Welcome to my latest newsletter as Member of Parliament of Nottingham North.
As always, it’s been another busy week, particularly with by-elections yesterday in Nottingham North, with three new councillors elected to the City Council. Congratulations to Nick Raine, who has been elected to my old seat in Basford. Similar congratulations to Georgia Power and Cheryl Weston, elected in Bestwood and Bulwell Forest respectively. They were all elected as party politicians but I know they will work to get the best for everyone in their ward. Having seen how hard they worked on the campaign trail I know they will all make excellent Councillors.
Before going over what I’ve been up to this week, I’d like to talk about a vote we had in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon on a matter which I, and I’m sure many of you, consider to be incredibly important: Universal Credit.
During an Opposition Day Debate, Labour called for the full rollout to be paused as the current state of it has been shown to not be fit for purpose. I touched on the impact of Universal Credit last week during my Westminster Hall debate, but this debate and vote was an opportunity for the Government to be told with complete clarity that Universal Credit, as is being rolled out, with a mandatory 6-week delay affecting those already in abject poverty, is unacceptable, and we did just that.
By the time the full rollout is complete in 2023 there are estimated to be 23,000 families in the constituency who will be on Universal Credit, all of whom will have to wait 6 weeks to receive anything, for no good reason, and 1 in 4 would be left without enough money to get by. I don’t think I need to point out the effect that this is going to have on these families who are clearly already struggling to get by. It will mean hunger, rent arrears, arrears on bills, stress, anxiety and many more problems that we wouldn’t wish on anyone, yet the Government seem content to let this happen, as it won’t be them that it’s happening to.
Unfortunately, the vote is non-binding as we voted 299 to 0 in favour of pausing the rollout, but the Conservatives decision to abstain rather than be beaten in a proper vote does not hide the fact that the House has deemed Universal Credit not good enough. The Government has lost the argument and lost the vote. The will of the people is clear and I will continue to urge the Government to fix this fatal flaw, so that less vulnerable people must suffer because of it, ensure that anyone who needs a payment gets one within 2 weeks, with no requirement to pay it back, and provide access to a minimum standard of support to help people adapt to Universal Credit.
For the final time as the event is next week, voting for Westminster Dog of the Year is still open. Get your friends and family to vote if they haven’t already! We’ve had wonderful support so far and my two wonderful border collies, Boomer and Corona, are desperate to win the competition (you can read their canine CV here). Part of it is a public vote, so if as many as possible of you could support them by voting here I’d really appreciate it. There will be a related event next Thursday which I’ll fill you in on in next week’s newsletter. Thanks a lot!
As I’ve said before, I will strive to send you a newsletter like this each Friday to keep you updated on the work I’m doing in Parliament as well as in our community, and to inform you of any interesting events taking place in our area. To help me with the latter, if you are running or know of anything that you think may be of interest to others, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com and I will include it in future issues. Please also forward it onto anyone you think may be interested.
As well as the vote on Universal Credit on Wednesday, there’s been another debate which I consider particularly important this week.
Fridays are normally for constituency work but today is a Parliamentary sitting day, as we debate Chris Bryant MP’s Private Members Bill, the Crime (Assault on Emergency Workers) Bill which would mean that assaults on emergency workers, whether police constables, firefighters, ambulance workers, prison officers, or otherwise, would be treated as aggravated if carried out while those people were carrying out their duties, and therefore double the potential prison sentence.
Figures from the NHS and the Home Office show that ambulance workers and police constables alone suffered around 2000 assaults in Nottinghamshire in a single year between 2015/16. This number of people being attacked just for doing their jobs, and noble jobs at that, is shocking, especially when we consider that the true number is likely significantly higher.
All of these workers provide an valuable public service, and knowingly put themselves at risk while doing it, so I believe it is only right that we properly protect them by ensuring proper punishment for perpetrators who would not only assault someone, but assault someone who is trying to help either them or someone else. This Bill would make such an act an aggravated offence.
I showed my support for the Bill in the House of Commons this morning, by intervening on Chris Bryant’s speech, as well as telling a short tale of my own personal experience with the fire service just this Wednesday. You can watch the intervention and Chris’s response to it here. I’m very pleased that the Government have chosen to support my Labour colleague’s Bill and that soon the these invaluable members of our society will be better protected by the law.
Outside the Chamber I had a number of meetings, as I continue to meet as many of the amazing groups and people who work to improve society, whether locally or nationally, as I can, and see what I can do to help their myriad of important causes.
One key meeting I had was with Dan Gray from ThinkForward, a charity which places skills coaches in schools to help young people with restricted opportunities achieve their goals. Dan is the Service Delivery Manager in Nottingham, one of the three areas where the charity operates, and is responsible for the five skills coaches that ThinkForward currently has offering their services in our secondary schools. In a deprived area like Nottingham North, I can’t stress enough how important support like this can be to making the difference for young people, and am looking forward to working more with Dan to improve the impact this can have in our area.
