Westminster Diary - Matt Western writes for The Observer - The Leamington Observer

Westminster Diary - Matt Western writes for The Observer

Leamington Editorial 14th Feb, 2019   0

On Wednesday I presented a bill which seeks to limit the driving hours worked by bus drivers on local routes. If implemented, I hope it will go some way to preventing a repeat of the Coventry bus crash in 2015 which killed seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald from the local area. The fact that the driver had been working 70+ hour weeks leading up to the crash was undoubtedly the critical factor that led to this accident. I believe this tragedy could have been avoided if driving hours for local bus drivers were capped at 56 hours a week, and no more than 90 hours over any two consecutive weeks, as it already is for long distance bus drivers and lorry drivers.

Last Friday I spoke in Parliament in a debate on rough sleeping. Progress has been made by Warwick District Council since I hosted a homelessness summit last March, with the opening of a new homeless hostel in Lillington (for which I was pleased to help the council secure funding), but there is a long way to go to end rough sleeping in our community. I pay tribute to the great work of Leamington Night Shelter, LWS Night Shelter, Helping Hands and others for all the work they do year-round to support rough sleepers locally.

Councils have been told by central government they’ll have to implement yet more brutal cuts in the coming financial year. This means worse roads, inadequate social care and less affordable housing. At the same time, Warwickshire County Council voted through a five per cent increase in council tax last week. This means local taxpayers will be paying more and getting less.

On Sunday I attended a commemoration in Barford to local working-class hero, Joseph Arch. Joseph was an agricultural worker who led the formation of the first national agricultural union in the 1870s and improved working conditions and pay for workers across the country. We should celebrate such a significant local figure much more than we do currently and so I welcome initiatives like this that seek to do so.

Matt Western

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