Happy New Year! I hope all Express readers enjoyed a good break over the holiday.
There is lots coming up and on 30 January the Council and I will be hosting a Google Juice Bar – free seminars and workshops run by tech giant Google to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs learn crucial skills, from creating a website to marketing their business online. To register please contact my office: 01924 386 124 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
One highlight of 2014 was the Tour de France, which brought the glitz and glamour of the biggest bike race in the world to the narrow streets of Yorkshire. Two million people lined the route last July and we’re set for a repeat performance this year with the first ever Tour de Yorkshire from 1 – 3 May. Wakefield will feature as a stage start or finish. Make sure you find your spot on the roadside!
Bikes may have done well but 2014 was a tougher year for trains. September’s stealth fare hikes on Northern pushed some fares up by a third. Engineering works caused chaos on the East Coast line over Christmas. And there was more bad news for commuters as the cost of a 2015 season ticket from Wakefield to Leeds broke the £1,000 barrier for the first time. We need action to help commuters struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Labour’s reforms will put passengers, not profit, at the heart of our railways.
On a more positive note the fantastic new Kirkgate station is set to open soon. I’ve worked with Groundwork and the Express since 2008 to improve it. When it opens it will be safer for passengers and provide a boost for the Kirkgate area. The Council will also start work on a new archive building on the site of the old Crown House, which will continue Kirkgate’s regeneration.
Politically 2015 got off with a bang as the starting gun was fired on the general election. On Monday Ed Miliband gave a speech putting the NHS at the heart of Labour’s campaign. With the Pinderfields A&E seeing 300 people a day over Christmas, our NHS is under strain like never before. We must fight to protect it.
Finally I want to pay tribute to Pinderfields nurse Katie Pritchard, who has flown to Sierra Leone in West Africa as part of an international effort to tackle the Ebola outbreak. I know everyone in Wakefield is proud of her.