Letter from Parliament - Tony Lloyd MP

Date published: 03 November 2017

This week I have been tackling issues surrounding housing, mental health and offensive behaviour.

I met with justice ministers regarding a secure school for young offenders. Hindley Green was our nearest youth detention in Wigan and is currently a Young Offenders and Adult Male Category C establishment.

It is important for these offenders to maintain links to their families, which are often one of the ways out of criminal behaviour. I have pressed for this in my previous role as Greater Manchester Police Crime Commissioner and we hope this will be built in Greater Manchester. It is sad but a big concentration of young offenders do live in the region.

I asked a question on the number of deaths in police custody and raised the need that mental health services need to be properly funded. A number of people are arrested with mental health issues and put into prisons that should not be there.

I had a meeting with the Town and Country Planning Association, where I met with London Councils to talk about their experiences in building new homes for communities and how this can help us in the North of England. This includes building suitable and affordable housing for older people as an incentive to move from a larger home which may not be as practical for them, thus freeing up the housing chain for families in need.

There was a meeting with North West Labour MPs and the Post Office Union, who are fighting Royal Mail on changes to the pension provisions.

I supported the National Children’s Bureau and met with Michael Brennan, whose service ‘tootoot’, helps children report online they are being bullied. Bullying is a big issue and an online friend can help give them the courage to stand up to the bullies. Although based in Scotland, they have done a lot of work with schools here in Rochdale.

Greater Manchester MPs met with Transport North and Transport for Greater Manchester, both about the need to improve the quality of Rochdale’s stations, but also the overcrowded trains during the rush hour.

We also had an MPs’ ride on static bikes to raise awarenress of Remembrance Sunday and poppies. We had to cycle as far as we could in five minutes; I covered 2.43 km in that time, which was about halfway up our leaderboard.

There was a meeting regarding airports, and Manchester is important to us all. More places in the world are flown to from Manchester Airport than any other in the UK.

I showed my support for raising money and research into pancreatic cancer. It kills approximately 25 people a year in Rochdale and is difficult to detect. A former MP I know was diagnosed with the illness in 2011 and he has been one of the lucky ones to survive the five-year period.

I also met with Mustafa Barghouti, a leading Palestinian politician and Human Rights’ activist to talk about issues between Palestine and Israel.

Additionally, I met with community justice about alternatives to prison and the work here in Greater Manchester is the lead in England. It has a bettter result with low rates of reoffending and I have been pressuring the government to invest more in these options. They are far from a soft option with a tough regime in our communities but addresses the issues that lead to offensive behaviour.

I will also be sitting in on private members’ bills – both the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) bill, which aims to bring in legal enforcement on restraint used after a young woman died in an institution when too much force was used to restrain her, and the 'Votes at 16' bill put forward by neighbouring Oldham MP, Jim McMahon. If you are old enough to work and pay taxes, we ought to think about including these people in taking part in democracy.

I also spoke at a debate on modern day slavery. It is an issue most of us do not know exists in recent years. When police have investigated some places like nail bars or car washes, they have found some of the employees have been trafficked from abroad and forced labour or prostitution. It is a matter I took very seriously in my role as Greater Manchester Police Crime Commissioner.

Tonight (Friday), I will be attending the Rochdale Festival of Remembrance at the Town Hall before attending the Labour Party regional conference in Blackpool on Saturday.

On Sunday, I will be in the Healey ward with the local councillors to meet local constituents and say hello.

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