Photo copyright Chrystal Ding
Photo copyright Chrystal Ding

It’s been another busy week in Westminster. With the Budget rapidly approaching, I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to ask for provision to be made to help leaseholders facing sky high insurance premiums and life changing bills to remove dangerous cladding from their homes.

I’ve also written to the Financial Conduct Authority to ask them to investigate the actions of insurance companies who appear to be profiting from the misery of so many.

Some constituents may be aware of the Islington Gates development and their troubles in replacing unsafe cladding on their building and the difficulties they now have in securing insurance. That insurance has now more than quadrupled and has only been secured through a consortium of five insurance companies. Regulation has failed to prevent dangerous cladding being used in construction and the Government is failing leaseholders again by not acting to ensure that insurance premiums remain affordable. This is an issue that is not going away, and neither am I. The Government must take action.

I’ve been campaigning on litter and fly-tipping in Birmingham Ladywood for some time now. This week, I met with residents and a council officer on Fordrough Lane and we walked around the surrounding area to discuss the problem and where they think things are going wrong. Our city is the second most populous urban area in the UK after London and growing. Birmingham must be able to accommodate and deal with the waste that the hundreds of thousands of people living here generate, and that doesn’t take into account the millions of visitors that Birmingham welcomes every year. An efficient and successful waste management system is the unsung hero of modern life, but when it is neither efficient nor successful, we notice. It’s clear there is work to be done on waste management in Birmingham Ladywood, and I will be continuing to work with local stakeholders to see how we can build a service fit for the future.

Today I had the opportunity to meet with businesses and community groups based in the Chinese Quarter. I’ve always been proud to say that my constituency has one of the biggest concentrations of Chinese businesses in the West Midlands and is the historical home for Chinese residents in the region. My office has recently been contacted by a small number of constituents with concerns about a slight rise in hate crime incidents and negative impact on businesses in Chinatown due to misconceptions surrounding the coronavirus. In the meeting I heard from community members and business owners who told me that the Chinese Quarter remains open for business, and that they are pleased to report that business is still going strong in the area. I was pleased to hear from West Midlands Police that there has not been a major increase in reported hate incidents – however, even one incident is always one too many. We discussed how the police could further encourage reporting by building their links with the Chinese community to ensure reporting of hate incidents always takes place. As always, I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese community in Ladywood who add so much to the rich culture of our city. I’ll continue to monitor the situation and liaise with community groups in the Chinese Quarter over the coming weeks and months.

I know constituents will already be aware that Birmingham has reported its first case of coronavirus as the national response to the virus moves into its next stage. However, the UK Chief Medical Officer maintains that the risk to the UK is moderate and that their advice is to continue as normal and ensure that personal hygiene is the priority. So, we need to ensure we wash our hands properly – for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water – and regularly, and if we sneeze or cough, to do so into our elbow to help reduce the spread of any bugs. If you do feel ill and are concerned, do not go to your GP, but call the NHS direct line on 111 and speak to a medical professional who will advise you further. In a nutshell, the advice is to keep calm and wash your hands! My surgeries will continue as normal until I receive any updated guidance and a full list of upcoming surgeries can be found on my website.

If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch using the contact details here.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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