Julian’s York Press Column
January 20, 2015
Like most families, I ushered in the New Year with my wife and two young children, and celebrated the arrival of 2015 by finishing off the last of the Christmas goodies.
For many, myself included, January is a month of contrasts. On the one hand it can be a bit of a comedown from the highs of the Christmas festivities, with the weather turning colder and the threat of snow always just around the corner. On the other hand, it represents a fresh start when we can take stock of things and resolve to work that bit harder towards achieving our goals.
I am pleased to say that I have got off to a flying start this year with two of my political goals; reforming our unfair health funding, and ending the neglect of abandoned horses on our roadsides. I have been campaigning on the issue of healthcare funding since I was first elected in 2010 and this week I succeeded in holding the Government to account in a dedicated debate on the issue.
The previous Government changed the way healthcare resources are allocated by diverting funds towards our larger cities on the grounds of social deprivation. Whilst I entirely accept that more deprived areas will have greater health needs, it is simply unacceptable that the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly and those living in remote areas, are being short-changed.
As a result of this unfair system, patients in the Vale of York receive amongst the lowest levels of funding anywhere in the North. This is despite the fact that we have the one of the highest proportions of over-85 year olds in the country. Our health services also have to cope with the additional burden of providing services across large and sparsely populated areas. These additional costs are reflected in longer ambulance journey times and the need to maintain smaller health centres which are accessible to those living in the countryside.
The Government’s recent £700 million funding boost to deal with the winter pressures in the NHS is to be welcomed, as is the Chancellor’s announcement that an additional £2billion will be invested in the NHS next year. However, the funding formula remains unchanged and I will continue my fight to deliver the necessary changes to end this unfair postcode lottery once and for all. For NHS bureaucrats, York may be just another statistic, but for far too many patients the lack of fair funding is having a major impact on their lives.
This winter we should also spare a thought for the many abandoned horses that have been left on the grass verges beside our roads. As many readers will know, I have been campaigning for a number of years to afford these animals greater legal protection to put an end to their appalling neglect. Last year I sponsored legislation to reduce the time it takes to rescue these horses from two weeks to just four days, and to allow the horses to be sent to animal welfare sanctuaries to receive the care and attention they deserve.
Last week my proposed law, the Control of Horses Bill, was extended to allow not only local authorities to rescue horses, but also farmers and landowners as well. Without the necessary action, the problem of horse neglect will only get worse. Just before Christmas a dozen horses were seized by the Council near Osbaldwick and I fear that hundreds more continue to be abused.
It is my sincere hope that the Bill will make it onto the statute book before Parliament dissolves for the General Election. This should be the very last winter that abandoned horses are left outside in the cold without the protection of the law.