I have got used to writing ‘2023’ on my dates, but the new year has brought a familiar set of concerns along with the new.
I hope this finds you well and a special welcome to new subscribers who are receiving this for the first time. Each month I try and give an outline of the work I have been doing in parliament and in the constituency so I hope you find it useful, please do feel free to reply with comments on the issues I have raised or suggestions on what I could cover in the future.
Flood risk – action needed!
I was invited to sit on a roundtable event in Westminster organised by The New Statesman to discuss the increasing threat from climate-change related flooding, along with were representatives from insurance and mortgage sectors and FloodRe, which operates the flood insurance levy scheme. I know things are hard and it feels like we are bombarded with doomsday news, but the facts are that sea levels are rising and warmer air means heavier rainfall. We need to be taking action now for the changes that will inevitably come.
In Hull and Hessle we are more aware than most after 2007 and 2013, and as a result we have the groundbreaking Living with Water Partnership. As a result, new developments are built to higher flood resilience standards than elsewhere. However, the consensus at the roundtable was government is simply not moving fast enough to address the problems we know we are going to have to solve – both at the level of individual properties and for the country as a whole.
I also got to see their presentations and to hear their ideas on how to go about improving things around the school. I even got to watch their mini parliament in action and I am very pleased to say it was conducted thoughtfully and considerately. And yes, I’m sure you’re all now thinking what I was thinking!
This meeting fed into a flood risk roundtable the following week I had organised myself in the constituency. It was attended by representatives from both councils, the University of Hull, Environment Agency (EA), Humber and N Yorks Drainage Board and the Town and Country Planning Authority. It was great to get so much expert opinion involved in water management and planning the region together, and I was encouraged by the level of agreement. The EA is leading the Humber 2100+ project, which has to bring 12 Local Authorities together to agree a strategy to cope with the effects of the minimum 1m sea-level rise expected by 2100 on the Humber and its tributary rivers. Finding agreement has been difficult, and I will be doing everything I can to give the EA the tools to make it happen. Time and tide wait for no-one.
Flood risk – action being taken!
As I said, the Living with Water partnership means we are better prepared and protected than most areas and I got the good news that an area in Derringham I brought to the partnership’s attention, where water run-off and blocked drains are a problem for residents every winter, is being considered for conversion to an “aqua-green” which will prevent these difficulties. The proposals will also include community involvement to develop it as a nature-friendly green space. I will be having a look at this and other sites in the Derringham area ear-marked for possible work with the Living with Water team soon.
The next generation
I’m sure you all know I was a primary teacher, and I still love spending time in a classroom with children. It was a pleasure to be invited to All Saints Primary School in Hessle to speak and answer questions about Parliament with their school council committees.
It was heartening to see our future generation so involved in democratic decision making. If we want our politician’s decisions to better reflect what is going on in our communities then we need more people to understand and be involved in local democracy, and there were definitely some future politicians in that group!
Newington and Gipsyville walkabout
It’s really important for me to see what’s going on in the constituency for myself and to hear directly from residents. As well as regular door-knocking and attending of community events, I also like to do ward walkabouts with the Police Inspector responsible for that area. This month I was in Newington and Gipsyville with Inspector Alisha Dixon. It was really helpful to hear what has been going on and what is being done. After talking to some residents it was clear there are problems with HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and drug dealing, and I will be attending the next residents’ meeting with local councillors and police.
I was impressed with the proactive work of councillors Gill Kennett, Tracy Dearing and Lynn Petrini in supporting local residents with these issues. Some of the problems with HMOs need to be addressed at a national level, so I will be raising the matter in Parliament.
Huntington’s disease is a neurological condition with no known cure and which is degenerative – that is a disease which gets progressively worse. It is difficult both for those with the disease and their carers, who are often partners or close family. I recently helped a constituent in connection to this disease, and as a result I met with the Hull and East Riding Huntington’s Support Group and the Huntington’s Disease Association’s Yorkshire advisor. I was told there is a lack of understanding of the disease amongst assessors for Personal Independence Payment support and that leads to a lot of unnecessary struggles and hardship. Following the meeting I submitted a set of Written Parliamentary Questions and am writing to the DWP Minister to ask for the necessary improvements.
National Apprenticeship Week
I’ve been Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships for quite a while now because I believe they are a really important way of gaining skills and getting on in life. They can be a great start to a career or a way of improving your prospects when you are already in work. They don’t believe they always get the recognition or support they deserve, and so National Apprenticeship Week is designed to raise their profile. I’ve already met a couple of young men doing a bodywork apprenticeship with EYMS and will be attending more events during the week.
I was really pleased that UCAS – who are normally associated with getting people into a university – now advise on apprenticeships too. Have a look at their advice here. If you are interested in what employers think the government could do to improve things, there’s a really good Yorkshire Post article here. More information on National Apprenticeship Week here.
Endometriosis Action Month
Another issue which I have been involved with for some time is endometriosis, and March is Endometriosis Action Month. This year we want to highlight the real impact of living with endometriosis. Endometriosis is not “just a bad period” and pelvic pain is not “normal” There are lots of myths around endometriosis, including that it’s just something you have to deal with. This has to change if those with endometriosis are to get the care they deserve. If you want to get involved, or just learn more, visit the campaign page here.
As always, please feel free to share this letter with anyone you think might be interested. I will be doing as much as I can to offer assistance and advice over the coming months and represent the constituency in Parliament; please do not hesitate to contact me if you think I can help.