With crime on the rise for the first time in years it is more important than ever that our police receive the protections they need to be able to keep our streets safe.
The ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign, which I spearheaded during the last Parliament, aims to secure greater protections for all emergency service workers. The campaign has just had a major boost, with my Labour colleague Chris Bryant MP putting it forward as a Private Members’ Bill.
Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well. As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams, and there is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in Calderdale has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms. There are 1,700 less police in West Yorkshire overall since 2010. I will continue to argue for the police that we need to keep our streets safe.
I know flooding is another big concern for many local people here in Calderdale, so I was delighted to be asked to join the front bench as Shadow Floods Minister recently. As part of this role I will continue to argue for the investment in flood alleviation schemes that we need here in Calderdale to prevent a repeat of the events of Boxing Day 2015. It is vital that we secure the flood investment needed to protect households and local businesses, or else we run the risk of seeing some of them move out of area.
One big boost for local business has been the opening of the Piece Hall. I was delighted to hear that over 22,000 people passed through the doors on the opening day, and that the whole of town was so busy that cafes were running out of food and cash machines running out of money! The renovation of the Grade I listed building really is the jewel in the crown in Halifax and something we can be proud. The imminent opening of the new library adjacent to the Piece Hall will be a further boost, so I look forward to that. A big well done to everyone involved in bringing the Piece Hall project to fruition.