In questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, has reaffirmed his commitment to improving transport in the city. Paul has backed two projects, the reintroduction of the Wolverhampton to Walsall line and the completion of the Wolverhampton Interchange.
Paul said "Transport links are crucial to the economy of the Black Country. Currently, commuters between Wolverhampton and Walsall have to go through a connection at Birmingham New Street, which takes double the time it would take to drive. The reintroduction of the Wolverhampton to Walsall line which has local support, would not only deliver a better journey time between Wolverhampton and Walsall, but would relieve some of the pressure on Birmingham New Street.
"Since 2005, the number of passengers visiting Wolverhampton station has more than doubled. Recent passenger survey returns show that the service is poor, particularly at peak times. There are proposals on the table to ensure the completion of the interchange, as a Government I want to make sure we do all we can to finish this project, giving Wolverhampton the new station it needs."
We have all been concerned by the waiting times at A&E this winter, it is not good enough that some patients have had to wait longer than expected. Let me begin by saying thank you to all that work at New Cross Hospital, even though it has been a difficult time, staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and treatment.
Even though we have faced difficulties this winter, I would warn against talking down the NHS. We have a world leading health care system that we should be proud of. In the three months prior to January more than nine out of 10 A&E patients in England continued to be seen and treated in under four hours; the best measured performance of any major western country.
The outlook for rest of the winter is encouraging with services across the country returning to normal. We must not be complacent and I will continue to monitor the situation at New Cross Hospital. I want to assure residents of Wolverhampton that I, like the government, are taking these problems seriously – any delays are unacceptable and need to be dealt with.
On Wednesday I had a productive meeting with Jeremy Hunt, The Secretary of State for Health, informing him of the situation at New Cross and the problems that the city faced. I wanted to share with you all the steps the Department of Health and the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust are taking to improve the service that residents of Wolverhampton receive.
The transfer of non-critical operations to Cannock in February will help, as will a £30m investment, creating a state of the art accident and emergency department. In the future, patients at New Cross will receive even better care when they need it the most.
If anyone who lives in Wolverhampton South West has any concerns, or experiences any problems with A&E or any part of the NHS, I would urge them to contact me or see me at one of my weekly surgeries.
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West visited Compton hospice this week to announce he will be supporting the charity again this Christmas with a donation to the hospice. The news comes as Lloyds Bank Community Fund announced that Compton Hospice topped a local poll and will receive a grant of £3000, and George Osborne announced that the Government will be refunding the VAT that they incur.
Paul speaking during the visit said, "We are fortunate to have Compton Hospice in Wolverhampton, they do a fantastic job and I would like to pay tribute to all their hard work. This year I will be showing my thanks to their inspirational staff and volunteers by dedicating my Christmas to Compton Hospice and making a donation.
"George Osborne used his Autumn Statement to say that hospices will have their VAT costs refunded. At the moment hospices cannot reclaim VAT even though they provide services that the government would otherwise have to pay for. Hospices such as Compton have long been subject to unfair rules and I am glad this is changing."
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West welcomed the last Autumn Statement before next year's General Election. Within the Statement the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasted 'meaningful wage growth' which will grow above inflation for the next five years, as well as half a million new jobs next year. Changes included the reform of Stamp Duty, an increase in the personal allowance and help for small businesses.
Speaking after the statement Paul said, "Unemployment, inflation and the deficit are all falling, while Britain is forecast to be the fastest growing economy of any major advanced economy in the world. In just over 4 years we have gone from having the largest budget deficit in the G8 to a position of economic strength.
"We have made important changes to Stamp duty, the current model was outdated and penalised the wrong people. The new system will mean the buyer of the average family home in the West Midlands will pay £4,500 less. This ambitious reform of stamp duty is a tax cut for 98% of people paying stamp duty. It will help people get on to the housing ladder – but also make sure the richest pay their fair share.
"The many constituents who contacted me about Air Passenger Duty will be pleased that From May, the duty for under 12s will be abolished and from 2016 it will be abolished for under 16s. This will save a two child family travelling from Birmingham Airport £26 on the cost of economy short-haul flights and £142 on the cost of economy long-haul flights.
"We will never shy away from the problems that remain unresolved in the British economy. But it's only by working through the plan that we can deliver more security for hardworking people"
Paul Uppal visited the University of Wolverhampton to support their Business Start-Up Programme designed specifically to provide training and support for Armed Forces families and met with Sue Hopkins, whose company Little Brown Mouse House, has been supported by the scheme. The programme is funded by the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund and has been very successful since it was set up just a year ago.
Paul speaking after the event commented, "Our armed forces and their families give so much to our country, so it is only right that we ensure they are supported as much as possible. Today was about showcasing the businesses they have set up and listening to the numerous success stories.
"I am delighted that 'Supporting the Unsung Hero' the Dependants' Business Start-Up Programme will now continue for another five years as The University have managed to secure additional funding from the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund and HSBC Sponsorship.
"In December 2012, the importance of the covenant was highlighted by the decision of the Chancellor to transfer £35 million from fines levied on the banks for use in supporting the armed forces community. We are delivering on our promises, ensuring that no member of personnel or their families are disadvantaged by the contribution and sacrifice they make for their service."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has called for a replacement to the Levy system in British horseracing. In a letter to Helen Grant, Paul argued that a new scheme proposed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will help to secure the long-term funding of the sport and provide opportunities for continued development and innovation - helping the industry and Wolverhampton Racecourse to thrive.
Paul said, "British Racing contributes £3.45 billion to the UK economy, supports 85,000 jobs and is the nation's biggest sport after football.
"Smaller racecourses such as Wolverhampton and the wider racing industry are currently at a crossroads in terms of their funding. I had the pleasure of helping to reopen Wolverhampton racecourse in August, as part of the BHA's Back Your Local Racecourse week', after an extensive redevelopment programme to install the first Tapeta racing surface in the United Kingdom was undertaken.
"I believe that it is crucial that British Racing is provided with the necessary support in terms of its funding. This will be of particular benefit to Wolverhampton racecourse, which can look to build upon its recent programme of developments and further improve the local economic impact of the racecourse through increased attendances and employment."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has today wrote to the Chancellor, George Osborne, to ask him to create a specific fund for installing audio visual systems on new buses in the upcoming Autumn Statement. These talking buses would make journeys easier by announcing and displaying the name of the upcoming stop.
Paul said 'A fund to install AV on new buses would only cost the Treasury £5.75 million per anum yet would provide considerable benefits for partially sighted bus users in Wolverhampton and across the country. Talking busses are essential to people with sight loss allowing them to travel with the confidence of knowing that they will not miss their stop.
I am pleased to support Guide Dogs charity's Talking Bus campaign and hope that Talking Buses will soon be a feature on all busses across Wolverhampton and the Midlands making journeys easier for all passengers.'
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, set out his ambition for local people to have cancer services amongst the best in Europe during a local 'cancer summit'.
Last Friday, Paul met with people affected by cancer and representatives from cancer services in Wolverhampton South West, to discuss what issues are currently faced by those living with and after cancer in Wolverhampton, and how he could support and champion better cancer awareness and care.
After the summit Paul said, "Cancer is a disease which affects too many families and I want to help do what I can to increase survival rates and help those families affected by it. It was interesting to hear ideas around how outcomes could be improved for people affected by cancer and how public awareness of signs and symptoms can be improved – this being particularly important to increase early diagnosis and increase chances of survival.
From listening to the participants at the summit is clear that privacy and dignity are key and it is obviously important to always remember that patients should be treated as an individual throughout.
"Wolverhampton's one year outcomes for people affected by cancer are similar to the UK average but I would like to see them improved further to rival those across Europe.
Marika Hills, Macmillan Development Manager for Wolverhampton says, "We are thrilled that Paul is so enthusiastic about ensuring people affected by cancer receive the best possible support and care both locally and nationally. The summit was a great opportunity for constituents who have experienced cancer to voice their concerns and opinions in a safe forum where they knew their input was valued.
"The number of people living with and beyond cancer is set to double so Macmillan is working to ensure cancer care is prioritised by the government. It's fantastic that Paul is committed to continuing to work with us, and other local healthcare services, to ensure the needs of people affected by cancer are being met and that outcomes are improved."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, welcomed the UK Punjab Heritage Association to Parliament on Monday to mark the Sikh role in World War I as well as remembering all those who contributed from British India - a total of close to 1.5 million personnel, all of whom were volunteers.
Paul was also joined by The National Army project, 'War and Sikhs: Road to the Trenches', a team of volunteers who recreated the 15th Ludhiana Sikh Regiment as it was in 1914 at the outbreak of War. There was a special musical performance of a Punjabi wartime folk song, and a moment of remembrance after a unique rendition of the last post.
"Over 138,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France, and over a quarter of these would, unfortunately, become casualties." Paul said. "Indeed, after the bloody battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915, the Sikh regiments had lost 80% of their men, with three regiments standing at just 16% of their original compliment.
"As the only Sikh MP in the house, I am proud to be able to support this important event commemorating the Sikh soldiers who fought in the Great War. Sikhs made up just 2% of the population of India but made up 20% of those who chose to serve. The valour and courage of Sikh soldiers is something that was quite rightly commended by British Generals - as a nation we should recognise the sacrifice of these often forgotten heroes."
Today Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, attended the opening ceremony of the new Wolves Academy & Arena at Compton Park, Wolverhampton.
This extension to the existing training ground will provide category 1 academy status facilities for be Wolves Academy age groups from under 9s to under 18s and includes a full-size indoor 3G pitch, dressing rooms, fitness suite and a media suite.
The opening also concluded a £50m public and private sector development project. As part of this, the University of Wolverhampton gained a new science block in the city center, huge improvements were made to St Edmunds School and 55 new homes were built by Redrow on the site. In addition to this the football club donated the £750,000 Aldersley Indoor Dome, which they previously used, to the Wolves Community Trust.
Speaking about the event, Paul said "I've been greatly impressed today by the quality of these new facilities. At the moment half of the current first team squad came through Wolves youth academy and with the new academy finished I can't see why that should not continue.
This whole development project will benefit the whole community; it's great to see that it's not only the futures of the youth players that is being invested in, but the city as a whole."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, attended a cross-party event to launch the report of an important new Inquiry looking at pancreatic cancer research. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all of the most common cancers in the UK with only about 4% of people diagnosed surviving five years or more.
The publication of the report, Pancreatic Cancer Research: a Roadmap to Change from The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pancreatic Cancer calls for a new approach to attracting inspiring scientists into this field and sets out a series of compelling recommendations aimed at improving the quality and quantity of pancreatic cancer research.
Speaking as the Vice Chair for the APPG for Men's Health Paul said, "It is a tragedy that survival rates are so low, what is even worse that this figure has hardly changed in 40 years. What is needed is a renewed effort to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer - the focus must be research centered on early diagnosis, including the future development of screening tools.
"It was a pleasure to attend this event and to support the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer. I know there are many people in Wolverhampton who have been touched by pancreatic cancer in some way and we need to do more to improve the survival rates for this disease. A greater emphasis on research will be the most effective way of making an impact on the appalling survival rates and hopefully help to save lives in future and so I support the conclusions of the APPG's report."
Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK added; "We were delighted to welcome Paul to this important event and we thank him for his support.
"The key findings from this Inquiry underline much of what Pancreatic Cancer UK has long argued: that unless there is a significant increase in research funding, it is highly unlikely that the necessary advances needed to beat this disease will be achieved."
This week is National Langar Week. I am proud as a Sikh MP to celebrate this 700 year old tradition at my local Gurdwara in Wolverhampton. Around 300 Gurdwaras in the UK serve free hot meals where anyone, no matter of race, faith, gender o...r social status, can come together to eat. Celebrating this during langar week highlights values of sharing, equality and collaboration - the core principles of Sikhism. I would encourage to visit their local Gurdwara this week to learn about who Sikhs are and our shared values.
Wolverhampton South West MP, Paul Uppal, joined high profile parliamentarians at the annual diabetes charity event, the Silver Star Diabetes Health Challenge, at the House of Commons. As part of the challenge, MPs were issued with a Silver Star Diabetes Pedometer that will measure the amount of steps taken on a chosen day from the launch day until World Diabetes Day on 14th November 2013 to see who can take the most steps.
On Wednesday 15th October, as part of Diwali at Westminster, Paul Uppal MP took the quick and easy diabetes test to help raise awareness of the need for public to take the test of the condition. Special guests Hugh Quarshie, Dr. Ric Griffin on BBC's Holby City, joined in the efforts to highlight the problem of diabetes and handed Paul Uppal MP with a pedometer.
Speaking at the event Paul said "Every four minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with diabetes and consequently, the NHS spends £1 million an hour on diabetes and its related complications. Currently 3 million people in the UK live with the condition, and an estimated 1 million people may have diabetes without knowing it.
"It is great that Silver Star Diabetes take action to raise awareness for the condition. Helping people to lead healthy lifestyles is important, and testing people for diabetes plays a vital step towards achieving that."
The Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, Paul Uppal, visited Yorkshire Building Society last week to present donations from our Make a Difference week. Throughout Make a Difference Week customers have nominated causes for the Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation to support.
This year the Society is celebrating its 150th Anniversary and to commemorate this milestone, the Charitable Foundation is hoping to donate £150,000 to 1,500 charities and good causes throughout the UK.
Paul said after presenting the donations, "I am pleased to be able to support the Charity Choice campaign, it is great that Yorkshire Building Society is giving valuable support to charities up and down the country. I would like to congratulate the charities benefiting from the campaign. It is heartening that so many members of the Yorkshire Building Society nominated and supported these great causes."
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament has joined the Hindu Forum of Britain to celebrate the festival of Diwali.
The celebrations were held in the House of Commons and attended by leaders of the Hindu communities in the UK. In the UK, as in India, Diwali is one of the most important spiritual and vibrant occasions of the Hindu calendar and is celebrated by the British Indian communities in the UK.
"It was a pleasure to attend this Diwali event hosting by the Hindu Forum of Britain." said Paul, "The British Indian community have contributed immensely to British culture and to the community and continue to do so. I wish the Indian community a very Happy Diwali and I hope they enjoy this festival as much as I have done so today."
Paul dropped by the University of Wolverhampton on Friday to see the refurbished 'Little Scholars' nursery which offers childcare to the institution's staff, students and the local community.
The Little Scholars can offer up to 50 places for children up to the age of five, and has a large open-plan play area divided into three sections for different age ranges. There is also an outdoor play area, kitchen, bathroom facilities and an office for meetings between staff and parents.
Paul was given a tour by Little Scholars manager Helen Hall, and had the opportunity to meet other staff and children and see some of the new activities available, including musical instruments and an interactive computer in the 3-5's room.
"I was pleased to have the opportunity to see these new facilities today", said Paul, "Little Scholars provides a place for young children to have fun but learn and discover new things at the same time. It means that staff and students at the University are able to get on with their day, knowing that their children and in safe hands."
Further information for Little Scholars can be found at:
Before the debate on greater devolution Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, welcomed the commitment of this government to grant greater powers to cities in the west Midlands, but warned against the creation of a Greater Birmingham Authority. Nick Clegg in his answer stressed the importance of working collaboratively without losing local identity.
Commenting Paul said, "The Prime Minister said back in April that 'The Black Country is strong enough without Birmingham' and I totally agree with him. I must stress, the need to devolve powers to the West Midlands whilst keeping the unique identity we have in the Black Country.
