Whilst there are unique circumstances behind the figures released this week on immigration and asylum, including the support the UK has rightly given to Ukraine, Hong Kong and Afghanistan, they also show serious problems with Conservative mismanagement of the immigration and asylum systems where they have completely failed to get a grip.
Despite their promises to stop dangerous Channel crossings, they’ve failed to tackle the criminal gangs, and asylum decision making has collapsed - with only 2% of people who arrived in small boats over the last year having had their cases decided. Work visas have also substantially increased as a result of major skills shortages in the UK - yet the Conservatives are not taking any serious action to address skills shortages here at home.
What’s even worse, the Foreign Secretary has bailed out the Home Secretary with a cheque for £1.04 billion from Britain’s aid budget – and this was money spent last year, before crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan. It is anticipated that a further £2.5billion will be raided from the aid budget next year to pay for the Home Secretary’s failing asylum service.
Labour will ensure that taxpayers' money is treated with the respect it deserves, solve the Home Office meltdown with our comprehensive plan to tackle channel crossings, break up the criminal gangs, and put in place a new model for development with the independence needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and tackle the root causes forcing people to flee their homes in the first place.
The asylum and immigration systems need to be properly controlled and managed. But the Conservatives have had 8 Immigration Ministers, and 6 Home Secretaries in 7 years. This chaos means they have no proper grip or control, and they just ramp up the rhetoric instead of putting sensible policies in place.
Tackling mould and damp in council housing
Like so many people across Britain, I was shocked to hear of the death of two-year old Awaab Ishak who, died of a respiratory condition caused by exposure to the mould in his family’s flat in Rochdale.
The issue of mould is one of the single largest cause of complaints which I receive from hundreds of my constituents. The standard of Birmingham City Council housing often leaves much to be desired and seems to me to be a continual battle with the council’s repairs team. Not only will this be costing the council millions of pounds in repairs, but it is senseless as it is not tackling the root cause of the problem.
You may have caught me on BBC Midlands Today where I joined with a resident in Bartley Green and spoke to reporters about this issue. If you missed it, you can catch it again here:
While Awaab’s death was devastating, it was also preventable. We cannot stand around and wait for another death to happen. That is why wrote to Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council to put forward some questions and clear asks:
How many properties in Birmingham have been treated for issues relating to damp and mould?
What is the council doing to tackle the underlying problem of mould in properties?
To ask that the council urgently looks at a business case of spending to save on retrofitting all council properties.
To ask that the council writes to all social housing and commissioned providers to request that they too take action.
Birmingham has had almost £1 billion taken from its budget over the last 12 years by Conservatives. This has meant halving the workforce and putting services across the city at breaking point. Therefore, I will be writing to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, as it is unacceptable that funding for retrofitting won’t be made available to councils until 2025. This is simply too late and puts lives at risk.
Update on car thefts in the area
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the cannibalisation of car parts and thefts of vehicles.
I have been raising this in my monthly meetings with the inspector for the region and West Midlands Police (WMP) has placed car crime as a force-wide priority.
Thankfully, their hard work, with the support of residents, has paid off and I have received good news from the Police which I wanted to share with you.
A gang of seven teenagers who stole up to 100 cars last year have just been jailed after Police were able to link them to a string of burglaries and violent carjackings. Detectives were initially looking into 15 car thefts but as the investigation developed and the group’s phones were examined, detectives linked them to a wider series, incorporating 97 offences.
Detectives also linked the gang to a nasty carjacking in Gilmorton Close, Harborne on 12 November, when a man was attacked after pulling onto his driveway. He bravely tried to fight them off but was outnumbered. He was thrown to the floor when he tried to drag one of the thieves from behind the wheel. Police recovered the BMW from behind flats in Acocks Green and later found messages on their phones asking where to find a tracker on a BMW M3. All seven pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court on in October and on Wednesday 16 November and were sentenced with conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to rob. Four of the seven were additionally charged with dangerous driving.
The Police are holding a crime prevention mobile police station event on Harborne High Street this Saturday from 10.00am to 2pm, where the focus will be on Vehicle crime prevention. Please come along if you have any questions.
There has also been a recent spike in resident’s homes being broken in to with 22 cases across the constituency. Seven have taken place in Quinton, with five in each of Harborne, Edgbaston and Bartley Green. As such, local Police teams have alerted response officers who are on duty, outside of neighbourhood working hours so that they can be alert and responsive to the situation.
As such, I would ask that you remain as vigilant as possible and make sure you have securely locked your car and closed any windows and doors to your home. As the nights get darker, let’s also keep each other safe by checking on elderly or vulnerable neighbours.
Roadworks in your area
After many complaints and concerns from residents, Gillott Road in North Edgbaston will be resurfaced between Rotten Park Road and Icknield Port Loop. This is part of your Labour council’s investment in our city.
However, it will require a full road closure from 9th - 20th December 2022 and then again from 9th-10th January 2023, between the hours of 7.30am-6pm. Throughout the period of the road closure, a diversion will be in place that I have been assured will be clearly signposted.
If you have any issues or concerns, please let me know by contacting me on 0121 392 8426 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Talking about the Autumn Statement on Politics Midlands
And finally, I was pleased to join presenter, Elizabeth Glinker, and Conservative MP, Gary Sambrook, on the BBC’s Politics Midlands to talk about last week’s Autumn Statement. This was a disastrous statement. The mess we are in is not just a result of 12 weeks of Conservative chaos, but 12 years of Conservative economic failure. Inflation is spiralling. Growth is plunging. Living standards are falling.
But it was especially tough for our local authorities who, are almost entirely reliant on Government funding. Birmingham and other councils across the West Midlands will have no choice but to increase council tax, as the Government have all but directed them to do in this budget, in order to pay for basic services.
It is simply another way that Rishi Sunak is making working people pay for the Conservative’s financial mismanagement.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton