Mike Hill MP: Plenty of work to be done while Parliament is in recess
Parliament is in recess until September 2. For many the perception is that MPs are on holiday, but obviously that isn't the case. It simply means we don't sit in Parliament throughout August and instead concentrate on work in our constituencies.
I believe that despite all that is happening nationally, you have to remain grounded and focused on the issues that matter to the people you represent and I can think of no better way of doing that than to spend time back home listening to and learning from the electorate.
So apart from a short break with the family I have a full diary for recess and look forward to the work.
Just ahead of recess, and before any of it could be formally debated, the Government announced some so-called good news on public sector pay and even started their summer charm offensive on Brexit by holding a Cabinet session in this region.
Of course, it’s welcome news that teachers, the police, military and other public-sector workers are to get pay rises of an average 3%.
In reality, however, it’s not all of them; the Treasury won’t fund it so employers will have to foot the bill; and given the pay cap which has been imposed for years on our civil and public servants, the rise compared to inflation is pitiful.
As for the Cabinet’s visit to the North, nothing much of substance came of it, nothing to reassure us that regional trade and jobs will be protected post Brexit, and certainly nothing for Hartlepool.
Apparently, the Secretary of State for Wales was due to come down here after the meeting – well if he did he clearly made such an impression that the trip went largely unreported.
Speaking of making an impression, one of my first meetings of the recess was with the Chief Constable for Cleveland Police, Mike Veale.
Cuts to police budgets and the number of officers has had an adverse effect on tackling crime.
Robberies in Hartlepool have more than doubled between April 2017 and March 2018, car crime is on the increase and drug offences are growing.
I told Mike plainly that we need to see action and enforcement, the return of community policing, targeting drug dealers and the many criminals who believe they have a free hand to offend. He appeared to be listening and had some good ideas. Let’s hope he succeeds in his mission.
On the subject of crime and criminals, it really is a farce isn’t it when our local prison, Holme House, becomes too dangerous for NHS staff to visit due to the proliferation of the drug Spice, despite a shocking rise in mental illness amongst inmates.
It’s equally farcical that in another pre-recess announcement, the Government declared that contracts awarded in 2014 to the private sector to run probation services are to be terminated early because they simply are not working.
At a cost to the public purse of an estimated £170million, this failed privatisation policy which has led to staff cuts, less face to face preventative work with offenders, fewer court referrals and an increase in the number of re-offenders will see all contracts terminated by 2020.
Ironically, it was Chris Grayling who as Justice Minister introduced this failed experiment – the same guy who as the current Transport Secretary is busy making a right hash of our railways.
When will the Tories learn that privatisation is not the cure-all they believe it to be?
Finally, I salute Michael Day, Steve Picton and the organisers of this year’s Miles For Men charity event. It was a roaring success as always, attracting hundreds of people despite the bad weather.
They are true heroes who make a real difference to people’s lives through their fundraising efforts.