I have remarked before in this column how Brexit is dominating events in Parliament. However, other things are happening and recently I have pursued a number of local and national issues which shows that the work of parliament continues despite the Brexit chaos.
The Petitions Select Committee, which I chair, has investigated the disturbing and sickening issue of online abuse of disabled people. We took evidence from a wide range of people including representatives of technology companies. Sadly, it became clear that their rules and procedures needed to be more robust and that self-regulation had failed. The committee recommended that government bring forward legislation to make disability hate crime an offence in the same way as crimes against someone because of their race or religion is an offence.
I secured an adjournment debate to, once again, highlight the effects of the proposed HS2 route on the local villages of Culcheth, Croft and Hollins Green. The minister promised to look at some of the issues I raised but action is better than words and past promises to review things have not resulted in any action – I will keep trying in the hope that ministers will see that the case for the spur does not stack up.
Sadly, many of my constituents still find it difficult to get GP appointments. Answering my Parliamentary Question, the government had to confirm that over a quarter of patients in Warrington wait over two weeks for a GP appointment, with some waiting more than a month. Previous promises to me by ministers to ‘improve the capacity’ and increase GP numbers in the town remain unfulfilled – the fight goes on.
Equally disappointing is the unemployment count in my constituency which stands at 4.1% of the economically active population – higher than the UK average of 3.4%. The trend has been in the wrong direction for sometime and is a worry.
Prior to Parliament declaring a ‘climate emergency’ I had called on the borough council to add Warrington’s name to the growing list of local authorities who are committing to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. I hope they will do so. By working with other bodies and residents we can drive down Warrington’s carbon footprint.
Finally, I am pleased to confirm that on 7 June my petition on Peel Hall will be presented to the council as part of the consultation on its Local Plan. I really do hope that the wishes of the huge number of signatories will be listened to and acted upon.