"The Black Country has a proud and important cultural and industrial history which allows us to compete in the global market. We have, and are attracting, world leading companies - to continue to do so we need to be in the heart of the Black Country, not on the periphery of Birmingham. There are some issues that across the West Midlands we need to work collaboratively on but that does not mean Wolverhampton needs to be consumed by the Greater Birmingham Authority.
"Whilst the devolution debate evolves I will be standing up for the interests of Wolverhampton and The Black Country ensuring that we get the powers we need to succeed."
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, recently opened the new FairTrade shop on Salop Street.
Run by the Wolverhampton City FairTrade Partnership, the shop was originally located at Darlington Street Methodist Church but had to relocate after a fire hit the Church back in March. The new store continues to offer a wide variety of FairTrade produce form coffee and cookies to craft goods including jewellery and gifts.
The opening ceremony also included a poem by pupils from Bilston CofE Primary School, and a talk from the shop's manager David Fulljames.
Following the opening Paul commented, "I am delighted to see that, after the unfortunate setback earlier in the year, the FairTrade shop is back up and running again. The FairTrade Foundation helps ensure that workers are paid a fair price for their produce, and I hope that people across the city will support this great charity and pay a visit to the shop."
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, today met with representatives from the Canal and River Trust to learn how they care for thousands of waterways across England and Wales.
Speaking after the event, Paul commented, "I have always been a strong supporter of our waterways – they are something we must cherish and protect. The Smestow Valley, which runs through Wolverhampton, is a place where people can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is great that the Canal and River Trust are working with volunteers across the city to ensure that it remains protected to be enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come.
"Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to witness the significant improvements that have been made to the valley, when I took a barge through the city. It is a wonderful place and thanks to the opening of a disability ramp and refurbishments of the tow paths it is now a place that everyone can enjoy."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West has pledged to help eradicate the inequalities men with prostate cancer face after speaking with campaigners at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this week.
Despite being the most common cancer in men, those affected by or at risk of prostate cancer continue to face a number of injustices, particularly when it comes to access to the best treatments and aftercare support for their condition.
Prostate Cancer UK was at the Conservative conference calling for urgent action on these issues. As well as pledging long term commitment to helping bring about real change for men, politicians were being asked to show their support for the charity's game plan by signing up to Men United – a new team which seeks to unite people across the UK against the common enemy of prostate cancer.
Paul said, "As Vice Chair of the APPG for Men's health I know how important the fight against prostate cancer is. We all know that early diagnosis is vital to combatting prostate cancer so I will be continuing to focus on raising awareness and encouraging early screenings of prostate cancer."
Paul Uppal MP for Wolverhampton South West has joined the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign's flagship fundraiser, wear it pink day.
The theme of wear it pink this year is to 'look good, do good' in support of breast cancer research. On Friday 24 October people across the country will come together to find fun and stylish ways to wear pink in the office, at home or at school. Donations raised by this year's fashion inspired event will go to Breast Cancer Campaign to fund lifesaving breast cancer research.
Paul Uppal MP says "Every year in the UK around 50,000 women and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease each year. This is why we need to support Breast Cancer Campaign's fundraising efforts to support world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving people quicker diagnoses and more effective treatments. I hope you'll all join me by wearing it pink on Friday 24 October and showing your support for breast cancer research."
Today Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, questioned the Leader of the House, William Hague, over the suspected sale of Barbara Hepworth's bronze "Rock Form". For three months, the major stakeholders in the Mander centre, RBS and Delancey, have refused to deny that they intended to sell the bronze which, in the current market, would probably fetch several million pounds.
Speaking on his intervention Paul said, "Barbara Hepworth's "Rock Form" is not for sale. It belongs to, and should be enjoyed by, the City of Wolverhampton.
"As William Hague commented, many will appreciate Barbara Hepworth's work, as many visitors to the Mander centre have done over the past 46 years. I want to ensure that as many people for years to come can share the same enjoyment I have over the years.
"The Leader of the House suggested that it is possible to protect such sculptures through statutory listing and I will be speaking with Ministers from DCMS over the coming weeks to see what help they can offer to ensure that this much treasured icon stays in Wolverhampton."
On Monday, Paul paid a visit to the former Springfield Brewery Site in Wolverhampton, where the University of Wolverhampton has unveiled plans to build a multi-million pound new hub for construction education.
The twelve acre brownfield site, which has been vacant since 1991 after the closure of Springfield Brewery, will become the new home of the West Midlands Construction University Technical College (UTC), and the University will also be relocating its School of Architecture and the Built Environment to the new site from the City Campus.
The purchase was made possible with support from the government funded Education Funding Agency which provides funding for education of children and young people.
The UTC will educate 14-19 year olds specialising in construction and the application of IT in the built environment, as well as preparing them for professional and technical careers in construction. It will be led by the Construction Industry Training Board and will open in a temporary base in 2015, before moving to the Springfield site in 2016.
Paul said, "These plans for the new University Technical College are very exciting and mark a new chapter in the University's story. This site has been derelict for a long time and I'm pleased that it will finally be developed and provide youngsters with the training they need for construction careers. I am glad that the Education Funding Agency is able to provide support to such worthy causes."
Paul competed in the Carver Wolverhampton Marathon on Sunday, raising money for several local charities in the process. The chosen charities for 2014 were the Compton Hospice, the West Park Stroke Cycle Group, Broadmeadow Special School and the Mayoral Charity Fund.
Having got on his bike to take part in the cycle race in previous years, this year's Wolverhampton Marathon saw Paul competing in the Bank's 10k run where he crossed the finish line in just under 53 minutes. Over 2,000 competitors took part in this year's event, which also includes a full and half marathon, and a mini marathon for children.
Paul said, "The Wolverhampton Marathon is always a great day for our city, bringing people and families together and invoking a healthy, competitive spirit. But most importantly it raises money for charities in our city who do much to help others. I have seen the work that Compton Hospice do first hand on a number of occasions, and I am pleased that from this year they will become a permanent beneficiary of the Wolverhampton Marathon."
"I would also like to thank everyone who makes this day possible, including the Police, stewards, Council officials, and the sponsors of the Marathon," added Paul. "They do a tremendous job each year and without them this event would not go ahead."
Paul Uppal has welcomed new figures which show the Government's Start-Up Loans scheme has so far supported 48 people in Wolverhampton South West with the ideas and determination to start a new business with £232 434 of loans to help them get going.
This is helping create jobs in Wolverhampton at new businesses like Jacob's Jams.
Across the UK more than 20,000 Start-Up loans, worth over £100 million, have been awarded to help new businesses get going.
Paul Uppal said: "This is great news. It shows the Start-Up Loans scheme is giving people in Wolverhampton South West with the ideas and determination to start a new business and the finance they need to kick-start and grow it.
"So far 48 loans, worth a total of £232 434, have been made in Wolverhampton South West to help people put their business idea into practice, supporting new businesses like Jacob's Jams. This means more jobs and opportunities for local people.
"The Conservatives' aim is to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. This is all part of our long-term economic plan. By backing businesses to create more jobs, it is ensuring that more people in Wolverhampton South West can have the security and stability of a regular pay packet, with a brighter future ahead of them."
Following a letter to Baroness Thornton, Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has received clarification that Labour will not undo work the Government has undertaken to protect Turban wearing Sikhs.
Speaking about these assurances Paul said, "I am pleased that following my letter to Labour's Shadow Equalities Minister within the House of Lords, Baroness Thornton has now assured me that these two amendments will be withdrawn after the debate and not voted upon.
"As the law currently stands, turban-wearing Sikhs are exempt from wearing head protection in the most hazardous industry, construction, but may be required to wear it in less hazardous workplaces. This has led to conflict in the workplace with cases commonly ending up in Employment Tribunals. We as a Government took action to end this and I am glad the Labour party in Lords will now not seek to reverse it.
"It is important that we restore common sense to health and safety. The Health and Safety Executive will now be carrying out a short consultation on the proposed amendment so this can be introduced as quickly as possible."
Further to a letter to the Home Secretary, Paul today met with Theresa May to discuss the 35 Sikh asylum seekers who were discovered in a container at Tilbury Docks. Three British men have now been arrested due to their involvement in the arrangement and movement of the container. They have been charged and remanded in custody to appear at court in November - the investigation is continuing into possible manslaughter charges and links to serious organised crime.
Speaking about these developments Paul said, "I thank the Home Secretary for meeting me with me today and her continued interest in the case.
"It is shocking that if the asylum seekers had remained in the container for another two hours the fatalities would have been much higher and could have included all 35. All individuals are now in the process of claiming asylum in the UK and we are providing accommodation and support to those who require it while their cases are considered.
"I am glad the Government and Essex Police have dealt swiftly with this incident, with Immigration officials travelling to Belgium in order to arrange a joint investigation with the Belgian police. One thing that is reassuring is that from current enquiries there is no current evidence to support offences of modern day slavery or exploitation."
After the Prime Minister's statement and my question yesterday I would like to share my thoughts on this important and defining issue for Britian.
In light of the worrying fact that British men are fighting abroad for ISIS, it is crucial that we reopen the debate about how we define British values, especially for those of us with a duel heritage. We must recognise our cultural history and values and embrace our own unique British identity. To be British is not dependent upon race but an assortment of values and characteristics that makes us the nation we are.
Every one of us faces the difficult task at some point in our lives of defining ourselves; with a dual identity this is sometimes harder as we are torn between our cultural past and our future in Britain. Although we may possess different traditions and customs we have more in common than this apparent dichotomy suggests. What binds us is a desire for a prosperous and secure future, if not for ourselves then for our children and grandchildren. All of us are conscious of the fact that, like everyone else, we wish to be valued, special to our nearest and dearest and warmed by a sense of belonging. It is this journey which shapes our sense of belonging, unifying our streets, building strong communities.
I was born in Birmingham to migrants from East Africa. Like many second generation immigrants from Kenya and Uganda, I'm struck by the passionate patriotism expressed by my parents, similar to many Asian Africans from the 1960s. Faced with the fact that they were not only homeless but stateless too, the fact Britain kindly took us in is something that is deep rooted within the Asian African psyche.
The passionate patriotism my parent's had for Britain was far removed from the attitude of my peers. Routinely I was told on my journey to school that I should go home. It soon dawned on me that "home" referred to the Indian Subcontinent and not the terraced house a few yards down the road. Equally perplexing was the accusation that the lifestyle I was leading was essentially foreign and alien despite the fact it embraced many British values. Even against this backdrop of rejection, I've learnt to take the best of both worlds defining myself as British first and foremost but intertwined with traditional Indian values.
And it is this point which is so often lost on politicians - second and third generation migrants learn to live with a dual heritage, quite comfortably in fact. Politicians cannot control the individual choices of young Britons, it is our community leaders and families which are key in this process. They become stewards, ensuring that their own cultural history and values find a place within modern Britain. Through this process we continue our proud tradition of strengthening ties with differing cultures around the globe, inevitably enriching British society.
This may sound like a simplistic and wishful solution to combat those who preach and encourage hatred, but it will not be robust policing nor the intelligence services alone that prevents the radicalisation of British men and women. Alone, the security services can only deal with the present threat and are unable to stop the conveyor belt of radicalisation which is capturing many young minds. They cannot tackle the underlying problem of why people are initially turning towards, and are receptive to, a contrary way of thinking - to attempt to do so would push them even further away.
To stop this cycle of radicalisation the message must come from within their own community. We must support these stewards by stressing a sense of being British which comfortably sits with an Immigrant's cultural background - It is what my parents did for me. Only through this can we hope to deter young British men, who feel alien in Britain, from taking up arms abroad. In doing this they are not only rejecting their British identity but the values and principles that we defend. Instead of a clash of cultures we need to demonstrate that we can live together, challenging the perceived notion that radical causes are more appealing. It is only Britain that can offer them the bright future they are striving for, not these extremist organisations.
In the style of the famous TV show, today Paul was a dragon for the afternoon as part of the National Citizens Service and Challenge Network's Dragon's Den event held at the University of Wolverhampton.
The Challenge Network is a charity which aims to build a more integrated society by running youth and community programmes inclusive of people across all ages and walks of life. Working with the National Citizen's Service they aim to help young people build skills for employment and transition into adulthood.
After three weeks of learning about themselves, each other and their communities, five teams of young people aged 15-17 formulated campaigns which would serve to benefit their neighborhood. Paul, alongside other invited dragons then made decisions on how much money to award the teams so that they could deliver their project. These funds had been allocated by the charity for the event.
Paul was thoroughly impressed by the topics covered by the teams which included attitudes towards fostering and mental health; he was also impressed by the quality of the presentations and the professional manner in which they given.
Speaking about the day Paul said "given the complexity of the issues which were raised I thought every team's pitch was worth the full amount of funding.
Those who participated demonstrated part of what it means to be a model citizen. The skills that they used today will be useful in whatever they choose to do with their adult lives."
Paul paid a visit to Asda on Molineux Way today, to meet customers on the Asda Mumdex panel and speak about issues of concern to them.
As well as meeting Asda's Public Affairs Executive and the store's Community Life Champion Liz Richardson, Paul met with nine customers and discussed various issues including the cost of living, utility bills, food banks and social housing, and was able to offer advice from personal experiences.
The Asda Mumdex has over 11,500 participants nationally and has been established to ascertain views on political engagement, voting intentions and opinions on key issues of the day.
"I think the Asda Mumdex is a great way of engaging with the public and keeping in touch with what matters to the public", said Paul after his visit. "My visit to the Wolverhampton store today was very informative and I welcomed the opportunity to hear people's thoughts and offer help where possible."
PHOTO: Paul with Community Life Champion Liz Richardson (fourth from right) and Asda customers (l-r): Marjorie, Kamika, Anthony, Jermaine, Eileen, Lisa and Helen
It is saddening that it has taken this tragic case to highlight the plight of Sikhs living in Afghanistan. Religious persecution and harassment has forced many Sikhs to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. It is these conditions, which are deeply distressing to the Sikh, community that led this group to take the drastic action they did. We cannot change what has happened, but we can help this vulnerable group overcome the trauma they have experienced.
Firstly, there is a pressing need to provide support and counselling to the group, including the thirteen children aged between two and twelve. I cannot begin to imagine the horrors they have witnessed and the ordeal they have been through. Secondly we must investigate the claims that this group we "trafficked" into Britain and who was responsible for their arrival in this container.
I am glad that officers here in the UK are working with Interpol, and other international authorities, to establish the facts of this distressing case. It is crucial that we ensure that this group are treated respectfully, considering their ordeal, whilst they speak to police and the UK Border Force. It is important that this saga is concluded as soon as possible to avoid any further stresses on these families.
Paul visited Life's charity store on Lichfield Street in the City Centre today, giving him an opportunity to tour the shop and learn more about the charity's work.
Life was established over 40 years ago and provides support to clients on a variety of issues, including pregnancy, abortion, housing, education and fertility care. The Wolverhampton shop also has a care centre for free pregnancy counselling which provides practical and emotional support to women and families in difficulty. The shop is run by volunteers, including the long-term unemployed who gain important skills and experience, and stocks, clothes, music, books, toys and bric-a-brac, amongst other items.
Paul said, "The Life charity is making a big impact in many people's lives, and I'm sure that many women in families in Wolverhampton can benefit from the free help provided in the care centre. I would encourage anyone who is facing a desperate situation at the moment to get in touch with the Life care centre".
