Hyde Town Team has received 'Special Recognition' in the Great British High Street Awards 2015. This is a team that has worked tirelessly throughout 2015, and I am so proud to see all their efforts recognised. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has been involved.
Marcus Roberts, the Minister for Local Government wrote and Simon Roberts, Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance and President of Boots, wrote to the Town Team as Co-Chairs of the Future High Street Forum. They praised "the tireless work of the town team, in resisting negativity, changing attitudes and working with the community to improve the town environment".
I look forward to another year of fantastic events throughout 2016 as the Hyde Town Team continues to play a huge role in the future of our town. To see all the latest news from the team and information on how to get involve in future events, please follow the link here.
Today I have written to Tameside Hospital to discuss the waiting time statistics for their Accident and Emergency Department. Tameside Hospital is on a continued journey of improvement, which is not helped by the lack of substantial funding due to decisions by central Government. To see a full version of the letter I sent please visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanreynoldsMP/
You will be aware that there has been a reshuffle of the Labour frontbench underway since the beginning of the week. Following the announcements made at midnight on Tuesday, I decided that it would be best for me to resign from the frontbench and work for the Party from the backbenches.
This is principally because I want the freedom to be able to do and say things beyond the remit of my brief as shadow transport minister. I have been anxious recently as to whether devoting the necessary time to being the shadow rail minister gave me sufficient scope to do all the other things I want to do, particularly in light of the forthcoming EU referendum and the continuing Tory cuts that are affecting our local area. In my resignation statement I therefore wanted to make clear my respect and personal regard for Jeremy, who I have got on well with in the role given our shared love of public transport. I am explicitly not calling into question Jeremy's role or mandate as leader, but rather deciding that it is not the best use of my time or talents to be on the frontbench at this time. One of the things I like about Jeremy, even when I disagree with him, is his authenticity and honesty. We surely need more of it in politics.
Over the last few months there have been a number of issues where I haven't been entirely happy with our frontbench position, including on the Devolution Bill which has a direct relevance to Greater Manchester. I also did a speech and presented a bill on reforming our voting system, which strictly speaking isn't permitted of a frontbencher. So when I saw the announcements late on Tuesday night, particularly regarding the sacking of Pat McFadden for reasons which I could not agree with, I felt the principled thing to do was to leave. I am obviously aware there have since been other resignations, with people giving their own reasons. This is entirely a matter for those individuals - the only person who I made aware of my intentions was Claire.
I hope people will recognise through the wording of my letter, which you can find on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JonathanReynoldsMP), that I have tried to act with dignity and integrity at this time, and also agree that it was best to leave as part of a proper reshuffle rather than resign at another time.
Like most people with young families Christmas is undoubtedly one of my favourite times of the year, but it also one of the busiest, a sentiment I am sure many parents will recognise. Over the past few weeks my staff and I have tried to get through all the correspondence I receive from constituents before we finish for the holidays, as well as continuing to raise a number of important issues in The House of Commons before it rose for Christmas recess yesterday. So as we look forward to taking a break and spending some quality time with our loved ones, I wanted to reflect on the past year, one that has been particularly eventful.
In March, I was delighted to become a father again, with the birth of my fourth child Seth, further expanding the size of the Reynolds’ clan. At the same time as Seth being born I was also busy standing for re-election and, although the General Election in May obviously produced a very disappointing result for the Labour Party, I was humbled to be re-elected for a second term with a substantially increased majority as the Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, which also includes Mossley, Londgendale and Dukinfield. Being a Dad and an MP can be challenging at times, something I wrote about last month (http://huff.to/1NtbO6p). But it is at this point I want to pay tribute to my beautiful wife Claire, who is an amazing mother and a wonderful and loving wife. I couldn’t do it without you - thank you Claire.
After Labour’s election defeat, the party had a leadership election and duly elected Jeremy Corbyn as our party leader with a huge mandate from party members. Although I did not vote for Jeremy, I felt it was right to accept his invitation to join the party’s front bench team in Parliament as Shadow Rail Minister, an area I have already campaigned consistently on in the constituency over the last couple of years. You can read more about why I accepted to serve under Jeremy in my Huffington Post article here: http://huff.to/1QwTr3X.
