Wigan Observer - Tuesday 23rd April

Parliamentary recess provides MPs with a great opportunity to spend more time in their constituencies. During this year’s Easter recess, I had planned five public events across my constituency, other private meetings and advice surgeries to ensure that I remain up to date with the concerns that my constituents have.

Unfortunately, due to Brexit, the first week of Easter recess was cancelled and only two of the five public meetings I planned to hold could go ahead because I was in Westminster.

I was however pleased that over 160 constituents attended the Brexit public meeting I held and my smaller Meet your MP event held just before Easter weekend enabled constituents to share with me a number of local issues, including crime and the poor state of our local roads.

I was also able to attend a meeting with Superintendent Steve Keeley, the division commander for the Wigan Police, which I arranged after a significant number of Atherton residents contacted me, telling me that they no longer felt safe on their streets.

I had raised these issues as a matter of urgency as soon as they arose with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, the Minister for Policing and our local police, but I still wanted to learn more about what the Wigan Police were doing to tackle this rise in crime. Superintendent Steve Keeley, responsible for the Atherton area, reassured me during our meeting that they have been able to recruit more local police, which he intends to move straight into neighbourhood policing teams that will patrol our streets in Atherton.

Another issue that is constantly raised with me is the latest version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which has just undergone its first stage of the consultation process.  A further 700 houses have been allocated to be built in Atherton alone, with no detailed plans for the road improvements needed to cope with such a development.

This is why during a meeting I had just before Easter with representatives from Wigan and Bolton Council, TfGM and GMCA, I urged the local authorities to deliver the much-needed road improvements local people want to see, such as the completion of the A5225, before they even consider any more housebuilding.

As well as these meetings, I have also been keeping up with my training for the London Marathon. This year, I have chosen to run the marathon in aid of Derian House Children’s Hospice, which provides end-of-life car for over 300 children and young people across the North West. I recently hit my fundraising target of £1,000 and knowing that this money will go to support Derian House’s invaluable work has really spurred me on during my training. 

Although Brexit may continue to dominate the national headlines, there is so much more to my role as your MP than our upcoming exit from the European Union. Over the coming weeks, I will of course continue to do my best to ensure that Brexit is delivered for my constituents. However, the local concerns of my constituents will always be my priority as your MP and I will continue to raise your voice both to our local authorities and in Parliament.