Dear friend,

 

The murder of Sir David Amess sent shockwaves through our nation. A Member of Parliament, whilst out engaging and serving constituents, was stabbed to death in what appears to be a terrorist act. David was a fine and decent man and for him to be attacked and killed in such a way is truly horrific. A debate will now be had over the safety of Members of Parliament and what further measures can be taken to protect all public servants when at work. One thing is for sure, I am determined to continue fully representing the people of Erdington – and that means being with them in the community.

Our campaign to secure long-term funding for England’s maintained nursery schools went to Downing Street this week and we handed in a letter to the Chancellor calling on him to give these fantastic schools the secure long-term future they deserve. Government must listen to these calls and act in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

A report into the Government’s handling of Covid at the beginning of the pandemic was published last week, and it made grim reading for the Government. The report described the UK’s Covid response as “one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced”. Crucial mistakes were made and lives were lost as a result. We now need the public inquiry into the Covid pandemic to begin as soon as possible so we can learn vital lessons and prevent mistakes from being repeated.

There are also updates on Labour’s attempts to outlaw fire and rehire, speeding on Orphanage Road, and my walkabout with the Safer Streets team in Stockland Green.

More on all of these topics below, but first a quick announcement:

 


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Murder of Sir David Amess

 

The tragic and horrific murder of Sir David Amess came as a shock to us all. A fine and decent man who served the people of Southend with distinction for almost 40 years was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery last Friday.

David had passionately campaigned on a range of issues from animal cruelty to ensuring people were warm in their homes. He is perhaps most notable for his determination to see Southend be given city status, something I teased him about when I saw him in parliament, often calling him a ‘Southend Nationalist’. I’m pleased that Southend will be made a city as a tribute to Sir David’s memory.

The warm tributes that have been paid to David in the wake of his death from all sides of the House speak to the high regard he was held in as a Parliamentarian and he will be sorely missed.

Let’s be clear – Sir David’s murder was an attack on democracy.

As MPs, we must be allowed to do our jobs properly and safely. Unfortunately, the events of last Friday call into question once more the safety of Members of Parliament, and all public servants.

Twice in five years a Member of Parliament has been killed whilst serving their constituents. In the wake of Jo Cox’s murder in 2016, there were some welcome steps to improve MPs safety, including appointment-only surgeries and increased safety in constituency offices, but clearly, we need to look at this again.

One thing is for sure. MPs must be allowed to do our jobs without fear and we must stand up for the communities we represent – that is a fundamental principle of democracy. That means being with them in our communities.

My thoughts are with Sir David’s friends and family at this extremely difficult time.

 

Maintained Nursery School march on Downing Street

 

On Tuesday, I led a 250 strong march on Downing Street made up of headteachers, governors and parents to hand a letter to Rishi Sunak calling on him to provide long-term funding for England’s almost 400 maintained nursery schools in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Maintained nursery schools are the jewel in the crown of early years provision, but rising costs are leaving many facing severe financial difficulties and, without financial support, many face closure.

The campaign to secure long-term funding for maintained nursery schools was born here in Erdington, at Castle Vale Nursery School, almost 4 years ago. Since then, we have been successful in securing a number of short-term supplementary funding settlements but maintained nursery schools need a secure long-term future.

A recent survey conducted by Early Education, NAHT, NEU and UNISON revealed a third (34%) are cutting staffing and services to balance their books, almost half (46%) are running a deficit budget for the financial year and only one in four (23%) said they could continue to operate with current funding levels.

Things cannot continue as they are. These fantastic institutions provide the best possible start in life to children and young people, and we must protect them.

The time has come for Rishi Sunak to give them the secure long-term funding they deserve.

Thank you to the hundreds who came out on the march and the 2000 who signed the letter. Government must listen and protect these wonderful institutions that give children the best possible start in life.

Fantastic to see Castle Vale Nursery School, where the campaign for long term funding was born almost 4 years ago, leading the march on No.10.

My thanks also to NAHT, National Education Union, Early Education, and UNISON for their hard work in making yesterday possible.

The video below outlines why our maintained nursery schools are so important:

Click here to read more about the campaign

 

    Covid Report

    The Covid report has laid bare the abject failure of Government to control the pandemic from the very start.

    This report is absolutely damning. The Government allowed infections to rise to try and reach ‘herd immunity’ and delayed lockdown measures. This resulted in “one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced”. Crucial mistakes were made and many of the 135,000+ deaths could have been prevented if the Government had acted sooner.

    Despite their claims that they “did everything they could” and they “followed the science”, neither of these are true.

