Welcome to my regular newsletter, keeping you updated on my work as your Member of Parliament.
Parliament has now closed for the summer and I am looking forward to spending more time out and about in Hallam, talking to as many of you as possible. I hope you are all able to have some time off over the next few weeks, especially after the difficulties of the past year.
I have really enjoyed being able to get out more over the last couple of weeks. I have visited lots of different projects in and around our city. I joined the RSPB on a trip to see hen harrier chicks, visited a natural flood protection project in Hallam and spoke about food justice and the Right to Food campaign at Latitude Festival!
I have also been working hard in Parliament to fight numerous pieces of damaging legislation brought forward by the Government over the past couple of weeks, including their new health and social care bill – which will only lead to further, damaging privatisation of our Health Service – and the Nationalities and Borders Bill – which is inhumane, spiteful and will violate our international treaty obligations. You can watch some of my speeches below!
I know many people in Hallam are concerned about the Government’s approach to easing lockdown restrictions and the effect it will have on all of us, but especially those most vulnerable. We need a sensible, managed strategy, which follows the science on facemasks and working from home, and ensures proper payments for those that need to self isolate. I have, and will continue to, speak out about the Government’s reckless strategy.
- Earlier this month I held a Hallam Climate Manifesto assembly. I met with constituents and a representative from War On Want to discuss what we can do to embed international climate justice in COP26, and our wider movement. Thank you so much to everyone who came. Thank you also for your vital contributions to our breakout groups. It was incredibly helpful to hear what Hallam constituents think international climate justice looks like, and how we should go about getting there. You can read more about what was discussed here.
- I visited two of South Yorkshire’s flood prevention schemes. It is great to see such innovative work going on in our region to help restore our natural environment and better protect our communities from flooding. Both natural and concrete flood prevention is vital if we are to properly protect our communities from flooding. I also wrote this piece for the Yorkshire Post on the urgent need to expand natural solutions to flooding. As the last few weeks have shown, there is no time for Government inaction on flooding or the climate.
- After a constituent got in touch about her own experience, I met with Infact, the National Campaign Group representing every affected person in the UK harmed by Sodium Valproate and other AEDs in Pregnancy.
- As a Hen Harrier species champion, I joined representatives from RSPB on a trip to see hen harrier chicks in the Peak District, and observe the satellite-tagging process. It was amazing to see these birds up close, and hear more about the important work to protect them!
- I celebrated the 73rd birthday of the NHS, by sending a huge message of thanks to all the key workers in Hallam who gave their all to look after us this year. I am continuing to call on the Government to grant them the proper pay rise they deserve.
- As part of a project run by Hope for the Future, I met with school children in Hallam to answer their questions about my work on the climate and hear about their ideas for tackling the climate emergency.
- I sent a message of solidarity to everyone at the Save the Arts and Humanities Rally about the potential closure of the Archaeology department at the University of Sheffield. Many people have contacted me to raise their concerns about this decision.
- I was really pleased to get to go to the Yorkshire Show to talk to the National Farmers Union about all things nature and water. I was so caught up in the discussion that I forgot to take a picture of myself enjoying the sunshine, so here is one of some fabulous sheep instead!
- I also spoke to BBC Radio Sheffield about my relief that the WASPI women are finally having their concerns recognised. The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s ruling is a vindication for those who have been campaigning so hard on behalf of all those affected. For too long the Government has ignored these women. Now they must respond.
- Earlier in the month the Government’s Health and Care Bill returned to parliament for its second reading. Rather than learning the lessons of the last 9 years of creeping privatisation in our NHS, the Tories have doubled down on the failures. Labour will fight this Bill – which will lead to further privatisation of our Health Service – at every step of the way. You can watch my speech during the debate here:
- Following the awful racism faced by Black England footballers following the final I questioned the Minister over the Government’s failure to act sooner, and spoke to the Sheffield Star and Sky News. Abuse like this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The Government’s denial of institutional racism and their continued failure to act has given space for a culture or hostile environment that sees this racist abuse as acceptable. I know the whole of Sheffield stands united against this racist abuse.
- I voted against Johnson and Sunak’s devastating cuts to international aid. To tackle the global Climate Emergency, ensure a just transition, and secure equality for women and girls, the Government should be increasing support to the world’s most vulnerable – not cutting it. Sadly, the Tories voted through the cut.
- I also voted against the Government’s dangerous hate speech protection bill, which will leave universities in England and Wales at risk of being sued by those peddling hate speech. Instead of focusing on the real issues people care about, like fixing our social care system, the Tories pushed through this disastrous policy. I went on Politics Live and spoke about my concerns with this dangerous bill.
- In my role as Shadow Minister for Nature, Flooding and Water, I have been holding the Government to account over their complete failure to build our resilience to flooding across the country, and address the climate emergency that is causing it. I want to send a huge message of thanks to the emergency service workers who have been working around the clock to protect people.
