As I sit to write my first “View from Westminster” of 2016 I would like to take this opportunity to start by wishing everyone a happy New Year. Looking forward I am sure there will be many challenges ahead in 2016, however we have a government committed to overcoming these, whilst ensuring the economic recovery of the country continues and providing opportunity and security for all.
Last weekend I joined with family and friends for the opening night of Dick Whittington at the Aldridge Youth Theatre. A family pantomime written by the gifted Neville Ellis, and directed by Dexter Whitehead, showcasing some of our local talent and skills. The scenery and cast were wonderous and colourful, from eccentric Bertha to the adorable Florrie from Pheasey, it’s full of fun characters. Not only is it worth going to see, but it supports our local community too.
Aldridge Youth Theatre is a registered charity and relies on the income from its productions. Like many charities it also depends on the time generously given by the many volunteers who support the performances, behind the scenes and front of house, as well as on stage. Thriving communities depend on people of all ages from all backgrounds coming together to share skills and experience, and we are very fortunate to have music and drama doing just that, locally in Aldridge.
Charities, whether large or small, national or local, play a vital role in our communities and in our country and I have therefore taken a particular interest in Parliament in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill which is currently passing through the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to give the Charity Commission new or strengthened powers to tackle misuse of charitable status more effectively, and provides stronger protection for charities in England and Wales from individuals who are unfit to be charity trustees. It also seeks to address concerns raised about maladministration which were highlighted through the media last summer. In all of this it’s important to recognise that the vast majority are run well by good and decent people, and they deserve our support and confidence.