I write this column brimming with pride.
Yesterday, the Batley and Spen Labour Party received the ‘Best Campaign’ award at the Labour Party National Conference.
The award was presented by the General Secretary of the Labour Party to local volunteers, in recognition of their tireless work during last year’s by-election.
It was the toughest of campaigns – local Labour Party members, suffering from the loss of our wonderful colleague, worked together to honour Jo’s memory, and stood together against hatred and division.
One of the great honours of being the Labour MP for Batley and Spen is working with the amazing local people who campaign with great innovation and determinedly for a better future for our constituency.
I am delighted Batley and Spen Labour Party members have received the recognition that they deserve.
In fact, it was members of the local Labour Party who joined me, bright and (very) early at Batley train station recently, to talk to commuters about our railways.
Local people told me of their frustration at poor services, a lack of carriages, overcrowding, expensive and unreliable journeys.
I spoke to them about my concerns about the North-South divide. I think it’s shocking that Government expenditure on transport is £1,940 per head in London, compared to £190 in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Transport has recently thrown the Trans-Pennine route upgrade into doubt. The upgrade would see the electrification of the line, which includes links between Batley and major cities like Leeds and Manchester.
The electrification would mean better trains, reduced journey times, and a cleaner impact on our environment.
To continue to press ahead with Crossrail 2 in the south (which just so happens to benefit the Transport Secretary’s constituency), whilst casting doubt over long overdue investment in the north, is unbelievable and I cannot let the Transport Secretary off the hook on this matter.
That’s why I recorded messages from commuters during the session at Batley station, which I will send to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Whilst I am your local MP, rail users in Batley and Spen cannot and will not be ignored.
Finally this month, I’ve had the privilege of working with my outstanding Charity of the Month, Kirkwood Hospice. This wonderful local asset provides specialist care to local people with advanced, progressive illnesses.
They also provide support to families, friends and carers.
I particularly enjoyed hosting an afternoon tea in aid of the hospice this month, and I’ve also designed a Batley and Spen tote bag which I’m selling this month in aid of the charity.
If you’re a local business or person looking to support an incredibly worthwhile cause, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you support Kirkwood Hospice.