This month Parliament has returned and the party conferences are over for another year. As normal service resumes, we've had to deal with some major issues in Parliament, particularly the Government's outrageous power grab in the form of their EU Withdrawal Bill. There's been continuing pressure on policing and more strain on our our public services and in the run up to the Budget we want to keep the pressure on to end cuts to our services. To receive next month's email straight to your inbox, sign up here.
Back in July I raised with the Prime Minister a shocking case involving a girl at Cygnet Hospital. I wrote to the Health Secretary in July regarding the hospital and have now received a reply from the Department of Health. There have been several inspections from which we are waiting for results, and my concerns continue. I will be meeting with the Minister in the coming weeks to discuss the situation.
I have since been speaking to those with experiences of the hospital - if that includes you or someone you know I'd urge you to get in touch. I have serious concerns that vulnerable people are being cared for in conditions that aren't suitable or safe. I also have concerns about the levels of agency staffing, and quality of care.
This month the Government's alarming approach to Brexit has taken another turn for the worse, with the EU Withdrawal Bill threatening to give ministers far-reaching powers to alter laws with no oversight. That's not taking back control - it's handing over huge amounts of power to people without scrutiny from elected representatives.
Our Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has been clear about our conditions for any bill, including that it should safeguard rights and protections for people currently enshrined in EU law, and that we should be part of the customs union and single market during a transition period.
I voted against the Bill in Parliament at Second Reading, and we will now be holding the government to account every step of the way as the Bill goes to committee stage and then to Third Reading.
Theresa May decided the best way to restart the floundering talks was to bring the nation's media halfway across the continent for a speech in which she at least conceded some of our position on a transitional period, but offered no real clue on our future relationship and gave no answers on a deal around the Northern Irish border.
I was pleased to visit Woodseats Primary School last month to talk about my role as an MP with the pupils ahead of their elections for School Parliament.
I was lucky enough to be able to address the school assembly, taking questions from the children about my job as an MP, what they would like to see changed in schools and what they would like to see change in the future. There were some interesting suggestions about road safety and wildlife - my personal favourite was being asked if I could get everyone a T-Rex. They also asked what I was most passionate about.
It was great to see so many children wanting to ask questions and nearly all of them put their hands up when asked if they were standing for election to become their class representatives in their School Parliament.
It’s hugely important that students know how their democracy works and what their representatives do to help change the world.
Thanks to staff and students at Meadowhead School for inviting me to come and take part in their Q&A last month. It’s the third time I’ve done one of these events and the questions were typically good – we had the chance to discuss our thoughts on the voting age, the impact of Brexit, and the impact of tuition fees on those going to university.
For all the cynicism about young people and engagement with politics it was obvious the students care a lot about the issues they raised and had thought through their questions ready for the Q&A. It’s encouraging to have these kinds of discussions with people who will soon be able to vote – and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them involved with politics in the future.
After the Government's announcement of an unfunded, sub-inflation rise in police pay, I took Home Office Minister Sarah Newton to task on the details. Unfortunately the proposed pay rise of 2% is still well below inflation, running at nearly 3%. While we’ve determined the average officer has lost almost £6,000 since 2010, the Government is proposing yet further pay cuts for our vital public services.
The Government's refusal to properly fund the rise is just giving with one hand and taking with the other.
The Metropolitan Police estimate this will cost them more than £17.7million this year. West Yorkshire and West Midlands Police both estimate that it will cost them around 80 frontline officers this year.
The Government has been on warning for some time that the Police are at breaking point, this week's announcement will surely break them. Watch the full video here.
With morale at record lows and forces across the country facing a funding crisis, it’s disappointing the Government can’t seem to do better than this.
This month I paid a visit to the 6th Sheffield Guides, who invited me to their meeting to discuss the Go For It challenges they've been doing, including talking to women in top jobs. In particular they wanted to know about my life as an MP, and whether I'd ever experienced discrimination as an MP for being a woman.
In recent years the number of women in Parliament has risen drastically. There are 208 women in Parliament, up from just 41 in 1987, and although it’s not yet the equality we work for, significant progress has been made and I hope that can inspire girls and young women to get involved in politics.
