From Stephen Kinnock MP <[email protected]>
Subject May 2021 Newsletter
Date May 24, 2021 11:03 AM
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My latest newsletter is out now!

** May 2021 Newsletter

** JUSTICE FOR SKEWEN: A campaign for justice begins

I have now launched Justice for Skewen, a campaign to fight for the rights of the people whose lives were turned upside down by a devastating man-made flood.

On Thursday January 21, a disused mine shaft burst and sent a torrent of sludge and dirty water into homes in the village destroying lives and property in an instant.

The Coal Authority, whose responsibility it is to maintain the mine shaft, is not accepting liability for the devastating damage caused to homes, some of which had been in families for generations, and for the loss of belongings, including belongings of great sentimental value.

It has offered up to £2,000 to cover repair costs to external areas but when some families are facing repair bills of up to £50,000 this offer is simply derisory.

Justice for Skewen is now calling on the Coal Authority and the UK Government to cover all uninsured losses, cover any gaps not covered by insurance and ensure not a single victim of this horrendous man-made incident is left out of pocket.

** Continuing the fight for justice for the people of Skewen

Justice must be done for the people of Skewen.

We stand united with all those whose lives were turned upside down after a disused mine shaft burst in January sending gallons of water and sludge into homes which in some cases had been in families for generations.

We have launched our campaign for justice on behalf of all those affected by the devastating floods as the Coal Authority, whose job it is to make sure these mine workings are properly maintained, is not accepting liability for this horrendous incident.

The immediate response of support from the community to help those worst affected was nothing short of astounding and has seen more than £40,000 raised by donations to the Salvation Army from all over the world.

The kindness shown to the victims of this awful flood has been truly heart-warming but residents here have been badly let down by the Coal Authority and are now demanding justice.

More than 1,700 people from across the UK have now signed a petition launched by Skewen resident Ellie Jones calling for compensation for flooding caused by former mines and further signatures are being added on a daily basis, we urge you to do the same.

Early mixed messages from the Coal Authority suggested that it was not only taking responsibility for the blow-out but also the damage the mine water had caused to homes. It was then made clear that the Coal Authority would not be taking responsibility for the mine water, instead residents would be expected to go through their insurance companies to remediate their homes.

But why on earth should residents be expected to pay a single penny for damage that has been caused through no fault of their own?

By the Coal Authority’s own admission this was a unique incident and the work to remediate the mine shaft and install a water management system should prevent any future recurrence. Therefore, the Coal Authority should step-up and provide support to those without insurance and plug the gaps in insurance, so that no resident is out of pocket because of this incident.

So, today we urge them, do the morally right thing, drop their legalistic stance and adopt a pragmatic approach and help those that have lost everything.

Create a one-off fund to compensate for uninsured losses. This campaign will continue until we achieve justice for the people of Skewen.

** Victory for injured Port Talbot mum after two-year benefits appeal receives national coverage

A national newspaper this month covered the case of a supermarket worker who suffered a workplace accident and has finally won her battle against the UK Government for payments due to her after vital support from my Aberavon office.

Wendy Dykes of Port Talbot (pictured below) was a shop assistant but had to leave her job due to a chemical accident at work in 2010.

The 59-year-old mother-of-two contacted my Aberavon office in 2019 after being turned down by the Government for applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is designed to help with extra costs if you have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability.

Applicants for the Government’s PIP payments are assessed on how the condition affects them, not the condition itself and assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help they can get.

After being turned down and choosing to appeal the decision, Wendy had to take part in a series of tribunals which lasted two years before a judge finally ruled in her favour and she was awarded a total of just over £16,000.

Her case received front page coverage in the South Wales Evening Post as well as online coverage on Walesonline ([link removed]) and The Mirror online ([link removed]) .

I am delighted we were able to secure this vital victory for Mrs Dykes but it is appalling that anyone in her situation should have to endure such emotional stress and financial hardship over such a long period of time to receive what is rightfully theirs.

The UK Government must ensure everyone who is entitled to Personal Independence Payment receives what is due to them.

My office is always here to listen and do whatever we can for anyone in our constituency who finds themselves in this awful situation.

** PCS Union praises DVLA strike coverage

Earlier this month I had the privilege of a joining hard working members of staff at the DVLA in Swansea who staged a second week of industrial action in as many months as their employer insisted they come into the office rather than work from home during the pandemic.

