Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley Chronicle, 27 November

I'm doing everything I can to make sure Dudley doesn't become the largest town in the country without a police station open to the public.

POLICE STATION CLOSURES

It’s my job to speak up for the hard-working and law-abiding majority in Dudley, so I’m really concerned about plans for Dudley Police Station to close its doors to the public.

The closure would leave Dudley as the largest town in the country without a police station open to the public. Spending cuts are forcing West Midlands Police to close another twenty seven stations across the West, with others like Sedgley carrying on with volunteer staff for the time being.

This is what happens when the government cuts spending too quickly and too deeply. When opening hours were being cut down at Dudley Police Station two years ago I warned that it would be the start of a slippery slope with further cuts to come. Now we’re being told that people in Dudley won’t be able to speak to police officers face-to-face at all.

Local people are outraged. Like me they think that a town the size of Dudley should have a properly staffed police station so you can always see an officer in person if you need to.

I’m doing everything I can to keep our station open. Last week I stood up in Parliament and told the government to keep our station open, and I kicked off a petition that has been signed by 1,000 local people in less than a week.

I’m also pushing for guarantees that this isn’t the start of further cuts to policing in Dudley. Local people will want assurances that we won’t lose officers in Dudley or lose our police base entirely.

Last year we were able to save Dudley’s Magistrates Court because thousands of local people backed our campaign and forced the government to give in, so I know we can do the same again.

Please sign our petition here to help us send a clear message that we want our station kept open.

CRIMINAL COURT CUTS

Figures I uncovered last week show just how important it is to keep a strong police force in Dudley.

Local people want more police on the streets, more offenders taken to court and more criminals put in jail – but that’s not what’s happening.

Dudley Magistrates Court heard 10,502 cases last year – a drop of 5,050 per year since 2010.

That means thousands of criminals in Dudley who are never going to court and never facing the prospect of jail time.

What kind of message does that send to criminals in Dudley?

NHS BILL

When me or a member of my family is ill, we queue up at Russells Hall like anybody else in Dudley, so I share the concerns of hundreds of local people who wrote to me last week asking me to protect our local hospital.

I made sure I could be in Parliament to speak up for local people and vote in support of Labour legislation to protect the NHS from cuts and privatisation.

This is a really important issue here in Dudley where managers at Russells Hall have said that jobs are at risk as they battle with a £12 million deficit that the chief executive says is “critical”. Staff are working flat out but the hospital is being investigated for waits at A&E, cancer treatment targets have been missed three months running, and some patients wait up to five hours for chemotherapy.

The Tories and UKIP say they back the NHS, but they won’t challenge the reforms that have put Russells Hall in danger. I know local people think that’s not good enough. Like me they think we should rip up Tory reforms and start again with an NHS that puts patients before cuts, bureaucracy and profits.

Until we do that we’re stuck with a health service that wastes money on profits instead of patients.

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