Stourbridge News Column, 19th April 2018

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 19th April 2018

News this week has been dominated by events in Syria. I am fully in support of the Prime Minister’s decision to join forces with the US and France in the attack on Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities.

In 2013, the Syrian regime committed to dismantle its chemical weapons programme, and Russia agreed to ensure compliance in a process overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Given the contempt for human rights and international law demonstrated at every turn by the dictator Assad and his Russian allies, it should come as no surprise that the OPCW described the progress made by Syria in the dismantling of those weapons as being incomplete.

The action last weekend was limited and targeted. It will not affect the overall course of the horrendous civil war in Syria, but it did degrade Assad’s chemical weapons capability, seemingly without civilian casualties. It was a much-needed defence of the global consensus that chemical weapons should not be used in the pursuit of modern warfare.

I will be in Stourbridge on Thursday, beginning with a catch-up meeting at Redhill School with Stephen Dunster, who leads the Stour Vale Academy Trust as well as being Executive Headteacher at Redhill. Later, I will be meeting the wonderful Side by Side Theatre Company to discuss their future plans. Side by Side works with disabled actors in Stourbridge and the surrounding area, to develop their skills in performing arts. I will also be in the Ryemarket for lunch, so if you happen to be in the area at that time, do stop by if you want to talk about anything at all.

It is now just two weeks until important local elections in Dudley on May 3rd, so in the late afternoon and evening, I will be campaigning with our Council candidate in Cradley, Kamran Razzaq, and later with the brilliantly hardworking Cllr Nicolas Barlow meeting residents in Wollaston. If you support lowr Council Tax and value-for-money public services, then only the Conservatives can deliver for you in Dudley.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to Cllr David Sparks, who will be retiring at the upcoming election. Cllr Sparks has been a Dudley Councillor since 1977. Although we are on different sides of the political divide, he has worked hard for his community for many years and I have had the pleasure of working with him on many important issues. One of his finest qualities is his ability to look past political differences, and work collaboratively for everyone’s gain in Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood. His contribution will be greatly missed, and I wish him all the best for his well-earned retirement.