The recent escalating violence between Israel and Palestine is deeply concerning and we must see diplomatic efforts prevail before there is all out war. Civilian casualties are simply unacceptable, and I urge both sides to cease the violence and work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the hostilities.
We have also seen major breakthroughs on both the calls for a public inquiry into the Government handling of Covid-19 and the efforts to save the GKN plant on the Chester Road.
There are also updates on mental health awareness week, volunteers’ week, and my efforts to get warning tactile installed at Erdington and Gravelly Hill train stations.
More on all of these topics below, but first for a quick announcement:
As always, I post weekly updates on Facebook and Twitter – if you haven’t already, like my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter to get these updates and more information as we rise to the challenge of the Covid-crisis.
The escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine
Like many of you, I have been shocked and appalled by the escalation of violence in the Middle East.
The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah are wholly unacceptable and have reignited tensions in the region. Israel must comply with international law and meet their international obligations.
Furthermore, the violence we saw used against worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan must be condemned in the strongest terms. Holy sites and the right to freely practice religion without fear of violence or persecution must be respected.
Tensions are understandably high, but now is the time for leaders in the region to deescalate the conflict. The Israeli air strikes on Gaza that have killed multiple civilians, including children, are truly shocking and unacceptable. So too are the rocket attacks launched by Hamas. I strongly condemn all actions that endanger civilians.
Diplomatic efforts must now prevail, and we must see an end to the violence.
Public Inquiry into Covid-19
At last, Boris Johnson has committed to a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement earlier this week is welcome, but there are still issues that need to be resolved in relation to the establishment of the inquiry. Bereaved families are calling for three things:
- Bereaved families must be consulted on the terms of reference
- They must be allowed to give evidence
- The inquiry must start before spring 2022
Spring 2022 is simply too long to wait for the inquiry to begin. On this timescale, we are unlikely to get answers until the second half of 2023. This is too long for the families to wait, and it may be too late to deal with further waves of Covid. We must not delay in the learning of the lessons, lives are at stake.
In order for people to have confidence in the outcome of this inquiry, it must have bereaved families and those on the frontline throughout the pandemic at its heart. This includes them being involved throughout the process and, crucially, they must be allowed to give evidence. Only then will we be able to truly understand what went wrong.
Their stories must be heard.
I raised this issue in parliament this week, you can see the video here:
The past few weeks have seen significant developments in our efforts to save the GKN plant on the Chester Road.
I managed to secure a debate in Parliament on the issue and I’m grateful to all those who spoke in support of the 519 strong GKN workforce. I welcome the Government’s commitment to exploring alternatives to closure, including the possibility of investing in the plant.
GKN workers have now presented a strong and compelling alternative business plan that would save this historic plant. Melrose must now carefully consider this plan and fully commit to making it work. They have given assurances they would be open to a viable alternative – they must now honour that commitment.
Adding warning tactile to Erdington and Gravelly Hill train stations
I have written to the CEOs of both Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group asking them to install warning tactile at both Erdington and Gravelly Hill train stations in order to make our local stations safer for passengers with sight loss.
It has been brought to my attention that both Erdington and Gravelly Hill stations don’t have warning tactile on the edge of their platforms. Warning tactile is a vital orientation and safety measure that warns blind and partially sighted people when they are close to the platform edge. There are a significant number of people with a visual impairment living in the area who should be able to use their local stations knowing that there is warning tactile on the platforms to help them avoiding falling onto the tracks.
Mental Health Awareness Week
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is an opportunity for us to highlight the need for Britain to take mental health seriously.
All the indications were there before the pandemic that more people than ever were suffering from mental ill-health, Covid and lockdown has only served to exacerbate these problems.
We need a firm commitment from Government that they understand the scale of the problem and are taking action to support those who are struggling. There are long waiting lists across the country to see a mental health professional, leading many people to struggle without support for prolonged periods. This is unacceptable.
Investment in mental health provision is crucial. We need to train and recruit more mental health support workers and dramatically increase awareness of issues surrounding mental health.
Volunteers’ Week 2021
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen our local community rise to the challenge of supporting those in need through the crisis. Hundreds of volunteers from across Erdington have stepped forward to help others in their time of need, helping people with things ranging from delivering food parcels, shopping for those shielding, to health and wellbeing support.
Volunteers’ Week 2021 is a chance for us to showcase the fantastic work done by volunteers throughout the past year. The community spirit that has been demonstrated is something we must look to build upon over the coming months .
Throughout Volunteer’s Week, the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce will be hosting a series of events to showcase volunteering in Erdington and offer people a chance to find out more about how they can get involved and volunteer in their local community.
If you’re interested in attending one of these events, then please keep an eye out on the Witton Lodge Community Association Facebook, Twitter and website for more information. I will also be posting updates on my social media accounts.
As always, if you or anyone you know needs support throughout this difficult period, then please get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington