View from the House - 9th May

Welcome to my weekly View from the House for Tamworth Informed. I hope you all had a very restful Bank Holiday weekend and enjoyed the time with your friends and families.

As Tamworth residents last week, you will have had the chance to vote for your Councillors, either on Tamworth Borough Council or Lichfield District Council. Before I go into the local elections, there are two meetings that I attended last week that I wanted to keep you informed of: the National Association for Retired Police Officers (NARPO) parliamentary drop in and a meeting I had with West Midlands Railway.

NARPO plays an important role in supporting retired officers and the family around them. I recently dropped in to meet their Chief Executive and discuss the change to the Police Pension Regulations. The contribution of those closest to Police officers to public service often goes unrecognised but they provide crucial support to their spouses in conducting their roles, both emotionally and practically. I will be seeking clarity for NARPO members in and around Tamworth.

Spaces on trains seem to be an ever-increasing issue, and as a frequent train commuter, I know exactly how residents feel. I do not see the answer to train hiccups as full-scale nationalisation, but instead reforming the system we have to give commuters more say. West Midlands Railway run two lines that go through Tamworth: The Cross City Line and West Coast Main Line. Having spoken with them I was very encouraged to hear that the Cross City Line is having a full refurbishment, new trains in 2021 and they will be laying on more carriages for those busy times in the mornings and evenings. The West Coast Main Line runs down to London under the London Northwestern brand and commuters will see twice as many seats on most trains with 8 car trains at busy times but also on weekends. This will open Tamworth up further to London, which is good for business but also good for Tamworth in receiving more domestic tourists from the south of the country.

Coming on to Tamworth’s local elections, last Thursday we saw voters go to the polls to decide on local issues: who empties your bins, cleans your streets and provides our leisure facilities. The results of that election show that the voters of Tamworth have once again backed the Conservative team at the Borough Council under the leadership of Cllr Danny Cook. The Conservatives held all 8 seats, UKIP took a seat off Labour and Labour held just the 1 seat. The local election was not fought simply on national issues but instead on who can deliver the best services at a reasonable rate of council tax.

Yet it is clear that many former Labour voters in the Midlands and the North are angry at Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to frustrate Brexit. They are tired of the London Labour bubble telling them they are wrong, and they are have said to me on the doorstep that Labour must either help Theresa May get us out of the EU or get out of the way. Across the country the results were mixed, and we lost a lot of good Councillors down in the South of the country to the protest votes helping the Lib Dems. However, across the Midlands, the voters backed the Conservatives. We saw councils in Derbyshire and Walsall turned blue bucking the national trend.

On Friday I visited two schools, firstly to Shenstone Lodge school to talk to them about school funding and I was able to update them on my recent meeting with the Schools Minister, Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP. Then in the afternoon, the school’s management, parents and myself came together to talk about the parking situation outside Flax Hill School. It was my first weekend that I was not campaigning and so it was quite relaxing to have the Bank Holiday to breathe before coming back down to London.