In the past two weeks we have seen the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK. It served as an opportunity for us to reflect on the past year and to remember all those who have sadly died due to Covid-19. We must never forget the devastating impact Covid has had on our community and we must vow to never allow something like this to happen again.
That’s why I am supporting the calls for a public inquiry into the handling of Covid-19. Learning the lessons is vitally important if we are to prevent any future pandemics having the same deadly impact as Covid has.
There have also been developments on the Crime, Police, Sentencing and Courts Bill, plans for Erdington to submit a bid to the Levelling Up Fund, the one-year anniversary of the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce, and the future of GKN.
Lockdown – One year on
On 23rd March 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be going into lockdown for the first time. A range of restrictions were brought in that were like nothing we had ever seen before and unprecedented action was needed in order to combat Covid-19.
One year on, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine rollout is progressing well, and restrictions are slowly beginning to ease. But the year has been incredibly tough, and the decisions of the Tory Government have only served to make it much worse.
Whether it be locking down too slowly (three times), or discharging potentially Covid positive patients into care homes, or not providing enough PPE for frontline health workers, time and again the Government have failed the British people and their decisions have caused death rates to soar.
I am calling on the Government to establish a full, public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic, and will go into that in more detail below.
But this week was an opportunity for us to reflect on the past 12 months and remember all those who have sadly died. On Tuesday, there was a minute’s silence and a doorstep vigil where people were encouraged to light a candle in remembrance.
Covid-19 has changed our country, and the world, forever. And we must never forget those who have lost their lives to this terrible virus.
Public Inquiry into the handling of Covid-19
I have long called for a full, public inquiry into the handling of Covid-19. I have met with families from across the West Midlands who have lost loved ones and heard their heart-breaking stories. They are desperate for answers as to whether their loved one’s death was preventable.
We know that decisions taken by Government throughout the pandemic have led to an increase in cases, including three times failing to lock down soon enough. They failed to learn lessons, and this allowed the virus to spread further than it would have if we locked down early. An assessment by the Resolution Foundation last week stated that 27,000 extra deaths could be attributed to the delay in lockdown in winter.
The thing that is most striking when speaking to the bereaved families is their determination to ensure that lessons are learnt and that other families do not have to go through what they went through.
I am pleased that the Labour Party came out in support of a public inquiry once the roadmap out of Covid is complete. I know how much this support will mean to the families.
I have also signed the letter below to Boris Johnson, along with Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and all Birmingham Labour MPs, calling on the Government to establish an inquiry.
We must learn the lessons from Covid and ensure the same mistakes are never repeated.
Crime, Police, Sentencing and Courts Bill
I voted against the Tory’s Crime, Police, Sentencing and Courts Bill they brought before Parliament last week.
Whilst there were many things in the bill we can support, such as tougher sentences for people who cause death by dangerous driving, assaulting emergency workers, violence against children and serious sexual offenders, there are parts of this bill that cause serious concern.
First, this Bill has 8 mentions of statues but not a single mention of women. The murder of Sarah Everard and the subsequent vigil in Clapham Common, have brought into focus the need for us to go much further to protect women and girls. This Bill fails to do that.
Furthermore, the limits the Bill would place on the right to protest are completely unreasonable. Peaceful protest actions such as causing noise would give the Police the right to break up a protest. It would restrict people’s ability to protest and put at risk a cornerstone of our democracy.
I will never support a Bill that takes away this fundamental human right. Protest has been the cause of so much fundamental change for good in Britain and our ability to exercise this right must be protected.
Erdington to bid for Levelling Up Fund
I am delighted to be working closely with Birmingham City Council on an ambitious Erdington bid to the Levelling Up Fund. Erdington High Street has been in decline for many years, with shops closing and footfall steadily decreasing, and it is badly in need of investment.
The unfair rejection of Erdington’s Future High Streets Fund bid was deeply disappointing. However, I, along with Birmingham City Council, am determined to ensure that our community gets the funding and support we need to unlock the massive potential we have locally.
This investment will have a transformative effect on our High Street, providing the economic boost that is so badly needed.
Read more about Erdington’s bid to the Levelling Up Fund here.
Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce – 1 year on
Covid presented many challenges to our local community. Those who were shielding struggled to access food and medicines, people were isolated from one another due to social distancing, mental health was affected due to lockdown. In response to these challenges, and many more, the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce was formed.
Over the past 12 months it has gone from strength to strength. Now comprising over 50 organisations providing a range of services to support Erdington residents through the most difficult of times.
I am extremely proud to be leading with others this fantastic example of community coming together to support community, and I’d like to pay tribute to all the organisations that are involved. But I’d also like to pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers that have given their time to support others through this crisis. Without their generosity, much of what has been achieved by the taskforce would not have happened.
On Thursday, we held a special meeting of the Taskforce to commemorate the one-year anniversary. You can see a screenshot of the event below and there will be a video of that event coming out very soon.
A key focus for me over the past few weeks has been the closure of the GKN factory. You will know from previous updates that Melrose announced earlier this year they were planning to close the factory, which would mean the 519 workers lose their jobs.
We have since discovered that Melrose plans to export these jobs to continental Europe to countries like Poland and France.
The closure of GKN and the exporting of these jobs to Europe is a scandal.
Along with their trade union, Unite, I have been campaigning hard to secure the future of the plant. I have raised this issue in Parliament numerous times and we also managed to secure a meeting with Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, to discuss the future of GKN.
I am pleased that the meeting was a positive one, and the Government stated they were willing to explore alternatives to closure. However, these warm words must now be backed up by action and that is what we are determined to ensure.
This week, Unite held an online event to discuss GKN and the outrageous actions of Melrose. I was part of a panel that included Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, Frank Duffy, GKN Convenor, Amy Jackson, Unite Political Director, and Kevin Maguire, associate editor at the Daily Mirror. You can watch the event by using the link below:
As always, if you or anyone you know needs support throughout this difficult period, then please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington