I wanted to update you on some recent developments and on my work for our community.
Black Lives Matter
The killing of Mr Floyd was absolutely appalling.
I am strongly opposed to racism and I believe that people should be treated equally and that human rights should be respected.
This needs to be investigated urgently and I hope that the case will be treated with the seriousness it deserves, both by the police and the courts in Minnesota.
I believe the Government should be taking determined action, as a start it should:
– Condemn Donald Trump
– Suspend the export of riot control equipment to the United States
– Take action on a series of deeply troubling recent events in Britain, including the Windrush Scandal, the Grenfell Disaster and the far higher death rate from corona virus among Black and Ethnic Minority residents
– Encourage the teaching of Black History and World History
– Do much more to tackle racism at home and abroad
Avoiding the risk of a second peak
First of all I would like to pay tribute to NHS and care staff, other key workers, volunteers and indeed our community as a whole for the way people have responded during the crisis.
I support sensible easing of the lockdown, however there is a risk of a second peak if the lockdown is eased too quickly.
I am concerned that the Government may be moving too fast, particularly as questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the track and trace system, with some staff telling BBC news that the system is not up and running. I have also had residents contact me about these problems, in one case a local resident had to wait over a week for test results, making it very difficult for any contacts to be traced before they passed on the virus.
Fire Safety in Reading East
Holding the Government to account
I believe Keir Starmer was right to ask whether the Government should have done more to prepare for the return to work and school.
It would have been better if there could have been more discussion and general agreement about these steps. Sadly Ministers have pressed on without always bringing people with them. To make matters worse, Dominic Cummings’ behaviour gave the impression that there was one rule for some people and a different one for everyone else.
I am continuing to receive a high level of casework and held a virtual surgery on Friday, using a phone in to allow residents to speak to me at pre-arranged times, to prevent the risk of transmitting the virus at a public drop in surgery at a community hall. To book a slot at future virtual surgeries please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting our local community to return to work and school
I have been working with Reading and Wokingham councils, transport operators and others to support the gradual easing of restrictions.
Parents have naturally been concerned about the return to school and I am pleased that both Reading Borough and Wokingham Borough have let schools decide when to start reopening, so that head teachers can do this when they feel their schools are safe.
I would like to know what you think about this difficult issue, please complete my survey here to let me know what you think.
We need more support for children and young people
I am concerned that all children may have fallen behind and that some may be particularly affected. I have been calling for more support for disadvantaged children, including offering extra help for them. Please email me if you have concerns about this email@example.com
I am pleased that Labour is to raise the issue of vulnerable children in a debate in Parliament on Wednesday.
A-levels. GCSEs and apprenticeships
I’ve also been raising concerns about the effect of the school closures on older teenagers, including those applying to university or apprenticeships and I have been pressing the Government on this issue. Please also contact me about this if you have concerns firstname.lastname@example.org
Saving our heritage and green spaces
Plans to build on some major sites are progressing, despite the pandemic.
I am still in discussion with the Ministry of Justice and am continuing to press for Reading Gaol to be saved and turned into an arts and heritage hub.
A planning application to build hundreds of houses on Reading Golf Club is due to be made in the next few weeks. I oppose this scheme because of the potential damage to the local environment in Emmer Green and the increase in traffic in Caversham and Emmer Green, over the Thames bridges and in the town centre. Please click here to complete my survey on the golf course development here or email me about other issues.
I have been working on a range of transport issues in Parliament, including pressing the Government over safety on buses, funding for buses and trams and also on encouraging cycling and walking.
Encouraging walking and cycling
I want to thank everyone who contributed their ideas on this important issue, in response to the plans from Reading Borough Council. I hope that any concerns or suggestions can be taken on board and it is also worth considering that the changes proposed will be temporary (click here to have your say)
I am also pressing Wokingham Borough Council to come forward with similar ambitious plans for Woodley and Earley and I have now raised this twice in meetings with the leader of the council and am working with local councillors to continue to raise this.
Supporting bus use
I’m currently working with Reading Borough Council and Reading Buses on a bid for Government funding to electrify some buses in Reading and Woodley. I was pleased that the Government listened to concerns about buses and continued its scheme to support bus services.
Matt Rodda MP