Libraries: Earlier this month, we celebrated Libraries Week to mark the importance of libraries for our communities. As Chair of the APPG for Libraries, I hosted an event in Parliament including the fabulously talented Young Voice Collective. Thanks to CILIP for their role in this brilliant event.
Petition and meeting with the Libraries Minister
There has been huge support for the Library funding petition set up by Brightside and Hillsborough’s very own Fran Belbin, including from JK Rowling. At the time of writing, there are now over 25 thousand signatures! Please take a moment to add your name by following the link here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742. There is also a video in production which will help promote the petition.
This month also saw Loneliness week and I used the week to ask ministers to invest in libraries as a fantastic way of tackling loneliness.
I was pleased that on the 30th October, in partnership with CILIP, The Big Issue and armed with the 25,000 strong petition, we were able to put forward a comprehensive case for a fairer funding deal for libraries to the Minister, Michael Ellis. A fairer funding deal will be crucial in securing the long-term sustainability of our libraries. I look forward to the petition hitting the 100,000 mark so the issue can be debated in Parliament.
This month has seen further worrying developments in the Saudi war in Yemen and worsening conditions for the people of Yemen. Millions of people are cut off from supplies and the outside world and are facing what the UN has described as ‘pre-famine conditions’. There is an increased focus on the actions of Saudia Arabia due to the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and hopefully, this will focus Governments’ minds on finding a ceasefire in Yemen. The US administration is now committed to this and as little as we may all trust Trump’s motives, for the sake of the people of Yemen we must hope that a ceasefire comes soon.
I met with representatives from ‘Save The Children’ to see what more can be done to raise the issue on the political agenda and to push for more action to end the war.
Royal Mail and the Post Office
As Shadow Minister for Postal Services, I wrote an article, criticising the Royal Mail’s failure since privatisation and setting out Labour’s plans for its renationalisation. You can read it at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/five-years-on-the-consequences-of-privatisation-of_uk_5bc495ece4b0484342b6b7b4
On 30th October, I chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Post Offices. Members of Parliament from both Houses had the opportunity to question senior Post Office Representatives about the recent announcement of closure and franchising programmes of Crown Post Offices.
I was left very disappointed by some of the answers from the Post Office officials and will be pressing on the matter so that any proposals for closures and franchising is transparent and consults the public, who are the rightful owners of the Post Office. There is due to be a lot of activity from the APPG on Post Offices and I look forward to updating you in due course.
I joined the APPG Kashmir to Launch the Human Rights Report after a year of hearings & delegation to the line of control. We also heard from AJK President Sardar Khan. We know too many lives have been lost to conflict and we hope for a peaceful future ahead.
Last Saturday, I joined MPs and activists from across Sheffield at the Stop and Scrap Universal Credit rally. Despite the wet and windy weather, there was a great turnout to send a clear message to this Government that Universal credit will hurt the most vulnerable people in Sheffield when it rolls out in the coming weeks and it should be stopped and scrapped now. My speech focused on the terrible impact Universal Credit will have on families, you can watch my speech by clicking the picture below.
As the rollout of Univeral Credit begins in Sheffield I have continued to press the Government in Westminster and ensure that my team are fully prepared to provide support and advice to all those in need, especially those in a time of crisis. I’ll continue to ensure that my relationship with key community groups is strong and will be working closely with these and councillors in the coming weeks.
There was huge coverage of the incident at Fir Vale school last month in which a large fight took place, influenced by the community tensions in the Page Hall area. Since then, I have continued to advocate for the area and the School community to the Council and the Government. I visited the School to give my support and hosted an emergency meeting of stakeholders including Council and police to urge a comprehensive response.
There is good work happening in the area including through the Sheffield Community Investment Deal money which I helped secure, which has employed Community development workers and Environmental stewards in the area. However, there is a huge amount more work to be done.
Gill with Police, Environmental Stewards and Community workers at the Earl Marshall youth Centre.
News in brief:
I joined GMB Union’s campaign against period poverty: https://twitter.com/GillFurnissMP/status/1052542178541613056
Brightside and Hillsborough’s biggest park, Parkwood Springs has a new Council-led masterplan aimed at making it ‘The Country park in the City’. You can give your views here:https://t.co/XmeOhO0u2P
I have responded to the survey on the future of our Tram-saying that it is vital to develop it for the future. You can respond (and select option 2 if you love the Tram!) at https://t.co/jU72Ure6xA