This is the February edition of my monthly newsletter. To subscribe to monthly email updates, click here.
I and local campaigners have been working hard on the issue of planned NHS service closures since before Christmas and we've really pushed this ahead of the close of the consultation on 31st January. I've sent out thousands of letters to households across our area, explaining the changes and why I'm opposed to them.
This month I've appeared on Look North and Calendar, as well as Radio Sheffield, to explain concerns that the closures will lead to increased pressure on A&E services which can ill-afford the extra pressure.
The consultation is nearly closed but we've received over 1,000 signatures and 800 survey responses. Thanks to everyone who's signed or returned them, and I'll make sure I keep you up to date with what happens next.
Like most people who heard the news I was extremely concerned by the liquidation of PFI giant Carillion a few weeks ago. There are serious questions to be asked about why the company continued to receive Government contracts even after it had issued profit warnings, and how the Government proposes to ensure this does not happen again.
Closer to home, people in Sheffield will need assurances about the local contracts Carillion hold - a call centre in the city centre providing 250 jobs, flood defences in the Don Valley, and the Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train project. Most of all the future of HS2 will need to be assured; Sheffield badly needs greater connectivity with other cities in the North and access to HS2 will be vital.
A Labour government would not award any new PFI contracts and would gradually bring poor value for money contracts back in-house, making sure we get the best value for money from our public services and infrastructure projects, and can have full democratic control over how they operate.
I was invited to Graves Health and Sports Centre by UKActive, the non-profit organisation chaired by Tanni Grey-Thompson, the Paralympian and 11-times gold medallist. We discussed the good work Graves is doing in bringing together a number of public services with their swimming pool, gym and exercise classes – the transformation has resulted in an 82% increase in visitors over the last year.
They provide NHS Physiotherapy and Rheumatology services, giving people the chance to receive treatment closer to home rather than make often difficult trips to hospital.
UKActive has over 4,000 members working in health and fitness, trying to encourage physical activity in all its forms. Inactivity is a major contributor to ill health in the UK, with around 20 million adults estimated to be insufficiently active by the British Heart Foundation.
I led for the Labour Party this week in a Westminster Hall debate this month on how we can tackle the serious problem of county lines, the kidnapping of children by criminal gangs to run drug trafficking around the country.
Often the criminal gangs behind this activity exploit vulnerable young people to bring them into the illegal drug trade. We have to be clear that these young people should be treated as victims, and not as criminals.
Thousands of people die every year due to illegal drug use, and the Government must give the police the resources they need to tackle this serious crime which is damaging communities and exploiting the vulnerable.
On January 19th I attended the important debate brought by Karen Buck MP on legislating for housing to be fit for human habitation.
There are estimated to be around a million such properties in the UK, and redress is currently only available through local councils who are badly underfunded and vary in quality, with around half giving out only one or no Housing Act notices in the last year. By passing this Bill we’ll help ensure that tenants don’t have to live in homes which are riddled with damp, or mould, or are otherwise dangerous.
The proposals in the Bill are backed by Shelter, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers and Generation Rent, as well as having broad support among landlords’ groups.
I’m hoping to see this bill succeed, but in the meantime if you need to report disrepair in a private rented property, please report it to Sheffield City Council using this form.
Residents at the bottom of Chesterfield Road will soon be receiving a consultation on a potential new selective licensing scheme being proposed by the Council. If introduced this would mean landlords of properties on Abbeydale Road, London Road and parts of Chesterfield Road have to apply for a license to rent properties in order to make sure they're good landlords and can keep the property looked after. You can find more information on the proposals here.
Those of you who have followed the ongoing Concentrix scandal might have heard that those who suffered as a result of their actions will be receiving an insulting £14 in compensation while the company walked away with £32 million.
Concentrix were originally tasked with handling tax credit claims but wrongly denied thousands of claims - with 90% of appeals being accepted. After I exposed their disgraceful handling of the contract they were sacked by HMRC in 2016, but to date the Government has paid out just £18,025 to 1,271 claimants - just £14.18 each.
Votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill finished this month in the House of Commons and we've now had the vital vote on the Government's wish to ditch the Charter of Fundamental Rights as we leave the EU.
