Welcome to my weekly article for Tamworth Informed.
I am going to try and keep my update as Brexit light as possible. I am sure most of you are saturated with Brexit news and I want to show you that whilst Brexit takes up a lot of time, there is more going on. This is not to diminish the importance of Brexit, but to also remember the work going around alongside it.
Over the weekend and into Monday many of us received the news of the temporary closure of the George Bryan Centre. The 12 remaining patients will be moved to Stafford. I have written to both the NHS Trust and the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP, to ensure the closure is temporary and swift. The Department for Health and Social Care quickly offered help when the centre was struck by that terrible suspected arson attack. I am working with Government to ensure that help is there again if needed. The George Bryan Centre is a focal point of mental health provision in Tamworth and to lose to service to elsewhere would be bad for the people of Tamworth.
The environment we live in affects all of us, and whilst this Government is one of the greenest ever there is always more we can do! I joined the WWF team on Tuesday to support a New Deal for Nature and People, to reverse environmental damage and restore nature. Hopefully, Tamworth residents can join me, and people around the world by switching off your lights on the 30 March at 8:30pm. This is the world’s largest annual event to protect the planet, and every little thing we do will help to safeguard nature.
As ever, PMQs was on Wednesday and this week saw the PM lay out plans for a short extension to our exit date. Last week MPs voted for an extension, however, I voted against this. I believe Tamworth residents want to leave and leave in a timely fashion. If MPs approve the Prime Minister’s Deal then we will leave by May 22nd, however, if they don’t then the extension runs to April 12th.
Aside from Brexit, I dropped in to the ovarian cancer awareness event in Parliament. Ovarian cancer can be devastating. Every year 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK, and 4,100 women die from the disease. Target Ovarian Cancer works to raise the profile of ovarian cancer, spread the word about the symptoms, and train GPs in early diagnosis. The Prime Minister last year announced Rapid Diagnostic and Assessment Centres, which will help to catch this kind of awful infliction much earlier. This will reduce the time taken from appointment to diagnosis, as well as a diagnosis to treatment.
A number of residents have contacted me about issues on the trains, mainly overcrowding from Wilnecote to Birmingham. On Thursday I attended a meeting with the Rail Minister and the brand new Rail Ombudsman. They are a new ombudsman and are there to protect consumer rights, this includes overcrowding. I will be having further communication with them to talk about the specific issues we have in our area. If you have any rail-related issues, please do let me know.
This week I also met with the Midlands Engine to talk about how we can further grow industry in Tamworth in a post-Brexit Britain. The Midlands is essential to our national economic success. The region is responsible for over a fifth of the UK’s total manufacturing capability. The services sector in the Midlands accounts for over four million jobs and is worth around £158 billion a year. This is a dynamic region: there are now 427,610 more people in employment in the Midlands than there were in 2010 and the size of the Midlands economy has increased by £32.9 billion.
Throughout the week you may have seen the 24/7 rolling news coverage of the Prime Minister’s speeches, words from the European Union and debates in the House of Commons. The same will continue into next week, when we may be voting more on the European Union Withdrawal Bill. As ever, I will keep Tamworth residents informed of issues that affect us all.