Walsall Advertiser column: 8th February 2018

I was honoured to represent the people of Walsall North at the laying of the colours of the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) at Lichfield Cathedral earlier in January. I am proud of our armed forces; those who serve to protect us. A great opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for their service.

In the House of Commons, I recently spoke in favour of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill - brought by an Opposition MP and backed by the Government. MP's can, and do, work cross-party - with many Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems backing my bill to improve tenant safety around carbon monoxide poisoning as well.

I know that many landlords often do their best to maintain a property in a fit and proper state, but sometimes that is not the case, and when it is not the case, we need legislation that protects tenants. Tenant safety is a very high priority for this Government, as we have seen in the work carried out since Grenfell, and we will continue to deliver on that.

At my regular surgeries I get the opportunity to meet many people and love to hear about new local businesses, so it was nice to meet Amy Carter who has founded Ace Drug Training. I know from my work at YMCA how important this line of work is so I wish Amy ever success with her new business.

I am continuing to fight for the residents of Willenhall, Bloxwich and Walsall North and represent their concerns with the recent levels of crime. I’ve been calling for more funding for frontline policing both from the Government and the Police and Crime Commissioner and hope they will deliver.

I’ve been on visits out and about in Willenhall, getting to know more local business owners. Keith of the historic Willenhall Hardware store, Nicky and Tim at ‘Screaming Reaper’ tattoo shop, and many volunteers at the Living Water café made me feel very welcome and shared their experiences with me. All have felt the impact of crime and I shall be meeting the new Chief Superintendent for the Borough, Andy Parsons, this month to pass on their concerns. It’s great to meet people so passionate about the town and working to see small businesses succeed.

I also had two very useful meetings with Ministers to raise the concerns of people Walsall North. First, I met with the Business Minister to discuss my concerns about Carillion. I’ve been contacted by employees worried about uncertainty and particularly subcontractors and self-employed who did business with Carillion. It’s important that the directors of Carillion are investigated and held to account for the failure of the company.

Secondly, following my meeting with Treasury ministers, lobbying for funding for a new Willenhall train station, I met with West Midlands Rail to push for the opportunities this would create. It would reconnect the town via rail to Birmingham and Wolverhampton, boosting jobs and making travel to higher education more accessible. The scheme is also backed by the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, and we'll continue to lobby and push for this happen for the people of Willenhall.

If any of these issues effect you, please do contact me.