One of the best things about my job is supporting charities and volunteers working hard to improve things in Dudley.
One of the best things about my job is getting to work and trying to support charities and volunteers working hard to improve things in Dudley.
Over the last few weeks I've tried to help volunteers at the Dudley Counselling Centre at Salop Street, St John's Church Preservation Society at Kates Hill and Summit House Support. I've visited CHADD Housing Association's Foyer Project which does brilliant work with local young people and the St Thomas Network which helps so many people.
City Can Cycle at the Sycamore Centre is a brilliant project refurbishing bikes for local people. The team that run it are phenomenal people.
I’ve helped them in the past by raising money and giving them bikes and parts I don’t need and I’m urging anyone who has a bike they no longer use to make sure it gets a new lease of life by donating it. I’m also appealing to bike shops to help too. You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents across the Borough will share my concern at new statistics last week showing that youngsters in Dudley have a smaller chance of going to a school rated good or outstanding than anywhere else in the Black Country.
We've got to get behind heads and teachers working hard to improve schools. Look at Ellowes Hall. A few years ago, just 35% of pupils got five good CCSEs. Thanks to a new head and a real focus on standards, more than 8 out of 10 get those grades. I’ve recently been to Dormston and Priory Primary School which were put in special measures and I’m confident they are improving fast, and I don’t see why every school should not be aiming to be a good or outstanding school.
I think we're as good as anyone and the results at Ellowes show that our schools can do just as well as any in the country.
These figures underline the need for all of us – the council, parents and the community in general – to make education our number one priority. We will only attract the new investment and jobs on which the Black Country’s prosperity depends if we have the skills new industries need.
I think we should set a target for Dudley and the Black Country to have the biggest improvement in schools standards in the country.
In last week's Queen's Speech, the Government set out its plans for the next twelve months. It the opportunity to address some of the issues that people in Dudley and the rest of the country feel are being ignored, but I'm afraid David Cameron had precious little to say on bringing new jobs to areas like the Black Country, improving the NHS and helping families still struggling to make ends meet.
Instead it's going to take a Labour government to help struggling families by increasing the minimum wage, expanding childcare, freezing energy bills and bringing in a jobs guarantee for unemployed young people.
It's also the only way to get investment into areas like Dudley with new regional banks to boost the local economy and long term reforms to get 200,000 homes built every year by 2020.
Six in ten local residents told me it was getting more difficult to see their GP, but David Cameron isn’t going to tackle rising waiting times either.
We need to scrap the Government’s new lays of NHS bureaucracy and guarantee patients an appointment with their GP at 48 hours’ notice, in addition to the freedom to get seen at any surgery that's convenient for them.
Everyone in Dudley knows that I’ve been calling for an EU referendum for more than a year now, and seven out of ten local people agree with me that we should have a referendum at the earliest opportunity.
Whether you want to stay in Europe or pull out, we need a proper debate about the decisions that are taken in Brussels or Britain and the jobs that depend on our membership of the EU and we need to make our minds up once and for all.
People don't trust David Cameron's promise of a referendum in 2017. In fact he's not able to make promises about what the next Parliament would do in 2017, so it should come as no surprise that there was no mention of it in the Queen's Speech.
That's why I stood up in the House of Commons after the Queen's Speech last Wednesday to call for an EU referendum before the next election.
I was the only MP to stand up and say we should have a proper debate and get on with it now.
Politicians in Westminster might not agree with me, but it’s my job to go to London and speak up for people here in Dudley.