After weeks of missed collections across Birmingham, I am relieved that agreement has been reached to bring the bins dispute to an end and I thank the Council and Unions for doing so. Birmingham residents have understandably been left angry and frustrated by all of this, but they too will be relieved to have the clean streets that they expect and are entitled to.
The immediate focus must now be on the backlog of missed collections and clearing the mountains of rubbish that have been left behind on Birmingham’s streets and estates. My team and I will continue to work with local councillors and residents to report outstanding collections and piles of rubbish while the clean-up gets underway.
This week I raised this issue with the Government. As many constituents will personally know, this has been a persistent problem across the constituency in recent months. You can see my question and the Government’s response here:
Many of you will have seen an increase in the number of travellers in areas of the constituency in recent months, often accompanied by anti-social behaviour and unauthorised encampments. These encampments can create huge amounts of mess and result in local residents being threatened with verbal and other abuse. This is not acceptable.
In the last week we have seen a new encampment on West Heath Park and today another in Kings Norton. I have been assured that the encampment on West Heath Park will be evicted tomorrow. Each time an encampment is brought to my attention I have got on to both the Council and, where crime and/or anti-social behaviour is reported, to the Police, to press for them to use the powers available to them to move the encampments on.
Too often the police and council undertake evictions, only for travellers to pop up 5 minutes down the road. That is why I am pressing the Council and Police to jointly review their responses over recent months and to consider whether a more strategic approach could secure better long term results.
In the meantime, however, remember that the Police can only act if incidents are reported to them. So if you see any violent, anti-social or threatening behaviour please do contact the police as quickly as possible on 101.
Below is a round up of some of the animal welfare issues at this election. As you may already know, this is an issue I’ve done a lot of work on as an MP and you can see my record here. It is because of that record and my stances on animal welfare that I have just been endorsed and supported by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. I hope you feel able to support me too.
During the course of the campaign, Theresa May made clear she is no friend of foxes when she pledged to repeal the ban on fox hunting. To me, this pledge just shows how out of touch the Conservatives are with ordinary people. A recent poll showed 9 in 10 people support the ban. In my view, seeing a pack of animals rip a fox to pieces isn’t a sport and it isn’t a priority for our country.
I was a strong supporter of the Hunting Act when it was passed in 2004 by Labour in government. I will campaign and vote against any attempt to bring back this barbaric practice.
It’s not just Conservative plans to repeal fox hunting that have left local residents feeling irate, many people have been in touch about the Conservatives dropping their 2015 pledge to ban ivory trading. I share everyone’s disappointment, it seems the Tories under Theresa May are happy to go backwards on so many environmental issues just when it seemed we’d arrived at a clear consensus. Elephants are iconic animals vital for African and Asian eco-systems, but it seems the Conservatives would rather bow to the interests of ivory collectors.
Increasing Sentences for Animal Abusers
I am proud that Labour have made commitments for ever greater animal protections in our manifesto. This includes increasing the maximum sentence for those convicted of committing animal cruelty from sixth months to five years. Labour MPs led by Anna Turley previously tried to pass this into law back in February, only for Conservatives to block the attempt. It is now an official Labour pledge and one a future Labour Government would deliver to make the punishment fit the crime.
Labour: Sustainability and the Environment
Here is a link to the Leading Richer Lives chapter of Labour’s manifesto, which outlines our action plan for the environment, animal welfare, transport and local communities: http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/leading-richer-lives
As well as championing more sustainable fishing and farming practices, protecting bees and planting a million native tree species, a Labour Government are committed to:
– Prohibit the third-party sale of puppies
– Introduce and enforce a total ban on ivory trading
– Delivering on the ban on wild animals in circuses which the Tories keep delaying
– Maintaining bans on fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing
– Passing a Clean Air Act to mitigate the illegal air quality crisis which the Conservatives have allowed to choke our towns and cities.
It is on this basis that I ask for your support as I seek re-election to be Birmingham Northfield’s local, independently-minded and trusted Member of Parliament. I hope you feel able to support me on June 8th.
£130m cuts force police to choose between keeping local Police stations open and recruiting officers, says Richard Burden as Longbridge Police Station faces closure.
West Midlands Police have announced that Longbridge Police Station will close at the end of May, with Northfield and Longbridge neighbourhood Police teams moving to work out of Bournville Lane Police station and the Weoley neighbourhood team working out of Quinton.
Responding to the announcement, Richard Burden, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Birmingham Northfield, said:
Government cuts have put our local Police in the invidious position of having to either close buildings or lose more officers. With £130m of cuts already leaving West Midlands Police with 1,700 fewer officers and over 360 fewer PCSOs than it had in 2010, they had little choice but to choose officers over buildings.
I am confident that the Police will do everything they can to make sure that the loss of Longbridge Police station does not affect the service they provide to the public. Even so, the Government should not have put the Police in the position of having to lose the visible presence on Bristol Road South which Longbridge station represents.
Our region is also being hit unfairly hard. Even though the actions of Birmingham’s Labour MPs in Parliament helped stave off even worse cuts to our Police, National Audit Office figures still show that West Midlands Police has lost over £130m since 2010 – around five times the level of cuts experienced by leafy Surrey.
It shows a cockeyed sense of priorities by Conservative Ministers who clearly cannot be trusted to back our Police in keeping the streets safe. It’s another reason why we need a change of Government on June 8th and why we need Labour MPs back in Parliament after the election to carry on fighting for Birmingham – whoever is in Downing Street.