Welcome to my regular newsletter, keeping you updated on my work as your Member of Parliament.
As the days get longer, lockdown restrictions ease and the vaccine roll out continues, I know many of you (myself included!) are looking forward to being able to see friends and family, get outside more, and open up local businesses. I’d encourage everyone in Hallam to continue to stay safe and follow the Government guidance, which can be found here.
It has been a really busy month in Parliament. As well as holding the Government to account over their inadequate preparations for COP26, speaking up for NHS pay during a debate in Parliament, and meeting with campaigners to plan against the police crackdown bill, I have also submitted a bid to expand rail services to the Sheaf Valley! Read on to find out what else I’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks.
In the wake of the horrific Sarah Everard murder and the protests following, I want to send a message of solidarity to all my constituents who may be reliving their own experiences of sexual harrassement or the experiences of loved ones. I have and will continue to work with local campaigners and MPs to push for urgent structural change to address violence against women.
- This month we submitted our bid for funding to restore rail services to the Sheaf Valley! It has been amazing seeing so much support for the campaign – which now has the backing of Sheffield City Region Mayor, Sheffield City Council Mayor, and Sheffield Central and Heeley MPs, as well as a number of local groups, the Sheffield Star, and over 500 Sheffield residents! You can read more about the campaign, what the next steps are and how to get involved here.
- Meanwhile the Conservative Government is consulting on a number of proposed changes to rail network performance – including scrapping the line from Sheffield to Manchester airport. Along with other Sheffield MPs, I spoke to the Star and the Yorkshire Post about our concerns, and have written to the Transport Minister calling for this plan to be scrapped. If you use this line, take a look at the proposals and share your views here.
- I have also joined with other Sheffield leaders and signed a letter to the Health Secretary calling for funding to improve cancer treatment in South Yorkshire.
- Following the horrific murder of Sarah Everard and the inadequate Government response, I have been working with local campaigners from Our Bodies Our Streets to call for a much larger package of funding to reverse local authority cuts and make our streets safer. I have also joined with other MPs to call for far reaching action to address the deep structural causes of violence against women.
- For International Women’s Day I spoke at a number of local Labour Party events, joined with the Orgreave Justice campaign to send a message of solidarity, and spoke to the Yorkshire Live and the House Magazine about my experience of campaigning on gender-based issues and the importance of breaking down the barriers for women getting into politics.
- Despite proposed government legislation, moors in Sheffield and across the country are still being burnt, ruining habitats and accelerating the climate emergency. I have been working with Lord Maggie Jones and local campaigners to continue to campaign to improve the proposed legislation to ban peatland burning, so that all of our peatlands are protected.
- Finally thank you to everyone who came and contributed to our second Hallam Citizens’ Climate Manifesto event on how we can finance the move to carbon zero. You can read the full summary of what was discussed here. Please join us this Tuesday 6th April at 5.30-7pm for our next Assembly, where we will discuss how we can build an alternative food system that works for people and the planet.
- Earlier this month the Chancellor announced his Spring budget. Sadly, it fell far short of what is needed if we are to recover from the pandemic, protect jobs and livelihoods, and tackle the mental health crisis and climate emergency. I led the campaign in Parliament for more funding for eating disorder services, and coordinated a letter – signed by 40 parliamentarians – calling on Rishi Sunak to urgently invest in eating disorder services, which have seen a 173% increase in their services.
- I am continuing to campaign for a pay rise for all of our key workers. You can watch my speech during a Westminster Hall debate on NHS Pay here. NHS workers don’t just need a pay rise because they’ve worked so hard the last year. They need a pay rise because they’ve had repeated real-terms pay cuts for the last 10 years.
- I am deeply concerned about the Government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which curtails our fundamental right to protest, does more to protect statues than women, and criminalises the already discriminated against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. You can watch my speech during the debate here. Although the bill passed its first stages, the fight is far from over. I have joined campaigners in Sheffield to discuss how we can build a movement against this dangerous legislation and have signed an open letter with other Sheffield groups.
- This month, the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, published a report into the management of flood risk. These findings will be of great concern to communities in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, who have had their lives and livelihoods turned upside down by increased flooding in recent years. I spoke to the Star and Yorkshire Post about the report, and called for Government action.
- Also this month, the Public Accounts Committee published a damning report into Test and Trace. I spoke to the Yorkshire Post about the report’s findings and called on the Department to listen to the recommendations, so we can put an end to this damaging cycle of lockdowns.
- I questioned Government officials on their support for students, parents and teachers during lockdown and joined with Sheffield Labour MPs to write to the Education Secretary about the need to overturn unfair further education funding rules that disadvantage students at Sheffield’s further education colleagues.
- Last week the All Party Parliamentary Group on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, which I chair, published the findings of our inquiry into the experiences of children and young people with SEND during Covid-19. Our most vulnerable children have been failed by the Government and schools and families have been left to pick up the pieces. I spoke to the Independent about the need for long term change and have written to Gavin Williamson calling for him to ensure deaf students are not significantly disadvantaged from the use of face coverings in school. You can read the report here.
- I also wrote to the Vaccines Minister to ask why some staff working with SEND students in schools aren’t being prioritised for vaccines, in line with social care staff.
- In response to Alok Sharma’s statement to Parliament, setting out his four aims for the COP26 climate talks later this year, Nadia Whittome MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Clive Lewis MP and I have set out our four priorities ahead of the negotiations. Climate Action must be democratic, accountable, transformative & just. You can watch our video message here.
- I wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calling on him to end the badger cull which has seen an estimated 164,000 badgers killed. I am also excited to have become an RSPB Hen Harrier Species Champion and to have joined the All Party Parliamentary Group on National Parks!
- I have tabled a question to the Environment Minister to ask whether his Department is planning to introduce protections for the last surviving population of mountain hares in England in the Peak District National Park. I will continue to press the Government on this.
CEE Bill: As of this month 100 MPs (including me!) are now supporting the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. This is brilliant news! If you’ve not already, please join the campaign here.
Anti police crackdown: This Saturday 3rd April campaigners across the country will be holding another day of action against the Government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. You can find out about what is happening in Sheffield here:
May elections: It is just over a month until the local elections! If you’ve not already, please remember to sign up to vote early, vote safely and vote from home. If you have already signed up – please share it with your friends!
Hostile environment: The Government is revoking people’s already granted right to stay in the UK, if they are sleeping rough. This is yet another indefensible policy from a Party committed to their Hostile Environment. Please sign this petition to tell the Government to scrap this policy:
Dates for your diary…
3rd April: Locals Against The Barlow Hunt, Locals Against the High Peak Hunt and Peak District Hunt Sabs are holding an anti fox hunting protest at Barlow Hunt.
6th-8th April: TUC Yorkshire and the Humber have a really exciting series of talks and meetings on a range of topics including socially distant campaigning tactics and how we can learn from Manchester and win better buses. Find out more about each event here.
10th April: Sheffield Labour for a Green New Deal are holding a talk about Valuing Sheffield’s Green Spaces.
24th April: Sheffield Against Animal Experiments are holding a protest on World Day For Animals In Labs, to raise awareness about what is going on just outside the city centre.
29th April: SYMAAG’s will be holding the next event in their talks for change series, this time on the topic of healthcare.
Thank you for reading my newsletter. If you would like to share it with your neighbours or friends in Hallam, you can share the sign up link with them here.
As always, please get in touch if there are issues you would like me to raise or campaigns you would like me to get involved with!
MP for Sheffield Hallam