Parliament is now in recess for Easter and it’s a time for me to catch up on constituency casework and visits, but before leaving Westminster for the Easter break it has been a hectic few weeks.
The closure of Aldridge Police Station may have been rubber stamped by our Police & Crime Commissioner, but my fight will continue. We have been promised further consultation before any site closes and my constituents deserve to have their say and be listened to. I will continue to seek reassurances over police presence and urge that all options are fully looked at, including a community front desk for Aldridge. With changes being considered right across the region, I want to be sure our views are heard loud and clear.
Following on from the Chancellors announcement of a Housing Deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority, I met with the Minister for Housing to press the case for maintaining a brownfield first approach as I know how much we value our precious greenbelt. It is absolutely vital that we work together to turn the regions ambition of new homes into firm delivery, especially for younger people and families, and the package of £350 million across our region is good news, but I was particularly pleased to see the Housing Deal also includes a Land Fund of £100 million to buy and clean up land around priority sites, and this includes regeneration of brownfield land. I have already made a submission to the Black Country Core Strategy on housing and I will continue to follow this with interest, as I am sure readers will too. Whilst we must make the most of the land that is suitable for development, this should not be at the cost of our precious natural environment.
In other news I am pleased that the Government has recently awarded an additional £260,000 of funding to Walsall Borough Council, to help repair potholes, something which I am sure will be welcomed by many.
The Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a multi-year settlement for the NHS in this its 70th Anniversary year, combined with proposals of pay rises of at least 6.5% for over 1.1million NHS workers in England, including nurses and midwives, and an additional five new medical schools is very positive news. How we train, value and retain staff is crucial and I pay tribute to the work of all those in our local area as well as across the country.
In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with a variety of organisations and community groups, old friends and new. I was pleased to join the Air Cadets of Squadron 1444 (Brownhills) at their local “Spring Clean”. They deserve our thanks and our recognition for the work they do and the contribution they make to Brownhills.
This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 5th April 2018.