- Earlier this year the Environmental Audit committee said the Government had ‘no strategy indicating how new biodiversity policies will work together’, and called their approach ‘toothless’ and ‘devoid of effective delivery mechanisms’. I questioned the Environment Minister on their lack of any plan to halt and reverse the nature and species decline.
- I called on the Government to introduce stronger protections for hedgehogs and all endangered species, during a Westminster Hall debate. If we’re aiming for species abundance then raising the threshold for species protections is a step in the wrong direction. We shouldn’t wait for species to become critically endangered before extending protections to it. You can watch my speech during the debate here.
- I also spoke during the Westminster Hall debate on COP26. Ministers should be taking a plan to these important talks, leading by example and pushing for ambitious targets – not waiting for the international consensus before taking action. I challenged the Government over their complete lack of plans or targets and asked if they would meet with me before the conference to discuss our Hallam Citizens’ Climate Manifesto. If the Government is out of ideas I know the people of Sheffield have plenty!
- I met with the Institute for Customer Services to discuss their Service With Respect campaign and hear about how I can help champion the campaign in Parliament, to ensure all customer service workers in all sectors are protected.
- The Government’s Policing Bill returned to Parliament earlier this month. Sadly, nothing has changed. The Tories are still pushing ahead with the draconian bill which will extend police powers, erode our Right To Protest, and further criminalise and discriminate against the Gypsy Roma and Traveller community.
- The Government also announced their Voter ID plans, which will price people out of democracy and stop millions from having their say at the ballot box. I, along with my Labour colleagues, will be fighting this every step of the way.
- Earlier this week Labour announced its New Deal for Jobs, to address the erosion of workers’ rights we have seen under the Tories, and strengthen protections for people during and beyond the pandemic. Our plan would extend sick pay, National Minimum Wage entitlement, holiday pay, paid parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal to 6.1 million people. Our new employment rights charter would also remove “qualifying” probationary periods for workers starting new jobs, so these vital rights are available to everyone, from day one on the job.
- The Tories discriminatory Anti Refugee Bill was brought to Parliament this month. It violates our international treaty obligations, is inhumane, spiteful, and badly thought through. Upholding the best traditions of our city, I voted against it. You can watch my full speech during the debate here.
- I signed this letter, along with Sheffield’s other Labour MPs, calling on Priti Patel to urgently stop plans to deport dozens of Zimbabwean asylum seekers, who had no access to legal advice, as is their right.
- Stillbirth rates are twice as high for Black babies than white babies and 1.6 times as high for Asian babies. A baby’s risk of death should not be determined by their parents’ ethnicity or income. I called for an urgent confidential enquiry into these deaths during a debate in Westminster Hall on baby loss.
- As Chair of the all party group on SEND, I criticised the Government’s latest unacceptable delay of the publication of the review of support for special educational needs, initially announced in September 2019. You can read my full statement here.
- I spoke to BBC Look North and ITV Calendar about the Government’s dangerous and reckless approach to unlocking. The Government needs to get on top of rising covid infections to avoid a summer of chaos, with hundreds of thousands required to self-isolate every week.
- I also appeared on the Left Whingers podcast, to talk about flooding, how we can tackle the climate crisis and my route into politics! You can listen here.
Sheffield City Council are currently consulting over plans to trial an Active Neighbourhood in Crookes. They are proposing measures that would reduce through-traffic and air pollution, increase accessibility for walkers and cyclists, and improve our outdoor environment.
You have until 13th August to have your say. You can share any thoughts you have below:
On Thursday 12 August 2021 there will be a Referendum on the Dore Neighbourhood Plan If the plan is approved it would mean planners in the City Council and in the National Park will need to take account of Dore Neighbourhood Forum policies when they make planning decisions. You can read more about the plan and what the referendum will be on here:
The impact of the pandemic on children’s learning and wellbeing has been significant – especially those whose families were already facing disadvantage. Education charity Action Tutoring has been working in Sheffield Hallam to support pupils in their English and maths, providing 545 hours of tutoring to pupils in small groups this past year. If you would like to volunteer as a tutor (for just one hour a week!) in person at a local school or online, and give support to pupils whose families couldn’t otherwise afford it, please sign up below! Training, ongoing support, DBS check and workbooks are all provided:
Dates for your diary:
2nd August: Sheffield Libraries are putting on a storytelling event with Robin Simpson to celebrate nature!
2nd August: There will be a gathering in Endcliffe park to celebrate LGBT+ pride!
7th August: Sheffield Fruit Trees are putting on a bud-grafting workshop! Join them to find out more!
7th August: Sheffield Creative Action for Peace are holding a short event to mark the 76th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
9th August: Sheffield Libraries are holding a Children’s online craft activity session!
17th August: At our next Hallam Climate Manifesto we will discuss what an ambitious Green Industrial Strategy looks like, the holes in the Government’s current strategy, what we can do to push this further up the agenda, and what we can do in Hallam to ensure our city’s transition is led by workers and trade unions. You can sign up here.
21st August: Friends of Whinfell Quarry are holding a Garden Working Day!
27th August: Shefftek are putting on a Summer Slam, to raise funds for the charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians.
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