Only Labour is listening to people in Dudley on the NHS and the cost of living.
Whenever I do one of my local surveys or someone in Dudley gets in touch with me about an issue they're concerned about, I always pass on their concerns to those in charge of Labour’s policies as well as Tory Ministers. I think it's important that the people running the Labour party are listening to people in Dudley even if the government isn't.
That's why I was really pleased to hear so many of the issues that local people have raised with me addressed at last week's Labour conference.
When me or a member of my family is ill, we queue up at Russells Hall like anybody else in Dudley, so I’m really concerned about what’s happening to waiting times at our local hospital. Over the last couple of months I have spoken to hundreds of people in Dudley about Russells Hall hospital, and more than nine in ten said they were concerned about the effect that the hospital's £12 million deficit could have on services and waiting times.
I shared the results of that survey with my Labour colleagues, and last week we announced that Labour would bring in a new 'time to care' fund to make sure the NHS always has the time to provide the care we all rely on.
20,000 more doctors, 8,000 more GPs, more midwives and care workers paid for by a 'mansion tax' on the most expensive properties to help hospitals like Russells Hall that have been hit hard under the Tories.
It was the same story with lots of other issues that come up all the time when I meet local residents. Labour set out plans to have as many people in apprenticeships as going to university, to build 200,000 new homes every year, to push the minimum wage up to £8 an hour, to tackle zero-hours contracts and to make sure that everyone is able to get a GP appointment within 48 hours.
Only Labour is listening to people in Dudley and proposing these policies to make them better off.
I know from conversations I've had on the doorstep and from reading hundreds of returns on my surveys that the future of Russells Hall is a big concern for local people.
If you agree with me that the Government should be doing more to support staff at Russells Hall and bring down rising waiting times then please sign my online petition at www.ianaustin.co.uk.
Hundreds of people have already signed up and I'll be presenting their names to Parliament to put pressure on David Cameron to keep his promises on the NHS.
People often tell me that politicians in Westminster don’t care what they’ve got to say about immigration, but I know local people think it’s an important issue and politicians should be listening.
That’s why over the last few weeks I’ve held a dozen meetings across Dudley to hear what local people think.
I listened to a wide range of opinions but there were things that most people could agree on too, like giving people a say on our membership of the EU and making sure that the benefits system is fair to people who have always lived and worked here.
I’ve been calling for an EU referendum for years, and I recently stood up in the House of Commons to say we should have one before the next election. The Government hasn’t been able to sort this out to public satisfaction, so I think people should be trusted to have their say.
Personally, I would keep a free-trade single market but I think we should make our own decisions on things like UK relations with the rest of the world, domestic law and social security.
But I also think there’s more that the Government can do right now to address local people’s concerns. I think we should change the benefits system so that you can only take benefits out of the system if you have paid into it first. I think we should enforce the minimum wage so employers can’t exploit foreign labour to undercut local workers. And I think the Government should reverse its cuts to the border force so it has the staff to count people in and out of the country properly.
One thing came through loud and clear at every meeting: people want their concerns heard in Westminster and that's something that I'm determined to do.
It's my job to go to London and speak up for people in Dudley so I will be taking advantage of every opportunity to raise points made at these meetings in House of Commons debates. I promise that I'll also push for a new immigration bill in the first 12 months of the next government if I’m re-elected, and I will be telling politicians in Westminster exactly what local people said should be in it.