Covid-19 Update – 28th April 2020

In these strange and difficult times, I thought I’d start a regular update so you can follow what I am doing both locally and nationally as your Member of Parliament.

Today marked the one minute silence for our keyworkers. While we’re all adapting to new ways of living and working, I’d just like to start my update with a request: I would like us all to think about those staff on the front line who are working tirelessly to ensure a safer tomorrow. While our situation is difficult, we must do everything we can to try and stop this terrible disease in our tracks. Many of us have already lost loved ones to Covid-19 and the lockdown has been extended – we need to stay at home and stay safe to protect those close to us and to lessen the load for our NHS.

For many of you there are additional concerns about your jobs and finances, with the additional worry of how we take care of the most vulnerable within our community. Wythenshawe & Sale East is home to many key workers and I would like to wholeheartedly thank them all for going above and beyond the call of duty every day: caring for us; delivering our food, parcels and post. The emergency services have stepped up (as they always do) to plug gaps in manpower, and key workers have been keeping our streets safe and clean and working in the supply chain to ensure the things we need are available to us. With the increased reliance on the internet, I’d also like to thank those in the comms and utilities industries amongst many others. I sincerely hope the Government will continue to recognise the hard work and dedication of these vital and underappreciated workers when this crisis passes. We must not go back to business as usual.

To kick off my update, on a personal note many of you will know that since 2016 I served as Shadow Schools Minister which, as an ex-primary school teacher, I was thrilled to do. I was asked by the new leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer to be part of the Shadow Transport team and am now Shadow Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security. I have been meeting (virtually of course) with key stakeholders in the Aviation and Maritime sector. With Manchester Airport being the biggest single employer in the constituency and other allied businesses employing thousands more I have been working hard to ensure its future and to protect local jobs.    

For the first time in its history Parliament met for Prime Ministers’ Question Time with a mixture of Members in the House of Commons but most at home joining in via video conferencing. Last Wednesday, Keir Starmer was at the dispatch box for the first time as Leader of the Opposition holding to account Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State (due to Boris Johnson’s recuperation). Keir’s forensic style of questioning over the government’s handling of the pandemic has impressed many commentators, particularly the way he’s tackling the issues regarding the pandemic head on without looking for cheap political point scoring opportunities. I would like to wish Keir Starmer and his Deputy Angela Rayner the best of luck in their new roles, holding this Government to account when necessary and working together with the Government to support the country in the wake of Covid 19.

I have also been working closely with Wythenshawe Hospital and with the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are challenging times ahead for businesses and for local councils too. Both Manchester and Trafford Council were quick off the mark to redeploy staff and to recruit volunteers to provide support to both residents and businesses. As always, if you would like some help accessing this support please contact me and we will see how we can help.

My office in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown saw an increase of case work of more than 150%. I would like to thank them for reacting quickly to this crisis, from constituents stranded abroad in countries where there were no flights, to businesses navigating access to the new packages of financial support. We were contacted by people who were concerned about access to PPE, access to childcare and other more complex issues on top of the usual workload. We are all still working, albeit from home, and I would like to thank you for your patience as we navigate new legislation and guidelines while helping you. We are working hard to support you.

Here in Wythenshawe & Sale East, it has been heartening to see the local responses to the crisis from neighbours picking up food and prescriptions for the isolated to the food banks and other voluntary groups who are as always providing such vital support to our community.

On another note, It’s with much sadness that I inform you of the passing of two of our local Councillors: Councillor Jane Baugh and Councillor Sue Murphy. Cllr Baugh had represented Broadheath Ward for 14 years before moving to Priory Ward in 2004, serving the council with great distinction for 30 years. Jane was passionate about the arts, children and young people and served on Trafford Council’s executive from 2018-2019. My condolences to her husband Peter, their sons and the wider family. On the 7th April, Councillor Sue Murphy died after a long illness. Sue had been Councillor for Brooklands Manchester ward since 1995 and was Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council for many years. She worked tirelessly for the Wythenshawe community and will be dearly missed by us all and my thoughts are with her husband Paul and the rest of the family at this difficult time. They will both be dearly missed by those who knew them and those who benefited from their community work over the years.

On a lighter note, on the 17th April I took part in the virtual installation of the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester. Eammon O’Neal, an old friend and constituent, was installed as High Sheriff, and at the conclusion of the ceremony I played O’Neill’s march on the bagpipes. (I had contacted my neighbours in advance to warn them by the way – it would not have done for there to be a rash of complaints about noise pollution coming into my office!). I would like to wish the High Sheriff all the best in his year in office. As the lockdown continues, I hope you and your families are staying safe. If there is anything I can help with please do not hesitate to contact me. Remember you can keep updated on my work by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

With best wishes,

Mike