My Column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

Yorkshire did a fabulous job welcoming the world’s greatest cycle race. Here in Morley though, it wasn’t so much, “Tour de Yorkshire” as “Tour de Morley”.
At Morley Victoria Primary School, their mammoth Tour de Morley scoot clocked up enough miles to cover the Yorkshire Stages of the bike race and still get half way through France. Over just a few days, Morley Victoria pupils scooted a staggering 933 miles – the equivalent of the distance from Morley to Marseille in the south of France.
It was great to join some of the year 6 pupils them for a few extra circuits of the playground. It was fabulous for Yorkshire to have the Tour de France passing through our region and brilliant to see Morley Victoria getting involved and taking part.
The Tour de France might be a men’s cycle race, but here in Morley we have our own local cycling legend. Beryl Burton not only won UK and world cycling championships but also set a world record which exceeded the men’s record for two years. It’s brilliant that there is now a fitting tribute to her Morley heritage on Queen Street.
And Beryl is currently being brought to life at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Maxine Peake’s play. It’s not every day that a Yorkshire heroine makes it to the stage – do pop in over the summer to catch the play yourself.
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Here at the cross-roads of Britain, we are a business-hub for the north of England. Businesses choose to locate themselves in Morley and close by because of our great location and transport links.
So I invited the Shadow Business Minister, Toby Perkins to meet with local businesses from across our area to discuss how best to support local companies to grow and expand.
Morley is home to hundreds of small businesses – many just starting out – as well as larger national organisations. As well as skills, apprenticeships and infrastructure – all vital to ensure businesses in our area can grow and expand – another big issue companies raised with us on Friday was business rates.
After a long and difficult recession, thankfully our economy is finally growing again.  But with living standards still falling, I’m worried that there aren’t enough well-paid jobs for people in our area. One in five young people under the age of 24 are not in work or training and too much new investment and growth is still concentrated in London and the South East.
I’ve long said that I want more of our national resources devolved to areas like West Yorkshire so that local people can benefit.
But at the moment the gap between different parts of the country is growing. Now we finally have some economic growth, the whole country should be benefiting. By devolving power – and resources – to local areas, we can do a better job of supporting growth in every area. That really would be good news for local businesses and the local workforce.
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Our amazing National Health Service is 66 years old this month. But my casework contains some disturbing stories from local people who work in the health service, as well as from patients, about longer waiting times and the privatisation of NHS services.
Because as our national health service passes its 66th birthday we shouldn’t forget that there are those who want to undermine it. Some even outrageously suggest that patients should be charged £10 each time they see their GP.
Earlier this month that proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by the Royal College of Nursing. Quite right too. The NHS was, after all, set up specifically to avoid this kind of charge and to provide healthcare for people based on their need rather than their ability to pay.
The NHS is just as important now as when it was set up 65 years ago – the best insurance policy in the world. I for one will always fight to keep it safe. Happy Birthday NHS!
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Posted July 16th, 2014 by Ed