    In March 2020, with Covid spreading across the world, there were examples of countries taking firm action to tackle he outbreak. China and Italy, two of the worst affected countries introduced strict lockdowns. What did Boris Johnson do? Missed 5 Cobra meetings, told the public not to be afraid of the virus, went on TV advocating herd immunity, and even bragged about shaking hands with people in a hospital with confirmed Covid cases.

    In the autumn of 2020, we were late to lockdown again. Having learnt no lessons from the start of the pandemic, Boris Johnson resisted the calls from scientists and from Labour to introduce new measures to tackle rapidly rising cases. Scientists first called for a ‘circuit breaker’ in mid-September and Keir Starmer pressed the Government on this on 13th October. However, it wasn’t until 31st October that a circuit breaker was announced, by which time cases has risen yet further and the NHS was under significant pressure.

    There were yet more failings at Christmas. Despite a worrying rise in cases, the Government announced in November that they would be relaxing the Covid restrictions for a five-day period over Christmas. At its meeting on December 13th, SAGE recommended cutting the mixing period from five days to one or two. Keir Starmer called on the Government to urgently revisit their plans for Christmas, only for Boris Johnson to taunt him claiming he wanted to “cancel Christmas”. The Prime Minister ignored the warnings for two weeks, allowing the situation to worsen, and then just three days before the relaxation was due to come into effect announced that the plans were scrapped for large parts of the country and it was reduced to one day everywhere else. The last-minute nature of this announcement meant that many people had already made their Christmas plans and so just ignored the new rules, causing the virus to spread yet further.

    So no, Boris Johnson and his Government didn’t follow the science, and they certainly didn’t do everything they can to reduce infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. The claims they did are absurd.

    This report highlights the need for the public inquiry into Covid to start as soon as possible. Covid has not gone away. Infections are on the rise again, as are hospitalisations and deaths. Lessons must be learnt if we are to prevent mistakes being repeated.

    Click here to read more about the Covid report

     

    Labour’s attempt to curb fire and rehire

    Today, Labour brought a Bill before the House of Commons to curb employers’ ability to use fire and rehire tactics on their workforce.

    This disgraceful tactic, used to force workers onto new contracts with worse employment conditions and pay, has been used increasingly frequently in recent years by disreputable employers. The practice is simply wrong, and I have long been calling for it to be regulated.

    Boris Johnson himself has said on a number of occasions, including on the floor of the House, that companies should not be allowed to use fire and rehire. Despite this, the law still allows companies to inflict this on their workforce. This must change.

    The Tories had a chance today to put an end to the worst examples of fire and rehire, instead, they chose to deliberately block a vote on the motion and “talk out” or filibuster to prevent a vote taking place. It is shameful that the Tories would choose to let this practice continue.

    Labour will continue to campaign on this until Government listens. But once again, the Tories have shown they won’t stand up for working people.

     

    Speeding on Orphanage Road

     

    Speeding is a growing concern for many Erdington residents. Last week, I had an extremely productive meeting with residents on Orphanage Road to discuss their concerns with speeding and dangerous drivers.

    Speeding drivers are endangering local residents with their reckless behaviour. I met with residents at 8.30am, around the time parents are taking their children to school, and we witnessed a number of drivers travelling way too fast. There is a school nearby and parents and children are regularly crossing, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

    I was grateful for Birmingham City Council sending a Highways Officer to talk with me to residents about various speed calming measures and I welcome their commitment to instigating a traffic survey of Orphanage Road to investigate the speeds and frequency with which traffic travels on the road. I will also be supporting residents in conducting a local survey to find out what traffic calming measures the community would like to see.

    Working with local residents and Birmingham City Council, we will explore all options to tackle this unacceptable behaviour that puts lives at risk.

     

    Safer Streets ‘walkabout’ in Stockland Green

     

    The Safer Streets Fund, secured by Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, has already been making an impact in Stockland Green.

    The fund is designed to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, and almost £500k of funding for Stockland Green has been secured. The money will be used to introduce crime prevention and detection measures including extra CCTV and street lighting in crime hotspots.

    Last weekend, I joined a walkabout with the Police and Pioneer Group, who are administering the fund, to speak with local residents and hear their concerns. It was good to talk to so many residents and I know everyone involved with the Safer Streets Fund is eager to maximise the impact of this fund to improve the lives of the local community.

    It is encouraging to hear that the fund is already making an impact, and I look forward to seeing continuing progress being made over the coming months to tackle what is a serious situation.


    As always, if you or anyone you know needs support throughout this difficult period, then please get in touch with me at jack.dromey.mp@parliament.uk.

    Best wishes,

    Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington

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