This Monday I began the week at the Rural Liaison Meeting with WDH, police and community groups from across the rural wards. It was a great opportunity to bring many different stakeholders together into one place to talk about local issues and to discuss more integrated responses between various different organisations in the area and the meeting allowed all to leave with a better understanding of the resources available to others as well as their constraints.
This was followed on Tuesday with a campaign photograph in West Bretton with members of the community backing my campaign to lower road speeds around the village and improve public safety. This was published in the Wakefield Express later in the week alongside comments made by residents and by myself. I am confident that this will be an important step in maintaining pressure on the council to keep its promises to residents about road safety in West Bretton, and that voices from across the community will add some additional weight to my arguments as I advocate on this issue.
Later that day I had the privilege of attending the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Chinese Embassy in London and it was a pleasure to speak to a number of officials about the unique characteristics of Wakefield and my plans to drive greater investment and economic opportunity into the city from the world’s economic powerhouse nations such as China. I hope to welcome an Embassy visit to Wakefield in the near future.
I also attended the Volunteering Day at the National Mining Museum in my ward and was glad to see so many people from across the community taking an active interest in this vital museum, centre of education and monument to our country’s mining heritage. In addition to the scores of people signing up to volunteer, it was great to talk to visitors who had travelled from all across the world and who had made sure to include a visit to this local treasure and I have urged the council to consider the enormous cultural and historic value of the museum both to Wakefield and to the country as a whole. I am ambitious that with the right level of support we can help to further raise the profile of this world-class attraction to tourists from around the world and I used Wednesday to pledge my support for the museum going forward.
Later in the afternoon, I attended a briefing on the state of children’s’ services in Wakefield and after far too long of neglect, I am encouraged to see that these services are now beginning to improve. I remain hopeful that we will soon be able to move on from the shameful period of special measures and will eventually be in a position to offer the standard of services which children deserve. For now it seems that the central government interventions have helped to put service provision back on the right track and I look forward to full management returning to the council before too long.
On Friday, with the publishing of the Wakefield Express, I was glad to see my campaign in West Bretton feature prominently but was disappointed to read that our local MP had also chosen to make a number of misleading claims about my attendance at her constituency coffee morning the previous week. Contrary to what was claimed, I remained at the event because it had been advertised that the ward’s councillors would be present and I understood that attendees would expect to be able to speak to us, but this was after having not been originally invited and having been subsequently questioned over my right to stay on a number of occasions. For the avoidance of doubt I was glad to have been able to put these facts on the record at the full council meeting and I am frustrated that our MP did not share my view about the value for residents of being able to speak to their Councillors and their MP at the same venue, as her leaflets.