Opposing a hard Brexit
I believe the series of resignations over the weekend and early this week have shown just how weak the Government is, it is staggering that after two years, and several attempts, the Conservatives are still unable to agree on a plan for Brexit. The situation is volatile and is developing.
Labour is offering clear and principled leadership and a positive alternative of a customs union with the EU and full access to the single market.
The week ahead will be challenging for the Government and I am looking forward to Labour having another chance to highlight our alternative approach in the next few days and when the Customs Bill comes before Parliament next week.
Campaigning against austerity
I am continuing to campaign against cuts to public services and the deeply unfair changes the Government is making to the benefits system.
Opposing school cuts
I spoke in a debate on school funding last Tuesday and pointed out the pressure on local nursery, primary and secondary schools and I am working with the new Reading Borough Council lead member for education, Cllr Ashley Pearce, and other Labour councillors, in Reading, Caversham and Woodley, together with teaching unions and parents.
As part of this I am working with the borough council and schools to call for more affordable housing for teachers, together with fairer pay and a better understanding of their role as professionals.
Supporting our NHS on its 70th birthday
I attended street stalls at the weekend to show Labour’s support for the NHS and to campaign against cuts and privatisation and I’ve also supported a number of other activities and events linked to the anniversary of the founding of the health service by Nye Bevan and the post war Labour Government.
I think it is incredibly important to celebrate the values and history of our NHS and to promote what hard working staff are doing to save lives and improve the quality of people’s lives.
Sadly, our local NHS continues to be put under intense pressure by Government cuts and privatisation. I have been calling for more investment locally to deal with growing pressure across the health service, including in primary care and community services.
Campaigning for a fair deal on housing
I am continuing to work with Reading Borough and with the opposition Labour group of Woodley and Wokingham councillors on Wokingham Borough Council, calling for more council housing, more affordable homes to buy and for a better deal for renters.
The former Housing Minister, Dominic Raab, who I met with Tony Page, the deputy leader of Reading Borough to lobby for more council houses has now been moved to become the new Brexit Secretary, however, I will be working hard to press his successor Kit Malthouse for action on the housing crisis.
It was Catch a Bus Week last week and I have been busy campaigning for an end to cuts in bus services, raising the significant concerns of passengers as Government cuts lead to the loss of 500 routes a year during the last few years, because of the fall in Government funding for bus services.
Jeremy Corbyn raises bus cuts at PMQs and leaves Theresa May floundering
I was very pleased to see how Jeremy focused on buses as a vital public service which has been hit by deep and very damaging cuts under the present Government. He dominated PMQs leaving Theresa May struggling to show any understanding of the impact of cuts on the majority of residents.
Visit to Northampton
I accompanied the Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, on a visit to Northampton to see for ourselves the impact the bankrupt Conservative-run country council has had on services. We talked to local councillors and bus passengers about the deep cuts which have removed all subsidies from buses in the county and which are forcing passengers to give up work, making life incredibly difficult for elderly people and are hitting a range of other people very hard.
The contrast with Reading and other areas where councils own bus services is stark. I was told that a single ticket into Northampton from an inner suburb would cost around £4 and residents complained about the lack of routes.
We used some of the evidence we gathered as examples of how the Government is harming vital local transport services, when we spoke at transport questions on Thursday.
Holding the Government to account at Transport Questions
We had our regular chance to challenge the Government at the six-weekly transport questions, and asked them why they were failing on the railways, buses and on a range of other issues and I asked two questions on the cuts to bus funding.
Supporting private member’s billsI went into parliament on Friday as private member’s Bills were being discussed. (This happens on some Fridays, when the House does not normally sit). I was particularly pleased to be there to support the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, which was being proposed by Steve Reed MP
This is an important Bill which will help protect the rights of people in hospital.