Welcome to the latest issue of my weekly newsletter.
This week has of course been dominated by the news that Carillion, the UK’s second-largest construction firm, entered liquidation on Monday morning. As well as imperilling the 19,500 they pay, through direct and indirect employment and pensions, Carillion also held approximately 450 Government contracts for public services. These jobs and public services are now in crisis thanks to the Government’s blind commitment to outsourcing.
Carillion issued their first profit warning last July and it has been clear for months that the company had been in sincere difficulty but the Government continued to hand over contracts long afterwards, to the tune of almost £2 billion. Now that this damage has been done, the Government needs to act, but their commitments to workers and on pensions simply aren’t good enough. Thousands of workers could be facing compulsory redundancies today.
These crucial public sector contracts need to be brought back in house immediately to protect Carillion’s employees, supply chain companies, pension holders and British taxpayers. Furthermore, there needs to be a full, independent and transparent investigation into the actions of Carillion, those linked to the company and the Government to get to the bottom of the issues with this whole ideological system of contracting out public services.
I’ve got direct experience of this having campaigned to stop Carillion picking up big contracts at our hospitals and then campaigning for them to lose the contracts as they mishandled them badly. That their operation isn’t sustainable does not surprise me.
This crisis would never have happened under a Labour Government, as we promised in our Manifesto to insource our public and local council services as preferred providers, so that quality of service could be put first.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include it in future issues. Please also forward it onto anyone you think may be interested.
Nottingham Station Fire
This time last week, Nottingham Fire Service had just put out the terrible blaze that afflicted Nottingham Train Station from Friday morning. The fire lasted 6 and a half hours, flames were seen coming from the station roof and smoke filled the main foyer. I was saddened to hear that the incident, which started in a women’s bathroom, is being treated as arson. If this is the case, I hope justice is done for the millions of pounds of damage and economic losses done.
Despite the size of the fire, the station was reopened the very next day, was back to operating at a near-to-normal level by Sunday, and I was pleased to hear yesterday that the water supply has been reconnected. This is a tribute to the quality of our emergency services and everyone else who has worked tirelessly on the day and since to fight the fire and restore the valuable service the station provides. We are very thankful.
To show my personal thanks, and to bring attention to the tremendous job done, particularly by the fire and police services, I raised this in the House of Commons on Thursday. You can watch this here.
Prime Minister’s Question
On 15th December 2017, the National Audit Office released a report, ‘Reducing Modern Slavery’, which found that the government’s Modern Slavery Strategy was not working effectively, and the Home Office did not know how much money is being spent. Furthermore, the Home Office hasn’t set out how a reduction in modern slavery will be measured, doesn’t set clear anti-slavery activity, doesn’t know what activity is going on across government and isn’t monitoring business compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.
We’re now in the third year since the Modern Slavery Act came into law, announced with great fanfare by the Tory government, but they have failed to implement it fully and effectively. The Conservative Minister who introduced the Bill said it would be sending the strongest possible message to criminals involved in this disgusting trade, but this is clearly just not happening.
The HMIC report on modern day slavery in October was a damning indictment of this Tory government’s unwillingness to properly resource our police and border forces, and this new report from the National Audit Office shows that the problems go even deeper into the Home Office. It isn’t good enough.
That’s why at Wednesday lunchtime I took the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister what she’s going to do about it; the Government cannot leave their legislation to go stale while victims are being forced into work, sex, domestic servitude; suffering inhumane and degrading treatment for long periods of time, and being subjected to threats or violence.
You may recall that on 2 separate occasions last year, on the 31st October and 5th December, I asked Justice Ministers what they planned to do after five prisoners at HMP Nottingham died in a two-month period. It took a month and a half for me to receive a response, and it appears the Department for Justice weren’t using that time productively acting on the issue (despite the letter telling me they were on it), as yesterday, the Prisons Inspector issued an “urgent notification” to the Justice Secretary, warning that lives are at risk at HMP Nottingham after inspectors deemed it to be a “fundamentally unsafe” jail.
The inspection took place on 8th January – the third in about three years – on all occasions inspectors found many of the same serious failures in safety. Levels of self-harm have risen significantly since 2016. Indeed, four of the five deaths I mentioned to the Justice Minister were suicides. Moreover, over two-thirds of men said they had felt unsafe in the prison at some time, more than a third felt unsafe at the time of the inspection, and levels of drugs, violence and assaults and use of force by staff were all considered high.
David Gauke, the new Secretary of State for Justice, now has 28 days to respond publicly, but more importantly he needs to act immediately before more lives are lost. The Department has had plenty of warning, from myself and others, long before now, and to not have acted is simply unacceptable.
Today is a sitting Friday, so I’ve spent more of the week in Parliament than usual, which unfortunately means less time in Nottingham than I’d like, but I’ve made good use of it.
