I’ve been working on a range of national and local issues in the last few days and I spent more time in Reading and Woodley last week than normal, due to a Shadow Ministerial visit on Thursday. I am in Parliament for most of this week, including covering a Friday sitting for a colleague, who has also helped cover some debates for me when I had diary clashes.
Work in Parliament and with the Shadow Transport Team
Last week started with the intense debate about the future of Heathrow, which continued until late last Monday night. I understand that many people locally will have different views on this important issue, I voted against the third runway because I believe it did not meet the tests set by Labour:
· Can it be built (the project would involve moving the M25) and a legal challenge has started
· Can carbon dioxide emissions be managed (the Government did not explain how it would achieve this e.g. reductions in emissions from other transport)
· Can local noise and local air pollution such as particulates and nitrous oxide be managed (again little credible information from the Government)
· And finally would regional connecting flights be protected/regions benefit (this was also unclear).
The Government has staggered on, failing to agree on Brexit and it missed the opportunity of using the European Council meeting to take negotiations forward. I am surprised and deeply disappointed by the lack of focus from the Conservative Government.
We have continued to press the Government on its failure to manage the railways and the failure of the privatised franchise system. Further concessions were announced by Ministers who have offered compensation for travellers affected by the rail timetable fiasco.
Visit from Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Policing Minister
I was pleased to be able to welcome Louise Haigh to Reading on a fact finding visit last Thursday, when she met, me, Reading West Parliamentary Candidate, Rachel Eden, local Police, teachers and others working with young people.
The visit gave Louise the opportunity to visit the town centre and see the work our innovative but hard pressed local police are carrying out to tackle drugs and a wide range of other issues, including their work with other agencies to try to support vulnerable people and to prevent crime.
We also visited a boxing club for a group of teenagers who are working hard to focus on school and staying out of trouble. This project was an impressive piece of preventative work supported by the police, local schools and other agencies.
Surgery and other work on Friday
I held one of my regular surgeries in the United Reformed Church on Wokingham Road, this was well attended by a range of local people from Park Ward.
Whitley Excellence Cluster
I am keen to support the Whitley Excellence Cluster, which supports excellence in schools in South Reading, and I met a group of young people and teachers from the cluster at an event at JMA. This included music performed by students and a question and answer session.
Armed Forces Day
I attended Armed Forces Day on Saturday afternoon, which was held in Forbury Gardens and I was privileged to be able to present awards to ex-service people in recognition of their service. I attended in support of the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Paul Woodward and the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.