Further information for the care centre is available on 01902 420083, and for the shop on 01902 420656. You can also visit Life's website at www.lifecharity.org.uk/caring
PHOTO: Paul with Store Manager Kathryn Wood (r) and volunteers (l-r) Angela, Becky and Sam
Paul visited the new Sainsbury's supermarket on Raglan Street today and was given a guided tour by Store Manager Paul Percox.
The £60m store covers 72,000 sq ft and has created 450 new jobs, with 192 being transferred from the old Sainsbury's store in St George's Parade. It boasts 700 parking spaces, a petrol station, an in-store café, recycling centre and gym, as well as an English & Maths Tuition Centre for youngsters. It is the second biggest Sainsbury's store in the Midlands.
Plans to build a new Sainsbury's store were first discussed as early as 2000, and despite a series of legal complications, construction work finally began last year and the store was officially opened last month by Merridale Primary School pupil Madison Rose Hawley, aged 10.
Paul said, "I am very pleased that after years of talking and planning, the new Sainsbury's store has finally been completed and opened to the public. It is a very impressive facility and I'm sure that many customers from across the city will enjoy coming here to do their shopping and making use of the other facilities available."
PHOTO: Paul in the fresh fruit aisle with Store Manager Paul Percox
Paul paid a visit to the British Heart Foundation's Furniture & Electrical Store today to meet with the store's staff and volunteers.
The Victoria Street store stocks unwanted household goods such as sofas, beds, dining tables, wardrobes and TV's, with all profits going in to the charity's fight against heart disease. The British Heart Foundation now has over 700 stores nationally, which last year raised over £31million for the cause.
Paul said: "It was great to pop in and meet the dedicated members of staff and volunteers that work at the Wolverhampton Furniture & Electrical store. The BHF is such a fantastic cause and the work they do is vital in the fight against heart disease.
"I'd urge locals to have a root around and donate any unwanted items to the store or give the gift of time by volunteering."
Further information on the work of the British Heart Foundation is available at www.bhf.org.uk
PHOTO: Paul with Store Manager Viv Harris and Sales Assistant Amanda Bennett
Paul visited Macmillan Cancer Support's mobile unit today as it parked up in Queen's Square ahead of a weekend in Wolverhampton.
Offering free, confidential advice and support to local passers-by, Macmillan's mobile information service reaches out to local communities and those affected by cancer. An estimated 1,243 people in Wolverhampton are diagnosed with cancer each year and often require medical, practical, emotional or financial support.
"I am very pleased that the Macmillan bus is in Wolverhampton this weekend" said Paul, who spoke with the charity's representatives about the work they are doing for the community. "Cancer affects many people and everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with it. However I am pleased that treatment for cancer patients in Wolverhampton is improving, and I know that many people also benefit from the support Macmillan provides."
Helen Kennedy, lead Macmillan Information and Support Specialist for the unit said, "We were delighted that Paul came along to support us, and showed how passionate he is about ensuring people affected by cancer get the best treatment, care and support possible".
Anyone who feels that they can benefit from the assistance Macmillan offers can visit their website at www.macmillan.org.uk or call free on 0808 808 00 00.
Paul paid a visit to the Tesco Metro store in the Mander Centre today to welcome Tesco's fourth National Food Collection.
Running from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th July, all Tesco stores across the country now participate in the Collection which was launched in December 2012. In the last two years, 10.3 million meals have been donated to FareShare and the Trusell Trust who help feed people in need across the country. Tesco's collection last December, with 4.3 million meals donated, was the largest national food collection ever.
In addition to the National Collection schemes, Tesco also donate surplus food from online and fresh distribution centres to FareShare, which provides over seven million meals of surplus food per year to over 1,000 charities. 350 of Tesco's stores now have permanent collection points where food can be donated all year round.
"I was pleased to visit the National Food Collection today and congratulate Tesco on their success in this scheme" said Paul. "The large amount of donations received since Tesco initiated this scheme shows a strong sense of generosity and community spirit. I know that these donations will be very welcome to those faced with financial difficulties."
PHOTO: Paul with Tesco staff member Adam Sutton Jones (l), collecting donations, and Store Manager Terry Leary (r)
Paul paid a visit to the University of Wolverhampton today to show his support for annual Science Festival.
Running from Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th July, SciFest encourages more children to become involved in science and engineering based activities, with A-level students, GCSE and Primary School children attending sessions across the City campus and talking to staff and students from the University. On Saturday, SciFest rounds off with a community day open to the public to experience scientific activities.
Paul met local school children on his visit today, participating in various activities such as finding forensic material, cracking codes and building their own video game controller.
"SciFest is a great way of getting youngsters engaged in science and engineering" said Paul. "I hope that the children and students attending this week will study hard in maths and science, and use SciFest as a springboard to launch successful careers in the future."
Paul attended the Armed Forces Commemorations today to pay tribute to serving troops, veterans, cadets and their families.
Joining with local dignitaries and members of the public, Paul watched the forces parade through the City Centre before attending an outdoor drumhead service in St Peter's Square. The parade took in Wulfruna Street, Princes Square, Lichfield Street, Queen Square and Exchange Street, led by the Pipe band of the West Midlands Fire service.
"Our forces to an incredible job and give us a lot to be proud of" said Paul. "Armed Forces Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the courage, bravery and sacrifice of those who defend our country, and protect freedoms we often take for granted."
Paul visited Sunrise Senior Living of Tettenhall and Aldergrove Manor Care Home today to celebrate National Care Home Open Day 2014.
Taking a tour of both care homes, Paul had the opportunity to speak with management, staff and residents, and discover more about the services on offer. Paul toured Sunrise Senior Living, on Wergs Road, with Director of Community Relations Carrie Jahn, and learned about the nursing, residential and dementia care on offer. He also spoke with residents at Sunrise, including Bert Hazell who celebrated his 100th Birthday in January.
Aldergrove Manor Care Home, on Penn Road, is one of 234 care homes managed by HC One, and also offers dementia and nursing care, as well as respite and palliative care and a unit for young disabled people. Paul toured with manager Ann Norris and saw preparations for the "beach party" that Aldergrove was throwing to mark National Care Home Open Day.
"This day is a reminder of the great care facilities we have both locally and nationally, and a day to appreciate the many dedicated carers who work hard to improve the lives of those with mental and physical disabilities" said Paul. "In Sunrise Senior Living and Aldergrove Manor we have two great facilities offering a great level of care."
Further information on National Care Home Open Day is available at http://www.nationalcarehomeopenday.org.uk/
PHOTOS: (Above, right) Paul with Aldergrove Manor Care Home Manager Ann Norris and resident Bertha (Above, left) Paul at Sunrise Senior Living of Tettenhall with resident and centurion Bert Hazell
Paul has welcomed figures showing that the Conservatives are delivering new affordable homes and helping hardworking people to get on the housing ladder in Wolverhampton.
In Wolverhampton 510 new affordable homes have been delivered since 2010 and 182 people have been able to buy their own home thanks to Help to Buy, giving more families the opportunity to move into a good quality, affordable home and plan for their future.
Nearly 200,000 new affordable homes have now been delivered across the country since 2010 while Help to Buy has enabled over 27,000 people to buy their own home and, thanks to the Conservative's long-term economic plan, Britain is now building more homes than at any time since 2007.
Paul said: 'Labour cut the number of social homes to rent and their Great Recession led to a collapse in house building meaning thousands of families could not find a home they could afford.
'That's why the Conservatives, as part of our long-term economic plan, took action to get Britain building again and launched
Help to Buy so more people could get on the housing ladder. Thanks to these policies, 510 new affordable homes have now been delivered and 182 people have been able to buy their own home in Wolverhampton.
'Our long-term economic plan is helping people to find a good quality, affordable home where they can raise a family, contribute to their communities and enjoy greater financial security.'
Paul paid a visit to Aldersley Leisure Village today to see children from across the city take part in the 'Inspire Great School Run'.
Organised by the Wolverhampton Local Education Partnership, the Great School Run involved 750 primary and special school children and 200 secondary school Young Leaders from schools across the city. Amongst the activities taken part in were Hockey, Table Tennis, Frisbee and Ball handling as well as the mile-long Great School Run itself.
"I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Inspire Great School Run today" said Paul, who also had the opportunity to see the League One Trophy won by Wolves last month. "It is great to see children keeping fit and active, but also having fun in the process. I hope that the Trophy being here today will inspire these children to continue with sport and develop their talents."
Paul today welcomed the thirtieth anniversary of Volunteer's Week, an annual event beginning in 1984 to mark the contribution that volunteer's make to charities and other organisations.
The Office for National Statistics have estimated the value of volunteering in the UK at £23.9bn, with an estimated fifteen million people volunteering every month. In Paul's Wolverhampton South West constituency there are 173 organisations that rely on the dedication, energy and commitment of their volunteers to support their beneficiaries.
Paul said, "I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Volunteers' Week on its thirtieth anniversary, and pay tribute to the many volunteers across Wolverhampton who give their time and resources for little in reward. Having spent time volunteering myself I know how satisfying and rewarding it feels to give something back to society.
2014 is Paul's 'Year of Volunteering', that has so far seen him serving at a food bank in the city centre, helping at Compton Hospice, and cleaning up with local residents in Whitmore Reans. Next month he will be visiting the British Heart Foundation's store in Victoria Street to spend a morning working alongside volunteers.
Further information on Volunteer's Week, including local events taking place this week, can be found at http://volunteersweek.org/events
Paul visited McDonald's Restaurant on the Stafford Road today to meet with Franchise Owner Abdul Sirkhot and discuss job creation at restaurants in Wolverhampton.
The local franchise employs 950 staff across the West Midlands, including 160 people at the two branches in Paul's Wolverhampton South West constituency. This year, as McDonald's celebrates its 40th anniversary, Abdul's franchise hope to create an extra 100 jobs, as employees can benefit from part time flexible working and the opportunity to gain further educational qualifications.
In Wolverhampton South West McDonald's have two locations, on the Penn Road and in the City Centre on Dudley Street. The latter has recently gone through a £400,000 renovation and includes self service machines to reduce the times spent waiting in queues.
Paul said, "I was very pleased to hear of the progress that McDonald's is making, and I welcome the job opportunities that are being created in both branches in my constituency. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate McDonald's on reaching 40 years in Britain and send them my best wishes."
Paul joined the Mayor of Wolverhampton, trustees from local Sikh temples, and Wolverhampton Cricket Club vice-chairman Philip Court today for the presentation of cheques to help the Cricket Club revamp parking facilities.
Wolverhampton Cricket Club, in Danescourt Road, Tettenhall, is the oldest sports club in the city and has over a dozen senior and junior teams playing every Saturday. Its new clubhouse was opened in 2007 but recently the club have experienced difficulties with the car park such as potholes and uneven surfaces, restricting its use by the local community.
However, Paul has brought together local Sikh Temples as well as Wolverhampton City Council to raise part of the funding required for a new car park, which will help strengthen long-term ties between the Cricket Club and local Sikhs.
Paul said, "I am delighted that the Cricket Club is receiving these donations today, and I hope that when the new car park is completed it will match the impressive facilities already available in the clubhouse. Today has shown the local community pulling together to help a historic local institution and I think everyone involved should be commended for their efforts."
Paul has written to NHS Property Services today on behalf of local residents, who have been told they can no longer park on the Lower Green Health Centre car park when it is not in use.
Residents in Lower Street have been using the car park for over 40 years with the surgery's permission, but the NHS have now installed gates which will be locked at night, due to 'anti-social behaviour issues'. This means that many local residents, as well as worshippers at St Michael and All Angels Church face being left with nowhere to park.
"A common sense approach needs to be taken" said Paul, who recently went to meet residents at the car park and hear their concerns. "The residents had always used this car park without any problems before. If it isn't broken, why fix it?"
Any residents in Lower Street who have concerns over this issue and would like to speak with Paul can call the Constituency Office on 01902 712134 or e-mail email@example.com
PHOTO: Paul alongside campaigner Kate Thomas and other local residents at Lower Street Health Centre car park
Paul paid a visit today to Beatsabar, a music project based at Newhampton Arts Centre in Whitmore Reans, to see the facilities on offer to young people wishing to make their own music.
Beatsabar, which was previously based in Bilston, is the brainchild of local entrepreneur John Paul who is looking to provide more opportunities for young people in the city by offering them the chance to learn new skills and put their musical or technical talents into practise. The new centre boasts two rehearsal rooms sound proofed and acoustically treated to the highest standards, as well as a large vocal room and two talented engineers to help with production.
"I was very impressed with the great facilities and services that Beatsabar are providing", said Paul after his visit. "This is a very welcome project for our city, offering young people a great opportunity to develop their skills and talents. I wish Beatsabar every success in unlocking the musical potential in the city."
Further information on Beatsabar, including prices for hiring studios, is available at http://www.beatsabarmusicproject.co.uk/
Today Paul visited Christians Against Poverty's Wolverhampton Debt Centre which is run in partnership with LifeSpring Church in Chapel Ash.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) are an award winning national charity which work across its 252 centres in the United Kingdom to lift people out of debt and poverty. Representatives from CAP visit clients in their homes, work out fair budgets, negotiate with creditors and can take people through insolvency procedures, while offering a holistic and personal approach.
They will help anyone who is in financial trouble; regardless of their faith or religion. Their service is completely free and they are well respected within the finance industry.
Dianne Kruczek, Centre Manager at the Wolverhampton Debt Centre said "We empower people to work themselves out of debt by giving budgeting advice, contacting creditors and providing a CAP Account. Using these tools, along with readily available support, we see many people transform their finances and become debt free."
Paul said of his visit "I was impressed today not only to hear of the work that Christians Against Poverty do nationally, but also that which they do in Wolverhampton. Debt can often be an issue which many people wish to ignore , regardless of how much of a burden it is putting on their lives, the sooner they phone an organisation like this, the sooner they can start working towards being debt free."
You can contact CAP by phoning 0800 328 0006, alternatively you can find more information on their website www.capuk.org
Photo: Paul with Dianne Kruczek, Centre Manager at the Wolverhampton Debt Centre
Over the past few months, it has become clear to Paul that in the Dunstall and Whitmore Reans areas of the city, one issue which residents have said that they are particularly concerned about is the presence of large amounts of litter on the streets, by shops, and on green spaces.
As part of his 'year of volunteering', Paul met local campaigner and council candidate in St. Peter's, Ajaz Ali and other volunteers in Glentworth Gardens, and cleaned up the area outside the local shops to create a more pleasant environment for businesses and shoppers before tackling the surrounding residential areas.
Speaking during Saturday's clean up, Paul said "It is extremely important as an MP to listen to the concerns of my constituents; it is even more important that I take action where I can. By organising the clean up today we did just that; it is the first of many practical steps that I will be taking in order to ensure that Wolverhampton South West remains a great place to live, work and play.
One thing that has struck me already is the generosity of local people to lend a hand to improve where they live and work. I will be travelling around the city, lending a hand where I can, and hope to see even more volunteers pitching in. If there are residents across Wolverhampton South West co
ncerned about where they live, please speak to me and I will see If I can get my team there."
Today Paul opened the Wolverhampton branch of the Association for Shared Parenting (ASP) at the Friends Meeting House in the Park Ward.
The Charity promotes the right of children to the love and nurture of both parents after separation or divorce and to encourage and support parents in the fulfilment of that right. The new branch joins others in Birmingham, Stratford upon Avon, Coventry and Leicester.
The Chair of ASP, Vrinder Saluja, commented "it is important for children to have a balanced upbringing by receiving the love and nurture from both of their parents and all their wider families when appropriate following separation or divorce".
