Colne Valley Business Conference

On Friday, I was delighted to welcome businesses from across the Colne Valley constituency to the first Colne Valley Business Conference.

Thank you to all of our fantastic speakers and delegates for making it such a valuable and positive day. Thank you also to the University of Huddersfield and Barclays for supporting the event.

Rachel Reeves MP with Thelma
Shadow Chancellor Rt. Hon John McDonnell, Thelma and Michael Hartig from Barclays Bank


If you weren’t able to participate, but you would like to offer your feedback on challenges facing businesses, you can complete the following short business survey: Your feedback will be very valuable and help my work in support of local businesses. The survey is open to SMEs of all types – private businesses, social enterprises, co-operatives and others – and from all industry sectors

PMQ on Kirklees Council cuts

I asked the Prime Minister what she would recommend Kirklees Council should cut, after having their budget slashed by around £200 million of cuts, and with another £45 million to come?

Care for people with dementia, emptying the bins, libraries, leisure centres and museums, school meals for vulnerable children or helping the 24% of children living in poverty in the Colne Valley constituency.

She couldn’t answer me!

Speech on hospital car parking charges

A third cheaper to park in council car parks than at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Thelma Walker raised the issue that patients and staff feel like “Cash Cows” for the Calderdale Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) in a speech calling for free hospital car parking.

Speaking in a Backbench Business Committee Debate, on hospital car parking charges, Thelma spoke out about the extortionate costs that patients and staff face when parking at a CHFT site.

The debate, which was brought forward by a cross-party group of MPs, aimed to highlight the costs facing those who use hospital car parks. The debate also highlighted the wider issue charges can have on the surrounding area, as some people choose to park in residential areas to avoid the costs.

Thelma raised the fact that it is a third cheaper to park in a Kirklees Council car park, than at a NHS Trust site, saying “Is this not NHS Trusts profiteering from the sick and vulnerable?”. To park in the Market Hall in Huddersfield it is 90p per hour and Huddersfield coach station charges £4 for a full day. To park at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, however, it sets patients and staff back £2.80 for up to a 2-hour stay and over £7 for more than 6 hours.

Whilst CHFT do meet national guidelines by ensuring that certain groups of people are exempt from the charges, many are forced to pay them, including Blue Badge holders and staff.

In the 2017 Labour Manifesto, the party said “Labour will fund free parking in NHS England – for patients, staff and visitors – by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums”

Thelma said “At the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, a 2 1/2 hour stay, 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year will cost you £780! How does anyone think it’s right that these hardworking professionals are paying nearly £2000 a year to treat people. I can tell you, it isn’t”

Speaking after the debate, Thelma added “The debate today shows Parliament at its best. MPs working across party-lines, putting constituents first to try and make their lives better. Whilst I understand that the £2.7 million that the Trust received through car parking charges in 2016/17 plugs the gap in the funding from central Government, it is not right that patients and staff are being forced to pay over-the-odds car parking charges.”

Urgent Question on Capita


In the Urgent Question on Capita on Thursday, I raised the serious financial concerns and whether it was time to bring these companies into public ownership.

When our public services are outsourced to companies such as Capita and Carillion, there is a risk that their failure could cause significant damage to vital services such hospitals and courts, and to people’s pensions and jobs.