Welcome to the next edition of my newsletter.
It’s been a busy month with the return of Parliament after summer recess and a lot of activity taking place in the constituency.
Last month, the Prime Minister outlined the government’s plan to manage Covid outbreaks over the winter period. This plan didn’t detail how the government will tackle the record NHS waiting lists or social care issues. The government needs to set out how they plan to drive up vaccination rates, and clear the backlog in the NHS, so we do not see a return to national or even regional lockdowns, which saw the North of England hit the hardest.
September also saw students returning to our two world-class Universities. There is always a buzz in the city when they’re here and it’s great to see that the majority of them will return to face-to-face teaching. I did encourage them all to support the wider community and to work with us to ensure that we keep Covid under control.
I was delighted to see that Fran Belbin was elected as Councillor in Firth Park. This was definitely a close fought race, but thanks go out to all members and volunteers who supported her campaign. Your help made all the difference.
But two issues have dominated the headlines – the HGV and fuel crisis and the shocking revelations around the murder of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa and the Mets response. You can read my full responses to these below.
Violence against women and girls
Recently we heard the shocking revelations about the murder of Sarah Everard and that the person who murdered her, used his Police warrant card to get her into his car. For too long harassment and abuse has been normalised and as a former Special Constable, I was as upset by the Mets response as I was to the horrific details of this murder.
I’ve called for a full national investigation on the culture of Policing. Now is not the time for warm words. Now is the time for action to stop violence against women and girls.
School children’s lost learning
I conducted research recently that showed that school children across Sheffield lost an average of 53 days learning over the past year, this is equivalent to ten weeks of face-to-face learning during the academic year.
Young people, teachers and support staff have done an extraordinary job in challenging times, but these shock figures show the impact of the past eighteen months on face-to-face learning.
The Conservatives’ meagre catch-up plan fails to match the scale of this crisis and it risks holding back a generation of kids and putting their futures at risk. I’ve called on Ministers to increase their ambition urgently and dramatically, or our children will suffer.
Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would give every child the support to learn, play and develop after this pandemic, delivering them a brighter future. It’s time for the Conservatives to get behind Labour’s plan and match our ambition for children’s futures.
Better Buses App
More than 100,000 people across Sheffield don’t own a car and many more rely on our bus network to get them to work, leisure and appointments.
I have launched an app for residents and passengers so you can log issues with the bus network. The information gathered will be used to challenge the bus operators and to work with Mayor of the Sheffield City Region to demand improvements.
Via the Better Buses App passengers can provide their feedback about specific services, how often they’re delayed or cancelled, the condition of bus stops and issues they experience with their journey such as hate crime or abuse.
Alongside Labour Party Members, I have been fighting to Stop the Cut to Universal Credit. Next week, the government plans to cut £20 a week from Universal Credit which will mean that more than six million families will lose £1,000 a year which is the biggest overnight cut to the social security system since World War II.
The £20 a week cut will mean that many families across the constituency and the country will now be forced to make a decision about whether to feed their families or heat their homes.
This is not a decision that anyone should be forced to make.
I have been fighting to Stop the Cut and demanding Tory MPs in our area to stand up for their constituents and voice their concerns and encouraging constituents and others to share their views, via my petition. I had an overwhelming response to this petition, and I want to assure you that the fight does not end here. If the government do not U-turn on this decision, then I will continue to fight to ensure that we secure a New Deal for Working People which will fundamentally change our economy so that working people have dignity and security they deserve from their job.
The Big Green Conversation
In the next few weeks, the UK will host the 26th UN COP26. These climate talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.
These will be the most important talks about climate action for a generation and its vital that we reach an ambitious agreement to get to net zero.
I have launched the Big Green Conversation for Sheffield Heeley and I want to hear from you about your views and priorities to address the climate crisis.
I have also been visiting climate events and schools to capture their views about their priorities. I want to capture as many views as possible and will be sharing these at COP26.
To complete my survey visit: The Big Green Conversation
Friends of Batemoor Park
We had a fantastic turnout for the first Friends of Batemoor Park meeting as we heard initial feedback from the public consultation.
Over the summer we have been speaking to residents and community members about what improvements they would like to see made to Batemoor Park. We’ve had some really good feedback around the use of the park by dog-walkers, activities and resources for teenagers and CCTV in the park.
You can still have your say by completing the consultation either online or by completing a form and returning it to Jordanthorpe Library or Batemoor and Jordanthorpe Community Centre.
Fighting for better pay
I’ve been fighting with Unite representatives and the Sheffield University cleaners’ campaign for a £10 hourly wage. I met with these hard-working women to hear first-hand from them about the financial struggles they face and how I can help.
I stand shoulder to shoulder with these women and the Unite campaign for £10 per hour for all cleaning staff at the University. Their fight continues!
Labour Conference 2021
I was delighted to attend the Labour Party conference, my first one, in-person, since being appointed Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.
I addressed conference, as the first Labour women to hold the position as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary since the incomparable Mo Mowlam and spoke about the challenges that face Northern Ireland – posed by this reckless, dangerous Tory government.
My mission, Kier’s mission and our collective mission in Northern Ireland is clear. We must finish the task and finally deliver the promise of peace.
Watch my full speech
You will not have failed to hear about the HGV crisis that the country is facing at the moment. HGV drivers have played a vital role in keeping our country running throughout the pandemic.
Keeping critical supply lines open, ensuring food is delivered to our plates and playing an invaluable role in our economy. The serious disruption and added costs resulting from this crisis risk harming our economy and increasing prices for consumers.
The truth is the Tories have failed to value good skilled jobs. They have failed to invest in those jobs and now we are all paying the price. We have a 90,000 HGV driver shortage, leaving supermarket shelves empty and businesses without vital supplies. And it’s only going to get worse.
I’m calling for a recall of parliament so we can issue the visas we need now for short-term capacity and make sure there is a plan to secure supply chains for the Winter.
The Government is offering far too little, far too late. The industry has been warning about this crisis for years, with only 9,000 HGV driving tests completed in 2019.
We urgently need to see Ministers bring forward a road freight recovery plan, bringing together all interested parties, with training providers, examiners, businesses, industry bodies and trade unions all working behind a single plan.
I’m opposing the Tories undemocratic Election bill, which is an underhanded attempt to rig our democracy in their favour. If this bill is passed, the legislation will reverse decades of democratic progress in the UK and undermine the rule of law.
I’m deeply concerned about the government’s plans to make it compulsory to show ID at polling stations for local and general elections by 2023 which are clearly designed to suppress turnout.
If the Tories cared about improving democracy, they’d be extending the voting age to cover 16- and 17-year-olds, not fixing the system for themselves.
Hike to National Insurance
I voted against the Tories plans to hike National Insurance in flagrant breach of their manifesto commitments.
There is no doubt that our social care system is in complete crisis and needs huge reform, but funding for this needs to be raised in the fairest way. This does not mean taxing the young and those struggling to get by.
Simply increasing National Insurance to pay for social care is fundamentally regressive and unfair and I will not stand by and just watch while the Tories tax jobs and force people to pay more in this totally inequitable way.
Action to avoiding Gas Prices
I spoke out about the government holding emergency talks with Gas companies to try and contain the fallout caused by soaring prices.
Once again, the government has failure to plan for the long -term and now find themselves in the situation where they are exposed and expecting families and businesses to pay the price.
I’ve urged the government to resolve this issue urgently before more families and children are pushed into poverty.