ASP trustee and policy officer, John Baker, commented that "ASP is at the forefront of lobbying Parliament for changes in legislation that encourage shared parenting". He went on to say "ASP, as a charity, has its first aim trying to ensure that children of separated parents have a full and free relationship with both parents, but also lobbies for changing the legal and social attitudes, so that children are not denied a right to see both parents if there is good reason for it."
After the opening Paul said "I am pleased that I can refer my constituents facing the difficulties of child arrangements arising after separation to ASP; their years of experience of helping parents and children will be most welcome in Wolverhampton".
Support workshops will be now be taking place at the Friend's Meeting House on the first Tuesday of each month between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.
Further information can be found at www.sharedparenting.org.uk
Photo from left to right: Natasha Bardwaj (Miles Pierce Solicitors), Paul Uppal MP, Nilay Shastry (Miles Pirece Solicitors), Lall Singh (ASP Trustee).
Paul paid a visit to Whitmore Reans today to see for himself the problems that local residents are facing with fly tipping and uncollected rubbish around Coleman Street, Hunter Street and Newhampton Road West.
"After being contacted by a local resident to who raised concerns with me, I wanted to come and see the situation for myself", said Paul. "I was shocked to see so much rubbish lying around and I am concerned for the environmental health impact on local residents and the unsightly secenes they have to put up with."
Paul will be writing to Wolverhampton City Council to ensure that the area is kept in a clean condition and that strong action is taken against those found guilty of fly tipping.
Paul spent a morning with the Wolverhampton West District Scouts today, as they were challenged to create a two-course meal for four people with only £10 to spend. Scouts aged between 10 and 14 from Bilbrook, Codsall, Perton and Tettenhall came together for their first District Cooking Competition, held at their Scout Headquaters in Compton.
Despite tough competition, Paul chose Tom, Quinn, Ben and Joe from 1st Bilbrook Codsall for their meal of Cashew Chicken Stir-fry and Apple Crepes. "The quuality and variety of meals produced was outstanding and the winning team was inventive in how they spent their budget" said Paul. "The skills the Scouts are learning today will stand them in good stead for the future."
Sara Lambert, lead volunteer for the District said, "Under time pressure, the Scouts did really well, showing they could stay calm and focused whilst working as a team. The Scouts are already thinking about next year's competition and they would like the challenge to cook one of the courses on an open fire".
The Scout Association was founded in 1907 and currently offers over 200 activities, with over 400,000 members and 100,000 adult volunteers. If you would like to find out more about the Scouts, visit www.scout.org.uk
PHOTOS: Paul helps a young Scout with his cooking (left) and congratulates the winning team: Joe, Tom, Ben and Quin from 1st Bilbrook Codsall (above)
Paul visited David Wilson Homes' Woodthorne development on Wergs Road, Tettenhall, where local jobs have been created to provide new homes in Wolverhampton.
Woodthorne , will provide 58 new homes over the coming months, underpinning nearly 120 jobs for local people. This is part of David Wilson Homes' plans to build over 500 new houses in the Midlands in reaction to housing demand.
Speaking after the visit, Paul said "It is great news that new homes are being built in Wolverhampton and that a local workforce is being used to the build them. After visiting Woodthorne I was impressed that the homes will maintain the atmosphere of the Tettenhall Village."
John Fitzgerald, Managing Director of David Wilson Homes Mercia said:"We are committed to working closely with the local community to ensure they benefit from the new housing as well as job opportunities and were delighted to show Paul our work first hand at the Woodthorne development. "
From Left to Right: Ian Sadler, Operations Director at David Wilson Homes, Paul Uppal MP & John Fitzgerald , Managing Director of David Wilson Homes
Paul spent time volunteering this morning at Compton Hospice, a Wolverhampton based charity which supports patients facing life-limiting illnesses as well as their families.
The Hospice currently works with nearly 600 patients, most of whom live in their own homes, providing medical, psychological, social and spiritual support. Before volunteering with patients at the Hospice's Wood Day Therapy Centre, Paul was given a tour of the facilities and met with members of staff.
Speaking about the morning, Paul said 'The services provided by Compton Hospice are invaluable to patients and their families in Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas during difficult times. It was humbling to spend the morning with such inspirational staff, patients and fellow volunteers.'
Paul met with Wolverhampton City Council Planning Officials today to discuss the City Centre Area Action Plan and the opportunities identified for development in Wolverhampton.
In addition to developments already underway, such as the new Sainsbury's supermarket coming to Raglan Street on Chapel Ash, the Council are also looking at development opportunities in the core shopping area in the City Centre, the Interchange and Commercial Gateway on the Eastern side of the city, and on disused buildings such as the former Eye Infirmary on Compton Road.
Paul said: "A number of areas have been indentified for potential development and the proposals that the Council have drawn up, some of which are already underway, present great opportunities for our city. I hope that Wolverhampton will see more investment, more employment, more retail and recreational space and greater transport links as a result of the Area Action Plan."
Further information on the City Centre AAP is available at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/aap
Paul has welcomed the news that the Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to keeping the £150m a year Primary PE and Sport Premium until 2020. This means that between 2014 and 2020 primary schools in Wolverhampton South West will receive around £1,448,840. This is part of the Government's long-term economic plan, will secure the Olympic and Paralympic legacy, and will help to deliver the best schools for young people.
Primary schools around England are already using the premium to get children doing more sport. Schools are using the money for a wide range of activities including hiring extra professional coaches and PE specialist teachers, purchasing new equipment, offering more after-school clubs and delivering holiday and weekend activities.
Paul commented: "Under the last Labour government there were thousands of schools where no pupils at all took part in competitive sport. It is great news for young people in Wolverhampton that this Government has committed £150 million a year to securing the Olympic and Paralympic legacy in our Primary Schools.
This is part of our long-term plan to create an education system that gives young people who want to work hard the skills they need to get on in life and have a more secure and better future.'
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Sport is so important because it encourages children to be active, lead a healthy
lifestyle, make friends and, of course, have fun. But quality school sport has benefits that spread right across the curriculum and beyond – it develops confidence and a sense of achievement, it teaches young people how to rise to a challenge, and nurtures the character and skills that will help them get on and succeed in life.
"It's an important part of our long-term plan to deliver the best schools and skills for young people. That is why I am committing to guarantee the primary school sports funding until 2020."
Paul met Cancer Research UK scientists at the University of Birmingham College of Medical and Dental Sciences today to learn about the charity's pioneering research.
During the visit alongside other West Midlands MPs he witnessed first-hand the groundbreaking research being carried out by scientists and doctors across the region. Birmingham is home to the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit which plays a leading role in coordinating larger UK clinical trials for both children and adults with cancer. These trials make innovative new treatments available to patients with cancer, giving them the chance to benefit from the latest scientific discoveries.
Paul said: "This was a great opportunity to hear about some of the fantastic work Cancer Research UK is funding locally. Research is cancer's number one enemy and this visit highlighted just why it is so important to support the vital research which could make a significant difference to thousands of people affected by cancer in the West Midlands each year."
Professor Pam Kearns, Director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, and host for the visit, said: "I was really pleased to welcome Paul to the University of Birmingham and show how our researchers and clinicians are working together to help beat cancer sooner. The work of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit is vital in developing effective treatments for patient across the West Midlands and beyond.
To find out more about how to support Cancer Research UK please visit: cruk.org
Paul accompanied the Cities Minister Greg Clark MP on a visit to Wolverhampton today, as he signed the Government's City Deal for the Black Country at the Carillion Offices in Birch Street.
The Government announced the latest winners of the City Deal last December, and the successful Black Country bid will see around £130 million of private investment brought to the region. 5,800 new manufacturing jobs will be created in the next four years, along with 1,500 apprenticeships in high value manufacturing. A new Black Country Investment Fund has been created to help develop key industrial sites, and there will also be a programme to work with 2,800 long term unemployed social housing tenants in the area.
This programme aims to put at least 900 tenants into employment, reducing the welfare cost by £1.1 million and increasing wages by £19 million.
"I am delighted that the Black Country was successful in the second round of the City Deal, and I welcome the extra investment and employment opportunities it will bring to business in the Black Country", said Paul. "I was pleased that the Minister chose Wolverhampton as his location to sign he deal, and I hope that the local economy will continue to grow as a result of these measures", he added.
Further information on what the City Deal will bring to the Black Country is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/city-deal-black-country
Paul payed a visit to the Express & Star Offices in Queen Street today to present certificates the team members who participated in the Curry Capital of Britain competition.
Paul has been a long-standing supporter of the city's Curry Capital bid since coming to office in 2010, which has been placed third for the fourth consecutive year. The Express & Star sponsored the 2013 submission, helping WV One submit the portfolio in the format of the daily newspaper, which the judges named as the best submission. Representatives from each of the 5 restaurants which formed the 2013 Team attended the presentation.
Marianne Carter, Marketing Officer for WV One, said: "We are very proud of Wolverhampton coming third against Bradford and Glasgow, which are cities with much larger populations and numbers of restaurants. The restaurants that represented the city last year all worked extremely hard to ensure that standards were kept high."
The Bilash was also presented with the Customer Restaurant of the Year Award for being the restaurant that received the most public votes throughout the whole country in the 2013 competition.
The 2014 competition will commence in April, with members of the public voting for their favourite restaurants to represent their respective cities. The winning city will be announced during National Curry Week (13-19 October), and Paul is hoping it will be Wolverhampton's turn this year to be named Curry Capital of Britain.
"Wolverhampton has many great curry houses and I congratulate everyone involved in last year's submission on another successful finish", he said. "Hopefully 2014 will finally be the year when Wolverhampton come out on top."
PHOTO (l-r): Syed Shah of Jivans in Broad Street; Mohammed Islam of Ranga Mati in
Wednesfield; Paul ; Adam Pettitt, Brand Designer at MNA; Abdul Jalil of the Royal Gulshan
Paul made a whistle stop tour of the city centre today to show his support for each of the Portas Pilot Idea2Reality winners.
Karolina Cummings and Kamilla Adamczyk of Kabanos Polish delicatessen told Paul that business was growing day by day due to word of mouth recommendations. Touring the shop in Cleveland Street, he saw the full range of fresh and packaged goods and learned about proposals to start selling specialist Polish spirits and beers.
Richard Brown of Hungry Bistro on the corner of Lichfield Street and Fryer Street had a chat with Paul, telling him that business was doing better than expected in January, driven by theatre goers looking for a quick and tasty supper as well as a growing lunchtime trade. Paul had previously put Richard in touch with the National Apprenticeship Scheme and was delighted to learn that Richard had recently taken on an apprentice chef.
In the Mander Centre Paul met up with Lee Savory in Corpse Clothing, whose shop provides a wide range of music, film and TV merchandise which is not available elsewhere and also provides opportunities for young people through work experience. Corpse Clothing was the first Idea2Reality winner to open and after six months of support from the competition Lee is looking forward to moving within the Mander Centre to a unit with better footfall.
Last stop of the day was the Fish Stall in Worcester Street where Paul met Oscar Campbell who started trading just before Christmas. Oscar explained that he would be developing his marketing strategy to bring in more customers and expand his wholesale trade. He already supplies The Hungry Bistro and is looking to work with more independent traders as well as continuing to develop the Fish Stall meals serving fish, chicken and meat dishes, patties, and samosas.
Paul said '"I was delighted to tour the city centre this morning, and to see so many thriving small businesses in such a short space of time. I congratulate the entrepreneurs that have been successful in the scheme and I hope that each one has a bright and prosperous future."
ABOVE: Paul with Karolina Cummings and Kamilla Adamczyk of Kabanos Polish delicatessen
LEFT: Paul with Oscar Campbell at the Fish Stall in Worcester Street
Paul visited Wolverhampton based OCNWMR today to meet with CEO Christine Assheton and the Senior Management Team and learn more about the education and training opportunities available through OCNWMR qualifications.
OCNWMR are a local Awarding Organisation, and have developed over 500 new qualifications in the last 12 months to respond quickly to increased regional demand. Recent developments have included a range of work preparation qualifications for; building and construction, engineering, business and administration, and health and social care. The organisation was founded 31 years ago, and has been awarding its own qualifications since 2011. OCNWMR qualifications are used by numerous bodies including schools, colleges, universities, training providers, employers and community and voluntary organisations.
"OCNWMR have made great advances over the last few years and I congratulate them on their success" said Paul. "As our economy grows it is important that we equip learners with the right skills they need, particularly in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Having the new JLR plant on our doorstep opens up many opportunities. I hope that many other businesses will come to Wolverhampton and be able to work with OCNWMR so that we can continue to reduce unemployment and create thriving workforces in our city."
CEO Christine Assheton said; "We provide a high quality and responsive accreditation service that promotes widening participation, social inclusion and lifelong learning for all. We support flexible, responsive and quality assured learning opportunities in a wide range of contexts, including in the classroom, at work, in the community, and through distance and e-learning and we are very grateful for the time and interest in this important area of work shown to us by Paul."
Paul hosted a meeting tonight between local businesses in the Claregate area, Tettenhall Regis councillors, and representatives from the National Grid to ensure that businesses which have been adversely affected by the road works in the area would be treated fairly.
National Grid contractors Balfour Beatty have been carrying out gas works on the Codsall Road intermittently since last summer, with an initial date of completion set for September 2013. However, complications and local authority restrictions meant that the works had to be put on hold, causing frustration to local businesses and motorists. Businesses in the area have witnessed a fall in trade during the time of the works, as motorists have avoided the area due to congestion and tailbacks caused by the traffic control mechanisms.
Initially, businesses faced disappointment as it was thought that compensation would only be awarded for the time period of
the initial works up until September last year. However, after reconsideration, the National Grid has agreed to compensate businesses for any loss of profit over the full period of the works, now expected to come to an end on March 21st. Local traders have also been assured that they will receive weekly visits and updates from a National Grid customer liaison officer.
Paul said 'Although the ongoing works are essential, I wanted to do all that I could to ensure that local businesses were not losing out. I am very pleased that the National Grid has reconsidered its decision and will now be compensating businesses for profit losses during the full period of the works.
Paul celebrated the launch of a new Wolverhampton Post Office today as he 'cut the ribbon' at the opening ceremony alongside branch owner Hardeep Singh.
Paul said: "I welcomed the news that Wolverhampton Post Office was to move to new modern premises and am delighted to be here today to congratulate Hardeep Singh on his hard work and to formally open the new branch.
He added: "The Post Office is vital to the community in Wolverhampton and I'm sure the new improved office, and the longer opening hours, will be warmly welcomed by all of my constituents."
As part of Post Office plans to modernise the network and extend opening hours for customers, the new Wolverhampton Post Office at Nisa Local Store, 31-49 Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1EG, has a mixture of six traditional screened counter positions and a Post Office serving point at the retail counter - a new concept for delivering Post Office products and services alongside retail transactions during shop opening hours. Post Office customers also benefit from longer opening hours.
Post Office owner Hardeep Singh said: "I was delighted to have the opportunity to open the new branch and I am very pleased to be officially launching it today for the community. I hope our customers like their new Post Office and I'd like to thank Paul Uppal for taking time from his busy schedule to come here today. I'd also like to thank the local community for their continued support and use of the branch."
Richard Lynds, Post Office Senior Stakeholder Manager, said: "We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in Wolverhampton and I am confident that this new modern Post Office will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.
