It has been a busy month both here at home and in Westminster since my last monthly bulletin. Parliament returned for a short session and then broke up for the political party conferences, only to be recalled for the important vote on UK Armed Forces’ action in Iraq.
Between the commutes to and from London, I have been out and about meeting with local residents around Cheadle constituency.
Parliament was recalled to vote on proposed action against Islamic State extremists (ISIS) in Iraq. Decisions to commit the UK Armed Forces into a conflict are the hardest and most important that I am asked to make as an MP. Along with the majority in Parliament I voted in favour of military action for a number of reasons. First, ISIS are a barbaric organisation that are murdering innocent people regardless of their religion, and I believe the UK should play its part in opposing them. Second, unlike the invasion in 2003, the democratically elected, Muslim, government of Iraq has approached the UK to help defend their country. Finally, the vote did not commit UK Forces on the ground, nor to action in Syria. My Lib Dem colleagues and I will of course continue to monitor the situation closely.
I was pleased to lend the Affordable Homes Bill my support and help it to pass its second reading. The Lib Dem sponsored legislation looks to address some of the concerns I have about how the removal of the spare room subsidy has operated in practice by bringing in further protections for vulnerable people, as well as ensuring that existing tenants are not penalised when smaller accommodation is not available. The next stage for the Bill will be the Committee Stage, with dates due to be announced shortly.
Back at home, I attended a local residents meeting organised by Mr Suresh Mehta, Chair of the Independent Advisory Group to the Stockport Division of GM Police, with representatives of the Police, where concerns regarding a recent rise in burglaries were shared. It was a very helpful opportunity to discuss what actions have been taken in light of the crimes, and how local officers make Stockport one of the safest places in Greater Manchester.
I followed up on this meeting with Chief Superintendent Caroline Ball, Stockport’s new chief police officer, to highlight residents’ concerns.
Woodford Neighbourhood Forum held its first AGM where discussions focused on proposals to build new houses at the Woodford Aerodrome site. I was pleased to attend to show my continued support of local resident’s opposition to the current proposals as I believe the development is inappropriate in size and scale and would dwarf the current Woodford village. The following week I was back in the Woodford Community Centre for a St Ann’s Hospice fundraiser which I was delighted to support.
I do recognise the need for new and affordable housing, but I think construction companies need to be creative in their solutions and more sympathetic towards existing local residents. I recently viewed a housing development in Cheadle Hulme, eleven new houses in Eastings Close just off Turves Road. The old Scout Hall that stood on the site previously was not fit for purpose and was looking run down. Stockport Homes worked in partnership with the Scouts to refurbish another existing hall locally in Oak Avenue, and then build smart, eco-friendly and affordable homes in a great location.
Blood Pressure UK were highlighting the eight million people in the UK that have high blood pressure but are not being treated for it, placing them at risk of a stroke or heart attack. Blood pressure checks are free, do not take long, and are available in pharmacies around the constituency – do pop in for a checkup.
It was a pleasure to go along to the Cheadle Hulme Garden and Allotment Association’s Annual Open Day at their HQ on Billy’s Lane, off Heath Bank Road. The glorious weather was the perfect backdrop to be shown around by Chairman Ian Ray, and the displays and produce were, as always, hugely impressive.
The ‘Thursday Club’ of Bramhall Methodist Church kindly invited me to address their members and then participate in a question and answer session. The club provides a setting for older members of the community to socialise, have lunch and listen to guest speakers, and it was a great opportunity for me to meet with both the members and the volunteers that run such an invaluable service.
A good evening was had by all at the 284 Cheadle and Gatley Air Cadet Squadron’s Annual Dinner; as ever the Cadets were turned out immaculately and it was great to hear about all the activities that they have done over the last year. I was delighted to be their special guest.
Residents across Cheadle constituency answered Macmillan Cancer Support annual plea for fund-raising coffee mornings, £20 million was raised last year alone. Due to the recall of Parliament I was unable to attend coffee mornings that took place in Cheadle Hulme and Woodford as planned but was able to show my support at a hastily arranged event down in Westminster.
To highlight their ‘Wear it Pink’ day that will be held on 24th October, Breast Cancer Campaign visited Parliament. On the day itself, they are encouraging supporters to wear pink at work, at home and at school and raise funds to support breast cancer research and to help give people quicker diagnosis.
Please do not hesitate to contact me about any of the above, or if you have any concerns that you think I might be able to help you with, either via email, post or by telephone.
I also hold twice-weekly surgeries at my constituency office on most Mondays and Fridays; my constituency office staff will be pleased to help make an appointment.
Mark Hunter MP