We also spoke about some of the things the Guides wanted to become law, as well as taking some questions on local parks and discussing what they liked about living in Heeley. It was really lovely to hear they like the parks and green space, as well as the sense of community.
The Guides have done really good work on raising girls’ aspirations, as well as their great campaigning around positive body image and the No More Page 3 campaign. I was really pleased to be invited along to take part in their meeting and I hope to be back soon.
At Prime Minister's Questions I asked the Prime Minister to change the law on pursuits and tackle moped crime. She tells me tackling crime isn't an issue of resources. For a former Home Secretary she doesn't have a clue what she's talking about when it comes to the police - but she didn't deny that an unfunded pay settlement will result in a further loss of frontline officers. Watch the video here.
This month I spoke in the urgent question, brought by Labour, about the awful situation affecting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Sadly the Minister was dreadful, failed to condemn the genocide and failed to call on Aung San Suu Kyi to take action. You can watch my question here. We're now pushing for a backbench debate on this crucial humanitarian issue.
I’ve long been clear about the problems of Universal Credit and so I’m joining forces with lots of colleagues to call once again for David Gauke and the DWP to delay their full rollout. Despite only having been rolled out in a few places, the DWP admit only 40% of people can assess the Verify portal and 23% don’t receive their payment within 6 weeks. Payment delays are often 12-13 weeks, causing enormous hardship and anxiety to claimants facing huge delays in payment.
As of last month Citizens Advice told me that despite only 7% of claimants receiving Universal Credit, they’d already had to deal with 80,000 problems, a number sure to rise with a premature rollout.
The DWP claims they are listening to concerns – if that’s the case they’ll pay attention to the many individuals and organisations pointing out the serious flaws in the Universal Credit scheme.
Double Six Youth Club in Woodseats are hoping to install several solar panels on their building. They’ve applied for funding under the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund, which provides £300,000 for community energy projects across the country.
For Double Six to qualify, they need to top the vote in South Yorkshire, and they’re currently sitting on a close second place. I’d urge everyone to get their votes in here – it takes no time at all and could really help out a valuable community youth club.
On October 16th my office team and I are taking constituents on a guided tour of Parliament. There are still a small number of places left, and if you'd like to book a place please get in touch with my office on 0114 250 8113, or email email@example.com.
I had a great visit this month to the Intake Wives’ Group. The group’s been meeting for 56 years, and arranges trips and meals for local women as well as inviting speakers on all sorts of topics.
They asked me to speak for a few minutes about my motivation to be an MP, some of the issues that most concern me, as well as the day to day business of what I do in Parliament and how I tie that into my work in the constituency. We also had the chance to discuss Brexit, the ongoing problems with off-road bikes and Streets Ahead.
Casework continues to rush in and this month I've been dealing with a lot of issues around people's housing. If you're a constituent with any problems you'd like help with, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google Digital Garage Extends Opening – The digital skills training on offer in the city centre was originally planned to run for 6 months but Google have now announced they'll be running until April. I've benefited from their help and advice and you can find more information here.
NSPCC PANTS Campaign - The NSPCC have asked me to share their ongoing PANTS campaign to help children recognise and prevent abuse - please find more on their website.
Woodseats Playground Community Dig Day - Friends of Woodseats Playground are inviting people to their upcoming Community Dig Day, held on Sunday 15th October from 11-4. Bring your gloves and help clear the stream banks and brighten up the Playground with new plants!
Police Officers "Thousands Of Pounds Worse Off Than When Tories Came to Power"
Cygnet Sheffield: MP Urges NHS To Break Ties With Private Hospital
Police Cuts To Fund One Per Cent Bonus Could Push Forces To "Breaking Point"
Abandoned 999 Calls to Police More Than Double
Racist and Religiously Motivated Attacks on MPS Officers Up By 56%
Terror Threat Warning as Tory Austerity Cuts Mean Armed Police Take Up To An Hour to Respond
Tory Response to Terror Attack Shows They Don't Get Digital Tech
The Police Have Protected the Public - Labour Will Protect the Police
A Banking System That Works For the Many
Fabian Review: An Accountable Force: Labour and Law and Order
As always, 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.