Today is 2nd April and is Autism Awareness Day. Every year lots of people ‘Light it up blue for autism’ by putting a blue light in their windows to raise awareness of Autism.
I know there are many planning to light up blue for a very different reason tonight, but tonight’s event can have a dual purpose. Remember those vital Blue Light workers, but also remember those people with autism. So many autistic people and their families are struggling with the lock down right now.
Not often I feel like this but last night (10th July, 2019) I was left feeling upset. I proposed a motion to Full Council asking members to join with me in recognising the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide next year. In writing it I was careful to ask only for support and not for any money so that it was not thrown out on the basis that it had financial implications. I was asking for the council to recognise the anniversary on its dedicated day, 11th July, by supporting a gathering in the peace gardens.
Never heard of County Lines? It’s something you’re going to hear about a lot over the coming weeks. Sky News are giving a full days coverage to the subject today in an attempt to highlight the seriousness of the problem. For more information watch the feature “Line 18: Behind County Lines”from Sky News on Youtube at the top – report contains images of drug use and descriptions of violence. The report shows that drug dealing across County lines is worth £3m a day, so it’s not a wonder it’s a growing crime.
On an European Parliament mission to Washington D.C., I met with think tanks, congresswomen and congressmen from across the political spectrum to find common ground on global challenges.
In D.C., I visited the National Holocaust Museum and learnt about the warning signs of potential holocausts.
In Strasbourg I met with colleagues, NGOs and voted on a number of proposals. Informed by my trip to Washington, I pushed the EU to take even more global leadership on human rights.
I am increasingly speaking out about the#PeoplesVote. In Chester I spoke at the Chester for Europe event, engaging with people from different political parties (and some from none) on the need to have final say on the Brexit deal.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 allows local authorities the power through a public space protection order (PSPO) to restrict public right of way over a highway to reduce crime and Antisocial Behaviour. Alley Gates are something that has been around for quite some years in Burnley. They are basically big steel gates that are erected at the entrances to a back alley to close off the area and prevent people who don’t live there getting access.
The gates are fitted to areas that are suffering from crime and antisocial behaviour that is caused by people who don’t live within the block.
I met with Unite the Union and fellow Labour MEPs about Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs and Brexit, both of which threaten British jobs and our economy. We also discussed specific cases where Unite were supporting workers with threats to their working conditions imposed by their employers.
Unite are clear that working people did not vote for attacks on their jobs, employment rights and living standards and so they are working for a deal that protects workers and industry, something I wholeheartedly support. Unite are lobbying the Conservative government for tariff-free access to the EU to enable the UK to continue to be economically attractive and to protect British jobs.
The NHS is turning 70. No matter who you are, the NHS will have touched your life somehow over the years, probably on the day you were born when a midwife helped you into the world. I grew up with the NHS all around me. Growing up, we lived right next to the hospital and most of my family worked there. Even 40 years ago things were different to the way they are now. Lots of long wards that had a funny smell that was somewhere between cooked food and detol.
• With my colleague Julie Ward, I welcomed constituents to the European Parliament and discussed youth engagement with politics.
• In the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, I condemned the Israeli army’s despicable actions at the border with Gaza after the US embassy opening.
• I hosted an event with the British Medical Association to discuss the medical professions concerns about a badly negotiated Brexit. We sent out a powerful message that patient care must not be negatively affected by ideological decisions. I support the BMA’s call for clarity for the healthcare staff working in the UK currently who might leave because of Brexit.
Labour MEPs today called for action on Kashmir, in dialogue with human rights activists at the European Parliament. Mr Wajid Khan MEP chaired the event and he was honoured to hear the voices of Kashmiri women speaking up about human rights abuses.
The chief guest, Shamim Shawl, spoke of her direct experience of violence in the Jammu and Kashmir region. Undeterred by her experiences, she speaks out on behalf of Kashmiri women and calls for their calls to be listened to: "Kashmiris are not voiceless they are simply not heard".
In a frank discussion the various MEPs gave their opinions.
It was great to get up to Lancaster to see colleagues and Partners as part of the Older People’s Champion Newtork Forum. This one was held in the beautiful Town Hall at Lancaster and was chaired by Councillor Margaret Pattison. I attend these as part of my role as Older People’s Champion and they are a great chance to meet and share some good practice. I’ve come home with plenty of ideas to share back at the Council. The next Forum will be hosted at Burnley in May so I’m really looking forward to showing everyone how wonderful our town is.