Skip to content

Articles about ‘West Midlands’

Statement on Serious Case Review of Shi-Anne Downer’s Case

The results of the Serious Case Review confirms some of my worst fears about the background to Shi-Anne Downer’s brutal murder in my constituency.

Kandyce Downer should never have been awarded a Special Guardianship Order to care for Shi-Anne and there was little or no professional supervision of what life for her looked like in practice after the Order was granted. The result was tragedy.

Even though the Review concludes that Shi-Anne’s murder could not have been predicted, the message I take from this report is that it could have been prevented if the system had worked as it should.

I am glad there has been a review of how Special Guardianship Orders are considered and approved and it is good that Birmingham Children’s Services have made significant changes to the way they do things. They must keep the changes they make under regular review to make sure that best practice is followed to make sure the safety of children is always paramount.  Shi-Anne’s life should never have been “invisible to professionals” as the Serious Case Review says it was. No other child in a similar situation should be invisible in future.

None of this can bring back Shi-Anne or take away the pain of those who loved her. But all agencies must be determined to prevent a tragedy like this happening again.

 

More information about the Review is available to read from the Birmingham Mail here and from the BBC here.

January Newsletter

RB Newsletter header3
Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter. In my first newsletter since Christmas and the New Year, let me wish you all a Happy New Year.

In Birmingham Northfield

Birmingham Council Budget

In recent weeks, Birmingham City Council published their budget proposals. Faced with over £800m being cut from the grant they receive from Government, the Council are in an impossible position with rising demand for key services like care for older people but without the money they need to fund those services. This in turn is increasing the already severe pressure faced by our NHS. There is no doubt that the grossly unfair way Birmingham is being treated by Theresa May’s Government is at the root of the budget problems which Birmingham faces in the coming years.

I made these points at the South Birmingham budget consultation that the Council organised. In a letter to Council leader John Clancy, I also put forward concerns that local people have been raising with me about some of the choices that the Council are considering in response to the financial pressures imposed on them by the Government. In particular I have urged the Council to do all they can to protect services that serve the most vulnerable people in our city – people hit by homelessness, mental health, drug or alcohol problems, and domestic violence – as well as older people facing isolation. I am also asking the Council to reconsider the level of cuts to our parks and ranger services and to make sure the problems which parents face last year in the reorganisation of home to school transport for children with special needs are not repeated. Read more

December Newsletter

 

RB Newsletter header3

Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter, which gives me the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas is a time for us to not only look back on the past year, but also to look forward to the New Year, the challenges we face and the changes we might want to make in our own lives.

For me personally, 2016 will always be remembered as the year my friend and colleague, Jo Cox, was so tragically taken from us. Jo was an energetic campaigner and represented the community she had grown up in. Jo was murdered at a constituency surgery, killed while helping her constituents and the constituency she loved so much. In the aftermath, I was proud of Northfield’s response, the vigils held in Birmingham city centre and the book of condolence which was signed by so many constituents. These have been clear demonstrations of “uniting to fight against the hate that killed her” – as Jo’s husband Brendan so profoundly said. Read more

NHS Update

In recent weeks, I have received petitions, postcards and hundreds of other correspondence relating to funding, services and reorganisational threats facing our National Health Service. This is the response I have written to constituents.

Many of you will recognise that for the last six years Labour have warned about threats of a funding crisis and an increase in unnecessary private investment from commercial companies in our NHS permitted by the Conservative Government. This is not scaremongering or playing political games, the challenges facing the NHS, including an ageing society increasing demand, in the past six years are ever-mounting and have only been exacerbated by Conservative cuts, so much so that the NHS is facing one of its the biggest financial squeezes in its history. Read more

My Speech to the Boundary Commission Consultation

Below you can see my contribution to the Boundary Commission public consultation in Birmingham last week. You can have your say too here.

 

I am grateful for the opportunity to provide some observations on the Boundary Commission’s provisional recommendations for the West Midlands and specifically for Birmingham.

Introduction – Legislative Framework

By way of introduction, I know that I will not be the first to say that I think that the framework in which the Commission has been required to draw up its recommendations this time is both unreasonable and unfair.

The first thing to say is that using December 2015 as the reference point for assessing the size of the electorate is perhaps the worst of all possible dates. It comes after the disappearance of many thousands of voters following the introduction of individual registration and before the increase in voter registrations that we saw in the run up to the June 2016 referendum on the European Union. Read more