Following the shelved plans to upgrade the TransPennine rail route as promises by the Conservatives before the general election, Paula has written to the Transport Secretary to express her disappointment:
"This news is extremely disappointing for rail passengers who have faced year on year of rising fares and our local economy which stood to benefit from the TransPennine upgrade. I am particularly concerned that it would appear Network Rail knew long ago that the upgrade would be undeliverable yet the government continued to make false promises right up to general election."
“My constituents deserve an explanation as to why they were misled by the government. Simply passing the buck onto Network Rail will not do. This is yet another failed promise from the Conservative government who shout about a ‘northern powerhouse’ but then once again leave the north starved of investment.”
Thousands of families in Dewsbury and Mirfield are set to be hit in the pocket through cuts to tax credits in the government’s attempt to slash 12 billion a year on welfare.
One option under consideration would see a family with one child lose £845.00 and a family with two children lose £1690.00. Figures show that 8,700 families with children are in receipt of tax credits in Dewsbury, with 6,200 of them in work. Lowest earners are set to be hit the hardest.
In an exchange in Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday between the Prime Minister and the acting leader of the opposition Harriet Harman, Harman challenged the prime minister, accusing him of robbing from children.
The Prime Minister responded saying: “My programme for tackling poverty is to get more people in work, get them better paid and cut their taxes.”.
Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff furiously commented afterwards: “Is the Prime Minister seriously saying that upon the implementation of these cuts in tax credits that employers will just suddenly dish out pay rises? With many of my constituents already struggling on in work benefits, zero hours contracts and low pay, the latest proposal to rob them of on average of £1400 a year is a kick in the teeth.”
Sherriff who is backing Yvette Cooper for the Labour leadership echoed comments from the Shadow Home Secretary made on Wednesday where she accused the Prime Minister of again hitting woman hardest. Sherriff said:
“In my maiden speech I spoke of the struggle women still face in society and it appears that the Prime Minister is intent on making that struggle worse, not better. With 90% of tax credits being paid to woman, its clear woman still have an uphill battle in society.”
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
It is the ultimate honour to be here today to deliver my maiden speech as the Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton. To every man, woman and child living in my wonderful constituency, I promise to be your champion and stand up for you at every opportunity.
I warmly congratulate my fellow new Members for their excellent and eloquent contributions and I continue to enjoy my whistle stop tour of the UK through their speeches.
In keeping with tradition, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the input made by my predecessor Simon Reevell, and I wish him well for the future.
The suffragette movement fascinated and inspired me from a young age and visiting the cupboard where Emily Wilding Davison hid in order to be included in the census as a resident of this building reminded me of the ongoing struggle that women have both in society and in politics. It is refreshing that 65% of the new Labour intake are female but there is a lot more to do, and I look forward to contributing to that cause. As James Brown famously sang 'it's a man world, but it ain't nothing without a woman or a girl...'
It is therefore a particular privilege to be the first female MP elected in the constituency since Ann Taylor, who now sits in the other place. Every corner of the constituency still holds great affection for Ann, both for her unstinting commitment and no-nonsense approach. I have big shoes to fill and I thank Ann for the generosity of her advice and support - I aspire to make her proud.
On the subject of inspirational women it would be remiss of me not to mention Betty Boothroyd, born in Dewsbury, the daughter of textile workers, who broke new ground by becoming the first woman to be elected as one of your predecessors, Mr Speaker.
The Dewsbury constituency is a wonderful place to live, work and indeed play. Dewsbury itself is often referred to as the Heavy Woollen district, a nod to the manufacture of heavyweight cloth which saw a significant population of South Asian origin relocate here in the late 1950's, many of Kashmiri and Gujarati heritage.
Indeed, the town maintains a rich manufacturing industry and has something of a monopoly in the bed and mattress industry. In common with many other Northern market towns Dewsbury is currently struggling economically, with the town centre crying out for regeneration. It is therefore welcome that Dewsbury has been earmarked as an enterprise zone.
Dewsbury is also famous for its hospitality and warmth of welcome. It is perhaps unique in that upon visiting a constituent's home intending to stay a short time, you are greeted with a three course banquet and an invitation to the family wedding.
Many of you may have shed a tear watching Mushy overcome his stammer on Educating Yorkshire, the fly on the wall documentary filmed at Dewsbury's Thornhill Academy.
