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Standing up for Birmingham Northfield

Birmingham Northfield is my home. I live here and what happens here affects me and my family too. Watch this to find out about the Labour values that drive me and why I want to continue standing up for our area and fighting your corner – just as I have done for the past 25 years. This is why I am seeking your renewed trust on June 8th.

Election 2017: My Position on Animal Welfare Issues

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.

Fox Hunting
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.

Ivory Ban
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.

 

Closure of Longbridge Police Station

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£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.

Gang Violence in South West Birmingham

Many people will have seen the story in the Birmingham Mail on gang violence in South West Birmingham. Here is my response:

“The emergence of these street gangs in South Birmingham is certainly cause for serious concern. I have been in close contact with the Police about it for some time now. I can reassure people that a dedicated Police operation is in place with targeted actions ongoing to disrupt the activities of those involved. A number of arrests have already been made. Just as important is the cooperation taking place between schools and the Police to divert young people at risk of becoming involved in gangs away from criminal activities that offer them no future.

It in no way undermines the seriousness of this issue, however, to emphasise that only a small minority of young people get involved in these gangs and that it would be entirely wrong to allow young people in and around Northfield to be stigmatised because of the actions of the few.

Let us remember too that these gangs are not what makes the Northfield area tick. There is so much that is positive about people who live around here – young and not so young. Nurturing, celebrating and taking pride in all that is good about our community is as important to safeguarding the future as is cracking down on criminal gangs.”

Birmingham’s Labour MPs Fight Back Against Conservative Apprenticeship Cuts

Last month, all of Birmingham’s further education colleges and Birmingham City University were told by the Conservative Government that they could no longer offer apprenticeships to local people. This would set us and the people of our city back, stifling opportunity, preventing people from getting training and jobs, as well as hampering the hard work of our colleges and universities.

Along with other Labour Birmingham MPs, I have been working hard to get this changed and have been writing to and meeting with the Government to press them to reverse this decision. I’m glad to say that our pressure has paid off and the Government have announced that they are reconsidering. They have already assured us that South and City College will now able to offer apprenticeships again and that other colleges will be reviewed quickly.

Unfortunately, though, the Conservatives have past form on this and it is telling of their priorities that they were willing to let this happen to our region in the first place. Just last year they planned to cut some apprenticeship funding by up to 50%. But with the support of other Labour MPs, I helped force them to u-turn on that. I was relieved when we achieved that last year and am relieved that we have been successful again this time. It shows what Birmingham’s Labour MPs can achieve for our city when we work together.