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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Statement on Sue Gray report

Statement on Sue Gray report

The Sue Gray report clearly shows that the Prime Minister has presided over a widespread culture of disregard for coronavirus regulations. Furthermore, questions are now being raised about whether the Prime Minister misled Parliament when asked about these events. Talking to constituents, it is clear discussions about parties in Downing Street remain a damaging distraction

Over £1 million of government support to help York businesses export

Julian has welcomed new figures showing over £1.13 million has been allocated by the...

Times Red Box article with Nigel Adams MP: Great British Railways should say Yes to York

This government is delivering on its commitment to level up regions such as ours....

York Press column: How the Queen’s Speech can level-up York

With nearly forty bills that will deliver on some of the Conservative Party’s biggest...

York’s 1st covid cases 1 year on – York Press article

January 29, 2021

The confirmation of York’s first coronavirus cases on Friday 31st January 2020 already feels much longer than a year ago.

We had all seen the reports of coronavirus in China, but this news made it suddenly very real, that this potential threat to our community was already here.

As these were the first British cases, it seemed a cruel repayment for York’s openness and dynamic engagement with the world, and also a sharp lesson in how fast overseas problems can become domestic problems in our globalised age.

I remember the Department of Health getting in touch to arrange an urgent briefing with them and Public Health England for both York MPs on the afternoon of the 31st. We were told that they were urgently contacting anyone who had been in contact with the two patients, and were trying to complete this as soon as possible.

I then confirmed this meeting to the York Press when asked for comment, stressing that I encouraged any resident feeling unwell to come forward and seek medical assistance, and emphasising we needed to give our local health professionals space to work to get on top of the situation.

Although I was engaged on other important work for our city, scrutinising the government takeover of Northern Rail to maintain local services, and preparing to speak up for North Yorkshire’s environment and food industry on the Agriculture Bill the next week, I of course carefully monitored developments on the York cases. I acted to check up on the Department of Health’s progress at the earliest opportunity, questioning the Health Secretary in the House of Commons on Monday 3rd February.

Bearing in mind the importance of communicating clearly to reassure residents and prevent the spread of alarm, I asked Matt Hancock for a precise timeline of how long tracing the two patients’ contacts would take, so York could know this vital task was on track and things could soon return to normal.

Although the contact tracing of the York cases was rapidly concluded, ensuring York did not become the first centre of coronavirus in the UK, far from returning to normal, we remain as far from normal as ever, although the way back is now becoming visible through the vaccine rollout.

The swift addressing of York’s cases seemed to promise a threat with minimal impact on this country, like bird flu or swine flu. With these previous escapes in mind, while closely attentive to the risk and taking steps to probe the government, I confess I little thought within weeks I would be writing to the Chancellor to request emergency income support for York’s self-employed, and contacting the Foreign Office to help bring home local residents stranded as far afield as Peru, New Zealand and South Africa.

Although tragic, the milestone of ‘one year on’ should spur us to keep battling through in defence of our loved ones and local NHS, because this is the only way back to the normal that ended on 31st January last year.