Something of great interest to people living in Nottingham North will be the announcement of the next proposal of the new boundaries for our constituency. If implemented it would mean that at the next General Election after 2018 Sherwood and Berridge Wards of Nottingham City would move into our constituency with Bilborough moving out into a Nottingham South and Beeston seat. I had hoped we would be able to keep Bilborough in our constituency, as it is very similar in challenges and outlay to Aspley, but I know that Bilboroughians will be at least relieved to be staying with a city seat – this was not the original proposal. Nevertheless, we still have real concerns with these new boundaries. The formula used does not take any reference of the number of people not registered and is based around mathematical simplicity rather than natural constituencies. I also don’t believe that reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 at a time when we’re taking thousands of regulations from the EU back in UK law makes sense at all. We will suffer locally as a result of these boundaries – unless there is significant chance I will not be supporting them when we vote on the final version next year.
As a former UNISON member of staff I am a member of the UNISON Group of MPs. We met to discuss the anti-low pay campaign that they and other unions ae running. I have supported this in the House and will continue to do so.
Each month Labour MPs from the East Midlands get together to make sure we are working collectively to get the best for our region. This week we were joined by Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition. This was a really useful session, talking about what the region needs from a future Labour Government. I raised two important things: firstly, the need for proper regional investment into the East Midlands and, secondly, the importance of supporting Co-ops as a means to economic development.
Finally, an issue you can expect to hear much more about from me – modern slavery. This is migrant labour being trafficked into this country, forced to work, and not getting the money the earn. All the while living in dreadful conditions. It’s awful and often unseen. This is an issue that I am raising in Parliament. I met with Vernon Coaker, neighbouring MP for Gedling and Chair of the Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, to discuss the debate taking place in Parliament next Thursday.
Other than all this there’s been lots and lots of knocking on doors – in the hammering rain!
I want these emails to be as interesting as possible. That means there’ll be some politics – it’s important that I am held accountable. But I also want to offer information about what’s on locally. So, if you have an event you’d like me to advertise, let me know.
Singin’ in the Rain
An age friendly screening of the musical classic starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds
Bulwell Riverside, Main Street, Bulwell, NG6 8QJ
Tuesday 24th October, 3pm, £2 including tea & biscuit
‘Curating Gibbs’, Annual Evelyn Gibbs Talk
Colette Griffin, assistant curator at Nottingham Castle Museum and Gallery discusses 2016 exhibition, Evelyn Gibbs in Peace and Wartime
St. Martin’s Church, St. Martin’s Road Bilborough, NG8 3BH
Friday 27th October, 7.30pm, £5 (£3 con.)
Bestwood Park Church’s Bestop Kitchen
Social Eating Event, Donations Welcome
Bestwood Park Church, Beckhampton Road, NG5 5NG
Every Tuesday, 12-3pm
Poems in the Pub
Poetry Open Mic Night
The William Peverel, Bulwell
Thursday 2nd November, 7pm
Notts Gets 2 Work Summer/Autumn Programme
Programme of free Dr Bike events (bike servicing) and bike maintenance sessions
Various Nottingham Locations
For further info visit http://www.nottmgets2work.org.uk/programme2017
Free Community Cinema
Free screenings of films, everyone welcome!
St John’s Church, Key’s Close, Bulwell
2nd Friday every month, 7pm
Drinks, crafts, activities, bible stories and a meal for all ages and interests
Bulwell United Reform Church, Broomhill Road/Brooklyn Road, Bulwell
Saturdays – October 21st, November 4th, December 2nd, 10:30am
Christmas Coffee Morning
Many stalls, gifts, toys, toiletries, bric-a-brac. Preserves, refreshments, cakes
Bulwell United Reform Church, Broomhill Road/Brooklyn Road, Bulwell
Saturday November 25th, 10:30am
If you would like your events advertised here, or further information on those advertised, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all for now! Details of how to get in touch or to have a look at the things I’m doing are below…
All the best,
How to contact me
If you would like to contact me, please email email@example.com or give my Nottingham North constituency office a ring on 0115 975 2377.
If you are a constituent from Nottingham North e-mailing me regarding a casework issue you are my priority, so please ensure your message includes:
- your full name
- your full postal address, including postcode
- a contact telephone number and
- any helpful details relevant to your case such as date of birth, reference numbers etc.
Strict parliamentary protocol means I can only deal with issues on behalf of my own constituents. If you aren’t sure whether you live in Nottingham North, you can check who your local MP is by entering your postcode online here: findyourmp.parliament.uk.
You may also wish to write to me with your concerns. If so please send your correspondence to Alex Norris MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA. All constituents who take the time and trouble to write a personal letter will receive a reply as a matter of priority.
Other useful links
- If you’d like to learn more about the Labour party their website is here.
- To join the Labour Party click here.
- Benefits Information: Here’s an excellent site that allows you to find out exactly what benefits you are eligible to claim: EntitledTo
- Housing: please contact your City Council
- Problems with benefits or the Child Support Agency? The Citizens Advice Bureau and the Nottingham Welfare Rights Service can give advice. Remember to have your National Insurance number handy if you make an inquiry.
- Local schools / education matters: please contact your City Council.
- Employment rights: see Citizens Advice Bureau or the Trades Union Congress for info.
- Social services, environmental health, noise nuisance, parking, and Council Tax should all be addressed to the City Council.
- Another useful website on public services is Direct.gov.
- For the main Parliamentary website click here and to explore the Parliamentary education site click here.