Welcome to the latest edition of Denton and Reddish Weekly News.
I hope that you've had a great week. Today is National Fish and Chip Day, and also happens to be my birthday, so two reasons to celebrate!
Here's a reminder of the roadmap out of lockdown. Let's make sure we stay safe and responsible to keep on track!
Roadmap out of lockdown ([link removed])
** Gwynne writes to PM over human rights abuses in Bahrain
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has written to the Prime Minister after Priti Patel hosted a meeting with a Bahraini Minister just over a month after a violent attack on over 60 political prisoners by Bahraini authorities on the 17 April 2021.
The Home Secretary met with the Bahraini Minister of Interior Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa on the 25 May 2021. Minister Al Khalifa is himself accused of overseeing the persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, and activists in Bahrain.
Gwynne has also tabled an Early Day Motion which calls on the government to ‘apply Magnitsky Act Sanctions to Minister Rashid Al Khalifa for his protracted role in overseeing a culture of abuse and a climate of impunity in Bahrain’. The Motion also highlights ‘other recent serious human rights abuses, including the detention of children as young as 13 years old, who were subjected to beatings and threats of rape and electric shocks to coerce confessions over charges linked to protest activity.’
In 2011, Bahrain experienced protests inspired by the Arab Spring, and the human rights situation in the Gulf state has deteriorated sharply over the last decade. In a recent report the organisation Human Rights Watch wrote ‘The human rights situation in Bahrain did not improve in 2020 […] authorities arrested, prosecuted, and harassed human rights defenders, journalists, opposition leaders, and defence lawyers, including for their social media activity.’
Andrew Gwynne, whose open letter to the Prime Minister has been signed by several cross-party MP’s, said:
‘The human rights abuses being perpetrated in Bahrain are abhorrent, and it is unacceptable that the government haven’t applied sanctions or even publicly condemned the abuse.
The Home Secretary meeting with the Bahraini Minister of Interior shortly after a violent attack on political prisoners is both diplomatically concerning and incredibly insulting to the victims of these abuses.
I am writing to the Prime Minister, in conjunction with the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, to express my concerns and ask the Government to apply Magnitsy Sanctions to Minister Alkhalifa. The UK needs to take a firm stand against human rights abuses across the world and needs to be consistent in applying sanctions to states committing them.’
** Our local environment needs to be cherished - my monthly article for the Heatons Post
I’ve been thinking a lot about our local environment. I recently found out that here in Stockport, we have a staggering 1.3 million trees – which equates to roughly 12% of the Greater Manchester tree population. I believe passionately that these trees ought to be protected, and planting should be a key focus of Stockport Council. That’s why I was so pleased to see the council commit to adding an orchard in every ward across the borough by 2026 and initiate an unprecedented tree planting programme.
Yet our environment is defined by more than our wonderful trees and plants, it is also defined by our relationship with it. How we travel, build, and interact with our neighbours affects the environment we live in.
Take for example the traffic issues around Manchester Road and the surrounding side streets. Rat running and traffic problems at key junctions have not only given residents a headache but created an environment that is both unsafe and unsustainable.
That’s why I’m very happy with the work that is currently being done by councillors both in Reddish South and in Heatons North to address these problems. They plan to work with the council to develop an active neighbourhoods and traffic management model. This model will be built around consultation with residents and tackle the problem with innovative local government intervention.
Building cleaner, greener and safer communities is about more than simply planting trees. It’s about focussing on sustainability when addressing problems and working with local communities to create an environment that is better for everyone. By doing this, I know that we can safeguard our environment and hand it on to the next generation in a better condition than we received it.
** Let's get vaccinated and get Covid behind us - my weekly article for the Tameside Reporter
Last Thursday, I had the privilege of being given my second Covid vaccination. As I left the vaccination centre, I felt a real wave of pride for our brilliant NHS, and the speed at which they have vaccinated the public.
This time last year, a vaccine felt a million miles away and nothing was guaranteed. So much has changed since then. We now have several different vaccines available, and over half of the adult population has received at least one jab. It is nothing short of extraordinary and a testament both to science and our incredible health service.
Here in Tameside, the council and the Clinical Commissioning Group have worked together and incredibly hard. As a result, we have made huge inroads in vaccinating people quickly and have now vaccinated an incredible 70% of over 16s with their first jab. As of Sunday 23 May, we had vaccinated over 136,000 Tameside residents with their first dose and over 82,000 with their second. I would like to take the time to thank both the Council and the CCG for this amazing achievement.
Slowly but surely, we are seeing the benefits of the vaccination programme. Restrictions are easing, the economy is opening, and we are starting to have a nice bit of normality creeping into our lives again.
However, we must remain vigilant and willing to adapt in the face of new strains. The rates in Bolton and Blackburn are areas for concern, and the rise of the Delta variant across the country means that we should all keep practising social distancing and following government guidance.
The good news is that the vaccine is making a real difference. As each age group has become eligible for vaccination, its share of cases has fallen away. One striking example of this is that in over-80’s (who are most susceptible to death from Covid-19) the share of cases has fallen by over 80% since vaccinations began.
We have reasons to be cheerful, but it is vital that everyone who can gets a vaccine as soon as they become eligible. It is only through vaccination that we can build a world beyond Covid-19. As someone who has had the bitter experience of long Covid, I know all too well how unpleasant this virus is. I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone.
The future is bright then, but to get there we must keep up the hard work. Let’s stay safe, complete the vaccination programme, and get Covid behind us.
Read More of This Week's Stories ([link removed])
Andrew in the constituency
🌹 Identity matters. I love Greater Manchester, I was born after local government reorganisation and I understand that for the delivery of joined up services it makes sense...but I love history too.
That's why I’m so pleased to have worked with Friends of Real Lancashire ([link removed]) and Tameside Council ([link removed]) to get new signs marking the River Tame as the boundary of historic Lancashire. Funding has been raised independently for four signs on (or near) the River Tame at Stockport Road, Denton; Mill Lane, Haughton; Broomstair Bridge, Haughton; and Shepley Bridge, Audenshaw.
As well as thanking Tameside Council for producing and installing the signs, I’d like to thank Friends of Real Lancashire and Cllrs Allison Gwynne, Brenda Warrington, Oliver Ryan, Team Denton South, Denton Town Twinning and Leanne Feeley for a Cultural grant.
Andrew in Parliament
Parliament is in recess this week, but check in next week to see what I've been up to.
Andrew in the media
📰 READ: The Independent wrote about Priti Patel's visit to Bahrain and my letter to the Prime Minister expressing my concern over the lack of government action following human rights abuses in the country.
You can read the full article here ([link removed]) .
Local author Leanne Brown has started writing a fantastic series of books to promote, help and raise awareness for mental health in children. Leanne wants to bring these books to schools, parents and organisations to help promote mental health in children.
You can find out more, including how to buy the books, on her website. ([link removed])
Our mailing address is:
139 St Annes Road
Manchester, Greater Manchester M34 3DY
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Andrew Gwynne . 139 St Annes Road . Denton . Manchester, Greater Manchester M34 3DY . United Kingdom
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