He added, "The modernisation is part of a major investment programme to convert the Post Office network to new-style branches and this investment, the largest in the history of the Post Office, makes a commitment to no more branch closure programmes."
The Post Office, now independent of Royal Mail, is the largest retail network in the UK, with over 11,500 branches. It is also one of the fastest growing financial services companies and is developing its online and telephony services.
Paul has vowed this year his New Year's resolution will be to spend more time volunteering and helping others.
To kick off his "Year of Volunteering" Paul went to the food bank at Darlington Street Methodist Church, ran by charity Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, to spend the afternoon making and handing out food parcels to individuals and families. He also spoke to those who provide the service, finding out more about it and its users.
Speaking about the afternoon Paul said "the service that those at Darlington Street provide is extremely valuable to the local community; I appreciate immensely the work that they do.
"This year I hope to visit many different charities and groups in Wolverhampton South West so that I can gain firsthand experience in meeting those who make a positive difference in Wolverhampton as well as those who depend on the services that they provide. As a Member of Parliament, it is my hope that I can listen to both groups and support them where I can.
I look forward to volunteering next month at Compton Hospice."
Paul visited Walter Smith at the Mander Centre today to congratulate them on being awarded National Apprenticeship Employer of the Year.
The delicatessen and butchers store was founded in 1885, and has been a continual presence at the Mander Centre since it was built. Walter Smith Fine Foods Ltd have branches across the Midlands and the Wolverhampton stores serves some 3,500 customers per week. Last year they were awarded Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards, winning the Medium sized employer category and were the only food business to be recognised in a high profile ceremony at the NEC in Birmingham.
The award, presented to Walter Smith by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, gave recognition to the company's long heritage of training young butchers. Walter Smith have taken on 50 apprentices in the last five years and are working with the Meat Training Council to develop further projects and initiatives in the industry.
"I am delighted that Walter Smith has been honoured for its fantastic commitment to developing young butchers", said Paul, who had the opportunity to meet with current apprentices Nathan Moore and Nathan Hawkes, as well as former apprentice James Wightman who is now manager of the Mander Centre store. "I hope that other businesses in our city and across our region will use the National Apprenticeship Awards as an inspiration to develop and nurture young talent."
Paul also met with the company's HR Director Paul Cadman, who added, "Apprenticeships bring myriad benefits to our business. They become Walter Smith people who know our business and all of our shop managers were once apprentices themselves."
Further information on the National Apprenticeship Awards is available at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/awards/nationalapprenticeshipawards.aspx
As another year draws to a close, with the nights getting longer and the weather getting colder, many Wulfrunians will be busy getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Trees are being decorated, presents are being wrapped, and preparations are being made for the traditional roast turkey dinner. Younger residents in our city will be sending their wish list off to the North Pole, in the hope that they've been good enough for Santa to pay them a visit. As a family man myself, the Christmas season is one I eagerly relish.
The festive season offers many of us the opportunity to relax and recharge, and to think about our aims and ambitions for the forthcoming year. Christmas is an especially poignant time for Christians who will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, and I look forward to singing carols and sharing mince pies with the congregation of All Nations Church when I join them at their service next week.
The end of the year also offers an opportunity to reflect on the past year, and when I look back at 2013 I am pleased that we have seen economic growth, lower unemployment and a reduction in crime. There is still plenty of work to do to get Britain back on track and no one should be getting complacent. In April, I was honoured to receive an invitation from the Prime Minister to join his Policy Board, and I will continue to ensure that fairness, aspiration and reward for hard work are at the heart of decision making.
As fascinating and challenging as life in Westminster can be, I always look forward to returning to Wolverhampton at the end of week. This year I have had the opportunity to visit many places in our city, including schools, businesses, medical facilities and sporting venues amongst others. I often hear many success stories and tales of achievement when out and about, and each one makes me proud to represent Wolverhampton South West in Parliament.
My work for the year is far from done and this Friday (13th December) I will be holding a surgery at my Constituency Office in the city centre. This will be my last surgery of the year, so if you wish to make an appointment please call 01902 712134. Weekly surgeries will resume in the new year from January 10th.
I would like to conclude by wishing all my constituents a very Merry Christmas, and I hope that 2014 will be a happy and successful one for us all.
Paul visited Wolverhampton Art Gallery today, as part of local school activities held there for Parliament Week. School Children from around Wolverhampton were invited to the art gallery to make a giant model of Big Ben, officially renamed Elizabeth Tower from "the Clock Tower" in 2012, an iconic symbol of the Houses of Parliament known worldwide.
Children from Bilston Primary had made their own model of the tower during Parliament week and Paul arranged to catch up with them afterwards. Paul also saw a model from Warstones Primary School.
Speaking about the event Paul said "It's great to see children engaging with politics. I thank Wolverhampton Art Gallery for putting on these activities as part of Parliament Week which offers a fun and informal way of starting to engage and connect pupils with parliamentary democracy."
Picture (from left to right): Students from Bilston Primary School: Dajon Walters, age 10, Alex Woodham, age 10, Kia Flavell, age 10, Leah Campbell, age 10 & Paul Uppal MP
Paul laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in St Peter's Gardens today in remembrance of soldiers from Wolverhampton who gave their lives in combat.
Over 1,700 soldiers from the city lost their lives in the First World War, which came to an end 95 years ago today. During both World Wars, Wolverhampton was a target for the German Air Force due to the industrial contributions the city made to war efforts, thus putting civilian lives on the line.
The annual Observance of Remembrance was led by the Band of the West Midlands Fire Service, and the parade also included detachments from ex-Service, Regular, Reserve, Cadet Units and representatives of other local uniformed organisations. A drumhead service was held in St Peter's Square, followed by a second service in St Peter's Collegiate Church.
On Thursday, Paul spoke in a debate on the First World War in the House of Commons, where he praised the contribution of Sikh soldiers and the contribution of Wolverhampton. You can read what Paul had to say at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131107/debtext/131107-0003.htm#13110788000754
Last week The Football Association celebrated its 150th anniversary and Paul took the opportunity to get his hands on The FA Cup and pledge his support to Wolves.
Paul, who was photographed at the event with The FA Cup, said: "Football has come such a long way since that first meeting back in 1863 which created the first laws of the game.
"Today the game plays a huge part in the lives of millions across the country and it's great to see so many people in Wolverhampton enjoying the game.
"I hope this weekend is a great one for Wolves in the First Round of The FA Cup, the competition always has a special place in football fans' hearts and I hope Wolves can go on and be that giant killing team that everyone talks about this season".
Paul was invited to join England Manager Roy Hodgson and FA Chairman Greg Dyke at a special event in parliament to celebrate this landmark anniversary and learn more about how The FA supports football in England.
In England there are seven million players of all ages and backgrounds who regularly play the game, as well as 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 referees.
For more information about how to get involved in football whether through playing, coaching or refereeing please visit:
Paul accompanied the Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling on a visit to Wolverhampton Youth Offending Team today, to see firsthand the work they are doing in helping young people in their rehabilitation.
Paul and Chris Grayling spoke with staff and managers from the Team about a range of issues including restorative justice, gang and youth violence and the importance of engaging young people in education and training. They also spoke to the service users and
their families to hear about their experiences and the impact that youth offending has had on them.
Wolverhampton Youth Offending Team, based at Beckminster House in Pennfields, was established as a result of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act and works with offenders aged under 18. Their aim is to provide counsel and rehabilitation to stop re-offending and ensure that local neighbourhoods are safer.
"I was delighted that the Justice Secretary took the time to come and visit Wolverhampton Youth Offending Team today" said Paul. "The Team are providing great support to young people, and I hope they will continue to work effectively to bring down re-offending rates in our city."
PHOTO: Paul alongside Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, local Councillors, and staff at Wolverhampton Youth Offending Team
Paul visited the City of Wolverhampton College today to talk to students about aspiration, ambition and achieving success.
He told students about his journey from growing up in Smethwick, to studying politics at Warwick University and running his own business, before achieving his ambition of entering Parliament in 2010.
Over 100 students, aged 16-25 who are studying for A Levels or qualifications in motor vehicle, hair and beauty and uniformed public services at the college attended the talk and questioned Paul about his career and advice for success in a question and answer session following his presentation.
Paul said: "I always find it a great experience to talk to young people about politics and to see them engaging with issues which affect their everyday lives. I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences from before I was an MP, when I ran a successful business and decided to embark on my political journey, to my life after being elected a Member of Parliament."
Mark Robertson, principal of the college, said: "Mr Uppal has a very interesting story to tell and we are delighted that he was able to make time in his busy schedule to share his experiences with our students and inspire them to achieve their ambitions."
Paul visited Paycare in George Street to check on the health of one of the country's oldest cash plan providers, founded in 1874.
In August, Paul had met Paycare's Chief Executive when he paid a visit to the new disabled facilities at the Molineux stadium, which Paycare sponsors.
Speaking of the visit, Paul said "Kevin told me about Paycare and the work it does in offering individuals and employers a cost effective way to help people to afford everyday healthcare costs. He invited me to visit to see the operation first hand. I was pleased to accept.
"Meeting local businesses is important to me," explained Mr Uppal, "through such contact I can more easily understand what they do and how I might be able to represent them on key issues as they arise in parliament.
"I was particularly interested in how Paycare's not for profit aspect benefits their policyholders and how, if there is a surplus at the end of the year, the Paycare Charity Trust can make donations to deserving medical charities and research,"
Readers can get more information about Paycare on their website at www.paycare.org
Picture (From left to right): Kevin Rogers, Chief Executive of Paycare, Paul Uppal MP and Donald McIntosh, Chairman of Paycare
Today Paul spoke at an "Access to Law" event in Birmingham designed for people from BME backgrounds interested in a career in Law.
The aim of the event was to create a platform for students and graduates from under-represented groups to gain insight and a better understanding of the industry. Paul gave a key note speech on the theme of diversity and careers.
Afterwards he said "I feel tonight was a great event and I wish all those wishing to pursue a career in law the best of luck in the future. It was a unique chance for attendees to learn from people who have a successful background in the industry on a range of topics about breaking into the legal profession.
Standing infront of those who attended tonight as a Member of Parliament, I see no reason all of them cannot follow their ambitions to their conclusions, as long as they are aware and resilient to the challenges that they will face."
Paul attended a ceremony at Aldersley Leisure Village today to celebrate the achievements of three of the city's sporting champions, who were immortalised in Wolverhampton's Sporting Hall of Fame.
The ceremony saw Liz Brown, Helen Lower and Michael Ayre, who have represented Wolverhampton in squash, table tennis and swimming respectively.
Oxley Park Golf Club was also honoured in the Hall of Fame after celebrating its 100th anniversary last week.
Liz Brown, a Member of Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club has represented her country at a Masters level and Helen Lower has represented England over 100 times, winning 17 national table tennis titles. Michael Ayre was honoured for his achievements as a swimming coach.
Paul said, "Wolverhampton has a proud sporting heritage, and I was delighted to be at the ceremony today to honour the achievements of Liz, Helen and Michael. I hope that recognition in the Sporting Hall of Fame will inspire many others across the city to take up sport."
Wolverhampton City Council launched the Hall of Fame in 1999 to recognise the achievements of local sportsmen and women who have made an impact on a national and international stage. There is also a special Hall of Fame book, now in its second volume, which records many famous sporting faces from the city.
Paul Uppal, the MP for Wolverhampton South West, has welcomed the opening of Wolverhampton's first free school after visiting the school last week to help with last minute preparations.
Anand Primary School is a Sikh ethos free school and will admit pupils of any or no faith. Opened as part of the Government's free school scheme, the school will open with 31 pupils and will provide 420 places when at full capacity. Anand Primary aims to teach children to take responsibility for themselves, to care for others and to reach for more.
It will offer a broad and balanced teaching programme based on the National Curriculum. The core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science will be given priority.The school will take advantage of academy freedoms by having a longer school day, using the extended afternoon to focus on a range of sporting and cultural activities and provide opportunities for pupils to learn community languages.
Paul said that it is great to see Wolverhampton's first free school opening.
"I am very excited about the opening of Anand Primary and I believe that it captures the very purpose of free schools; to give parents the choice of a good local school for their children and to provide the best possible education for young people.
"It will be a Sikh Ethos Free School encapsulating the values of fairness, of a strong family and respect for others. Anand will provide young people with an education to compete with the world's best, giving them the skills they need to succeed."
This school is one of five free schools opening in the West Midlands taking the total to 14 in the region – almost twice as many as this time last year. When full, these schools will create almost 2,000 new places.
The huge increase in the number of new free schools underlines the desire among teachers, parents, local communities and organisations to set up their own high-quality school.
Paul got on his bike today to participate in the Carver Wolverhampton Marathon 20km cycle event, completing his ride in 1:05:21.
Over 2,000 fundraisers took part in this year's annual event, which includes a marathon, half marathon and children's race. The marathon is supported by many local business and organisations, and this year's chosen charities were Compton Hospice, Sunnyside Kennels, Midlands Air Ambulance and the Mayoral Charity Fund. All races started and finished in West Park, with Paul's cycle route taking in parts of Aldersley, Pendeford, Codsall and Tettenhall.
"Cycling 20km is certainly a tough challenge", said Paul, "but this is a great event that raises money for worthy causes. There is a very stong community spirit on a day like today, and I hope that the Carver Marathon will continue to prove a success year after year."
Paul visited the Finchfield Community Day today to meet with local residents and traders to discuss issues facing the area.
The purpose of the day was to deepen community relations within Finchfield, and increase involvement with the Finchfield Community Association (FCA). This included the launch of Finchfield Neighbourhood and Business Watch to increase safety in the area, and an initial community consultation on the future of St Thomas' Church on Oak Hill.
The Finchfield Community Day was also supported by neighbourhood wardens, the local Police, West Midlands Fire Service and Health Watch amongst others, and money was raised for charities by local shops. Paul had the opportunity to meet local residents and discuss their thoughts on the area.
" I was pleased to visit the Finchfield Community Day today and see a strong community spirit in action", said Paul. "It was great to meet with residents and traders, and I am confident that through the FCA local relations and partnerships will continue to grow stronger."
ABOVE: Paul alongside Cllr Wendy Thompson and local residents outside St Thomas's Church on Oak Hill
RIGHT: Paul talks with local PCSO's David Asher of the Tettenhall/Oxley team, and Ian Kerrigan of the Partnerships Unit in Wolverhampton Central
Paul paid a visit to St Edmund's Catholic Academy today after the school received almost £13m of investment for new facilities.
Funded by the City Council, Wolverhampton Wanderers Football club and Redrow Homes, the scheme forms part of a wider development of Compton Park with new executive homes and a new football academy for Wolves. Among the new facilities are larger classrooms and science laboratories, a drama studio, music recording rooms, a larger sports hall and fitness suite, improved facilities for technology and art, an enhanced sixth form area and a new chapel.
Paul said: "I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit St Edmund's today and explore these fantastic facilities. They have created a greater learning environment through public and private investment, which will help to enhance the education of pupils. I would like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to everyone at St Edmund's as they embark upon a new academic year."
PHOTO: Paul with Wolves Chief Executive Jez Moxey (left) and Wolves and Redrow Homes Chairman Steve Morgan (right)
Paul visited Penn Hospital with local Councilors Paul Singh and Pat Patten, to see firsthand, the redevelopment which had taken place on the wards.
The Department for Health gave £8.5million worth of funding to the £10million project, which was needed to carry out vital redevelopment to inpatient facilities for those with mental health problems. In the new facilities, patients, where they are able, are encouraged to be more independent by doing tasks such as their own washing or cooking. This is so as to make a transition from the hospital to a home setting as smooth as possible.
Welcoming the redevelopment, Paul said. "During the spending review the Chancellor announced the NHS budget will rise to £110 billion—and capital spending will rise to £4.7 billion. This, with increased savings will enable new investment in mental health such as the development we have seen at Penn Hospital.
"During our lives every one of us will either suffer from or have a relative or a close family friend that suffers from a mental health problem. 1 in 4 people will, at some point, experience some form of mental illness, this is why as a government we are proud for making mental health such a priority. The redevelopment at Penn shows how seriously we are dealing with this challenge, allowing patients to live healthy, independent lives in their own homes."
Paul and local Tettenhall Wightwick Councillors today brought together local traders, motorists and Severn Trent representatives regarding repair work on the A454 Bridgnorth Road in Compton.
The repair work, to replace a leaking water pipe, was originally set for completion in April but will now be finished by the end of September. Motorists in the area have been frustrated due to the traffic that the work has caused while local businesses have claimed that their trade has been affected because of drivers wishing to avoid it.
Having discussed these concerns at the meeting,Tony Loy, business claims and compensation manager at Severn Trent, confirmed that Severn Trent would pay compensation to businesses who make claims showing they have been affected by the work being carried out.
Afterwards, Paul said that he felt the meeting had "helped to alleviate tensions between Severn Trent and business owners."
"I am assured that the work being carried out is both important and necessary; we can now hope that it is finished as soon as possible."
Paul paid a visit to the Molineux today to see the new Paycare Accessible Lounge and the viewing balconies for disabled supporters in the Stan Culis Stand.
Officially opened last month, the Paycare Accessible Lounge provides an area for disabled fans to socialise and enjoy refreshments, and meet a Wolves first team player prior to kick off. The Lounge contains TVs that show the match for fans who don't wish to sit outside, and is decorated with murals of former Wolves players including Billy Wright, Derek Doogan, and Steve Bull. A similar lounge existed in the previous Stan Culis Stand that was demolished in 2011.
Paul was given a tour by Will Clowes, General Manager of the Wolves Community Trust, which also took in the new viewing balconies for disabled fans in the Stan Culis Stand; and also met Kevin Rogers, Chief Execuitve of Paycare Healthcare. Paycare are now the longest continuous current sponsor with Wolves, and have supported the Molineux's disabled facilities for 16 years.
Paul said, "I am pleased to see that Wolves are thinking of their disabled supporters, and are continuing to provide them with the best facilities to enjoy the match. I hope these fans will have much to celebrate in the coming year, in what I hope will be a successful promotion campaign for Kenny Jackett and the team."
ABOVE: Paul in the Paycare Accessible Lounge with Kevin Rogers of Paycare and Will Clowes of Wolves Community Trust.
RIGHT: Paul with Will Clowes on a disabled viewing balcony in the Stan Culis Stand.
Paul visited Whitmore Reans Health Centre today to meet with Doctors and discuss local health issues.
Speaking with Practice Managers Suresh Carthigasu & Rita Lal and Dr S K Vij, Paul learned about local health challenges including diabetes, obesity and depression. The Health Centre serves over 8,000 patients in the Whitmore Reans area, and have a further two branches in Pendeford and Goldthorn Park.
Paul is Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Men's Health, and raised questions on sexual health and diabetes with the Public Health Minister Anna Soubry in April. He has also asked questions on a range of health topics including learning disabilities, cardiovascular services and the Thalidomide grant since being elected in 2010.
Paul said, "I found my visit to Whitmore Reans Health Centre very beneficial and informative. Local GP's are facing new challenges in public health and I think it is right to applaud the good work they do and the service they provide to our community."
PHOTO (l-r): Balvinder Uppal, Inderjit Sidhu, Kavita Jassal, Sukkhvendar Bal, Narinder Kaur, Paul, Marlene Streete, Dr S K Vij , Rita Lal & Suresh Carthigasu.
Paul visited the Refugee & Migrant Centre on Waterloo Road today, to see the work being done to support constituents with immigration issues.
Established in 1999 by volunteers who were themselves refugees, the RMC assists asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants, and offers assistance on a variety of areas including applications, appeals, benefits and social housing. The Centre moved in to its current offices in the Roma Pava building on Waterloo Road in 2007, to meet the growing need for its services.
Open surgeries and individual appointments are held throughout the week, including a women's surgery on Tuesday afternoons.
Paul's caseworkers also hold a fortnightly surgery at the RMC on Monday afternoons, to meet with constituents who may be able to benefit from Paul's further support or assistance.
Paul said, "The RMC is a great source of help to many of my constituents, who without it may not know where to turn to. I was pleased to have the opportunity to pay a visit today, and I hope that our strong working relationship to help constituents will continue."
If you feel that you can benefit from the RMC's Assistance, you can call them on 01902 311 554 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul visited Shop in the Square today to show his support for the project which supports over 30 new businesses from Wolverhampton and the Black Country. Meeting with Project Manager Charlotte Clark, he heard how local small businesses are being given a chance of a lifetime to showcase their products in a prime city centre location – without costly overheads.
Paul said: "I am really impressed with the look and feel of the shop, to have something in the city centre which supports fledgling businesses is a fantastic idea. I would encourage everyone to come and have a look."
Paul also spent some time talking to volunteer staff and Jordan Bowen of Jacob's Jams and Spices, one of the businesses which have used the shop to launch its products range. Located in Queen Square, the shop has been open for three weeks but as already traded above expectations with 20% of the income going back into running the Shop.
Charlotte will also be mentoring new start-up businesses on how to develop, market and price their products as well as opportunities to promote their business through demonstrations, special shopping evenings and promotional events.
Shop in the Square is the latest initiative of the High Street Innovation Fund and Wolverhampton Portas Pilot project which is designed to tackle vacant premises in the city centre. Products to be featured in the shop include ranges from contestants and winners in the recent Idea2Reality competition as well as clothing and accessories, gifts, jams and preserves, chocolates, home décor and much more.
Charlotte said: "I am thrilled that we have been getting such positive feedback from our customers who have really welcomed the quality and originality of our product range."
Today Paul visited Penn Cricket Club, as part of a wider national 'Meet Your MP' initiative, to learn more about what the club offers to the local community, issues that affect small clubs and their plans for the future. The initiative, which arose from the All Party Parliamentary Cricket Group, aims to promote the many benefits local clubs bring to their communities, including tackling anti-social behaviour and promoting participation in sport, as well as healthy lifestyles.
Paul said after meeting with Chairman John Marshall and club volunteers, "It was fantastic to be here today to hear more about the club and learn about their plans for the future. Penn Cricket Club is a valuable community asset, and I pay tribute to all those who help to run the club and for their commitment to providing opportunities for the wider community.
"I am delighted that Penn have had successes in training coaches, forging links with schools to bring cricket to pupils and providing facilities for the local community. I am acutely aware about the financial constraints that can impact upon smaller clubs like Penn, who often rely on dedicated volunteers to run and maintain facilities.
"Penn Cricket Club is an asset to Wolverhampton, and I would encourage anyone with a passion for cricket or sport to get involved or even turn up and enjoy one of the seven homes games they have left this season."
6th July - Cannock
13th July - Bridgenorth
27th July - Worcester Nomads
10th August - Kings Heath
24th August - Tamworth
31st August - Milford Hall
7th September - Streetly
Paul visited the Yorkshire Building Society's branch in Wolverhampton today to support their Charity Choices scheme.
Eight of the Yorkshire's branches in the Midlands are participating in the scheme, which will see each branch giving away £1,000 to over 20 local charities. The Queen's Square Branch will be donating to Age UK Wolverhampton, who support people aged over 50 in the city; The Haven Wolverhampton, which provides support to women and children who are the victims of domestic violence and homelessness; and Let Us Play, which provide activities for children with special needs and disabilities.
Paul said: "I was delighted to support the Yorkshire's Charity Choices scheme today and I would encourage local residents to get involved and cast their votes. We have three charities here that are making a great impact in our city, and I am pleased that they will all be receiving funding."
Voting opened on 21st June, and will end on 12th July, after which the charity that received the most votes will receive £500, the second £300, and the third £200. The initiative is supported by the Yorkshire's Charitable Foundation, and more information can be found at http://www.ybs.co.uk/cf/foundation.html
Paul paid a visit to The Well today to see the work being done by the Wolverhampton Food Bank, which supports needy families across the city with food parcels each week.
Established as Wolverhampton Food Bank in 2006, the project has expanded over the last seven years and has been operating as 'The Well' since April. The Well moved into its current premises on the Wulfrun Trading Estate in March 2012, and provided food parcels for over 5,000 people in 2012-13. Food parcels provide three day's worth of tinned and dried food and additional parcels for baby items and toiletries are also available.
"I was delighted to see the strong community spirit in action here at the Food Bank", said Paul, who spoke with the Project's leaders Gary & Christine Price, and met volunteers packing parcels. Over 50 volunteers help pack parcels at the Food Bank each week, including local school children on placements. "The team here have a great enthusiasm here for the work they do and have a very generous desire to support those who are in difficult circumstances. They are a credit to the city of Wolverhampton."
"I am also pleased to see that many supermarkets and local organisations are willing to support the Food Bank with donations" added Paul. "It shows a strong, generous spirit that our city can be proud of."
If you are in need and feel that you would benefit from a parcel, The Well advises that you get in touch with a local support agency such as Wolverhampton City Council, as they do not take referrals directly from the public. Referrals are received from many organisations across the city, and parcels are delivered by van to those that need them. Further information is available at http://thewellwolverhampton.co.uk/are-you-in-need/.
Paul paid a visit to Aldergrove Manor Care Home on Penn Road as part of the National Care Home Open Day.
Paul was given a tour of the Home, which opened in November 2011, by manager Caroline Finlay. The Home has 70 rooms and three units for dementia care, nursing and a unit for young disabled people. Aldergrove encourages its residents to have interaction and company, and runs exercise classes for dementia patients, as well as services including palliative care and respite care. Paul also learned about how the Prince's Trust project had helped redevelop the garden, invoking a sense of community spirit.
'I was very impressed with my visit to Aldergrove' said Paul, 'and I am pleased to see that we have good facilities for disabled people and dementia patients in the constituency. I particularly liked the warm and homely feel that Aldergrove has and I trust that it will continue to provide a high level of care.'
Today Paul celebrated the news that the Planning Inspectorate has upheld Wolverhampton City Council's requirement of a pedestrian crossing at the site of a new Tesco retail store.
Paul made his views to the Planning Inspectorate's consultation in March of this year, stating that the development of the store on the Claregate Pub car park without the addition of a pedestrian crossing raised concerns about the safety of children, who may cross the busy Claregate Road to the store from the play park opposite.
Paul said "I am extremely pleased to hear that the Planning Inspectorate has not just upheld the decision but actually strengthened the Council's requirement of a crossing at the site. This now means the store cannot open until the pedestrian crossing is in place."
"This is a real victory for local residents and I am delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has listened to the safety concerns of local people."
Paul visited Sainsbury's on St George's Parade today for a tour of the store, and to learn about the store's community work.
Accompanied by the store's manager Ann Grennall, Paul met various staff members in different sections, who explained what they did and how long they had worked there. Paul also learned about how the Active Kids programme is bringing benefit to schools and school children in Wolverhampton; and the work that Sainsbury's is doing to educate children about the Fairtrade Foundation.
Paul said, "I was pleased to come and visit Sainsbury's today. It was great to meet staff who have worked with the company for many years and are passionate about the work they do. I enjoyed hearing about the work done to benefit the community and I am glad that the Active Kids programme is encouraging children to persue healthier, active lifestyles."
Paul visited the Wolverhampton Drug Service User Involvement Team (SUIT) based at the Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council (WVSC), to hear about the team's work in tackling drug addiction.
Drug Service User Involvement Officer Sunny Dhadley gave a presentation showcasing the SUIT team's methods in supporting those recovering from addiction, championing a holistic approach in dealing with the many underlying causes of addiction, whilst also providing aftercare to those in recovery.
Paul had the opportunity to speak with those who have recovered from drug addiction and hear about their experiences of the support they received from SUIT.
Paul said "It was fantastic to meet Sunny and the rest of the SUIT team today to learn more about the brilliant support they provide.
"The success rate SUIT has in helping people recover from drug addiction is testament to the dedication of the team and I look forward to meeting with the team again in the future."
More information about SUIT can be found at http://www.suiteam.com/
Paul paid a visit to Wolverhampton business Pet goods Online today, to hear about the achievements of local entrepreneur Michael Dixon.
Founded just two and a half years ago in humble beginnings, Michael began his business at home importing and selling pet goods, including beds, toys, rabbit hutches and fish tanks. Pet Goods Online now has its own warehouse and sells to the public and to trades, building up increasing turnover year on year, and establishing a good reputation with customers. Michael has employed members of his own family to assist him, and has taken on 18-year-old apprentice Richard Edwards, who assists in the warehouse.
"I was very pleased to visit Pet Goods Online today", commented Paul. "I was very impressed by the enthusiasm that Michael has for his business and I believe that it has a very bright future. It's also great to see another apprentice being given an opportunity to develop new skills, and I believe that Richard also has a positive future ahead of him."
The Government has given £1.4 million to the Express & Star and the University of Wolverhampton's "Green Shoots fund" to create jobs and growth across the Black Country.
The money comes from a successful bid by the two organizations to the Government's regional growth fund in October 2012, which supports projects and programmes using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.
The Green Shoots fund, which was launched today, will be used to give financial support to small and medium- sized companies in areas such as advanced manufacturing, building technologies, transport technologies, environmental technologies and business services. They will be able to apply for grants worth up to £50,000 each.
Paul said "The Regional Growth Fund is a £2.6bn fund designed to promote economic growth and create jobs. The first 3 rounds attracted over £13bn of private sector funding and created or assured over half a million jobs.
This funding will go a long way in the Black Country. We have already seen Jaguar Land Rover locate in Wolverhampton, and The Green Shoots fund will help support those small and medium sized businesses looking to expand. They are the lifeblood of the regional economy and I am glad to see this government working in partnership with local organisations to support economic growth and job creation."
Paul attended Giffard Primary School today to support the British Heart Foundation's 'Heartstart' Schools Programme.
Established for young people aged ten and over, the Programme teaches children emergency life support skills such as CPR, dealing with choking, calling 999 and the recovery position. Paul met with Year Six pupils who have been taking part in the Programme, along with Ian Painter of BHF and Phil Jevon of the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, who also works as a 'Heartstart' Training Supervisor.
"It is very important that these life support skills are taught, as you never know when they will have to be put in to practise", said Paul. "I was impressed with the children's enthusiasm today and I hope that every school will engage in the Heartstart Programme."
Paul is encouraging Wolverhampton residents to have their say on the proposed extension of the Metro in the city centre.
As part of regeneration in the City Centre, Centro want to extend the line to include new stops at the bus and railway stations. This will include a new fleet of state-of-the-art trams and will be fully integrated into the Wolverhampton Interchange project. The line proposed will run along Piper's Row, but there may be some services that will continue to terminate at St George's Stop on Bilston Street at certain times of the day.
