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Lots about Manchester in parliament this week


On Monday, I asked the minister about plans to build on Flixton greenbelt. He agreed with me that other sites should be given priority. I hope Trafford Tories were paying attention....

On Wednesday, we debated the Bus Services Bill. This will enable the new mayor of Greater Manchester to franchise services to bus companies so that we can have a sensible system of bus routes and ticket prices in Stretford and Urmston, rather than the free for all we have at present. As I told the minister, different companies operating the same route mean some passengers have to buy two separate tickets there and back. That's a complete nonsense.

And although it was a debate about buses, I also managed to slip in a question about trains, and upgrading the platforms at Piccadilly. And on the subject of trains, rail travel has been a nightmare for many of my constituents over the past few days, as trains can't get in and out of Liverpool Lime Street. I hope services will return to normal as soon as possible.

I also participated in a debate on Wednesday about cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Among other tasks, the Commission is responsible for challenging racial discrimination, discrimination against disabled people, and helping to tackle hate crime. Yet despite this important work, it has suffered a 68% cut in its funding. This is obviously a huge concern, compounded, as far as I'm concerned, by the impact on staff members in the Manchester office who live in Stretford and Urmston. I am really shocked that the body responsible for equality at work is sacking disabled staff and those from ethnic minorities, rather than trying to redeploy them.

More cheerfully, I was delighted to attend a brilliant exhibition showing models of the shortlisted entries for a new statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst which is to be erected in Manchester city centre. You can vote for your favourite entry here.

I was also able to ask questions in parliament this week about benefits for disabled people, and to vote in favour of a demand that the government reinstates the so-called Dubs scheme to enable unaccompanied asylum seeking children to come to the UK from camps elsewhere in Europe. MPs will continue pressing the government about this - there will be another vote next week.

Teaching unions were in parliament this week to give a very useful briefing to MPs about cuts to schools funding. Every secondary school in Stretford and Urmston, and around half of our primary schools, lose out under the government's proposed new funding arrangements. Last week, I met the heads of our secondary schools to hear about the impact this will have on their schools, and I'm also keen to hear from teachers, parents and governors - if you haven't filled in my survey yet, please let me know your views here.

Finally, a big thank you to Trafford Mencap for the invitation to join you at your funday last Sunday. I hope everyone enjoyed it!

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