You may have caught me on Thursday morning this week on ITV, Sky News and GB News among others, talking about my concerns over the growing number of Government departments that are causing huge delays to the public.
It is all well and good having a leadership election, however, it doesn’t excuse the rest of Government from ignoring their responsibilities to the British public. It is clear that Backlog Britain has reached a new peak.
The NHS is currently facing a massive hit, with figures showing that 6.6 million patients are waiting for planned NHS care, the highest number on record. It has been found that one in nine people are now waiting for NHS care, and for longer than ever before, often in pain and distress. Indeed, at University Hospitals Birmingham, 160,000 people are waiting for treatment.
Holidays have also been impacted by queues, delays, cancellations – and only if you can get a passport to begin with, with tens of thousands of people waiting over ten weeks. This is something that I have been inundated by residents who have requested passport renewals well in advance yet, are being caught up in backlogs and delays and are left concerned whether they will be able to go on holiday.
Lorry drivers are continuing to wait up to 15 hours at Dover, with the critical incident declared as the “worst experienced” congestion ever recorded.
The crown courts backlog has increased on average by 43% in last five years, leaving victims waiting endlessly for justice. One in eight courts has seen the backlog more than double since 2017, with one third seeing increases of over 50%.
The Conservatives have neglected to grip these issues and unclog these backlogs, instead focussing on taking lumps out of each other for the sole benefit of Conservative Party members. All while services decline at rapid speed across key sectors.
As the Tory leadership candidates fight one another to win the backing of their members, neither of them has a plan to sort out the delays and backlogs clogging up Britain and making life more difficult for the public. After 12 years of Conservative Government why are so many areas of life not working properly?
The Conservatives have created ‘Backlog Britain’. We are experiencing high inflation and low growth, people are struggling to access the healthcare they need, goods are at a standstill, and working families are facing a daily battle to get by.
All of this is a direct result of this Government’s failure to get a grip. Only a Labour government can deliver the fresh start we need.
Calling for more support for active travel across our constituency
I have written to our West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, to asking about timescales for the development of the Hagley Road Rapid Transit scheme (the tram system being reintroduced) and calling for greater active travel measures in Quinton, Harborne and Bartley Green.
The Rapid Transit Scheme for Hagley Road was included in a recent Government report however, failed to include any timescales for the delivery of the project.
In my letter to the Mayor, I also called for active travel measures to be introduced in Quinton, Harborne and Bartley Green which currently has extremely limited support for those looking to walk or cycle. There is also currently nothing linking any of the wards to the city centre. In my view this needs to change. If we are going to get people out of their cars, we must make it safe for them to do so. This means introducing cycle lanes and other measures to enable people to make this transition and make it safer for those currently undertaking these journeys.
Birmingham receives insulting level of funding to tackle exempt housing
While it is welcome news that the Government has realised there is a problem with exempt housing in Birmingham, they have failed to grasp the severity of the situation. This week the Government allocated Birmingham City Council £3.19 million to tackle the growing challenge of exempt accommodation. This, however, is nothing but a sticking plaster.
Exempt accommodation has been a growing sector across our city for years and now there are more than 21,800 units housing some of our most vulnerable citizens without adequate supervision and support. £3 million to spend over 3 years simply won’t solve the problem.
Exempt accommodation is often responsible for concerning levels of anti-social behaviour, making the lives of neighbours and nearby residents a misery. When vulnerable people are placed in supported housing, they should be just that. Supported. Sadly, this is not the case in the majority of circumstances resulting in both local communities and vulnerable tenants being failed.
I want to see this Government stepping up and acknowledging the reality of the situation. Birmingham City Council needs to be given legal enforcement powers and adequate funding to put resources in place to take long-term action and allow us to see a positive change to the lives of so many.
Writing to Air India
This week, I galvanised 11 other West Midlands MPs with large Punjabi and Sikh diaspora communities, to join me in continuing the campaign for flights from Birmingham to Amritsar to be restored.
Having recently spoken to Birmingham Airport and gaining their support for more flights, West Midlands MP's have now written to Mr Nipun Aggarwal, CCO of Air India, asking that regular and direct flight from Birmingham to Amritsar be reviewed. Direct flights resumed last August as Covid travel restrictions relaxed, however the regularity of flights has remained significantly scaled down. Currently there is only one direct flight per week to Amritsar, Punjab from Birmingham International Airport.
Given the demand in our region for this, we await to see the response from Air India.
The Commonwealth Games continues
And finally, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have continued to impress and surpass expectations. The hockey and squash tournaments have brought thousands of visitors to the fantastic Birmingham University and the Women’s T20 at Edgbaston Cricket Stadium has followed on from the Women’s Euro success of putting female sports front and centre. I hope you have all had the opportunity to get involved, watch the Games and be part of the incredible atmosphere.
I must take this opportunity to give full praise where it is due to all the cross-party work to make the Games a success. It has been great to see the Rt Hon Theresa May acknowledged for her role in bringing the Games to Birmingham but a particular well done must be given to Birmingham City Council Leader, Cllr Ian Ward, who without his efforts the Games would not have happened in our city.
I was also extremely pleased to hear that following the huge public interest in the iconic bull from the Opening Ceremony, Birmingham City Council has announced that it will remain in Centenary Square in the city centre until the end of September. If you have not had the chance to visit this impressive installation, I would recommend you head to the city centre and take the opportunity to see the detail in person. It is truly spectacular.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton