Thank you for taking the time to read my regular bulletin of what I have been up to over the last month; this Report Back covers the Spring Recess – a week free of my usual Parliamentary schedule enabling me to spend more time working in the constituency.
Life Leisure is the organisation that runs the popular and well used sport and leisure facilities across Stockport, and I met with them recently at their HQ in Cheadle Hulme. It was a good opportunity to discuss their work and how they are encouraging us all to get more active and enjoy the benefits of participating in sport. One of the issues we discussed was the extension of the Hazel Grove leisure centre’s car park on which work is due to start soon, this will bring relief to those who use the centre and those who live nearby.
I make regular visits to schools throughout our area to meet with the head teachers and staff and to do my bit to engage with our young people on politics and citizenship. I had a catch-up meeting with the acting Headteacher of Hazel Grove High School, and later spent a few interesting hours with pupils from Cheadle Hulme High School answering all manner of questions on my job as a Member of Parliament and on current affairs in general.
Cheadle Hulme High School also invited me to join some of their elder pupils for a play that highlighted the reality of alcohol misuse and the risks of underage drinking. Both the production and the following workshop were excellent at engaging the pupils and I hope will help shape their attitudes towards responsible drinking in the future.
Independent Options is an established on Chester Road in Hazel Grove charity that supports vulnerable and disabled people, and I was pleased of the opportunity to go and listen and talk with the residents, their parents and the carers. A discussion on future care options and upcoming financial challenges was particularly useful.
Wellcroft Care Home in Gatley welcomed me at one of their regular coffee mornings where I spent useful time talking and listening to residents and their carers. It was a pleasure to see the attention that staff gave to everyone and once again highlighted the importance of getting later life care right. The work being done here on Dementia care was especially of interest.
The British Heart Foundation set up their first ever pop-up shop in Parliament and I was pleased to pay them a visit. I heard about how shop staff and volunteers, like those in their store on the High Street in Cheadle, raise vital funds for life-saving research.
The Keep Me Posted Campaign is a partnership of charities and businesses that are concerned about the growing trend of some companies and organisations towards only online bills and statements, charging additional fees to those that want to maintain paper records. I was pleased to lend my support as I think all consumers should be able to choose how they conduct their personal finances.
The Heritage Lottery Fund came to talk with me about two exciting projects that they are currently working on in our area. First they advertised funding that they have available to community groups from our area to commemorate the Century of the First World War; I urge anyone with an interest to make contact with the HLF as they would be pleased to hear from you. Second was the fantastic £1.6 million grant that they have awarded to Bramall Hall that will pay for both repairs and improvements, transforming the hall into an even greater attraction for both local residents and visitors from further afield.
The Fairtrade campaign arranged for Albeiro Ruiz to fly in from Columbia to tell MPs about the price of bananas, and the pressure that British supermarkets are putting on producers. I have been a long time supporter of Fairtrade, and it is absolutely right that farmers both in the UK and abroad are paid a fair price for their produce.
One of Cheadle Hulme’s homegrown stars visited Parliament when internationally renowned violinist Jennifer Pike took part in a special BBC Radio 3 performance. I originally met Jennifer and her parents back in 2002 when she became the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year with her performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto; it was great to meet her again and hear her play.
Chancellor Angela Merkel became the first German Chancellor since reunification to address both Houses of Parliament. In a gracious address, she delivered a robust message about how much stronger European countries are by working together within the European Union, and that the UK has a crucial part to play in its future; sentiments I certainly agree with!
A memorial service was held for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey and I was honoured to attend. Archbishop Tutu gave a fitting tribute that highlighted Mr Mandela’s message of peace and hope.
Thank you again for your continued interest in what I am doing both in Westminster and the constituency, – as ever please do not hesitate to get in touch or attend one of my regular surgeries if there is anything that I can help you with.
Mark Hunter MP