In Parliament last week I called for an end to the insidious tax on sickness that is hospital car parking fees – and the response I’ve had has been astounding.
One woman told me of how she and her sister had to fork out £70 each per week to visit their elderly parents in hospital to help with their care.
And her daughter, who was undergoing a six-week radiotherapy course for a brain tumour, had to buy an expensive permit for the privilege of parking.
What she said next will doubtless be echoed by many: “It really needs to stop. Money is already tight when someone is seriously ill without this added expense.”
I couldn’t agree more.
People with chronic illnesses who have no choice but to make several trips a week are having to pay out small fortunes for the privilege of parking at publicly funded hospitals, only adding to their daily suffering.
All the while private firms are pocketing part of the proceeds – a figure that has increased to half a million pounds each day across NHS England.
How can this be fair?
Poorly people, their families and friends, and hard-working, overstretched staff are footing the bill for something that should be free at the point of use – just like our NHS.
This is why I raised the question in a Westminster debate last week, making particular reference to Dewsbury and District Hospital where local residents can struggle to get parked on their own streets as visitors search for free parking nearby.
Charities, trade unions, the British Medical Association and the public are all calling for the Government to stop this cynical attack on the seriously ill.
It’s about time they listened.
On a more positive note, this week we celebrated a hugely significant milestone in our history – 100 years of women’s suffrage.
Tuesday marked 100 years since the passing of The Representation of the People Act of 1918 which gave the right to vote to about 8.4m women over the age of 30.
The centenary is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the hard-fought freedoms won by our pioneering predecessors.
However, it’s vital that we remember how much further we still have to go to achieve full gender equality.
With this in mind, I will be supporting the launch of a series of events to mark Vote 100 and International Women’s Day at Batley Town Hall on March 3.
Finally, several of my constituents have been in touch over the past few months to raise concerns about car crime and burglary in their areas.
After discussing this with Batley and Spen Inspector Mohammed Rauf, we have decided to hold a public meeting where people from across the constituency can come along and speak to the police about their concerns.
The meeting will be held at St John’s Church in Cleckheaton on Friday February 16 between 6pm and 7pm.