The town of Mirfield has strong socialist roots. The Community of the Resurrection, an Anglican religious community for men, was founded in 1898 and hosted Keir Hardie and Emeline Pankhurst in its incredible outdoor amphitheatre.
Denby Dale and Kirkburton comprise of a number of small villages and arguably boast of some of the finest scenery in Yorkshire, or is it is better known, 'God’s own county'. I always know I'm near home when I catch sight of the splendid Emley Moor Mast, the tallest freestanding structure in the UK, at 1084 feet.
Many will know that I am a Trade Unionist, having previously acted as a shop steward and equalities officer. I will continue to seek to strengthen the bond between the Labour Party and the trade Union movement. The Trade Unions were instrumental in creating the Labour Party, to fight for working people in Parliament and in this time of insecure employment, zero hour contracts and exploitative labour, unions have never been needed more in the workplace, and the voice of working people has never been more needed in Parliament. This government's shameful attempt to weaken that collective voice should be universally condemned throughout this House.
I must also acknowledge my parents who taught me that you don't have to go to university to achieve your dreams and to never give up on your principles, maintaining the courage of conviction. I am proud to bring over 20 years’ experience on the front line of our public services to this Parliament.
After some time working with the victims of crime, I worked in a frontline Healthcare role for the fourteen years prior to taking my seat in this place. The last two years of this were challenging as the service I worked within was privatised. On my first day working for Virgin Care I was advised that 'my political beliefs did not fit in with the company objectives'. As my beliefs were free healthcare at the point of need and patients before profit, this affirmed my fears that the Health Service was moving away from its fundamental principles. I shall have more to say about Virgin Care in future debates, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I will also continue to campaign tirelessly for a fully re-nationalised NHS, and on the subject of today’s debate, I will fight for the future of Dewsbury Hospital, which remains under threat of significant downgrade with an Accident and Emergency service is literally fighting for its life.
Dewsbury has many challenges ahead over the next five years, not least in the growing inequality we now see in our country. I intend to use my time diligently as Dewsbury's Member of Parliament to redress this, and fight for the fairer, more equal society that my constituents deserve.
Following her request during Prime Ministers questions last week, Paula Sherriff met with the Home Secretary Theresa May on Tuesday night to discuss current counter-terrorism legislation.
Throughout the course of the meeting they discussed the Prevent strategy, a government programme aimed at preventing people from being drawn into extremism. They also discussed working with internet service providers and tightening up on travel to Turkey and Syria as well as funding for community engagement.
Sherriff commented afterwards: “I am pleased these discussions are taking place and it is a step in the right direction. It is important though that we act and don’t just talk.”
Paula Sherriff, newly-elected MP for Dewsbury, is delighted to announce that nominations for the annual Arqiva Emley Moor Community Award will open on Wednesday 1st July. The award aims to celebrate unsung local heroes by inviting people to recognise their contribution towards the lives of individuals, or the work of charities and community projects.
Nominations for the 2015 award will run until Friday 31st July and can be sent to Paula by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to her constituency office at 30 Northgate, Dewsbury, WF13 1DX. Anyone wishing to put forward a candidate – whether a friend, neighbour, family member or colleague, should include his or her own contact details, including address, telephone number and, where applicable, email address, as well as a short description of their nominee’s contribution to the local area. Please also note that nominees must be resident within the Dewsbury constituency.
Once the nominations have closed, Paula will be joined on the judging panel by the editors of three local papers - Neil Atkinson of The Huddersfield Examiner, Hannah Thaxter of The Reporter and David Bentley of The Press, as well as Neil Moss, Arqiva’s Head of Public Affairs.
The winner and two guests will be invited to an awards ceremony which will take place at the top of the iconic Emley Moor Mast.
Paula said “I’m thrilled to launch "The Emleys. I know that across our constituency, there are dozens of people who work tirelessly for their communities - often behind the scene – without seeking reward or glamour. ‘The Emleys’ will give us the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution made by these outstanding individuals. I look forward to working with my co-judges, Neil, Hannah and David and would like to thank Arqiva for their ongoing commitment and support”.
Following the recent event of Dewsbury teenager Talha Asmal who took the lives of eleven people in a suicide bombing in Iraq at the weekend, Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff has been loud and clear in calling for action.
In Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday. Sherriff asked the Chancellor: “Will the Chancellor agree to convene a meeting between myself and Home Office Ministers to discuss a revisit and review of counter terror policy – particularly with reference to tackling radicalisation.”
The Chancellor responded saying that Home Office Ministers would be very happy to meet with Hon Lady and indeed her constituents.
Sherriff commented afterwards: “I am pleased the Chancellor has granted a meeting with myself and Home Office Ministers. Innocent lives are being lost through acts of terror and current policy is obviously not working. We need an urgent review into this to stop the likes of ISIS and other evil terrorist organisations from radicalising young men and women before more lives are lost.”
Enterprise Zone for Dewsbury - Paula to hold Chancellor to his promise.
A few days prior to the election the Chancellor, George Osborne promised to add Dewsbury to a list of Enterprise Zones within 100 days of the new Conservative government. Dewsbury becoming an Enterprise Zone means that new businesses and businesses that choose to move premises will be exempt from paying business rates for 5 years.
In a debate in the House of Commons on the 4th June, Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff raised the issue with the Leader of the House saying: “May I request a debate to address the promise made by the Chancellor just a few days prior to the election that constituencies such as my own—Dewsbury—will be identified as enterprise zones within 100 days of the new Parliament? Many businesses in my constituency are struggling significantly and would undoubtedly welcome a period of zero business rates.”
The Leader of the House, Chris Grayling responded: “Of course, we are not yet 100 days into the new Parliament. Nevertheless, I point out to her that Dewsbury, and indeed the whole area of west Yorkshire, has benefited enormously from the economic progress that we have made in recent years, with falling unemployment and more businesses being created. Of course there is further to go, but what we have seen is a real step in the right direction for the country and the area she now represents.”
Paula commented afterwards: “It would appear that the Leader of the House is confusing Dewsbury with somewhere else. He should come to my constituency and tell my constituents and the town’s businesses that they have “benefitted enormously from the economic progress made in recent years”.”
Paula added: “The Chancellor may be used to passing Dewsbury by over the last five years without so much as a whimper from my predecessor, but I can assure him that I won’t be waiting until the next general election to come banging on his door. I welcome the Chancellor’s last minute promise but I will hold him to account and ensure that he keeps to his word.”
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff has called for the community to unite after the tragic news about Talha Asmal, the teenage suicide bomber.
“Both myself and the community in Dewsbury are deeply shocked and devastated by the news of Talha Asmal. I met his family yesterday evening and they are understandably traumatised by what has happened.
“What we have to do now is come together and do all we can to ensure no more impressionable young people are brainwashed by those behind Isis. These evil people use the internet and social media to target impressionable young people, painting a very different picture to the reality of what is really happening in Isis-controlled areas.
“We need to ensure that we have a robust plan to work with the community; we need work with the schools, the mosques, churches, the community groups and parents to try and ensure that young people are aware of the reality of what is actually happening in Syriaand Iraq.
“There is so much good about Dewsbury, yet once again our town has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. I want our community to now demonstrate all that is positive about Dewsbury by remaining united, working together to come up with strategies to ensure that no other boys or girls follow this path.”
Paula takes Health Secretary to task over privatisation of NHS services
Paula has wasted no time at all in taking the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt to task on the privatisation of the NHS.
Paula, a former employee in the health service who has first-hand experience of the effects of privatisation quizzed Hunt in the House of Commons saying: “I worked on the front line of the NHS, in a service providing exemplary care, for more than 11 years. Just over two years ago that same service was privatised, and it has proved to be very damaging for patients, staff and the taxpayer alike. Will the Secretary of State continue to allow companies such as Virgin Care, which exists purely to make profits out of ill people, to continue to bid for NHS services?”
Hunt responded: “the biggest change made in the last Parliament was to take the decision about whether services should be decided by the public sector or the private sector out of the hands of politicians who might have an ideological agenda, and give it to local GPs so that the decision can be taken in the best interest of patients.”
Paula commented afterwards: “I’m extremely disappointed with the Health Secretaries response. Mr Hunt has ignored the fact that patients are suffering at the hands of these reforms and washes his hands of all responsibility claiming it is in the patient’s best interest. I campaigned throughout my election against the damaging fragmentation of the NHS and I will continue to hold the government to account.”
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna joined Labour’s Parliamentary candidate, Paula Sherriff to tour a local manufacturing success story, Sleepmode Ltd, last week.Read more