a helpful conversation and I thank them for all that they do in serving our community.
In September last year I visited Wadhurst Road. I met with many residents and spoke about some of the local issues affecting people in this part of the constituency. One of the common asks was if the road could be resurfaced and the potholes filled. I’m please to say this work is now taking place and the road will be returned to a good standard.
In Harborne, year 6 students at St Mary’s School have been learning about our constituency and have created some wonderful fact files. I am hoping to visit them soon, to meet with the children and support their learning.
Quinton will see the award-winning Mobile Household Recycling Centre returning on 2nd March. It will be in place between 7am – 12pm on Overdale Road. If you have any unwanted household waste, please make sure to visit.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton