Politically Speaking: By Kim Leadbeater, MP for Batley & Spen

RALLY: ROAR campaigners in Batley town centreRALLY: ROAR campaigners in Batley town centre
RALLY: ROAR campaigners in Batley town centre
We will work together to improve road safety

I promised to hit the ground running if I was elected as your MP and I’m someone who strongly believes in keeping my promises.

My first eight weeks in the job have been pretty hectic, but I have really valued spending lots of time across the constituency, setting up my local office in Heckmondwike and recruiting an excellent team to help me get on with representing the people of Batley and Spen.

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My new website http://www.kim4batleyandspen.com has gone ‘live’ this week and you can sign up to my regular newsletter. The September edition will introduce the team and let you know their roles.

As promised in my last column, I’ve been doing a kind of ‘Summer Tour’ of the constituency. I’ve visited a range of local groups, clubs and events and held meetings in Birstall, Cleckheaton, Birkenshaw, Heckmondwike, and finally this week in Batley. I am very keen to hear the views of local people. Of course people have had their concerns and complaints, but they have also been full of ideas for how their particular bit of the constituency can be improved and local initiatives built upon.

I have had important meetings with residents on some of the planning and development issues that are currently causing concern, whether that’s the warehouse application in Scholes, the Spen Valley Ringway, or the Chidswell Lane site. It is vital that the voices of local people are heard and that the planning process is transparent.

I know that speeding and dangerous driving on our roads are crucial issues for many. Following a large volume of correspondence I organised and chaired a meeting with Alison Lowe, Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire with responsibility for policing and crime; Sue Proctor, Kirklees director of highways; Chief Inspector Alan Travis from West Yorkshire Police; councillors from across the constituency; and concerned residents including the ROAR campaign group to discuss ways forward. There’s no magic solution to this and some of the ideas proposed, like more speed bumps or fixed cameras, aren’t popular with everybody. But if we all work together I hope that we can start to make progress. I will be asking questions in Parliament about national policies on road safety and will keep you posted.

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The situation in Afghanistan has become a major issue of concern. The dreadful scenes we have seen on the news are heart-breaking to watch. I have taken part in briefings with officials, ministers and security personnel on the ground and I have been contacted by a number of people with family who are struggling to get out. My staff are doing what they can to support constituents with family still left behind. It is challenging work and I am very grateful for their efforts.

In the middle of the challenges we face it can sometimes be difficult to stay positive, but I have also been able to visit some of the fantastic activities and events going on across the area and I am inspired by how many people are doing such positive things for our community.

Next week Parliament returns and there will be some important issues to discuss. I’m looking forward to contributing and to making my maiden speech - my chance to remind all MPs what a great place Batley and Spen is – something that I have been lucky enough to witness every day during a busy summer.