Summer Parliamentary Newsletter


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Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter which covers local issues and developments as well as my actions in Parliament. This includes the response to the EU Referendum and the upcoming Labour Leadership contest, as well as local updates such as the reopening of Shopmobility and the fundraising for Sheila Dumbleton.

I hope all of you and those close to you have a wonderful summer.

In Birmingham Northfield

School Transport

I have been very concerned to hear that the City Council is planning to remove dedicated school transport for children with special needs. A number of affected parents have been in touch with me and it appears that it will only apply to certain year groups – reception, Year 7, and Year 12/13. To me, this makes the proposal even more bizarre since it will presumably mean that school transport vehicles would continue for other year groups, collecting children and driving past the homes of those who will now be excluded from the service.

I realise that Birmingham is being hit hard by Government cuts, but, from what I know so far, I cannot accept that this is a reasonable response by the Council. Parents of children with severe autism or other challenging conditions have told me that it simply isn’t feasible to expect them to take one, two, or sometimes even three buses to get to and from school. In some cases I have heard of, it would be downright dangerous to even try. Even where it may not be dangerous for children and their parents to catch buses to school, their need to carry specialist equipment with them may make it impractical to do so.

I have written to the council to ask that this decision be suspended, allowing school transport to continue as usual until proper discussions can take place. If you know of children who could be affected by this and you haven’t already been in touch with me on this, please do send me an email at:

Making Birmingham’s Voice Heard in Brexit

I have been working to ensure that Birmingham and the Midlands are properly represented in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, which you can see me talking about in Parliament here. It is very important that Midlands voices are heard, especially when it comes to manufacturing and industry. Even at a more local level, we need to work on tackling the challenges ahead, and I want to ensure that our region has the say it deserves.

It is vital we focus on what matters so that our country can move forward following the vote for Brexit. You can see a full and detailed account of my views on Brexit here.

Smart Works

I am delighted to be welcoming the charity Smart Works to Birmingham Northfield. This fantastic initiative supports local unemployed women by helping them back into the workplace. Free of charge, the charity provides out-of-work women with complete outfits and skills training for job interviews. It was a pleasure to join Smart Works for their official opening today.

I am grateful that Smart Works will be able to help women in our local area overcome the huge challenges that getting into work can bring. I hope you will also join me in supporting such an important cause. You can see more of the employment statistics for Northfield here and also read more about Smart Works here. They are currently seeking donations of clothes suitable for interviews, so if you have any of these to spare, please do consider donating to them.


It’s been fantastic to hear that Shopmobility is going to reopen in the Bullring this coming autumn. The closure of such an important service was concerning as so many within the constituency and Birmingham rely on Shopmobility for accessibility and, without this, it left many restricted and isolated.

It is so important that we do all we can to protect these services and I am very pleased to hear about the plans to reopen Shopmobility, especially after I took up the matter with the Bullring’s owners, Hammersons, in March, making the shopping centre accessible once more.

Northfield Carnival

Northfield Carnival

At the start of the month, I attended the annual Northfield Carnival which was, yet again, a brilliant event. I would like to thank the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly each year to make Northfield Carnival happen. It is always so great to see the local community come together in such a positive way.

Northfield Unites in the Wake of Jo Cox’s Death

Northfield’s response in the month following the murder of Jo Cox has been comforting and reassuring. The vigils held in Birmingham city centre and the book of condolence, which was signed by many constituents, have been clear demonstrations of “uniting to fight against the hate that killed her” – as Jo’s husband Brendan so profoundly said.

Jo Cox book

In Parliament

You can see all my recent contributions in Parliament here. I’ve recently spoken out in response to the Chilcot Report on the Iraq War – which I voted against in 2003 – by raising a question to the Prime Minister. I have also been challenging the government by voting against the renewal of Trident and amendments to the Higher Education Bill. I’ve recently submitted questions on local authority funding, breast cancer and a number of other issues. If you would like to keep track of these, you can follow them here.

Labour Leadership

As I’m sure you’re aware, the leadership and future of the Labour Party has been the source of much controversy and tension. I am supporting Owen Smith to become Labour’s leader to fight the next General Election. I will be saying more about that in the coming weeks, but for now, this letter from fellow Labour MP Paul Blomfield, about why he backs Owen, pretty much sums up my view. You can keep directly up-to-date with Owen’s campaign and see what he is saying for himself here.

As well as positively supporting Owen, the background to all of this obviously also relates to very serious concerns about the way Jeremy Corbyn has led Labour so far. These concerns and the way events unfolded towards the end of June led to my resignation as Shadow Transport Minister. The decision to speak out was a hugely difficult and painful one and I tried to set out my reasons in an email to Labour members and supporters in Northfield. I also set out my thoughts on some of the broader issues of leadership and the dangers of falling into the trap of ‘echo-chamber- politics’ in an article in the Huffington Post and another email to Labour members and supporters.

An effective opposition and a credible alternative government is vital to the functioning of our democracy. So it is not surprising that arguments on both sides about the future of the Labour Party have become so heated in recent weeks. Whatever our differences, though, none of them alter our overriding responsibility to stand up for local people in the face of what looks like being a very right-wing Tory government under Theresa May – particularly in the uncertain world we are all in after the Brexit vote on 23rd June. Although no longer a Shadow Minister, doing so will continue to be my priority as the local Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield.

Local People

Sheila Dumbleton

As some of you may have seen from B31 Voices and my Facebook page, local great grandmother Sheila Dumbleton unfortunately passed away having fallen ill on holiday in Cuba. Her family are still struggling to have Sheila repatriated. I  have been in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the family to do what I can to help. A funding page has been set up by her family to help with the costs, which you can find here.

And finally …

Advice Desks and Contacting Me

As your local MP, I am always keen to hear your views on issues that concern you. Along with my local constituency team, I am also here to help with any problems. I run regular advice desks across the constituency so that you can come and speak to me about any issues. We can normally help without you having to wait for the next advice desk, but if you think we might be able to help – or if you want to let me know about your views on an issue – please get in touch by either calling, emailing or writing to my office.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.