Aside from my question the Prime Minister on Wednesday, a key part of my week was a Westminster Hall Debate yesterday addressing Supported Housing, where I took the opportunity to raise the issue of Domestic Violence refuges, as I did last year. Government plans threaten the four such refuges we have in Nottingham, which are a vital lifeline for those who need them. On Monday evening, I had also attended a Women’s Aid Parliamentary Briefing in preparation of this. They have been doing tremendous work on this campaign so far, and I’m keen to continue working with them in Parliament as much as I can. You can read more about the campaign here and watch my contribution to the debate here.
I also resumed my more usual schedule of meetings, meeting with Andrew Errington, the Director of Community Protection at Nottingham City Council to discuss the work that he and his team are doing in collaboration with the Police force in Nottingham, and what I can do as Member of Parliament to support their very important role.
On a similar note, my fellow Nottinghamshire MPs and I met with the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford. Craig took over the role a year ago, so was in Parliament to brief us all on how he has been working to deliver policing locally over the last 12 months, and informing us of his plans for the next year and beyond. I also met with Jim Kennedy from Unite to glean some of his expertise on workers’ rights in Qatar.
Now back in Nottingham, I am on my way to our regular MPs’ meeting at the City Council, before heading back to the constituency for my monthly surgery. As always, if you’re interested in meeting me personally to discuss an issue, give my office a call on 0115 975 2377, and they’ll be able to organise this.
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.
Nottingham Festival of Science & Curiosity
Various events bringing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to the heart of Nottingham
For more information and full schedule, please visit www.nottsfosac.co.uk
Poems in the Pub
Open Mic Night, Free Admission, Local Talent, Full Bar
The William Peverel, Bulwell
Once a month, 7pm for 7:30pm start, next on February 1st
Drop In Café
All welcome for a free cuppa and biscuit, and a place to sit and have a chat
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Parish Community Centre, Brooklyn Rd, Bulwell NG6 9ES
St Philip’s/St Matthew’s Knit & Natter groups
St Philip’s Church, Knights Close, Top Valley
1st and 3rd Wednesdays every month, 10am-12pm
Bestwood Community Centre, Gainsford Crescent, Bestwood Estate
2nd Monday every month, 10am-12pm
Messy Church Bestwood/Bulwell Forest
Bestwood Community Centre, Gainsford Crescent, Bestwood Estate
Various Tuesdays, 4:30-6pm
Bestwood Park Church, Beckhampton Rd, Bestwood Park
Various Thursdays, 4:30-6pm
Church on Rise Park, Revelstoke Way, Rise Park
Various Thursdays, 5-6:30pm
Drinks, crafts, activities, bible stories and a meal for all ages and interests
Bulwell United Reform Church, Broomhill Road/Brooklyn Road, Bulwell
Usually first Saturday of every month, 10:30am-12:30pm
Bestwood Park Church’s Bestop Kitchen
Social Eating Event, Donations Welcome
Bestwood Park Church, Beckhampton Road, NG5 5NG
Every Tuesday, 12-3pm
Free Community Cinema
Free screenings of films, everyone welcome!
St John’s Church, Key’s Close, Bulwell
2nd Friday every month, 7pm
Free monthly group developing opportunities for more art in public places in Bulwell. With trips to galleries and hands-on creative workshops, this group is for local people who want to be arts champions for Bulwell. Facilitated by Nottingham Contemporary associate artist Gillian Brent
Bulwell Riverside, Community Room 2
2nd Tuesday every month, 6-8pm
For further info: www.creativenottinghamnorth.com, @CreativeNNorth, email@example.com
Bring along a project, or learn to do something new.
St Martins Church, St Martin’s Rd, Off Strelley Rd, Bilborough, NG8 3BH
Every Wednesday, 11am – 2pm
50p, for further info: www.stmartinsbilborough.org.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Room at Tesco Bulwell, Jennison St, NG6 8EQ (upstairs near the cafe)
First Wednesday of every month, 6:30pm–8:30pm
£5 (covers refreshments and materials)
For further info: www.apriltowriess.co.uk, email@example.com
Sound as a Pound have asked me to advertise their 2-day finance ‘Money Talks’ courses in Nottingham. Transport and lunch are both provided, attendees will receive a £10 gift voucher for each day and there are plenty of other freebies on offer, as well as some sound money-saving advice! For further information you can call 0115 844 3745, email firstname.lastname@example.org visit their website at www.soundasapound.org.
If you would like your events advertised here, or further information on those advertised, please email me at email@example.com.
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,
P.S. Please have a read of this letter from Cllr. David Mellen, the Early Years Portfolio Holder on Nottingham City Council, who is raising money for an incredible cause aimed at helping more young children read, Imagination Library.
How to contact me
If you would like to contact me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.