I’ve spent the past week on more Zoom calls and briefings than I can count, making every effort to make sure the Covid-19 situation across Warrington South is reflected in Westminster, when the decisions are being made by COBRA about steps to control the latest outbreaks. We are at a tipping point, our infection rate and hospital admissions are continuing to increase, at the time of writing we have 80 Covid-19 in patients being treated at Warrington Hospital and the likelihood is this will exceed the peak experienced in the first wave over the next 10-14 days.
The consequence of high infection rates 340/100k means that key workers, people who care for us at the hospital, are also seeing increased infections where they also have to isolate, and this will bring significant pressures on services like our local A&E. Finding the balance between maintaining safe healthcare provisions and protecting jobs and livelihoods is a fine line and despite Warrington being placed in High alert tier I am concerned that all of the indicators are showing that we are on track to move to the Very High tier in the coming weeks. Although the majority of people who get this virus will recover the consequences, for those who are elderly, vulnerable and at High Risk is severe and I therefore urge everyone to play their part again to protect our families and loved ones.
On Tuesday I met with the Chancellor to talk about long term investment into Warrington, he’s currently preparing the Comprehensive Spending Review that takes place every November which looks at priorities for the coming year. It gave me an opportunity to also raise the need to provide targeted funding for those businesses that have been unable to operate due to restrictions such as events and hospitality. I’ll continue to press for support for freelance and those people who run small firms but were not included in previous schemes.
In non-coronavirus related news, I am delighted to say that the Peace Foundation which has dedicated its activities to supporting victims of terror has received funding from the Government to continue its vital work. The Foundation is very much part of everyday life in Warrington, with the peace centre a base for many activities in the community but their work with young people, such as the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing into the future is invaluable and I’m delighted that the Home Secretary has recognised this and included them in a programme to lead on this activity across the UK.
This week I also had the privilege of being elected Chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excluded Children and Alternative Provision. This new cross-party group of 11 MPs and Lords has been set up to facilitate working to reduce preventable exclusions and to improve the quality of education for children from some of the most deprived areas in the UK. Only 1 in 20 pupils excluded from school manage to pass their English and maths GCSEs and around half become not in education or training after leaving school. This important new group will be meeting with members of the education community, parents and young people in the coming months to discuss how the government can best support these vulnerable learners.
Finally, whilst the saga of the local development plan has extended for the past 5 years, I’m aware that Warrington Borough Council has decided to pause it’s work so it can take stock. I met with Fiddlers Ferry owners last week, they’re already decommissioning the plant and as a brownfield site it is right we look at regenerating this land before we use protected green belt. I welcome the work being done by the local parish councils and look forward to continue to engage with them on how we can achieve the right level of development, providing new homes in the right areas, particularly affordable and social housing close to local amenities and planned transport links such as Northern Powerhouse Rail. The fact that it was left out of the Warrington local plan simply beggars’ belief and shows why the system is in need of urgent reform.
If my team or I can assist you in anyway please do not hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow my regular updates on my website www.andycarter.org.uk as well as on social media by visiting my Facebook page.