Music in Education

Today I gave a speech in the Westminster Hall debate on music in education – an issue which is very close to my heart. I spoke about the importance of music in everyone’s lives and the benefit it brings to a child’s education The recent “Primary Colours” report concluded that our children now are receiving nowhere near the same provision of the creative arts as they did a generation ago.

For many children, school is their first exposure to all kinds of art, theatre, music, and culture – and it is unforgivable that we are moving backwards on this. Not only does this have consequences for those children personally, it holds us back as a society. In our history we have produced so many fantastic actors, artists, literature, and more – I will continue putting pressure on the government not to let these areas become the preserve of a privileged few.

#LayDown4CF

I have continued to support the national #LayDown4CF campaign, led by the parents of cystic fibrosis sufferers – including families in Colne Valley – pushing for the drug Orkambi to be made available on the NHS. Orkambi can be life-changing for sufferers of CF, but Vertex – the company which produces the drug – have rejected the NHS’s biggest pay offer ever of £500 million over five years.

I joined their protest in Parliament Square, which was partly a memorial to those lives lost from CF, and partly a plea to the government to step in and end the impasse. It is unacceptable that children’s lives are being held to ransom in this way and I was honoured to raise the case of local families in Parliament. 

Lovely to host work experience students

This week I’ve had two young men from Greenhead College complete their work experience in both my Westminster and Constituency offices. I love being able give my young constituents the chance to experience working in politics, particularly when they are so engaged and motivated.

Forgotten Children: creating policy with heart

As a member of the Education Select Committee, it has been my privilege to be involved in our recent inquiry into alternative provision. Student exclusions are predominantly affecting children in poverty and with special needs. The Alternative Provision options are not sufficient and are creating a new generation of young people who are not in schooling or employment, and who are excluded not just from school but from society and their communities. 

I was asked to write an article on our report for the Every Child journal, which can be read here:

https://library.teachingtimes.com/publications/everychildjournal/volume-7-issue-1.htm

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Proposals

I have read both the CCG and the council’s proposals for the future of HRI with interest today.

I will only support a proposal which guarantees improved accessibility for Colne Valley constituents and will continue fighting on the national stage for a well-funded, publicly owned NHS which is fit for the 21st century.

The campaigners from Hands Off HRI and Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E have done a phenomenal job of keeping up the pressure locally and nationally, and I am very pleased that alternatives to the closure of HRI and loss of services throughout Kirklees are being considered. However, I still have concerns about each of the proposals which are being put forward.

The CCG’s revised plan goes some way to meeting the demands of campaigners and local residents and I am glad that no further PFI is being considered. However, Colne Valley residents deserve access to a comprehensive A&E service that includes emergency ambulance admissions. Travel time and the problems caused by hospitalisation in another town are major issues. The national picture for our NHS remains bleak, with the worst cuts to services in the history of the health service, and privatisation at the hands of the Tories.

The council’s plan is a long-term view, with a timeline of at least a decade. I am glad that the council is planning this far ahead, and that it is willing to look at radical solutions to overhaul local health services.

However, I am yet to see any detail of this plan and I have reservations about its achievability. There is no information about the proposed location of the new hospital and no guarantees on where the money is coming from to build it. It is unclear what would happen in the meantime to the services which are under threat in Huddersfield and which have already been lost in Dewsbury. My concern is that the council has already faced unprecedented funding cuts at the hands of this government, with even the most basic of services under threat. A proposal for a £300m investment therefore requires a lot more detail, and the council must develop this through a full consultation with local residents and stakeholders.

Holiday Hunger – Children worried about food

A combination of benefits delays, in-work poverty, and service cuts make the holidays a time of hunger and heartache for many children & families. More than 1/5 UK children “worry often” about food – and that figure is rising.

This is Tory Britain in 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/03/they-hadnt-eaten-all-day-food-banks-tackle-holiday-hunger

Awarding of NHS contracts to private companies

Our NHS should not be used as a cash cow to drive private profit.

We need accessible and fully funded care, with transparency and accountability procedures in place to protect the interests of patients, not multi-national corporations.

Health care funding cuts have harmed provision in Kirklees, and threaten to continue for years to come. This Government needs to listen to the public, put people before profit, and halt privatisation.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/05/virgin-awarded-almost-2bn-of-nhs-contracts-in-the-past-five-years?CMP=share_btn_fb

Volunteering at Marsden Library

Marsden Library would welcome some new recruits to their friendly team of volunteers who help out in the library during all opening hours (and sometimes outside them!) Volunteering is fun, is a vital contribution to the community, and can offer valuable workplace experience.

If you could spare an hour or two, please do get in touch – all offers of help will be welcomed.

Find out more information by:
• calling in at the library during opening hours: (Tues 10-13.00; Wed 13-18.00; Thursday 10-13.00; Fri 13-17.00; Sat 10-15.00)
• visiting online: friendsofmarsdenlibrary.org.uk/home/join-us/
• emailing: info@friendsofmarsdenlibrary.org.uk