'Politically Speaking' – by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff

The last two weeks have been very difficult for everyone in the Dewsbury constituency.

The eyes of the nation’s media have been firmly upon us all but we can be proud that we showed ourselves to be the strong, resilient community that we are.

As your MP I have held many meetings and have more planned in the coming weeks to ensure that everything possible is being done to prevent the radicalisation of our young people, and I will continue to press the ministers responsible to hold them to account on this subject.

However, whilst the focus has been on these unfortunate events, it is important for you to know that I am still focused on being the voice for the whole constituency in parliament.

The opposition day debate on A&E services provided the perfect backdrop for me to deliver my maiden speech and to set out some of my priorities for the next five years.

These include speaking up for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, the NHS, fairness and equality, and the ongoing struggle for women both in society and politics.

I spoke of the privilege it is to be the first female MP to be elected in the constituency since Ann Taylor.

Every corner of the constituency still holds great affection for Ann and I have big shoes to fill and I aspire to make her proud.

It is refreshing that 65 per cent of the new Labour intake of MPs are female but there is a lot more to do, and I look forward to contributing to that cause.

Sadly, at the time of delivering my speech the news was unravelling of the proposed cuts to tax credits, something the Conservatives failed to mention in their pre-election campaigning.

With 8,700 families in our constituency being in receipt of tax credits, most of whom are women in work, it’s evident that more than ever we need more voices to be a champion for women’s rights.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to re-state my beliefs on the National Health Service.

Our NHS should always be there to provide free healthcare at the point of need and to put patients before profit.

I spoke of my time working for a privatised health service which affirmed my fears that the health service is moving away from its founding principles.

Since being elected I have had meetings with the Mid Yorks NHS Trust and the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group and these will be repeated on a regular basis. I have also completed a ward walk to see how things are on the front line of Dewsbury Hospital and to find out what the main issues are.

I can assure you that I will be keeping a watchful eye on everything that is going on and will continue my fight to retain vital services at our local hospital.

On the local economy, I spoke with pride of Dewsbury’s rich manufacturing industry, but I also mentioned our town centre which is in much need of regeneration.

I welcomed the fact that Dewsbury has been earmarked by the government as an enterprise zone and I will continue to push in the coming weeks to see this become a reality.

Unfortunately within a few hours of my speech the government would deliver a blow to our town through shelving the planned upgrade to the trans-Pennine rail route, a promise the Conservatives made right up to being elected.

This prompted me to write to Transport Secretary to express disappointment and demand some answers.

The government talks of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but is failing to deliver at the first hurdle.

If the first couple of months are anything to go by then it is clear it is going to be a tough five years for northern towns under this government.

You can be assured, though, that I will be a strong voice for our constituency, just as I promised to be throughout my election campaign.

As always, if you have any issues you wish to raise you can do so by contacting me at paula@paulasherriff. org.uk, on 07467 323402 or by writing to 30 Northgate, Dewsbury WF13 1DX.


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