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Photo by user 'ChiralJon', sourced from Flickr and used under Creative Commons License.

This week, we marked five years since the loss of our friend and colleague Jo Cox. She was incredibly dedicated to her constituents and her community, and we are poorer for her loss . My thoughts, as ever,  are with her family , her children and everyone who loved her.

Like many thousands of constituents, I watched in absolute horror a few weeks ago when violence was used against worshippers gathering during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the al-Aqsa mosque. The scenes were deeply painful to watch and they motivated many thousands of my constituents to write to me. Like me, so many of them were thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I”. I was pleased this week to be able to share some of these thoughts and views in a debate in Westminster Hall this week on the situation in Israel and Palestine.

The history of Palestine and Israel is in so many ways a perpetual cycle of loss, sorrow and conflict, pierced only occasionally by moments of hope and fleeting opportunities for positive and lasting change. The goal of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel remains the shared objective of so many of us, but in truth, it has rarely seemed further away. The end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years as Prime Minister of Israel at least suggests that a path towards a settlement, political and practical, could be charted. However, among those who have removed an indisputable roadblock to peace are some with still greater belligerence, with opinions more extreme and entrenched even than Benjamin Netanyahu’s. The fact that they will serve alongside those with an unequivocal commitment to a viable two-state solution is welcome, and it is perhaps to them that we must reiterate that the illegal occupation and proposed annexation of the west bank is violating international law. Only when they accept that can we make progress in the field of peace. Any and every road towards a just and lasting peace requires that the occupation be brought to a permanent end, with both Palestinians and Israelis enjoying true and meaningful security, dignity and human rights.  I know this is an issue that is very close to the hearts of many of my constituents.

This week it was good to hear Keir Starmer raise the urgent need for action on the Cladding Scandal during PMQs. Monday this week marked the 4th anniversary of the tragic fire at Grenfell that killed 72 people and injured more than 70 others. Four years and two Tory Prime Ministers later and we are in no better a place. Too many people are still living in buildings covered in dangerous cladding, unable to afford to move and unable to afford the sky-high insurance premiums and costs of remediation work. It is a shocking indictment of the scandalous lack of compassion and lack of humanity of those in power. Justice must be done. Companies involved must be held to account; Ministers must finance the removal work of all dangerous cladding; and the Government must ensure that our building safety laws are robust enough so that no one has to live in substandard and dangerous accommodation in twenty-first century Britain.

Fly-tipping and rubbish on our streets pollutes our living space and ruins our neighbourhoods. I am pleased to see an initiative by Birmingham City Council to introduce mobile household recycling centres to visit streets across Birmingham. Each group of vehicles will include one for recycling, one for household waste, and another for furniture. It’s really important that we ensure that the capacity to recycle is not just limited to those with cars and that recycling becomes as much a habit in our lives as brushing our teeth in the morning. Cleaner streets will contribute so much to public health as well as the mental health and wellbeing of those living in Birmingham – we all deserve to enjoy our environment – so it’s good to see Birmingham City Council tackling this issue.

Citizens Advice are running a very important campaign to highlight the dangers of scams to younger people. Young people may consider themselves more savvy, but unfortunately research shows that people in their twenties are most likely to be scammed. You can protect yourself by following some simple rules: be careful not to ever give money or details to anyone you’ve met online and do not click on unsolicited links or links from people you do not know.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing or by calling 0121 661 9440. My team and I are of course subject to many of the same challenges and restrictions as other families in Birmingham Ladywood at the minute, but we will do everything we can to help constituents in these difficult times.

Keep your social distance, stay safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!

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