Last month 336 cases were opened on a range of subjects.
Nearly 20% of those who wrote in were concerned about International Affairs, in particular about stopping British arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the the news that the Court of Appeal ruled that British government sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in the ongoing war in Yemen are ‘unlawful’. Several wrote to me concerned about the welfare of Nazanin Ratcliffe after the British/ Iranian citizen went on hunger strike in prison in Iran.
12% wrote to me about tougher sentences on animal abuse by supporting the animal welfare Bill which I did.
Another 12% wrote to me about climate issues, and many asked me to attend the mass lobby for climate, nature and people – the Time Is Now on 26 June which I did.
8% of constituents writing in last month raised their concerns about the case of a mother with severe learning disabilities who was in danger of a forced abortion at 22 weeks. I am pleased the ruling was overturned by 3 Court of Appeal judges who found the original ruling infringed human rights.
Emails on Brexit were a bit quieter this month – accounting for only 5% of emails – the majority of which were calling for a second referendum following the EU election results. Several wrote in complaining they’d been disenfranchised from the EU elections – a matter I have taken up in Parliament.
Parliament is virtually at a standstill while the Tory leadership contest dominates the Parliamentary and political landscape. The contest is a macho event with the two remaining contenders trying to out do each other on who can offer the most destructive Brexit. In their attempt to appeal to the tiny majority of Conservative Members who will vote for their leader, we have now the dog whistle politics of fox hunting back on the agenda – a policy that the majority of the public were glad to see the back of.
My team have been busy helping constituents with a range of issues. Housing (particularly issues with allocations), concerns about crime, transport difficulties and Universal Credit problems have all featured.
I’ve continued to carry out my regular surgeries across the constituency.
In the community
It was great to celebrate Eid Mubarak at the beginning of June and I also enjoyed joining the Bandhan group for their Queens birthday tea party event.
On Armed Forces Day 2019 I met service men and women, Veterans and Cadets in Bedford town centre. It is right that we recognise the personal sacrifices so many make to keep our Country safe. We must do all we can to support our armed forces personnel both during their service and after.
I was proud to be a part of the multicultural parade organised by the Queens Park Community Orchard. The theme this year was reduce, reuse, recycle – with a plastic octopus highlighting the damage plastics can do to animals. It was a great event to bring people from a variety of backgrounds together to highlight this issue.
I met with Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire at The Kempston Police HQ where we discussed the problem of unregulated children’s homes – an issue that Jackie has been working hard to expose, because of the extreme vulnerability of the young people who live in some of this supported accommodation. Knife crime remains a focus for the force, but inevitably, with reduced numbers of Police and inadequate funding, other types of crime reports (vehicle theft and burglary for example) don’t always receive as much attention as the force would like
I had a great time at Priory Primary School, meeting students during Aspiration week. We talked about their hopes and aspirations for the future. It was also a pleasure to talk to Beech Class in Goldington Green Academy about climate change. I got the chance to answer some very insightful questions from the students about what more we can do to protect our environment and eradicate plastic pollution.
I received this letter from the Royal College of Physicians asking me to raise their concerns about the extent of the recruitment crisis.
I had an excellent meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses’ where it was great to see Charlie Walker of Tax Assist Bedford.
And HCLG Select Committee this month took evidence from Government Minister Rishi Sunak on local government finance and the future funding gap which according to a report by the LGA and independent analysis from PwC is set to rise to around £8 billion in 2024. It also continued its inquiry into the implications of the waste strategy for local authorities and discussed the HCLG Committee report and Government response into the future of High Streets and Town Centres. Given last month’s news on the closure of Topshop and Topman in Bedford, it was a timely opportunity to debate the huge pressures facing the retail sector, the changing face of our high streets and what we can do help the retail sector have a level playing field with online retail and how we must quickly adapt to the new ways people shop and to think about what we want from our community hubs in the future.
I have spoken a number of times in the House of Commons on other issues. Click on the following links to read in full:
4 June: Privately Run Prisons – https://bit.ly/309y1Bp
11 June: Free TV Licenses: Over 75s – https://bit.ly/2Kf7xun
9 June: Inequality and Social Mobility – https://bit.ly/2Zt7uyNc
13 June: High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 – https://bit.ly/2WFgRyl