Stourbridge News Column, 17th May 2018

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 17th May 2018

I want to start by congratulating Dudley Conservative Group for the vote of confidence they received from the electorate on 3rd May. We had some great wins – amongst them, re-electing Nicolas Barlow in Wollaston and Stourbridge Town with a much-increased majority and electing two new young Councillors, 18-year-old Jake Cooper in Belle Vale and 19-year-old Joe Roberts in Halesowen North. Whatever your political persuasion, it’s heartening to see passionate young people participating actively in our local community. Commiserations to our hard-working candidates Tom Ruff and Chris Blake, who narrowly missed out in Lye and Stourbridge North and Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood respectively.

Today, Thursday, I will be at Glasshouse College from 4.30pm for the Stourbridge University Fair. This is my sixth University Fair as Stourbridge’s MP, and we have 23 universities signed up and ready to talk to young people and parents about their future studies. It is free to attend and you do not need to sign up, so if you or anyone you know might benefit from this, I look forward to seeing you there. You can visit my Facebook page,, to find out more.

On Friday I am meeting the Chief Executive of Russells Hall Hospital, Diane Wake, to talk about the recent CQC report into Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust. Whilst there are clear issues on which improvement is vital, Accident and Emergency services in particular, I support what the CEO has said about her hardworking staff. It was an incredibly difficult winter, and the hospital was inspected at the height of the winter pressures. I visited the A&E at Russells Hall last year and it was obvious to me how committed and passionate the staff are. Indeed, that was reflected in the report which rated the care at Russells Hall to be good. However, I also found that most of the doctors were temporary, which reflects the wider shortage of staff in A&E medicine nationally. Like everyone, I want to see significant progress in our local health service to match the world-class standards of this country’s leading hospitals. I will report back on my meeting in the coming weeks.

Nationally, I have been working on the Data Protection Bill, which has been moving through its final stages before it becomes law. The Bill will further strengthen the rights you have over your own personal data. Some opposition MPs have used the Bill as an opportunity to try to impose restrictions on our free press. I am very pleased to say that those amendments have so far been defeated. At the same time, the Government remains supportive of a strong, independent framework to hold the media to account when necessary.

Earlier this week I met the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, and we discussed how best to boost growth in the digital and creative sectors of the economy locally. There are a great many opportunities and again I will report back in this later in the year.