During my visit members of the PCS Union, which represents the thousands of people employed by the agency in Swansea, told me staff were scared to take the COVID vaccine for fear of having adverse reaction and being penalised for taking time off work.

Following the visit the South Wales Evening Post newspaper covered the story and the PCS then reacted online with a Tweet ([link removed]) which read: "We've had over 300 articles featuring our union in the media during the last 7 days. As important as national media attention is, this DVLA strike picket report in the South Wales Evening Post on Saturday is one of our favourites."

** Election results: Labour receives vote of confidence in Aberavon

Welsh Labour was given a vote of confidence in Aberavon this month as David Rees was re-elected to the Senedd and Stephanie Lynch won the Neath Port Talbot Council by-election for the Aberavon and Baglan Moors seat.

Huge congratulations to both candidates and it was a pleasure to be able to support them in their respective campaigns leading up to election day.

David has always fought hard for everyone who lives and works in our fabulous constituency and will continue to do so.

Stephanie will make a fantastic Welsh Labour councillor for the Aberavon ward and I wish her every success in her new role.

** This Month In Parliament

Good jobs and dignity at work

40% of UK adults don’t know their hours for the week after next. That can mean severe difficulties in arranging childcare, barriers to planning a social life and result in undue stress.

In the Queen’s Speech debate in Parliament I spoke on behalf of constituents who want a greater sense of dignity at work, and who want more good job opportunities locally with the training programmes to go with them. I also spoke about the need to give modern British manufacturing a boost, to create jobs, but also to create a more resilient British economy that can stand on its own two feet (rather than rely too heavily on China).

You can watch my speech on my Facebook ([link removed]) page.

We Need Our Steel

As the Chair of the All-Party Group for steel I have been fighting to defend the steel industry on a number of fronts; firstly, the proposed hike in industrial electricity prices by Ofgem; secondly, the UK government’s purchasing of £33m of steel from aboard rather than UK steelmakers; and thirdly, the imminent removal of safeguards on nine UK steel products, leaving steelmakers vulnerable to a surge from cheap foreign imports.

The UK Conservative government made clear that it felt Brexit was an opportunity to back British steelmakers. Yet on each of these areas the UK government has so far refused to use its powers to intervene.

I have recently organised meetings with both the UK Government’s Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and the Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena. The conversation as constructive, but as usual their actions are failing to live up to their words.

Standing up for British interests and values internationally

In my role as Shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific I have again publicly called for the UK Government to undertake an audit of the UK’s relationship with China, not least due to the concerning levels of ownership that Chinese government-backed investors and businesses in our national assets, including nuclear energy. The Conservative’s Golden Era strategy has only benefited Beijing.

I have spoken on behalf of the Labour Party against the apparent genocide being committed by the Chinese government against the Uyghur Muslims, and against the barbaric killing of more than 800 pro-democracy campaigners in Myanmar by the military junta following the 1 February coup.

The Labour Party will always stand-up for democracy, human rights and international law.

** Media Highlights

I wrote a joint article on steel ([link removed]) with Miriam Cates MP which featured in The Times newspaper.

In BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions ([link removed]) I explained why the UK Government’s Voter ID Bill was attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – with only 1 case of fraud in 2019 out of 59 million votes. This is clearly an attempt by the Tories to dis-empower millions of voters without a driving license or passport.

I also expressed deep sadness about the attacks taking place in Israel and Gaza, making clear that the immediate focus must be for all sides to agree a ceasefire to prevent this tragic loss of life, and then for negotiations to restart around a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.

** Office Arrangements

I and my team are continuing to work remotely to help and support residents.

You can still get in touch with us by calling the office on 01639 897660.

Leave your name and number and we will call you back.

Alternatively please send an email to[email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

We’ve made some changes to our online advice surgeries and are now offering a call-back or Teams appointment with a caseworker Monday to Friday.

To request a call-back or book a Teams appointment please complete this form [link removed]

I am still holding online advice surgeries which can be booked online at [link removed]

Please check on my website or Facebook page for details of the next one.

We are now also offering telephone advice surgeries.

Those who request a telephone call will be sent a telephone number and meeting ID, they will need to call the number and enter the meeting ID when prompted.
All the best,

Stephen Kinnock
MP for Aberavon

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My mailing address is:
MP for Aberavon
Water Street Business Centre
Water Street
Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot SA12 6LF
United Kingdom

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