Stourbridge News Column, 18th April 2019


Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 18th April

This week the people of France watched as the majestic Notre Dame cathedral was severely damaged by a huge fire. Seeing the awful sight of such an important symbol of French heritage ablaze was deeply saddening, but I am heartened that most of the main structure of the cathedral appears to be standing this morning. No doubt credit should be given to the courageous firefighters of Paris for this endeavour. At the beginning of the holy week, it is this bravery that we look to in times of tragedy. Notre Dame will be rebuilt and restored as it has been over the past seven centuries. My thoughts are with the people of France this week.

Back in the UK, the Prime Minister has just agreed a new extension to the Article 50 process, which delays the date by which we must agree a deal to October 31st. I am disappointed that MPs have been unable to support the Withdrawal Agreement, which would have seen us leave the European Union last month. I am afraid that in Parliament, there are MPs in all parties who are still committed to pursuing their own ideal version of the Brexit process, or indeed to not leaving at all.

Over the last few months as I and likeminded colleagues have tried to break the impasse, my approach has been to try to agree a compromise that means we can leave with a good deal that protects security and the wider economy. I still believe the Withdrawal Agreement is the deal which best respects our manifesto and the result of the 2016 referendum. At the same time, I have sought to prevent both leaving without a deal and remaining in the EU. Through the coming months, my approach will be the same. It is high time we focussed our country’s resources elsewhere.

In Stourbridge, there is positive news about the establishment of a new police presence in the town centre. When the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, came to the town last month, we took him to the old Citizens Advice bureau on Market Street where the police base may be located. Negotiations are ongoing between West Midlands Police and Dudley Council to try to finalise the move. Thank you to Wollaston and Stourbridge Town Councillor Steve Clark, who has been working tirelessly to make this a reality.

Last week in Westminster I met the Chair of NHS England, Lord Prior, to discuss Russells Hall hospital. Recently, a summary report was released by law firm Capsticks, who had been asked to investigate reports of bullying at the hospital. 42 hospital consultants signed a letter detailing serious problems with the leadership of Russells Hall, as well as their concerns around patient safety. The report, however, leaves much unanswered and I discussed my concerns in detail with Lord Prior. We await the full report, which is due to be published early next month.

I hope you all have a very happy and restful Easter. My office will be closed on Thursday 18th April until Tuesday 23rd April. My team and I will still be able to help with urgent enquiries, so please do continue to contact me in the meantime at