A busy year in Stroud and Westminster - David Drew MP's Annual report
David Drew MP
Annual Report July 2019
It’s been a full and varied year and will continue to be so. This short report gives a snapshot of some of my work as your representative over the past 12 months.
I also try to post regular updates about my work and events on social media and via my regular e-newsletter sent out roughly every month to around 700 people. Do subscribe, via www.daviddrewmp.org.uk, if you would like to receive my latest news.
I remain grateful to you all for your continued support and I look forward to catching up with many of you in the coming year.
In the past year, I have spoken in more than 300 House of Commons debates on many far-reaching topics. There are, however, some issues which I have tried to make priority:
· School funding, and particularly the crisis in funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
· Tackling climate change, and I was pleased to support the Labour-led declaration of a climate emergency
· Housing issues and particularly council housing. Recently in parliament I raised the unfairness of Stroud’s Local Housing Allowance, and I hope to be able to push for a review so that people receiving support for housing costs are no longer priced out of Stroud
· Fire safety in schools. I led a debate on better regulation of school noticeboards after
a Stroud business raised serious concerns about their extreme flammability.
Overall, Brexit has dominated the parliamentary agenda. For me, as a Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, this has also meant detailed scrutiny of the government’s Agriculture Bill, trying to ensure that it safeguards farming – particularly smaller farms – as well as protecting our environment and rural communities.
In November, I visited Northern Ireland to speak to farmers and communities about the potential impact of Brexit on the border and agriculture.
I returned to Sudan in September for a short visit as part of a parliamentary delegation working to rebuild peace there.
I have been working with my small parliamentary team and a group of scientists to look at the effects of incineration. We have compiled evidence to show the impact that it has on air quality and, potentially, our health, and will be publishing a report later this summer.
In the past year I have attended more than 500 engagements in the constituency, and it’s always a pleasure to meet and get to know constituents.
Unfortunately we are also seeing increasing numbers of people facing hardship, and many of my engagements are with the voluntary organisations and charitable groups offering support.
This winter, for instance, I spent time at the Salvation Army’s emergency cold-weather shelter in Stroud, as well as joining Stroud foodbank to help with its supermarket collections.
In April I had a minor operation on my eye, which meant I had to take some time out from
parliamentary and constituency duties, and I have another procedure scheduled for this summer.
I have been holding monthly Café Politics and Pub Politics sessions, which are informal discussions enabling people to drop in and chat with me about the issues that matter to them. Of course, Brexit is often the main topic of conversation, but the sessions have proved a forum for all kinds of issues, from speed bumps to the incinerator.
I have been pleased to see so many initiatives in the constituency that have highlighted the climate crisis as well as unnecessary plastic use, and I have given these my full support.
I have also tried to focus on two key areas: visiting schools and visiting businesses.
It has been my aim to meet with every headteacher in the Stroud constituency, as well as speak to young people whenever possible. So far, I’ve been to every secondary school, sometimes more than once. I have also visited around three-quarters of our primary schools, where young people often have all kinds of questions for me!
I have also held events in schools, including:
· A Sixth Form Brexit debate at Marling and Stroud High Schools, attended by young people from all of our sixth forms.
· A Question Time-style event at Rednock School
· A young people’s Climate Change conference is in the pipeline.
Over the year, we’ve visited more than 30 businesses, ranging in size from three to 600 employees, representing sectors including engineering, aerospace, medical, social care, food and more, to look at the issues they face.
We found that Brexit uncertainty has led to businesses delaying investment plans, and it was overwhelmingly apparent that leaving without a deal would be very difficult.
Key areas of concern are infrastructure, planning, training and recruitment, with almost all businesses (92%) saying they had experienced difficulties recruiting staff with the skills they need.
In the past 12 months, my caseworkers have supported more than 600 people, bringing the total number of cases we have taken on since June 2017 to over 1,500.
More than a fifth (22%) of our casework relates to housing, followed by social security issues (14%), tax credits (6%) and transport issues (6%).
My caseworkers hold fortnightly drop-in mobile surgeries at venues around the constituency, including in cafés, village halls and community centres. Details here.
Please do drop in and see them if there are any issues you need help with, or ring my office on 01453 765484.