A public consultation is open until the 31st May 2013, allowing residents to have their say in how often services should terminate at St George's. Comments can be sent by e-mail to email@example.com , or in writing to Metro Consultation, Centro, 16 Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD. Further information can be found on Centro's website at www.centro.org.uk/metro
Paul said "This proposed extension of the Metro will be part of welcome regeneration in our city. I would therefore encourage residents who use the Metro regularly to get in touch with Centro to provide their opinions, so that they can be taken into account as this project moves forward."
On Friday 10 May, Paul visited the Carillion head office in Wolverhampton to see how the integrated support services provider is promoting local apprenticeship and job training opportunities.
The locally based company is one of the largest employers in the region.
Last year Carillion supported the Wolverhampton Jobs and Skills fair organised by Paul at the Molineux Stadium, which attracted around 1,500 job seekers who were able to speak with and get advice from organisations like Carillion, Jaguar Land Rover and Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust.
During his visit to the Birch Street office Paul met staff and senior managers responsible for delivering a range of training programmes. He heard how Carillion provided 19 work placements last year for students across Wolverhampton, and that 36 local homeless people had been given work experience opportunities through Carillion's partnership with the Business in the Community's Ready for Work programme.
Carillion's sustainability team also gave an update on how locally based staff contributed almost 640 hours of their time supporting young people and local schools. These and similar efforts have just been recognized by Business in the Community which has just awarded Carillion Platinum Big Tick Company status in the charity's Corporate Responsibility Index.
Paul said: "I was delighted to visit Carillion to see how they support their local community and the leading role they are playing in training. Providing our young people with the skills and confidence they need to gain employment is vital and I will certainly be looking to Carillion and other leading businesses in this region to help develop a deliver a range of training and apprenticeship initiatives that I have planned over the coming months and years."
Dean Smith, Carillion's Head of Academy, added: "We are extremely proud of our Wolverhampton roots and welcomed this opportunity to show how our training academy and apprenticeship schemes work and indeed how they can be rolled out locally. It was also useful to explain that by working in partnership with training providers, colleges and our large supply chain we can
offer highly valuable and relevant work placements far beyond our own direct operations."
On Friday Paul attended the re-launch of Wolverhampton's Age UK centre, Formerly Age Concern, in Darlington Street, City Centre. The centre will now be dedicated to offering advice and support for local older people.
Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint opened the centre, Wolverhampton MPs Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds also attended the event.
Paul said "Age UK already offers an important service to many older residents across Wolverhampton and I was extremely impressed by my visit to the refurbished centre today. The centre is now open plan making it much more accessible, there is confidential space to discuss personal issues and provision for a computer area so that people can have individual support on how to use the internet and email.
This is great news to all those who already benefit greatly from the services provided by Age UK Wolverhampton. The staff are both committed and passionate and I hope constituents make the most of the services that they offer."
On Friday 3 May, Paul met with service users at Warstones Resource Centre. Paul discussed concerns over the future of the site as part of a campaign to protect libraries and community centers across Wolverhampton South West.
As part of Wolverhampton City Council's Community Service Hubs consultation, the cabinet voted for day services at Warstones to be moved to other sites across the city as well as the closure of respite bed provision. Further consultation is still to take place as to whether the site will become a community hub and absorb Warstones library services.
Paul said "Earlier this year, I submitted my views to the consultation to convey concerns over the loss of these services and to highlight the views of people that cherish these services and rely on them as part of their day to day lives. I have visited the centre several times and it was good to hear first hand peoples' thoughts and feelings again today.
"It is clear that service users value the sense of community that Warstones provides. It is a safe, sheltered place where people can spend an hour or two and receive a hot meal, which as one lady told me, would be the only cooked meal she would have during the day.
"Since my last visit, a number of people have written to me with their views and experiences of the centre, I would like to hear more views on the future of Warstones and invite anyone with comments or thoughts to write to me at Paul Uppal MP, Gresham Chambers, 2nd Floor, 14 Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1DG or email at firstname.lastname@example.org."
In light of the disappointing news that the Indian Supreme Court has denied Professor Bhullar's plea for mercy I wish to update you on progress that I have made. Last week I met and spoke with William Hague, The Foreign Secretary, to discuss this important and pressing matter. Following this conversation I am hopeful of a constructive dialogue between the British and Indian Governments which will advance compassionate sentiments on this most sensitive of issues.
In regards to the death penalty, the Government is clear that the protection of human rights is central to its foreign policy. In an answer to a written question, the then Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne, stated that he had written to the Indian High commissioner reiterating the UK Government's strong opposition to the death penalty and urged the Indian authorities not to break their seven-year de facto moratorium on the death penalty. He also raised concerns with then Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, and with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur.
I wholly endorse the position that The British Government is taking in continuing to urge the Government of India to establish a formal moratorium as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty in India. It is the longstanding policy of successive British Governments to strongly oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.
As you may be aware, earlier this year, I raised this issue with the Indian High Commissioner in order to convey the strength of feeling that many British Sikhs feel about this case. I personally feel that this whole issue represents a running sore that many British Sikhs feel in relation to massacres in 1984. In order to bring reconciliation, it is important for the Indian Government
Paul visited Wolverhampton Girl's School today to answer the questions of Year 8 pupils on a variety of issues affecting Wolverhampton.
Questions put to Paul included the regeneration of the city centre, support for charities, facilities for cyclists and leisure activities for young people. He also took questions from several pupils about safety on buses and at bus stops, and he will now be writing to Centro to highlight their concerns.
"I was very pleased to see that these pupils are engaged with local issues and want to see improvements in our city", said Paul. "Some of the girls raised important concerns with me, which I will be taking action on and doing what I can to help. I'll also be writing to the Council to see how we can make life easier for cyclists in Wolverhampton."
Paul visited the Queen's Square Branch of Ladbrokes in the City Centre today as they prepared for one of their busines weekends of the year.
Ahead of the John Smith's Grand National, Paul met with the store's Manager Jez and District Manager Trish Jackson; who talked about how Ladbrokes promotes responsible gambling. This includes information in all stores on how to obtain help with gambling issues, and a self-exclusion policy for those who recognise that they have a problem. Ladbroke's website also has facilities for customers to limit their spending.
Paul said: "Many people enjoy gambling as a leiure activity; however for some it can become an addiction. I am pleased to see that Ladbrokes have put measures in place to help customers gamble responsibly. This weekend will undoubtedly be a busy one for the store, and it is good to see the business doing well."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has cancelled Labour's planned fuel duty rise in today's Budget, saving 3.5 million motorists in the West Midlands over £170 every year.
Because of the action we have taken, pump prices will now be 13 pence per litre lower than if Labour were in power. For a Vauxhall Astra that is £7 less every time families fill up the tank – or £9 less for a Mondeo. A van driver will save £340 per year and a haulier will save £5,200 per year.
Fuel duty will now have been frozen for nearly three and half years - the longest freeze in duty for over 20 years.
Paul welcomed the news, saying:
"This is a Budget that is delivering for families who want to work hard and get on in life."
"Scrapping another of Labour's planned fuel duty increases will make a huge difference to motorists in Wolverhampton."
"This Government has frozen fuel duty for three and a half years - longer than any Government in the last two decades - and saving the average family £7 every time they fill up their car."
An extra £664,600 will go to primary schools across Wolverhampton to transform school sport, improve coaching for the youngest pupils and inspire the Olympic and Paralympic stars of the future.
London 2012 gave Britain a once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire a nation to enjoy sport and the Government wants to embed that into the school day from an early age. The Prime Minister has announced a £150 million Olympic legacy fund to improve the quality of provision in every state primary school in England.
Young people across Wolverhampton will benefit from this announcement. This money will help to secure the Olympic legacy and support our gold medal winners of the future.'
The Prime Minister, David Cameron said:
'The Olympic and Paralympic Games marked an incredible year for this country and I will always be proud that we showed the world what Britain can do. I want to ensure the Games count for the future too and that means capitalising on the inspiration young people took from what they saw during those summer months. This investment will benefit a whole generation of children for many years to come.'
Olympic gold winner, Jess Ennis CBE said:
"It is great to see initiatives that help to give really young children the chance to take part in sport. This latest funding for primary schools sounds fantastic – now whether in an inner city or small rural community, young kids will be introduced to fun ways to be active that will spark an interest in taking part in sport as they grow up."
Double Olympic Champion, Mo Farah CBE said:
"It is great to see a commitment to funding school sport and that it is something I passionately believe in. I am very excited to know that lots of children will be able to get involved in sport while at school and get more help from teachers and coaches. It really is very important."
On Friday 15 March, Paul took part in a question and answer session with year 12 politics students at Wolverhampton Girls' High School. Students asked questions covering a variety of topics such as Same Sex Marriage, the future of the U.K within the E.U and the changes to the welfare state.
Paul said "I always find it a great experience to talk to young people about politics and to see them engaging with current issues which affect their everyday lives. I appreciate the opportunity to answer their questions and I look forward to visiting the school again in the future."
On Friday 8 February, Paul made a visit to Timken Training, a training provider that specifically focuses on delivering vocational training to 14 – 19 year olds.
Timken offer a wide variety of vocational training opportunities including bricklaying, painting and decorating, hair and beauty and textiles, amongst others.
As a result of the training and support on offer, Timken Training recently supported 8 unemployed young people into full time paid work.
Paul said "It was fantastic to see the dedication of staff at Timken Training and how committed they are to supporting young people in their development of vocational, work based skills.
"The fact that they have supported 8 learners into full time employment speaks for itself and it was clear from meeting young people today how much they are benefitting in terms of the skills and confidence they are developing."
For more information, visit http://www.timkentraining.co.uk/index.html
Paul has welcomed the news that the law will be changed to give vulnerable people stronger protection from aggressive bailiffs.
Under new laws to clean up the industry, bailiffs will be banned from entering homes when only children are present and at night. New safeguards will prevent bailiffs from using force against people who owe money and they will also no longer have free reign to fix their own fees, as new set costs are brought in.
Until now there has been insufficient legal protection against aggressive bailiffs. These new laws, and a mandatory training and certification scheme which they must pass before going into business, will change that. Businesses will still be able to collect debts fairly, but bailiffs who do not follow the rules will be barred from the industry.
'At the moment there is very little to stop unscrupulous bailiffs from abusing their position and making life a misery for vulnerable people here in Wolverhampton', said Paul. 'It is terribly stressful to find yourself in debt and the last thing people in that situation need is harassment from debt collectors.'
'We need a system which allows the majority of responsible bailiffs to get on with doing their jobs fairly, but which stops abuse and gives real protection. That is exactly what these changes will create.'
Conservative Justice Minister Helen Grant MP said:
'For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name. Too many people in debt have had the additional stress of dealing with aggressive bailiffs who often charge extortionate fees.
'These new laws will clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules or face being prevented from practising. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.'
On Wednesday 16 January, Paul signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust.
Sunday January 27th will mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust place a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.
In signing the Book of Commitment, Paul paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust's Outreach programme.
In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year, people will also be encouraged to honour those communities that have been destroyed by genocide and reflect on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.
Paul said "Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance."
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:
"We are proud that Paul is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day this year. It is vitally important that we both remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge all forms of hatred and bigotry."
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West has welcomed Government moves to help households bring down their monthly bills by spreading council tax payments over 12 months, rather than 10.
This move will lower average band D council tax instalments by an average of £24 per month for 10 months, particularly helping those on fixed incomes, like pensioners.
The new right to choose to pay in 12 monthly instalments comes into effect from April. Local taxpayers just need to contact their council (the local billing authority) to request the change. Households can continue to pay in 10 instalments over the year, if they wish - there is no obligation to change.
This latest move shows that Conservatives in Government are doing all they can to keep council tax bills down for people who work hard and want to get on in life.
It comes on top of central Government funding to freeze council tax for the third consecutive year, the introduction of local referendums to veto high council tax hikes and the scrapping of Labour's expensive council tax revaluation.
Commenting Paul said:
'Here in Wolverhampton council tax almost doubled under Labour. Conservatives in Government have shown that they will do all they can to keep council tax bills down for families and pensioners. For the third year running the Government are offering to freeze council tax, which would benefit local people if taken up by Wolverhampton City Council.
'Residents in Wolverhampton have already saved £150 on a Band D bill thanks to Conservatives in Government freezing council tax. By making it possible for taxpayers to pay over 12 months rather than 10, households will be able to bring down their monthly outgoings and have more control over when they pay their bills. I urge any household who would benefit from this change to exercise their new right.'
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has welcomed new plans to set up a Traineeship programme for young people.
The new programme, announced by Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, will provide young people aged 16 to 24 with a tailor-made package of support that will give them the confidence, skills and experience to compete in the labour market with more experienced adults. The Government have published a discussion paper inviting views on the policy.
Paul commented: "This is great news for young people trying to get a foot on the work ladder. Conservatives in Government are making sure our young people have the skills they need to compete and succeed in work. 730 people in Wolverhampton South West started apprenticeships last year. This traineeship programme will help more young people like them compete successfully and get jobs".
Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills, commented: "We want to support everyone in our country to reach their personal best. To do that, we are introducing Traineeships to help young people with the skills they need to get a job, and hold down a job.
"That's vital for our economy to compete in the global race. And it's a question of fairness. Traineeships will give young people the helping hand and experience they need to compete for Apprenticeships and good jobs."
New research has revealed that Conservatives in Government are cutting taxes for 29,936 people in Wolverhampton South West in April next year. The Government will lift 1,497 people out of tax altogether.
The Government is reforming Labour's 'something for nothing' welfare culture, by capping the amount one household can get in benefits and capping the amount benefits are increased next year. Labour oppose these reforms.
Paul commented: "In Wolverhampton South West, if you want to work hard and get on, the Conservatives are on your side. Your taxes will be cut so you keep more of the money you have earned. And we are capping the increase in benefits so that benefit increases don't outstrip increases in earnings.
"Labour want benefits to go up more than the earnings of people in work. This isn't fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture."
On Friday 7 December, Paul visited Gloucester Street Community Centre, located in Whitmore Reans.
The Centre, which opened in 1987, has played a vital role over many years in supporting members of the local community, through offering a wide range of activities and community initiatives, from after school classes to accredited educational courses and social events for senior citizens.
Paul discussed with the Centre Manager and staff the wide range of work that centre volunteers engage in, particularly in relation to providing additional educational support for children outside of school hours.
Paul said "It was a pleasure to meet with staff at the centre and I am very grateful for their warm welcome. It was fantastic to learn more about the community work and engagement initiatives that the centre provides and to see how committed the volunteers are in serving their local community."
More information about the Centre can be found at http://www.gscommunitycentre.org/
The economic recovery is taking longer because the damage is worse than we feared. But the economy is healing. The last thing we could do is put all this progress at risk and attempt to borrow less by borrowing more. We cannot turn back.
The Chancellor has today announced critical measures that will be welcomed across Wolverhampton South West. The personal allowance will rise further, meaning people will keep more of the money they earn before income tax kicks in. Labour's planned fuel duty rise has been cancelled. Small businesses rate relief has been extended for another year. We have also seen a range of capital infrastructure projects to boost growth up and down the country.
The measures announced today will support the cost of living for households and unlock growth for our businesses and industry.
Paul Uppal commented:
"This is fantastic news for Wolverhampton South West.
"The West Midlands will see two million people get an income tax cut. The 3.5 million people who drive will welcome the cancellation of a rise in fuel duty that the Labour Government had planned for. Businesses will welcome the drop in corporation tax and the small business rate relief. And the raft of capital infrastructure projects will unlock growth and equip Britain to compete in the global race.
