Jeremy Corbyn came to Trafford this morning to join us in celebrating Labour’s brilliant success last night in winning 6 new seats on Trafford Council. This terrific result gives us 36 Labour councillors and an outright majority on the council. I couldn’t be prouder of my Trafford Labour Councillor colleagues and join them in thanking voters who supported Labour on Thursday.
Campaigning in the local elections has meant I’ve had more time in the constituency this week. That’s also given me the chance to visit some excellent local organisations and participate in their events. I was very pleased to visit the Minhaj Welfare Foundation and Minhaj College in Old Trafford, to hear about their educational work, in the UK and overseas. On Sunday, I joined the Mayor of Trafford Cllr Tom Ross and other guests at a service in Manchester Cathedral to mark the 125th anniversary of the Boys’ Brigade. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association groups in my constituency, and it was lovely to be with them. Earlier, I had also been with Tom as he unveiled a bust of John Rylands, who among other philanthropic works, built Stretford Public Hall (as well as the fabulous John Rylands Library in the city centre, of course). I was also very pleased to have the opportunity to visit mosque leaders in Old Trafford to discuss security arrangements in advance of the Holy Month of Ramadan, which begins next week. Senior officers from Greater Manchester joined me at this very helpful meeting.
Between Sunday’s packed itinerary and Thursday’s election, I spent three days in Westminster, attending an important debate to celebrate the contribution of Sikhs to the UK (when I took the opportunity to mention the exhibition currently on display at the Manchester Museum, which tells the story of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at Amritsar, a shameful episode in Britain’s history); a book launch on the impact on family law of cuts to legal aid; and participating in a debate on the use of facial recognition technology. I’ve taken a close interest in this subject since the MEN reported that it had been used at the Trafford Centre for 6 months last year. Like all my constituents, I want technology to be used effectively to keep us safe and protect us from crime, but there are important questions about the use of this technology, including privacy concerns and possible ethnic bias. You can watch my contribution to the debate here.
Attending that debate meant I wasn’t able to be in all of the debate in the main chamber which was happening at the same time, in which Labour called for the declaration of a climate emergency. But I did manage to get along to a briefing from Chris Packham, presenter of Springwatch, to hear about a new People’s Manifesto for Wildlife – something I was especially keen to do, as one of the researchers who helped prepare the manifesto is a constituent. And I did make it into the chamber for the final part of the debate when parliament unanimously agreed to Labour’s motion.
I was also very pleased to make it along to an MPs’ Autism Awareness training session, organised by the National Autistic Society. Our trainer, Leo, who’s on the autistic spectrum himself, carefully took us through what it’s like to live with autism and offered helpful ideas about things MPs can do to offer more support to constituents, including holding autism-friendly advice surgeries, which is something I’ll be looking into. I’d welcome hearing from any local autism support groups who’d like to work with me on this.
Finally, in what has been a very varied week, Greater Manchester MPs had a useful catch-up with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on a range of subjects, including our local bus services, proposed changes to the fire service, and the Greater Manchester clean air plan. All useful stuff for when I got back on the doorstep in Trafford on Thursday, as these are the kind of issues my constituents really care about. Trafford Labour’s commitment to investing in public services, protecting the environment, and using council taxpayers’ money efficiently and effectively has already made a difference since Labour began to run the council last May. Now with full control of the council, we’ll be building on our success, and working hard to continue to improve services to residents.