Firstly, I hope that you are well and enjoying the summer.
It’s important to remember the lessons of Jo Cox; who reminded us that we have #MoreInCommon. It was a pleasure to join cross-party colleagues at the Great Get Together event in Parliament in June. Kim Leadbeater MP and the Jo Cox Foundation continue to do a great job championing Jo’s message of unity.
In June we celebrated the contribution of our Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families as we marked Armed Forces Week. I’m proud to represent our city with its rich military history; from the original Roman Fortress and the English Civil War, to the present day with the Dale and Fox Barracks and HMS Albion. Our city continues to put on a good show, with the military parade being a resounding success.
On the subject of Chester putting on a good show, I was captivated by the Chester Mystery Play at the Cathedral earlier this month. Our city continues to have an expansive range of events and entertainment. Cestrians have been treated to the Chester Heritage Festival, Blacon Festival, Green Expo and the Active Travel Festival all within a month.
I’ve continued to keep up the pressure on Avanti West Coast, following their continued poor performance. Unbelievably, Avanti has cancelled several direct services to Chester over the summer period while they undertake improvement works, making it harder for people from across the country to enjoy our incredible city. I will continue to work with colleagues in Parliament and push Avanti on this crucial issue.
I expect many people planned to visit Chester this year following the visit by Youtube sensation Rate My Takeaway, who left rave reviews for two of our local food outlets. Chester continues to have a cracking food and drink scene; which was reaffirmed by my recent visit to Ye Olde Cottage pub to discuss the challenges facing the sector.
For those who read the Chester Standard, you may have seen that Chester was recently named the greenest city in the North West. I’m incredibly proud of Chester’s green credentials, from the work done by the Zoo in pushing us to be the world’s first sustainable palm oil city in 2019, to being the UKs first Fair Trade city. I’m clear our city often leads the way on big issues, and that’s partly thanks to groups like Chester World Development Forum, whom I had the pleasure to address at one of their meetings earlier this month.
One of top issues that Cestrians remain concerned about is animal welfare and biodiversity, often an underappreciated aspect of the Climate Crisis that we face. I’ve been active in Parliament on these issues, speaking in favour of the utilisation of “swift bricks” to help restore the UKs swift population. As a Councillor, I was happy to support the installation of swift bricks at Northgate and the Bluecoat. You can watch my Westminster Hall speech here.
I’ve also voted in support of measures to return the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, a Tory manifesto commitment that they have now abandoned despite widespread cross-party and public support. In the debate I raised various issues on behalf of constituents in the debate, you can view my contribution here.
One of the key environmental issues facing us here in Chester is the continued dumping of sewage in our River Dee. I’ve raised this issue directly with the Prime Minister in my first Question at Prime Minister’s Questions.
The PM agreed this is an unacceptable situation, but doesn’t seem to be giving the issue the attention it needs. You can watch this here.
I’ve continued to work with key stakeholders in Chester, including Environmental charities, Welsh Water and Severn Trent to tackle this issue. I’ve met with the CEO’s of the aforementioned water companies to raise the issue and how they are supporting residents with their water bills during the Tory cost-of-living crisis.
This work culminated in the latest Summit of the Dee meeting. The meeting was well attended with representatives from the water industry, local environmental organisations, councillors and river user groups. We were fortunate enough to hear thought provoking talks from the likes of Tim Ackerley, Welsh Water, Steve Hughes and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Thank you once again to all those who attended the event and continue to push for a sewage free Dee!
Another of the top issues in my inbox is healthcare. Constituents continue to raise awareness of the challenges facing people with a range of health issues, often asking me to attend drop-in events to find out more. Being an MP is an incredible job, and finding out how I can help people is one of my favourite parts of the job. This month I attended drop in sessions on Motor-Neurone Disease, Arthritis, support for Community Pharmacies and many others.
Another reason to be proud of local people was the NHS Parliamentary Awards, where the Dynamic Support Database – Clinical Support Tool at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership was shortlisted for the Future NHS Award. Unfortunately, they didn’t win this year but being shortlisted is an incredible achievement.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the NHS on reaching it’s 75th anniversary. This is just one example of the life-changing decisions that only a Labour Government can make.As you may have seen, Labour recently launched our fifth and final mission; To break down the barriers to opportunity at every stage. You can find out more on the Labour Party website here.
As part of this, I’ve visited local schools and nurseries to hear the challenges they’re facing under this Tory Government. This has included visits to the Catholic High School in Handbridge, the Chester Bluecoat in the Garden Quarter. I find these visits inspiring, with local children taking a keen interest in the issues facing our society. Following my visit to Chester Bluecoat, I asked the Government’s Education Ministers what steps they are taking to improve the development of children’s early speech and language skills. You can view this here.
I’ve also visited Best Day Friends Nursery and Spinney Day Nursery. In the last five years, five nurseries in Hoole have closed. This is causing local parents hardship in finding suitable childcare to ensure they can get to work, continue with their education, or commit to training opportunities. I raised the issue with of access to good quality childcare in Education questions on Monday, you can view my question here.
This month I visited SPACE, a fantastic local charity providing children with an accessible play area and support to parents of children with additional needs. I continue to support our great local charities and ensure residents are aware of the help they provide. This includes at my recent Carer’s Coffee morning, where I heard from various local carer’s about the challenges they face.
Another challenge facing local people is the Tory Mortgage Bombshell. The aftershocks of the ‘KamiKwasi’ budget are still being felt by households across Chester. Labour has set out a(nother) five-point plan to support mortgage holders in the face of rising interest rates. You can find out more here.
I continue to push Sanctuary Housing to provide a better service for local residents and recently met with the CEO and Chief Customer Officer to make them aware of the issues faced by Sanctuary residents who contact my constituency office. My team continue to help our local residents and have now ensured that constituents get the money they are owed, since my election this has amounted to £168,000.
Chester Football Club continues to lead the way and make our city proud, hosting all Chester FC Women’s home games at the Deva Stadium. I recently signed up for a season ticket with Chester FC women at the very reasonable price of £25 for adults, £15 for concessions and U16’s free with the purchase of an adult or concession ticket.
In Parliament, I’ve been to events championing our England Lionesses who continue to impress on the world stage and an event looking at support for grassroots football with John Barnes (sorry Evertonian CLP members!), our City has a plethora of grassroots teams who ensure we have a healthier football ecosystem across Cheshire.
I will end this newsletter on the news of the changes made by the Boundary Commission. Despite the representations made by hundreds of residents, the Boundary Commission finalised their report and have split our City into two new parliamentary constituencies: Chester North and Neston and Chester South and Eddisbury.
It’s incredibly upsetting to be the last Member of Parliament for the whole of Chester and I will cherish every minute until Parliament dissolves ahead of the next GE, whenever that maybe. For those of you who will be in the Chester South and Eddisbury Constituency. I’d like to reaffirm that I’m still your MP until the General Election. For more information on the new boundaries, you can find out more information on the commission’s website here.