I hope this finds you well. It’s back to work in Parliament for me after the local elections and the long Coronation weekend.
Top of my list is to try to improve the situation over access to NHS dentists. I know that this is not a problem restricted to Hull and Hessle, but an increasing number of constituents have been getting in touch with the same problems. Some of them are quite desperate and their stories are heartbreaking.
One problem is that we simply don’t have enough dentists in the area, so part of the solution would be a Dental School in Hull. It would bring other benefits beyond just more dentists and I have begun working closely with our other two Hull MPs, Diana Johnson and Karl Turner, on a how best to achieve this.
Another reason for the decline in NHS dentists is the inadequate dental contract the government is currently offering. There is an opportunity to tackle this locally through the new Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and I am hoping they can be persuaded to trial an alternative funding system.
I am also planning a Facebook Live event on the growing problem. I will share information on how to join and ask questions as soon as it has been finalised. I will also be conducting a survey so that everyone can share their experiences and I hope this will be a powerful part of the campaign.
There is no overnight solution to a crisis that has been 13 years in the making. It will be a long battle, but one that I am determined to win.
Local elections, doorstep conversations and voter I.D.
I have been out and about the last few weeks supporting the local Labour candidates in the council elections, and it has been a great opportunity to talk to constituents and hear their hopes and concerns – and criticisms! – directly. The people of West Hull and Hessle are a great bunch and I do enjoy this part of my job.
People are really feeling the rising costs of daily living and the message I heard over and over again is that the country needs a change. As the Conservatives lost more than 1,000 seats across England we are not alone in that feeling.
I also spoke to a number of people who had either applied for I.D. and not received it in time, or simply hadn’t got around to it. I found this troubling.
It is worth remembering that a postal vote does not require photo I.D. and you can apply for one at any time. You will then be prepared for the next election, whether that is local or national. You need to be already registered to vote and to apply in writing. You can download the form to print out here, or request a form is posted to you for Hull here or East Riding here.
Action following Derringham Residents meeting
I’m really grateful for Sue from the Abbey Pub in Derringham, first for reaching out to me, and second for arranging the use of Priory Baptist Church for a resident’s meeting. Sue had got in touch over her concerns with the increase in anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping and it was clear to me that we needed to get everyone together. It was the first chance many residents had had to raise issues direct with their ward councillors which I found hugely disappointing to hear. I was pleased that Rich from Humberside Police and Luke from Renew attended the meeting as well.
Listening to those present, It was clear that austerity cuts to policing, youth services and probation were having a harmful effect on the community.
Following the meeting I contacted West Hull Community Police Team, the Antisocial Behaviour Team at the council and the Neighbourhood Network. Lucy Kevan, the new police inspector for Hull West, responded with the news that PC Harrison is now in the process of setting up a group with the Neighbourhood Network for the ward and will be running a regular police surgery. They will be inviting the ASB Officer to these surgeries as well, and this will give the residents the opportunity to speak with them on a regular basis regarding any concerns they have.
The Council’s ASB Team have also got back to say they are keen to work with residents and are looking at making Coronation Road and the surrounding area a priority area for response.
To help address the effects of anti-social behaviour on people’s mental health, I contacted the charity Mind. They have offered to put on a group session for anyone who would benefit from talking about their experiences.
Cuts to BBC Radio Humberside
I’m sure a lot of you will have heard that Burnsy will no longer be presenting his show on Radio Humberside and that Andy Comfort and Fiona Mills are also leaving. In fact, I understand that all Radio Humberside presenters were asked to reapply for their jobs and only one was successful.
Burnsy is an award-winning broadcaster who held the local authorities and MPs to account, and he did so without fear or favour. Radio Humberside gives its listeners a voice, and I was always happy to appear to be questioned by Burnsy, Andy or Fiona because I knew I would be answering direct to the constituents of West Hull and Hessle.
I secured an Urgent Question in Parliament when these cuts were first announced and then wrote to the Director General of the BBC with my concerns. This news confirms the worst of my fears: a haemorrhaging of talented local presenters with deep knowledge and connections to the region, the abandonment of a significant demographic of current listeners, and an effective end to high quality local radio.
I have now drafted a further joint letter to the Director General, which has been co-signed by all the MPs in the Radio Humberside region.
Support for armed forces families
Recently I met with two impressive young people called Elizabeth and Emily who discussed their ambition to set up an Armed Forces Champion in every school. Moving home – and so schools – can be a regular occurrence for children with a parent in the armed forces and they also experience pressures and challenges unique to them. Armed Forces Champions would welcome and support them through any transition issues which may arise, and be there with an understanding of their lives as they pursued their education. Ideally, there would be two Champions in every school: a pupil and a member of staff.
It’s a great idea and one I fully support. Elizabeth is planning an event with Paul Matson and the Hull for Heroes team and I have arranged a meeting with Hull academy trust executives this week.
If you work in a local school and you’re interested in this please get in touch.
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