This week the Prime Minister was forced to finally sack the Tory Party Chair, despite it being evident for months he needed to go. It’s disgraceful that the Prime Minister, who claims to be one of integrity, chose to ignore multiple reports about Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs for so long.
Now, his Deputy Prime Minister is facing at least 24 separate accusations of bullying. Some of the reports are heart-breaking. Still, he sits with the Prime Minister without any action against him.
The bigger scandal is that every minute this Government spends distracted by scandal, is yet another minute not spent trying to make our country better.
We’ve got a justice system letting murderers walk the streets. Heart attack victims waiting hours for an ambulance. And an economy that is shrinking quicker than the leadership in the Tory Party.
And still, they spend their days defending themselves and putting in place legislation that will restrict the right to strike and that threatens nurses and public sector workers with the sack.
This is nothing but a distraction from a Tory Government that’s out of ideas and that’s fast running out of sticking plasters.
I voted against Rishi Sunak’s ‘Sack the Nurses’ Bill as it is plain wrong and undemocratic. It was a clear and desperate last grasp attempt by this Prime Minister to hold on to power. It is sad for our country that he is just too weak to provide the leadership our country so desperately needs.
Condemning the destruction of neighbourhood policing
I condemn the Government’s wholesale destruction of neighbourhood policing. Crime is rising, prosecutions falling and the number of officers on our streets has dramatically declined.
I want to see the Government put in place a plan to undo the last 13 years of devastation and step up to protect our communities. This must be done by increasing neighbourhood policing, including by ringfencing a proportion of the Police Uplift Programme to deliver neighbourhood officers for every local authority in England and Wales.
New figures show the impact of 13 years of Conservative Government that has left the country with 6,000 fewer neighbourhood police officers, 8,500 fewer Police Community Support Officers and over 20 million people who witnessed or experienced antisocial behaviour just last year.
These figures, along with the current unfair funding formula, have had a significant impact on the West Midlands which has been disproportionately affected by crime. Our region has seen the number of PCSOs, falling from 1,466 in 2010 to 877 last year and that is despite the Police and Crime Commissioners success in securing the region with additional officers. That is a decrease of more than 40%.
After 13 years, the Conservative legacy is criminals being let off while victims are being let down. Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their homes and in their community. But the Conservatives failure means it is the millions of victims that are paying the price.
As a mother of two young girls, I know the worry that parents have about their children playing in the park or being targeted online. Knife crime alone has increased in the West Midlands by 115% since 2015. It’s why this question around crime and anti-social behaviour must tackle more than just policing. We must also look at our youth services which have also been decimated.
In our constituency of Edgbaston, the Government could have made a big difference by simply granting our levelling up bid. This would have seen Quinton Police Station transformed into a community hub, providing a base for the Police but also giving additional support for youth provision, local training and reskilling. Instead, they once again chose to put party first, country second. The bid was refused and instead, the biggest regional recipients were those where the Conservatives are most vulnerable to losing marginal seats to Labour. That’s not fair or right.
The last Labour government cut crime by a third and rolled out neighbourhood policing across the country. The next Labour government will rebuild neighbourhood policing through a £360m package, delivering 13,000 extra neighbourhood officers and PCSOs, putting police back on the beat.
Under Labour’s plan, every constituency in England and Wales will get an average of 15-20 additional police on the beat. In Birmingham Edgbaston, this will mean doubling the existing neighbourhood policing capacity.
Labour will also be tough on the causes of crime, outlawing the grooming of kids for crime, providing mentors for children who are sent to Pupil Referral Units to help get them back on track, and linking youth workers to hospitals and custody suites to reach young people who are becoming involved in gangs as part of a nationwide strategy to tackle youth vulnerability to crime.
A look around the constituency
This week there’s been lots going on in and around the constituency including lots of planning applications and visits from the Mobile Household Recycling Centre.
I have objected to a planning application in North Edgbaston after hearing concerns from local residents. The application seeks to change a care home into a "short stay holiday let" on Portland Road which would accommodate over 50 residents. Given concerns around crime and high levels of existing HMOs, exempt accommodation and hotels already in the area, the MP has lodged an objection.
So many of our homes are older properties. I’m receiving lots of residents complaining about damp and mould being caused by poor insulation. I'm campaigning for national change and funding for the council to retrofit homes. In the meantime, the council has shared this useful advice leaflet on controlling condensation and mould, along with a useful video.
The land behind Barnsley Road in North Edgbaston was granted planning permission despite residents, councillors and my objections. Now work has begun on site. However, I now have further concerns that the commencement of work on this site has resulted in the potential displacement of a badger sett, which are legally protected animals.
Therefore, I have recently written to Edgbaston SSL Director, Alex Partakis, which I have also shared with Calthorpe Estates, the Badger Trust, and Birmingham City Council’s Director of Planning. In my letter, I have requested that the site must be checked once again for badger activity, and I implore the developers to hold off on work while they organise these wildlife checks urgently.
I’ve also joined hundreds of residents in objecting to a planning application on Ridgacre Road West in Quinton. The application seeks permission for the erection of 12 apartments. However, the apartments would be directly against the boundary wall of the M5 and next to an electricity pylon.
This planning application shows a complete disregard for residents. No part of this application has residents in mind and will be a blow to the community should it be approved.
There is strong feeling in the local community about the impact it will have on parking in the area as well as the impact to those who will live in the property with noise and air pollution both being major issues. Almost 300 residents have come forward to sign a petition against the development.
As you can see from the petition, there is strong feeling from neighbours against this development. And they are absolutely right. Who would want to live almost on top of the M5. The noise that will be generated is anti-social and goes against all British Standards for developments like this. It is for these reasons I have written my own letter of objection and residents here have my full support in fighting this application.
We also have the Mobile Household Recycling Centre returning to Quinton and Bartley Green. For both visits, the centre will be there between 7am – 12 pm.
For Quinton, it will be on Green Lane, B32 1EP, on Thursday 9 February.
For Bartley Green, it will be on Longford Close, B32 4JU, on Friday 10 February.
Will the Government restore funding for WASH as part of the Women and Girls Strategy?
As part of my role as shadow cabinet minister for international development, I had the opportunity this week to put a question to the cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell MP.
My question to him set out how we're now past the half-way mark to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, on our current trajectory we are set to miss every single one.
That’s why I asked the Minister if he'll restore Official Development Assistance for safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as part of the Women and Girls strategy?
You can watch me ask my question and the minister’s response above.
Cost of living latest
This week we saw Shell posting record profits yet, it is families and individuals across our country that are really now feeling the impact of the cost of living.
We know this is going to continue to get worse. The British people are facing an energy price hike of 40% in April. While the government sits back and does nothing, Labour would stop the energy price cap going up in April, because it is only right that the companies making unexpected windfall profits from the proceeds of war pay their fair share.
Only Labour is on your side - with a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis now, and a long-term plan to cut bills for good and make Britain a clean energy superpower.
I have written to all of my constituents explaining Labour’s plans in more detail and sharing my cost of living survey. I’m pleased Birmingham City Council has launched a leaflet with advice and support on the cost of living which you can read below.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton