Welcome to my first update of 2024. I’d like to start by wishing you and your family a happy new year. It’s been a busy start to the year . As your Member of Parliament, I’ve been working on various issues raised by fellow residents via email, telephone, at my surgeries and while out knocking on doors and calling on constituents.
Earlier this month I spoke to Cheshire Live about my first year as an MP and also my deep disappointment that I will be the last MP for the City of Chester constituency due to the boundary changes which will come into effect at the next General Election.
As always, if you have any issues or questions about Government and Opposition policies I can help with, please drop me a line at email@example.com
It was a busy end to the year in Westminster and it’s been a busy return. Although my first rail journey back to London with Avanti West Coast went smoothly, we once again saw chaos over the Christmas period. Many constituents continue to share their concerns over the delays, cancellations and poor services. I have again written to the Managing Director and Government Minister about the dreadful services and the effect they are having on Cestrians and Chester.
As the country’s economic woes continue across the country, we need to recognise how fortunate we are to have some amazing hospitality businesses in Chester. It’s important to support our local businesses wherever possible, as they are crucial to building the inclusive economy our city needs. The life of an MP is a busy one so I enjoy the time I get to spend with family and friends, especially when that time is spent in our fantastic city. Here I am enjoying time with my family in Chez Jules on Northgate Street.
Earlier this month, I questioned the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero about what support the Government can offer to restaurateurs with sky high energy bills, following my conversations with Chester BID and comments from local chef Gary Usher. Supporting our businesses is vital to Labour’s mission to achieve the highest sustained economic growth in the G7.
We have some amazing charities in Chester. Earlier this month I enjoyed sausage, eggs and chips while talking to residents at the Dial House Community Cafe. Dial House does amazing work for our residents living with disabilities. The organisation offers a range of services and events, including the West Cheshire Autism Hub Discovery event I was honoured to attend. Here I am pictured with Trisha Bell, the retiring chair of Dial West Cheshire. Trisha has been with Dial for an amazing 27 years.
This month I’ve also met with representatives of Chester Women’s Aid, to learn more about the work they do supporting anyone who is experiencing domestic violence across our county. This is an incredibly serious issue and I welcome the focus of Labour’s mission to “Make Britain’s Streets safe” by halving serious violent crime and putting specialists at the heart of the courts and policing system.
Down in Westminster I’ve attended several drop-in events to learn about what support I can provide to different good causes. This included a drop-in outlining issues guide dog owners experience, who continue to face barriers to living actively and independently.
January can be a difficult month for so many of us. The short days and long nights can have a negative impact on our mental health. It’s so important to check in with friends and family during this time, that’s why I’m proud to show my support for the #Brew Monday campaign led by Samaritans.
I also attended a drop-in by Alcohol Change UK for #DryJanuary to promote a healthy break in Alcohol consumption for those wanting to make a small change in their lives.
January sees the commemoration of #HolocaustMemorialDay. There is so much suffering around the world right now and I support my colleagues as we continue to call for the alleviation of suffering in all of the ongoing conflicts blighting our societies.
Healthcare issues affect so many constituents. I often read and hear some upsetting stories from constituents, be that in my email inbox or at my constituency surgeries. These emails inform my work and have seen me speak on issues including the contaminated blood scandal following contact from constituents.
I’m grateful for those constituents who have shared their stories with me so far, but I want to hear even more so I can better support you. So please do reach out, encourage your friends and family to raise their issues and email in at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last month I met with academics from the University of Chester to discuss the exciting work they are undertaking as part of their Cancer Special Interest group. Last week, I raised the issue of unmet cancer waiting times with the Government Health Ministers. This follows on from my question at the start of the month urging the Health Secretary to tell the Prime Minister to do all he can to prevent our hard-working NHS workers from having to take strike action.
My email inbox continues to be filled with emails from constituents struggling to access NHS Dentistry. In 2024, this is a complete travesty. I have raised this issue locally with the NHS in our area, however, much wider change is needed to tackle this problem. That’s why I support Labour’s plan to make the NHS fit for the Future. This would include 700,000 new NHS dentist appointments. You can find out more on my video on X/Twitter.
I would like to thank legendary librarian Linda Tyson, who works at our fantastic Storyhouse venue in Chester. She has recommended many good reads to me over the years but Jog On by Bella Mackie was a really uplifting book to read in the new year.
Our city and the surrounding towns and villages have an excellent cultural offering and that’s largely down to the amazing local residents, some of whom I hope subscribe to this newsletter. There’s still time to nominate for the Cheshire West Community and Voluntary Arts Awards, I’d encourage residents to submit nominations to celebrate the talented individuals and groups you know.
And this year, we have the Chester Festival of Ideas to look forward to. This promises to be an exciting collection of talks and events to further enrich the varied cultural offering on the calendars of Chester residents.
As you may know 2024 is the biggest year for Democracy in history with more people across the globe having the opportunity to vote than ever before although the robustness of some of these democracies, including for example, Russia’s, leaves a lot to be desired. I therefore take my duty of promoting Parliamentary Democracy with the importance it deserves. I was really pleased to meet with the great pupils from St Martin’s Academy at the Education Facility in Parliament. I’ve been encouraging other schools to get involved and take the opportunity to visit as well.
I also had the honour and pleasure of addressing the Officers of the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), which is currently stationed at the Dale Barracks. It was great to speak to a room of passionate public servants in an amazing facility. The Royal Yorkshire Regiment has an incredibly rich history of which they are justifiably proud. It was a warm welcome and I hope they will be visiting Parliament soon too.
The 2nd Battalion is currently the “Experimentation Battalion” of the British Army, testing out the latest innovations in technology to help ensure our soldiers have the best equipment to keep them safe and ensure they can effectively carry out their duties wherever in the world they are needed.
Towards the end of the month, I had the privilege of handing out an award for the most improved attendance to pupils from Overleigh Primary School. Since the pandemic, across the country school attendances have dropped but I know our local schools are working hard to encourage better attendance. The Labour Party has a plan to turn this trend around and break down the barriers to opportunity at every level.
Chester Zoo has continued to provide reasons for Cestrians to be proud. The Zoo’s Nature Recovery Corridors is an exciting project, delivering on wildlife restoration that connects with local people, with the project being the runner-up in the BIAZA Great British Wildlife Restoration award. The Biodiversity and climate crises often arise as issues raised by constituents who email me, Labour’s mission to make Britain a clean energy superpower is vital in ensuring we hit our net zero goals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Please do get in touch with feedback, and to talk about the issues that matter to you.