From Tracy Brabin MP <[email protected]>
Subject Tracy Brabin MP's Newsletter - March
Date March 12, 2020 4:59 PM
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Welcome to my newsletter for March

The latest news from your local Member of Parliament
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News from Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin

Welcome to the March edition of my newsletter after what was a February dominated by wild weather and flooding.

The Government's response to the flooding caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis was nowhere near urgent or serious enough. The Prime Minister failed to call an emergency COBRA meeting and was nowhere to be seen in any of the flood hit towns across the UK.

In Wednesday's Budget, the Government committed to more than double spending on flood defences to £5.2 billion over the next six years, and I will be keeping a close eye on where that money goes to ensure Batley and Spen and Yorkshire gets the money it needs to protect people from further flooding.

We also saw a commitment to West Yorkshire devolution, which is a big win for our community after years of campaigning. We'll now have control over how and where our money is spent, so we can tackle the issues that matter to us.

Over the past month I have also met a number of local people, businesses and charities and I'm looking forward to taking action on the various topics we covered, and have also attended some brilliant events having a big impact on the fortunes of our area.

In Parliament I have been busy fighting on various fronts and holding a large number of meetings as part of my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as continuing to stand up for the issues that matter to you and the people of Batley and Spen.

Wonderful Women
On Saturday 7th March I hosted an International Women's Day event at Batley Community Centre.

It featured guest speakers from the fields of business, the arts, policing, physical and mental wellbeing and more, who were all brilliantly received.

We had a marketplace showcasing the brilliant businesswomen of Batley and Spen, selling make-up, arts and crafts and more, as well as great community groups and charities which support local women.

To top it all off, the Sutton School of Performing Arts put on two great performances displaying the great young talent we have in our area and providing a fitting finale to a great day.

International Women's Day is such an important date in the calendar to celebrate and inspire the great women in our lives, and it was my pleasure to help mark the occasion in Batley and Spen.

** Big Budget win for West Yorkshire
After years of campaigning for a devolution deal for West Yorkshire, in Wednesday's Budget the Government finally buckled to our demands.

A new West Yorkshire devolution deal was announced handing £1.8 billion to our county to be spent on the issues we know are affecting people's lives here in our area.

This is going to be spent on transforming our failing public transport, improving the housing stock, new cycling and walking routes, and excitingly a £25m fund to set up a British Library North, which will give us access to a world class facility and selection of literature.

As a long standing member of the British Library in London, when I made my living as a writer, I used it most days and always thought everyone in the country should have a library like it, and now this is going to happen for West Yorkshire I couldn't be happier.

Councils, business leaders and MPs such as myself have been pushing hard for West Yorkshire devolution over the past five years, and now that our demands have been listened to we can pave the way to improving Batley and Spen and West Yorkshire for the good of the people.

My charity of the month for February was the fantastic Heavy Woollen District Hospital Radio. The group of volunteers do absolutely vital work entertaining patients in our hospital who are often going through tough times and have done for the past 68 years. The passion the team has for the radio station is really heartwarming and it was my pleasure to support them. I visited the team in 2017 to open their new studio (pictured) and I'm so happy the station is going from strength to strength. Hopefully the money I raised this month will go some way in supporting them in the future.
My chosen charity of the month for March is Friends of Batley Station.
Young talent on display
During the half-term holidays, aspiring actors and performers from Batley and Spen were given an incredible opportunity to audition for the British Youth Music Theatre, when the organisation brought its team of West End experts to Batley Girls for a day-long workshop.

A group of talent young people worked with Luke Sheppard, director of award-winning musical & Juliet, choreographer Charlie Brittain, musician Michael Bradley and production designer Chris de Wilde, honing their acting, dance and singing skills before auditioning for one of British Youth Music Theatre's summer shows.

The day was a huge success, with two young people from the area being offered places to take part in BYMT's upcoming summer shows, and a further four placed on the reserve list. More than 1,000 young people auditioned for the shows across the country, so to have two people from Batley and Spen be offered places is a great outcome and shows that there is a pool of talent here, it just needs to be given the opportunity to shine.

Flooding devastation
While compared to the likes of Mytholmroyd and York our area avoided the worst of the flooding caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, families and businesses were still left devastated by the deluge last month.

I visited Mick Wilkinson at his home in Liversedge to see the damage the River Spen bursting its banks caused to his home, leaving the bottom floor underwater and causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. I also visited Hub 26 in Cleckheaton, which was left with its state-of-the-art gym severely damaged after a water pipe under its car park burst and flooded the building. This was a story however of the brilliant community spirit in Cleckheaton as so many residents went down to offer a helping hand to clear up the business centre and help it get back on its feet.

After these visits I wrote to Kirklees Council and the Government to ask what is being done to support people in our area affected by flooding, and what steps are being taken to stop people being devastated again by flooding in the future.

The Government has committed £5.2 billion to be spent on flood defences over the next six years, £120m in emergency relief for communities affected by this winter's flooding and £200m for flood resilience. Yorkshire and the North cannot miss out on this money to protect our community from further flooding in the future, and I will be paying close attention to where this money is spent to ensure we get our fair share.

Last month I was invited to Gomersal St Mary's Primary School to meet their Year 4 class who have been doing a project on politics, British values and the rule of law. I was greeted by a musical performance from the class, before being grilled during a brilliant question and answer session.Some fantastic questions were asked, including about my role as an MP, how we tackle the homelessness crisis, the local bus services and access to Dewsbury Hospital, school improvements and trolling on the internet. We also had a great debate about whether the voting age should be changed to 16. It was brilliant seeing young people so engaged in politics and democracy, talking about serious issues and developing their own points of view. The work being done by teacher Kirsty Hemingway and her team is fantastic, and we need more projects like this in our schools to get young people engaged in politics.

Second fatal crash in Heckmondwike this year
There was some sad news last month when 69-year-old Jean Hepworth, from Liversedge, was tragically killed in a road traffic collision at the junction of Market Street and Westgate in Heckmondwike.

This was the second pedestrian death at this junction in Heckmondwike so far this year, after the sad death of Valentine Hannan, 81, at the start of January.

Both people were in collisions with trucks at the same junction. There is clearly something going wrong at this junction and I will be working with Councillors to try and find a solution to stop more tragic deaths from taking place in that area of the town.


Last month the auction for my 'Shouldergate' dress concluded, with an amazing outcome for Girlguiding! After the off-the-shoulder dress I wore in Parliament set off a frenzy of social media fury which hit national headlines, I decided to turn the negative into a positive and sold off the dress in aid of the brilliant girls group. I was hoping to a raise a few hundred pounds, but what happened next was incredible with the final winning bid coming in at a huge £20,200! I visited the 1st Roberttown and Norristhorpe Guides Unit to reveal the final total, and their reaction was amazing! I had such a great evening with some brilliant young women, and I am glad that something so positive has come out this, and we have sent a message to the trolls that this everyday sexism is unacceptable and women should be judged by what we say and not what we wear.
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Tracy Brabin MP
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