Having good transport links is so important to me and the people of my constituency, which is why I will continue to press the Government to make sure the Mottram by-pass will be delivered as well as improved rail services across the whole of our area.
There has also been the need to make some very difficult decisions over the past year, none more difficult than the vote on military action in Syria. Many hundreds of constituents contacted me about this important issue and after considering all of the options, I decided to vote against military action. You can read the reasoning behind this decision here: http://bit.ly/1PaszUf
There have also been some delightful events that I have attended in the constituency during 2015. A highlight at Christmas is attending the Micklehurst Estate Residents Association (MERA) Christmas dinner and calling the bingo numbers. If I ever leave Parliament, I think I may have found my new calling! Also this year I had the pleasure of visiting Stalybridge Archery Club to celebrate their success in securing funds to extend their facilities. I did have a go at shooting some arrows and after a few rounds I managed to hit the gold, but I don’t think being an archer in the Olympics will be on the cards anytime soon.
Other highlights include welcoming representatives from Silver Springs Academy to the Palace of Westminster where they were receiving a special commendation award, participating in the charity ‘Welllython’ at Gorse Hall Primary school, the West Hill Awards evening and welcoming community champions Irene Raddings and Marie Milne, both of Mossley, to London and the Houses of Parliament after I nominated them to attend the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace. The work they do and the work that many of you do from across the constituency is wonderful in helping to keep our community bonds in place.
Whilst for most people this is a happy time of year, we should also think of those less fortunate than ourselves. If you’re struggling financially, suffering from loneliness, or have recently lost a loved one, then this can be a difficult time of year. Extending a helping hand to a friend or neighbour in a moment of need can sometimes be the best gift we can give and I have no doubt that many people will be doing exactly that over the next couple of weeks.
As we approach 2016 I look forward to continuing to representing you and on that note, I’d just like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of me, my family and my team.
Earlier this month saw two new rail franchises awarded to rail companies that serve the North of England. This announcement followed the recently published Transport for the North (TfN) Autumn Report on the Northern Transport Strategy.
The TfN report is a welcome vision for rail users North of the Watford Gap. As a Greater Manchester MP whose constituency is located at the foot of the Pennines, travelling across the region should not be as challenging and as time consuming as it is. The October announcement of the ‘unpausing’ of electrification of the North TransPennine line under pressure from Labour showed that the Government is at last starting to grasp the importance of improved rail connectivity between the northern conurbations. But at what cost?
Network Rail will have to sell billions of pounds worth of assets to deliver on its promise as well as borrowing an extra £700 million from taxpayers. This follows the West Coast Main Line franchise debacle in 2012 which cost taxpayers over £50 million. It therefore begs the question, how long does the Government expect taxpayers to fund their continued failure to deliver railway infrastructure projects?
If we are to have a truly globally competitive economy across the North, we need to clarify certain aspects of the transport infrastructure of the Northern Powerhouse vision. For example, the vision of having a smart ticketing system should be outlined in more detail. I believe that rail users should be able to move across the North with similar ease as rail users do in London and the South East. This leads me to ask what the long-term vision is for TfN to ensure that it delivers for everyone across the North of England?
And then we have high speed rail. The government announced recently that the completion date for HS2 between Crewe and Birmingham has been brought forward by six years but can we be confident that this will be delivered, on time and on budget? The track record of this Government is that they big on announcements but fall short on delivery.
HS2 is vital for unblocking the capacity and connectivity constraints that continue to hold transport services in the North back, but it is also crucial that costs are kept under control. With the work of Lord Adonis’s Infrastructure Commission on-going, and the potential benefits that could be brought by HS3, there cannot be an ‘either-or-strategy’ when it comes to rail transport for the North.
Fundamentally, we need reliable and modern services that are affordable. I want people who live in my constituency to be able to work in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool or Hull. To deliver one north with one economy, the agenda must be stringent, constantly assessed and provide value for money. As Shadow Rail Minister, I will continue to push for clear objectives and innovative solutions that will ensure that the Northern Transport Strategy becomes a reality.