Campaign to save the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Peace Foundation
As a new member of the Shadow Northern Ireland Team I have been campaigning to save the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation. In August I visited the Foundation alongside Louise Haigh MP, the Shadow Secretary of State.
The Foundation is globally recognised for work it does to support the victims of terrorism across Britain, and for its victim-focused approach to dealing with the unique kind of trauma that affects victims and survivors of terrorism. Worryingly, all of this is under threat as, despite promises from the Government, their funding stopped in March and their work only continues due to the support of a private philanthropic individual which will see them through to the end of next month.
We cannot afford to lose this unparalleled specialist service for victims of terrorism, as has been clear in the support that they have provided in the aftermath of attacks including the Manchester Arena bombing. That this comes at the same time as the peerage for Claire Fox is a double slap in the face for the Foundation. Boris Johnson can and must act urgently to deliver the funding that has been promised, and to block the peerage of Claire Fox.
Save Peel Hall Campaign
I am continuing to campaign against Satnam’s 1,200-home ‘masterplan’ for the Peel Hall site. On Monday 14th September I spoke at the planning inquiry, saying in the strongest possible terms that they should “not to reward Satnam for their persistence. Make no mistake, these development proposals will have a hugely adverse impact on our local area.”
I also met with Tourney Green and Partisan Green residents regarding concerns about construction on Omega South. There are a number of questions to take away, both in respect of this specific development and how planning law should be changed to empower communities- something I have long argued for.
Both instances show that planning law is currently weighted in favour of development and the statutory process, in my view, doesn't give sufficient consideration to the impact on residents in the surrounding areas nor are the requirements for community engagement and keeping residents updated robust enough.
The news that Warrington faces tougher Coronavirus restrictions will be hugely disappointing. Many people will be worrying about their loved ones – particularly those who are most vulnerable. Local business owners will be worried about their livelihoods having been hit so hard during the first lockdown. However, I firmly believe that these restrictions are necessary if we are going to protect local lives and local livelihoods. And everyone in Warrington is going to have to play their part in tackling the virus by following the new rules. The Government will also have to play its part. They must provide Warrington with the resources needed locally, including testing, to support our NHS and our local economy. If we can all follow the guidance and stay safe, my hope is that the restrictions can be lifted as swiftly as possible.
On 15th September I asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the failures on testing for COVID-19, with some Warrington residents being asked to travel as far as Telford for a test. He committed to working me and other stakeholders to increase access to COVID-19 tests in Warrington. I am continuing to work with the Government and Warrington Borough Council to try and limit the spread of the virus in Warrington.
I also had the privilege of spending a day volunteering at Warrington Foodbank I wish it didn't need to exist, but as long as the demand is there, I'm so grateful for the work the volunteers do in providing that safety net in our community for our most vulnerable. For more information about Warrington Foodbank and how you can donate, visit its website at https://warrington.foodbank.org.uk
There was some great work being done by the amazing volunteers at Hapi Hub, on the corner of Fairfield Street and Manchester Road, which gives local people a chance to take food that they need, in order to promote healthy eating and reduce food waste.
A tremendous efforts has gone into making local spaces Covid-secure. It was great to be at the reopening of Culcheth Library on the 3rd August, who have put in a great deal of effort into making the Library safe at this time.
It has also been a very difficult time for local business, as I saw on my visit to Birchwood Shopping Centre. As a member of the Business Select Committee and the newly established Future of Retail APPG I’ll work with retail unions to keep pushing to get the retail sector the support it needs to keep our high streets and shopping centres like Birchwood thriving!
I made this case in my speech on the Budget, where I called for greater investment in strategic capital projects, in particular, a new hospital in Warrington and Research and Development facilities.
The Great Outdoors
I spent a lot of time in the past few months enjoying the great outdoors in Warrington North, including visits to Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve and Kenyon Hall Farm. It was also great to meet with a number local sports clubs, including taking part in a training session with the Culcheth Eagles Rugby League team and visiting Culcheth Athletic Football Club. I also got down to Gorsey Lane to watch Rylands’ victory in the FA Cup, as they march onto Wembley!
To mark this year’s International Youth Day, I paid a visit to two local summer programmes being run by Warrington Youth Club. The first was the fantastic Aspire Holiday Club at Green Lane and Fox Wood Schools in Woolston, an exciting programme for children with disabilities and additional needs.
I was then invited to meet some of the young people taking part in this year’s National Citizen Service (NCS) who are volunteering at Elle for Elle, a charity which helps victims of Domestic Abuse providing them with body care and essential products to give them Dignity after Distress.
Too often we see our young people and teenagers in particular getting a bad rap, but it was really inspiring to see how passionate they were about helping out in the community and to hear their plans for the future.
One such example is Aneeshwar Kunchala, a little boy from Westbrook who has raised nearly £4,000 to support the NHS and India’s Covid relief effort. If you know other local heroes like Aneeshwar then keep an eye out for the Warrington North Community Awards in a couple of weeks!
The Old School
I had the opportunity to visit Livewire’s ‘Fit, Fed and Read’ programme at The Old School in Fairfield, alongside Labour’s Cheshire Police and Commissioner David Keane. The scheme is designed to support young people to take part in activities, whilst providing them with a healthy breakfast and lunch.
I was so inspired by my visit to The Old School, which is such an incredible asset for the community with a fantastic array of events, activities and courses - there really is something for everyone! The more linked up all our different community organisations are, the more we can all support each other through difficult times ahead. I am ridiculously excited to sign up to one of the ceramics courses, perhaps I'll see you there?
Supporting Our Workers
I have also attended a number of trade union events in order to support their campaigns for local workers. This included joining the Communication Workers’ Union in protesting redundancies at BT in Gemini as well as Unite the Union’s ‘SOS For Jobs’ rally to call for an extension of Government support in the manufacturing sector. In addition, I have been working with USDAW (the shopworkers’ union) on the scourge of violence against shop workers, as sadly we have seen close to home in Warrington North.
Church of the AscensionI marked Woolston’s Church of the Ascension 50th anniversary with a socially distanced visit This year the Church of Ascension in Woolston is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To help mark the occasion I attended a socially-distance coffee morning where I met Reverend Rebecca and members of the local community. Our diverse faith communities are one of the things that makes Warrington North great, and I'm really grateful to The Reverend Rebecca Roberts and the community for such a warm welcome
Thanks for reading this bumper edition, I’ll be doing monthly newsletters from now on!
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