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Christmas Editorial: Fighting for you on the issues that matter

This article first appeared in the Telegraph & Argus on Saturday 16 December 2023

The many Christmas events taking place across Bradford bring people together and spread festive joy to thousands. Christmas is both a wonderful time of optimism for what the next year might bring, and a time of reflection and consideration for the year gone by.

I imagine for this Conservative government there is precious little optimism ahead – and their report card for the past year makes for grim reading. They end the year with the cost-of-living still crippling family budgets, an insecure economy that has caused the loss of hundreds of jobs in Bradford, and an NHS that is strained to breaking point.

Instead of bold policies that address the challenges people are facing, we have had a year of recycled pledges and promises – more of the same from over thirteen years of tired leadership.

While the government has all but given up on governing, I have continued to work on issues that matter to my constituents in Bradford.

Join me in taking action on anti-social fireworks

Spectacular fireworks are an important and enjoyable part of our annual celebrations, and I am sure many of us will be welcoming in the New Year with friends and family, perhaps watching some of these breath-taking displays.

Yet, while the vast majority of us use fireworks safely and responsibly, their anti-social and illegal use is a year-round blight for people in Bradford. Residents are having to tolerate their misuse almost every day, seemingly without rhyme or reason. We are not talking about the odd ‘bang’ or one-off display, but constant and disruptive noise pollution that robs residents of sleep, peace, and causes unnecessary stress and anxiety to people and pets.

I have proposed lowering the legal limit on the volume of fireworks from 120 decibels (as loud as a pneumatic drill you’d find on a construction site) to just 90 decibels (about as loud as a ringing telephone).

This would significantly reduce the disruptive impact and noise footprint of fireworks used anti-socially without affecting their legitimate use. ‘Low noise’ fireworks are readily available and compromise none of their spectacular visual effects that are so dearly loved in displays.

While I was pleased the Minister said my proposal would be given ‘due consideration’, we in Bradford must make it clear to government that we have had enough. That is why I have launched a parliamentary petition to make our strength of feeling on anti-social firework use clear. I encourage residents to sign and share with as many friends and family as possible so that we can see meaningful action on anti-social and illegal use of fireworks in Bradford

Government needs to step up to tackle the scourge of spiking

At a time of year where we are making lasting and precious memories with friends and family, it is only right that everyone deserves to always be safe when enjoying company at bars, pubs, clubs and festivals.

The unseen epidemic of the disgusting and cowardly crime of spiking is putting people, especially women and girls, at risk. It is simply shocking that 11% of women and 6% say they have been spiked, while almost half of women say they know someone who has been spiked.

These insidious drugs leave people incredibly vulnerable, disrupting their memories and cognition, and stealing from them their ability to consent and make informed decisions. This profound violation means that 97% of spiking victims never report it in the first place.

However, the laws that are meant to protect people from this heinous crime are hopelessly out of date, making it even harder for victims of spiking to come forward about their experiences.

For those who do come forward, their incredible bravery is met with a confusing set of laws that could see the crime categorised under any of seven different offences. This makes recording and tracking the true scale of spiking nearly impossible. Last year, just 1 in 400 cases of reported spiking resulted in a criminal charge. This is unacceptable – just where is the justice for survivors?

I led a Parliamentary debate on spiking last week to highlight this unacceptable blind spot and I demanded meaningful action – including making spiking a specific offence under law.

Unfortunately, we have a Government who refuse to take this crime seriously. They are now eight months overdue on a report into the prevalence and scale of spiking that they were legally required to produce. While they dither and delay with no national strategy, women and girls are left at risk.

In stark contrast to the Government’s inaction, Labour leader Keir Starmer has already committed to make spiking a specific offence. The National Police Chiefs’ Council have said a standalone offence would help police to better understand the scale of the problem and lead to better support for victims.

This would make our night-time and festival economies safer for everyone. It would increase prosecutions and convictions and would mean that the law is a real deterrent to those vile perpetrators.

It would encourage more survivors to come forward and ensure they get the justice they deserve. The route on this is clear, we just need a government bold enough to seize it.

As we move into a brand-new year, I promise to champion the issues that matter to my constituents. How ever you are celebrating the festive period, I wish you and your families a safe and merry Christmas, and a happy and peaceful New Year.


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