Kim Leadbeater MP writes: Volunteers across our area continue to organise fantastic events. I had a great time last weekend at the first Birkenshaw Summer Fayre and monthly Heckmondwike Farmers’ Market which continues to go from strength to strength. I am very aware that the cost of living crisis means many people are having to cut back on their spending and that may include holidays. Fortunately much of what is going on locally is free,
including a number of holiday activity camps for kids where they also get fed.
The recent hot weather has been exceptional but it has also caused a lot of difficulties. It has put additional pressure on the health service and care homes and I’m very concerned that they should be given all the support they need to cope. Sadly waiting times for hospital appointments and ambulance call-outs have lengthened. A local paramedic wrote to me saying: “Almost every day, my colleagues and I see patients, often frail and vulnerable, endure agonisingly long waits in ambulances and on trolleys.”
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While I understand that the NHS is dealing with a massive post-pandemic backlog, these waiting times really are not acceptable and I don’t believe it has been getting enough attention at Westminster. It has been depressing that the candidates to become Prime Minister have given so little attention to the health service, education or the many other concerns of people in the real world.
Parliament broke up for the summer this week and the atmosphere has been heating up at Westminster ever since Boris Johnson finally accepted that he would have to resign. There has been a lot of focus on individuals, and while of course personalities matter, for me the real issue is whether politics is delivering on the issues faced by people here in Batley and Spen.
We’ve heard a lot over the past couple of years about levelling up, but I feel there has been very little to show for it locally. This month I submitted a bid for Government money to reinvigorate and part-pedestrianise Batley town centre – something I know may people feel passionately about. I think the
Government is wrong to make areas compete with each other for funding, but that’s the system they have put in place and we must now hope that we are successful.
Road safety remains a problem and a priority for me. Pedestrianisation is one part of the mix of measures needed to tackle reckless driving and dangerous inconsiderate parking, but it’s not the only one. I’m pleased that 20mph speed limits are to be trialled outside some schools across Batley and Spen as this is an idea I have long supported. It’s a year ago this week that a local woman was killed after being hit by a car on White Lee Road and I have written to the council demanding that priority be given to reducing speeding and dangerous driving along this particular route; but I know there are many other roads with similar issues. I will continue to work with the police and council to ensure they are doing all they can to address these issues but as I have said many times, when accidents happen responsibility lies squarely with those who drive with no regard for the safety of others.
There will be a skeleton staff in my office for the first half of August, but if you have an urgent issue that needs our help it will still get attention. Other enquiries may take a little longer than usual to reply to, but as always my top priority is to tackle the issues of importance to people across Batley and Spen.
The backlogs at the Passport Office have caused a lot of anxiety to many people. If you are lucky enough to have a summer holiday booked and you’re due to leave within two weeks but haven’t received your passport yet, the number to ring is 0300 222 0000.
Thank you for reading, and whatever your plans, I hope you have a good summer and can enjoy some precious time with your family and friends.