York Press Column: Latest Developments in Westminster
July 13, 2022
After all the drama in Westminster this week it is worth taking a moment to reflect on where we are.
I am relieved the Prime Minister has accepted that the only way to bring stability to Government is his resignation. It is the best decision for the country, and we can now begin the process of rebuilding public trust and refocusing on the major challenges facing the country.
What will now follow is a few weeks of jostling for position amongst leadership hopefuls in the Conservative Party and unlike previous contests, this time it really is anyone’s to win.
After careful consideration, I will be sure to back the candidate who I believe is best placed to deliver on the long-term priorities of constituents here in York and address the issues facing the country as a whole.
One immediate priority for York is making sure our city is successful in the competition to host the new national headquarters of Great British Railways. Last week I was delighted to hear that we have made the shortlist of six UK towns and cities.
This is itself a massive vote of confidence not only in York’s railway heritage but also in our importance to the national railway industry and to the levelling up agenda in the North.
I firmly believe that the great British public will rally round York as the best choice to host this new national institution and encourage everyone in the local area and beyond to support York’s bid and take part in the online vote.
Last month saw the Government give another vote of confidence for reopening Haxby Railway Station by pledging a further tranche of funding to develop plans.
I have been campaigning for the return of rail services to Haxby since before I was elected and, even though we have had a few false starts in the last decade, I am excited from my talks with Ministers that the Government fully appreciate the levelling-up potential a new station will have for residents in the north of York.
It is not just York’s past which was built by railways but also our future. With new lines and better connections, we can attract high quality employment and better opportunities for generations to come. I will keep the pressure on the Department for Transport by lobbying for further rounds of funding as plans progress.
Whilst new developments may attract all the media attention it is also important to work to improve and enhance the facilities that we have. I recently met with Dr Stuart Robson, Chairman of Upper Poppleton Parish Council to discuss parking provision at Poppleton Station.
This local station is a great asset and I am keen that it is accessible to all and fulfils its potential to help alleviate traffic from the main routes in the city centre.
I have raised the issue with Network Rail and will be arranging a meeting with them as well as Northern, City of York Council and the parish council to discuss funding and suitable sites.
Finally, after my column regarding the potential closure of Naburn School last week and the role of Ofsted, I have managed to secure a meeting with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman to discuss what can be done to make Ofsted more accountable and introduce and independent route of appeal for schools.
My scrutiny of Ofsted in Parliament came about after attending a packed public meeting about the future of the school in Naburn, where it was clear that the overriding view amongst parents and teachers was one of frustration. Whilst the school acknowledges many of the points raised in the Ofsted report, there remain issues on which it feels it did not get a fair hearing. Given the profound impact that the report will have for the school’s future it is important that it is given every opportunity to make its case, something that it is simply is not afforded under the current appeals procedure.
On the immediate uncertainty facing the school, I have now met with a representative from the office of the Regional Schools Commissioner, who will be handling Naburn’s case during the coming months. In this meeting I was assured that the timeframe for the school to secure an academy sponsor will be as flexible as possible and that conversations with several multi-academy trusts in York are ongoing. I encourage everyone currently involved in these conversations to work to find a solution that can secure the future of this fantastic local school that really is the heart of the community in Naburn.