It's vitally important Parliament is given a meaningful vote on any eventual Brexit deal, and will need to meet our red lines of a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU, effective measures to handle terrorism and national security and a deal which can meet the needs of all regions and nations of the UK.
Before Christmas I called for Parliament to go plastic-free, and this month I've helped support the campaign for major supermarkets to cut plastics from their packaging by 2023. Iceland have already agreed to do so, and we've just heard that Waitrose will stop using hard-to-recycle black plastics in their packaging too.
We produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic per year, 12 million tonnes of which ends up in our seas and oceans - I'm sure I won't be the only one to have been moved by the scenes of devastation this can cause to our marine life shown in Blue Planet II last year.
While we keep pressing the supermarkets for action, we've been thinking about how we can reduce our plastic use in my office to what's absolutely necessary - maybe there's a way you can cut back too.
I met with Cygnet's CEO, Dr. Tony Romero, to discuss conditions at Cygnet Sheffield and how vital it is that improvements are made to patient safety.
It's unacceptable that young people have been and, according to CQC reports, still are being left at risk in a facility meant for their care. The NHS must stop commissioning beds at Cygnet until these safety issues are properly addressed.
Dr Romero assured me that considerable changes have been put in place, including the recruitment of 11 nurses and £0.5m worth of investment following my intervention. I met with the Minister last week as well to discuss wider issues in mental health as a whole and will continue to follow the issue closely.
Holocaust Memorial Day, held every January 27th, commemorates the millions of victims of the Nazi genocide, and all those who have been victims of genocide since.
It is difficult to comprehend the true scale of horror inflicted on the Jewish people and other victims, but the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust works to ensure that by understanding the nature of genocide we can help prevent these atrocities occurring again.
I attended a moving candlelit vigil at the Winter Gardens, addressed by a number of religious and community figures, as well as a reflection by Susanne Pearson, who as a child escaped Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport in 1939. She told us her moving story of being one of 10,000 children travelling alone as refugees before the outbreak of war in 1939.
This month we said goodbye to Kit Sollitt, one of the four "Women of Steel" campaigners.
Kit was one of thousands of women who went to work in our city's steel works during the war and who still inspire all of us with their courage, determination and the solidarity they showed.
Thanks to the campaigning of Kit and her friends those women - and the vital role they played in the struggle to defeat fascism - are now immortalised in the City Centre.
When I walk past the statue it's so fantastic to see young girls & women and Sheffielders of all ages taking pictures and linking arms with the Women of Steel - one generation inspiring another.
Since 2015 Labour has been calling for a Victims' Law to give basic rights to victims of crime, who are consistently let down by our criminal justice system.
From the victims of grooming in Rotherham to people unable to get a police response after a burglary to the victims of John Worboys, it's vital we enshrine rights in law so that horrendous episodes like these can't be repeated.
I've joined other Sheffield MPs in calling for an end to hospital parking charges. Although there are problems with enforcement, hospital parking represents a serious burden on those with long-term illnesses or other needs, and those who take care of them.
Our NHS wouldn't have to find money through fees like these with proper Government funding - that's why we've committed to properly fund our NHS and abolish parking charges.
CV advice sessions are continuing at my office on Chesterfield Road, the first Monday of every month from 2-3:30pm.
If you're looking for a job and want to polish your CV as much as possible, book your place now by contacting Louise@LouiseHaigh.org.uk or call my office on 0114 250 8113.
This month casework has started to come in again following the new year, with issues ranging from housing and icy roads to problems with the health service. If you're a constituent with any problems you'd like help with, please contact me at Louise@LouiseHaigh.org.uk.
The Real Junk Food Project have got hold of 50 tonnes of frozen tomatoes that need a good home. If you, your business or organisation could use some 10kg tubs of them for any reason, find more information here.
Cooking classes at Heeley City Farm's Farm to Fork events continue from Monday 29th January for six weeks - learn to make low cost dishes from farm produce.
Get in Touch
If you have any comments, questions or have a problem you think I might be able to help with, give my office a call on 0114 250 8113 or email me.