Congratulations to the councillors across our district who were elected last week, and commiserations to Wakefield’s Mayor Kevin Barker who sadly lost his seat after working so hard in his Mayoral year. As we celebrate 100 years of women getting the vote, with the first ever statue of a woman- Millicent Fawcett- by a woman- artist Gillian Wearing, it's more important than ever that women, who have born the brunt of the Tories’ austerity, get out and vote!
Last month, the Children’s Commissioner published a report called ‘Growing up North’. It found that more than half of the secondary schools serving the North's poorest children are judged to be less than ‘good’, and that London’s poorest children are three times more likely to go to university. We have had serious problems at Wakefield’s secondary schools in the past but I am glad they are now behind us. Cuts to school crossing patrols, special educational needs support staff and other non-teaching staff are frequently raised at my regular coffee mornings and in my mail bag.
The report, however, points out the many parts of our region which are thriving. In our city we have CAPA college, rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. CAPA was previously threatened with closure after the Department for Education’s botched attempt to relocate it to Leeds. Following our campaign, CAPA will stay at Cathedral School, before moving into their new purpose-built school in 2020, opposite Wakefield Westgate station. I’m looking forward to watching their next performance - ‘West Side Story’ in 2017 was sublime!
International Workers’ Memorial Day was last month. More people die at work each year than are killed by wars. These deaths are preventable, but only if employers make workers’ safety a priority. I commemorated those who have died at the GMB trade union’s regional HQ in College Grove. The deregulators like to talk about slashing “red tape” but health and safety rules save lives at work. We must not allow Brexit to destroy our hard won rights at work.
Mary with GMB’s Regional Secretary, Neil Derrick
Last week Parliament voted in favour of the Magnitsky Amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The Amendments are in memory of the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was murdered in prison by Putin’s thugs in 2009. Before he was wrongly imprisoned, Magnitsky revealed the source of Putin’s immense wealth - large-scale tax fraud.
The Magnitsky Amendments, like the Magnitsky Act in the USA, target individuals who commit human rights violations. It means those responsible for Magnitsky’s death will no longer be able to hide their money in our banks, send their children to our schools, or buy property in our capital city.
The Conservatives have voted against Magnitsky provisions in the past, and it is the hard work of Labour MPs who pushed it through. It goes to show, even in opposition Labour can make a difference.
Congratulations to the councillors across our district who were elected last week, and commiserations to Wakefield’s Mayor Kevin Barker who sadly lost his seat after working so hard in his...