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

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

Welcome to the February edition of my e-newsletter; it's been an eventful few weeks to say the least!

I hope this new decade has got off to a great start for you all, and hopefully the weather will start to warm up soon as Spring is just around the corner!

I started off the year by visiting some of the local campaigners whose efforts and time made such a difference during the election campaign, to say a massive thank you from myself and my whole team.

For me it's been a month of highs and lows. Just days after getting my new role as Shadow Culture Secretary I broke my ankle falling on the bus, which has proved slightly inconvenient!

But as they say in theatre, the show must go on and it hasn't stopped me holding the Government to account or getting out around Batley and Spen meeting people and projects doing great work for our community.

The injury left me wheelchair bound for a couple of weeks, which gave me a small insight into how difficult everyday life must be for those with disabilities or mobility issues, from big heavy doors in Parliament I had no way of opening to having to carefully plan journeys which are made much longer due to the lack of accessibility. This perspective has reinforced my commitment to support Britain becoming more disability-friendly and I will be pushing for changes to be made.
A busy start
Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is a dream role. Already I've met with so many brilliant stakeholders and held discussions on how to improve the cultural offering for British people, and particularly how we can create more opportunities in Batley and Spen.

I've stood at the dispatch box a number of times to hold the Government to account, on a wide range of issues from 5G to press freedom to gambling in sport, demanding answers.

While I've been busy with my new role, I've also spent time in Batley and Spen, meeting local businesses, organisations and constituents to discuss a wide range of issues, such as growing business in the area, creating more opportunities for young people and events around the world which are affecting our communities.

I recently attended a brilliant 'Question Time' session at Batley Girls' High School, where students asked interesting and challenging questions and it was great to see so many young women engaged in politics. I also held a public meeting on crime in Birstall and Birkenshaw which was well attended and really useful in forming a more focused picture of the issues facing the area.

In Parliament, I spoke out against the shocking situation where the only place to watch live FA Cup matches was live streamed on a betting website or app, influencing people into gambling on the action.

The involvement of Chinese tech-giant Huawei in building of our 5G network was concerning for everyone's privacy and I asked for assurances on how involved Huawei would be, and why they have failed to invest in British industry.

I also asked The Speaker for guidance after Downing Street kicked out some journalists from a press briefing, triggering a full walkout from the press. Blocking certain reporters from briefings is bordering on media censorship, and is unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen. In the press this was sadly overshadowed by a certain item of clothing I was wearing, but more on that later...

For the first month of this new decade I chose Friends of West End Park in Cleckheaton as my charity of the month. The volunteer group does brilliant work maintaining the park to high standard and to make it an attractive place to visit whether that be for a picnic, dog walk or Sunday league football. They have also done a great deal of work to promote biodiversity and to help wildlife thrive. On top of all this, over winter the team ran a Bags of Kindness appeal, donating warm clothes and essential items to the homeless across Kirklees. Martin Webster, who helps run Friends of West End Park is a wonderful man who is doing so much good for Cleckheaton. It was a pleasure to see him again to mark the donation of £235 and learn more about ongoing projects the group are working on.
My charity of the month for February is the magnificent HWD Hospital Radio.
Visit of Keir Starmer
In January, Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer visited Batley and Spen to speak to Labour supporters about his vision for the future of the party.

The visit began at the brilliant Foundations Nursery in Batley to hear about the great work they do for young children and their families to give them the best start in life. He then headed to Batley Food Bank, where he met trustees to hear about how demand for food parcels has gone up and up over the past ten years, as more working families have been pushed into poverty by Conservative austerity.

Keir then came to speak to us at Batley Community Centre, where a crowd of around 150 local Labour members and activists welcomed him with rapturous applause. He spoke of his vision for the next chapter of the Labour Party, to address the divisions which have affected us, to personally stamp out Antisemitism and all forms of discrimination from the party, and to hold the Tories to account and make Labour the party for all once again.

I have backed Keir for leader and so has the constituency Labour party, along with my brilliant friend Angela Rayner as deputy.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to the event.
Channel 4
Channel 4 has been up and running for a few months now, and a couple of weeks ago I visited the offices to discuss what impact the move to Leeds is going to have for wider areas such as Batley and Spen, and about how to engage more young people from our area in pursuing careers in TV.

The broadcaster has big plans to make its workforce more inclusive and reflective of society, and to boost social mobility. It is already offering apprenticeships and is looking at traineeships and paid opportunities for young people with a passion for the creative industry.

It wants to boost skills and training so the right people with the right skills are on hand here in West Yorkshire.

We have the talent here, in Batley and Spen especially, people just need the opportunities close to home and the confidence and belief they can do it.

I will be working closely with Channel 4 to try and bring these opportunities to young people in Batley and Spen; to show them they don't have to go to London for work and to instil the confidence they have what it takes.

This is an exciting time, and anyone who thinks they'd like to work in creative industries needs to take the bull by the horns and go for every opportunity.

A couple of weeks ago, after attending an event at UK Music to hear about the issues and concerns facing the industry, I had an unexpected urgent question in the House of Commons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson barred certain journalists from attending No. 10 briefings. What happened next was completely unexpected and absolutely barmy! My choice of outfit - an off the shoulder black dress - caused quite the furore among Twitter trolls and made national headlines. This led to numerous TV and radio appearances and it even being raised on Question Time in debates about what is appropriate for female MPs to wear. This exposed the everyday sexism that is still prominent in society, with my clothes seemingly more important that what I was saying. I've taken this opportunity to auction the dress off in aid of Girlguiding UK, which empowers girls to become confident, strong women. So far the top bid is more than £17,000, a mindblowing amount.
As everyone knows, at 11pm on Friday, January 31, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union after 47 years of membership.

This was a historic moment for our country and I know there will have been celebration and commiseration when the clocks struck eleven.

Over the past three years I scrutinised the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure it protects jobs and our future relationship with Europe.

The rest of this year will be crucial to our future prosperity, and we will be keeping a close eye on negotiations to ensure the outcomes are in the best interest of our country.

In the mean time there is so much more to be done in Batley and Spen to improve people's lives, such as taking action on improving rail infrastructure, bus services and tackling housing issues, crime and unemployment.


Earlier this month members of my great team visited the new joint venture between Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and the University of the Third Age launched in Batley - Walking Cricket. The amazing activity allows older people to get active and make new friends playing the sport so many people in Batley and Spen love. Batting and fielding gets the pulse racing even at a walking pace and the social side was electric with jokes flying round the hall and plenty of laughs which made everyone feel welcome no matter their gender, background or ability. Programmes like this are wonderful for improving older people's physical and mental wellbeing, tackling inactivity and loneliness and helping people make new friends. I'm so happy this kind of activity is available for older people in our area and I hope the club will grow and grow in the coming months.
If you know any older people who would be interested in this, Walking Cricket takes place fortnightly on Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm in the Al-Hikmak Centre's sports hall, with the next session on 19th February.
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