"Times are tough. But the economy is healing – and the measures announced today will bring welcome support to families and businesses in Wolverhampton South West."
Paul paid a visit to ADAS at Pendeford House today to officially open their new headquarters.
Established over 50 years ago, the ADAS Group are a large employer in Wolverhampton, dealing with policy issues concerning the Environment, Sustainable Crop Management, Animal Health & Welfare, and Waste contracting. Paul met with ADAS Directors who shared their visions for the future.
Paul said 'I am delighted to see ADAS going from strength to strength, and I was very impressed with what I saw today. It was an honour to officially open their new headquarters, and I wish ADAS well for the future'.
On Friday 9 November, Paul along with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and Jaguar Land Rover launched the 'Wolverhampton Apprenticeship Challenge' – a year long initiative which aims to channel £1 million worth of apprenticeship investment into the city.
Small and medium sized businesses were invited to a breakfast and networking event at the Molineux to learn about how taking on an apprentice could benefit their business, as well as finding out more about financial support on offer from NAS.
The aim of the Wolverhampton Apprenticeship Challenge is to translate the investment on offer into around 251 new apprenticeship opportunities for young people across the city.
Special guest Ruth Badger, 2006 runner-up of 'The Apprentice' series, gave an inspirational talk about her own apprenticeship experience in Wolverhampton and how she now recruits apprentices of her own. Ruth made the case to small and medium sized businesses that taking on an apprentice is vital for businesses to grow and succeed.
Ian Eva, Apprentice Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, gave an impressive endorsement of what apprenticeships can bring to a business and encouraged small businesses to be inspired to create more apprenticeships in Wolverhampton.
Paul said "The launch of the 'Wolverhampton Apprenticeship Challenge' today was a great success – around 100 small businesses and service providers were in attendance to hear about the numerous advantages of taking on an apprentice for the first time. I am delighted that business owners have already committed to taking on an apprentice as a result of today's launch.
The 'challenge' now is to sustain momentum and encourage businesses to create further apprenticeship opportunities. Small and medium sized businesses are the driver of the British economy and key to creating new opportunities in the economy, especially for young people"
More information about apprenticeships and the financial support on offer to recruit apprentices can be found at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/
Paul attended the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's 'Walk My Way' event today to raise awareness of the everyday challenges faced by those with sight loss. This included a blindfolded walk where Paul had to rely on the aid of a guide dog to assist him around the course.
Established in 1931 to help First World War veterans, the Association has now helped over 29,000 blind people to achieve independence through the dedicated work of staff and volunteers. Guide Dogs for the Blind are responsible for breeding, training and supporting the dogs; and work with local authorities to provide a range of mobility services for blind and partially sighted people. Today, there are over 4,500 working guide dogs in the UK, with over 1,300 guide dogs pups being bred each year.
'We often take our sight for granted', said Paul, 'and it was good to experience first-hand how a guide dog can assist a visually-impaired person. This charity is providing a great support in many people's lives and I hope it will continue to be successful'.
On Friday Paul attended Mass at St Michael's Church Wolverhampton to mark CAFOD's Harvest Fast Day. People from the Catholic churches and schools across Wolverhampton came together to attend Mass, remember those who will not have a good harvest in their countries, and give thanks for the work of CAFOD.
CAFOD – the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, work with partners across the world to work to reduce poverty. The Mass coincided with CAFOD's Harvest Fast Day which was an opportunity to raise awareness of the work that CAFOD and its partners do across the world to help people out of poverty. It was also an opportunity to fundraise for the partnership's work and many people chose to donate money saved through eating simply or fasting on that day.
Paul enjoyed learning more about CAFOD's vital work and said "it is important to take time from our busy lives to remember those who will not have a harvest to look forward to this year. The work that CAFOD, its' partners and others do is vital to helping these people. Today is an opportunity to think about what we can do for others, giving up a meal this day or even just dessert and giving to those in need – whether they be in the UK or across the world".
Paul paid a visit to Springfield Methodist Church in Penn this morning to support the 'World's Biggest Coffee Morning'.
Established by Macmillan Cancer Support in 1990, many people and community groups across the country hold a simultaneous coffee morning once a year, donating their proceeds to help those affected by cancer. Since 1991, over £60m has been raised.
Springdale's coffee morning offered regular worshippers a chance to meet and socialise, and Paul was delighted to be a part of it. 'Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer', said Paul, 'and Macmillan do a fantastic job offering support wherever they can. I was pleased to offer my support today, as well as meeting new people and enjoying some great refreshments'.
Paul met with the Chief Superintendent of Wolverhampton Police Neil Evans on Friday 7 September to discuss the issue of dangerous dog attacks. These have gained increasing attention across national media in recent years. Paul and Mr Evans discussed the number of reported incidents, including any attacks on Guide Dogs over the last three years and the strategies needed to reduce such crimes.
The meeting was held as Paul has received a significant level of correspondence from constituents concerned about the issue.
Paul said "The meeting with Chief Superintendent Evans was very informative and reassuring. The number of reported instances of 'dog bite' attacks across Wolverhampton is very low, given the size and population of the city. It was also very positive to hear that there have been no recorded cases of guide dogs attacked by other dogs in Wolverhampton, which charities such as Guide Dogs UK have been very concerned about in recent months."
Paul visited the new home of LifeSpring Church today.
The Church was founded in 1998 by Tony and Ursual Wastall who moved to Wolverhampton from West Yorkshire. Over the last fourteen years they have met in a hotel, a school hall and a lecture theatre before purchasing the former Hi-Q Tyre Depot on Clifton Street in 2009. The depot was pulled down and work began on a new state-of-the-art facility in July 2011, taking twelve months to complete. There are already plans for a second phase to the project, including the extension of the auditorium to accommodate 500 people.
LifeSpring is heavily involved in engaging with the community; including debt counselling, prison work and engaging with children and young people. They also run Life Groups Alpha Courses and Sunday services amongst other activities. The ministry reaches across the globe too, with projects in the Philippines, India and Mozambique.
Paul said, 'I was delighted to see LifeSpring's new home and was very impressed with the facility. It has certainly brought regeneration to the Chapel Ash area. It was also great to hear about the work the Church is doing to help people across Wolverhampton and beyond, LifeSpring offer a great example of how to reach the disadvantaged in our society.'
Wolverhampton South West MP Paul Uppal will be doing his bit for charity this Sunday (2nd September), when he cycles over twelve miles in support of local charity Age UK Wolverhampton.
Riding 19.4km, Paul will be supporting a charity that helps create a more enjoyable and fulfilling later life for vulnerable older residents across the City. This includes home visits and safety checks as well as help for those being discharged from hospital; to friendship and luncheon clubs. Age UK wishes to see older people regaining and maintaining their independence in later life.
'I am very pleased to be getting involved in a good cause that brings great benefit to the older residents of our city', says Paul. 'I'm sure it is going to be a tough challenge on Sunday; but it's one I'm very much looking forward to'.
Paul made a visit to Molineux on Saturday to take a look at Wolves' new £18m Stan Culis stand, as it was officially unveiled prior to the team's first match of the new season.
Built over the last fifteen months, the new stand has a capacity of 7,700, taking the stadium's overall capacity to over 31,000. It also boasts a new 215 guest restaurant and 350-capacity bar area, in addition to more spacious facilities for spectators.
Paul was delighted to have been at the opening of the new stand, which marks the first phase in the Club's desire to redevelop Molineux. 'The facilities of the new Stan Culis Stand are certainly Premier League standard', added Paul, 'and I wish the team and the new manager well this season on their mission to return to the top flight'.
On Monday night, Paul visited the Cameo Ladies at the Goldthorn Hotel, Penn.
Since 1994, the Cameo Ladies have met to arrange social events including outings, talks and theatre visits. They were originally part of the Women's Gas Federation Nationwide. Due to a lack of funding the Wolverhampton group decided to fundraise themselves and form an independent group, they are still going strong today.
'It was great to meet with the Cameo Ladies and discuss issues facing older generations', claimed Paul. 'I will continue to support this group and offer my assistance wherever I can'.
Paul Uppal has welcomed Conservative Chancellor George Osborne's decision this week to freeze Fuel Duty until the end of the year.
The Government inherited a series of Fuel Duty rises from the last Labour government planned for last year and this year which it has scrapped or delayed. Following recent action in last year's Budget and Autumn Statement to cut Fuel Duty and scrap Labour's Fuel Duty 'escalator', this week the Conservative Chancellor cancelled Labour's 3p per litre rise planned for August this year.
Thanks to this Government's repeated action, including this week's delay, Fuel Duty is now 10p per litre lower than Labour planned, and motorists will save £159 on filling up the average family car by the end of the year.
"Thanks to the Conservatives in government, Fuel Duty has now been frozen for two years. This is good news for motorists, families and businesses coping with tight finances.
"By taking action on fuel pump prices, freezing council tax and cutting income tax for millions of people, the Conservatives are providing real help to people with the cost of living and a boost for Wolverhampton's economy."
I welcome the announcement that Wolverhampton has been selected to be one of the first twelve Portas Pilot locations, receiving £100,000 towards projects for the city centre.
There was an amazing response to the competition with over 300 bids submitted and Wolverhampton was commended for the leadership, enthusiasm and desire to make a difference and improve Wolverhampton High Street.
Grant Shapps MP, the Minister overseeing this project, praised the bid put forward by the team in Wolverhampton. Grant Shapps and Mary Portas were particularly impressed with plans to hold a "Dragons' Den" style competition providing cash grants and free places to trade.
I know that WV One and Wolverhampton City Council worked hard to put forward a strong bid, and I was happy to lend my support to the exciting proposals made. I am passionate about seeing regeneration brought to Wolverhampton as I believe the city has a great deal of potential, and I relayed to Ministers the valuable boost the Portas Pilot funding could bring to the city.
This offers a golden ticket opportunity for Wolverhampton. I look forward to meeting with WV One in the near future and seeing the projects develop.
More than 200 jobs and apprenticeships were on offer at the Wolverhampton Jobs and Skills Fair hosted by Paul Uppal, which attracted around 1500 job seekers. The event organised in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus was held at the Molineux Stadium on Thursday 26th April.
Paul Uppal the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West organised the event after seeing that around 12,000 people were out of work in the city and meeting employers that were keen to recruit locally. Jaguar Land Rover, Carillion and Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, were amongst 26 other companies that were looking to fill over 200 vacancies.
"We managed to get some really big names here, which is just fantastic" said Paul speaking at the event. "The turn-out is brilliant – I didn't expect it would be quite so popular".
"We want to carry this on now. This event was largely designed for people aged between 18 and 25 but we will start looking at other age groups now. This is so positive for Wolverhampton and I am sure there will be a number of job interviews and offers which come of it.
"There are jobs and training out there despite the return to recession. We saw growth figures out last week that were disappointing but it's important that people take a long term view. There is a danger of talking ourselves down; there is an underlying strength to the economy which will stand us in good stead".
Paul finished by adding that private sector growth through innovation, enterprise and exports will deliver the long term stability and jobs that we need across the country.
Paul Uppal, MP for Wolverhampton South West, visited the Oddfellows on Thursday 29th March to learn about the industry by spending the afternoon working at the pub.
James Divall, manager of the Marston's Inns & Tavern pub based on the Bridgnorth Road in Wolverhampton, gave Mr Uppal a warm welcome by challenging him to pull his first pint of Banks's Bitter.
"We were delighted to have Paul with us for the afternoon in the pub," said James, "he certainly wasn't afraid of pulling his sleeves up and was straight behind the bar pulling his first pint."
The team at the Oddfellows took Mr Uppal through the pub's inner workings including: its induction process, serving up meals and drinks to lunchtime customers, discussing issues affecting the pub and its success and crucially, how to pour the perfect pint.
James added: "It vital that MPs visit their local pubs and are well versed in the issues that affect pub's success, such as the cheap alcohol deals offered by large supermarkets and also beer duty, which has increased yet again after the recent election."
Mr Uppal added: "The visit to the Oddfellows pub this morning has allowed me to see firsthand, the challenges facing the pub sector. I am shocked that the latest figures show that the number of pubs closing rose to 16 per week in the second half of 2011.
"Pubs make a significant and valuable contribution to both the national economy and community life. In order to reverse this worrying trend we need to work together, as politicians, with the industry to put into place policies that support the local pub."
Paul Uppal celebrated International Women's Day today by inviting his constituent Fiona Jones to shadow him for the day in Parliament. Fiona is a student from Wolverhampton Grammar School and was invited due to her strong interest in politics and participation in student government.
Fiona and Paul attended a number of events to mark the day, among them the debate in the chamber on International Women's Day and afternoon tea with the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow, in the Speaker's House.
The theme for the day was 'Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures'. MPs from across all parties were encouraged to take part and inspire young women who are interested in politics or taking a leading role in the community by inviting them to Parliament.
Paul said: " I was absolutely delighted to see so many MPs taking part and inspiring the next generation of future leaders. I hope that the young women have enjoyed seeing their MPs in action and leave with a positive message about political life and how they can become involved and make a difference. It is important that we continue to work to open up the representation of Parliament and perhaps in a few years some of the young women will return as MPs".
Friday 16th March, Paul visited The Royal Wolverhampton School. The school was founded in 1850 originally as an orphanage, but is open today as a fully co-educational independent school, which educates over 450 pupils of whom 125 are boarders.
During the visit Paul held a question and answer session with pupils from years 5 and 6. A whole range of topics were discussed including what made Paul become an MP and his views on the current legal age for voting.
Paul finished the visit by having lunch with the school's Student Cabinet, Headmaster, Mr Mark Heywood and other staff members. The members of the Student Cabinet put a number of questions to Paul including how to increase the engagement of young people in politics and life in Westminster.
During the visit Paul said, "I began the morning receiving a tour of the nursery section, where I met the Head of the Junior School and other staff to discuss the excellent work being done to provide an excellent educational start to over 100 children.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Royal Wolverhampton School today. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the pupils of all ages to engage in the political debates of today and I look forward to visiting again in the future."
On Friday evening Paul joined the Wolverhampton World Poverty Action Group, alongside other Wolverhampton MPs to discuss the OXFAM Grow campaign with Maya Segas, who is Oxfam Midlands Public Affairs officer.
The Grow campaign was set up to in response to the fact that nearly 1 in 7 people regularly go hungry. It is a campaign aimed to transform the broken food system in order to help those who suffer most. It aims to address the issues surrounding land grabs, climate change, food price spikes and the support for small scale farming.
The event opened with Maya providing and update on the current GROW campaign, and in particular what progress they hope to made in the next few months. Topics discussed included land grabs, food sustainability and security.
The event concluded with a question on the current troubles in Syria. The government has said that it will work closely with our Arab and international partners in the Friends of Syria group to end the violence and begin the process of transition that the Syrian people deserve.
Speaking after the event Paul said "I would like to thank Wolverhampton World Poverty Action Group for their invitation to take part in this event. I found it extremely useful to learn about OXFAM's Grow Campaign and the excellent work being done.
"It is important we engage in the issues surrounding world poverty, and I found it encouraging the number of people who took the time to attend the event."
On Friday 2nd March Paul visited St. Peters Collegiate School. The morning began with a panel of year 9 students interviewing Paul on a number of issues ranging from the government's deficit reduction plan to the summer riots. Students also asked Paul about what life as an MP was like and what advice he would give to anybody wishing to pursue a career in politics.
The floor was then opened up to the audience, which was made up of teachers and students of past and present. During lunch Paul met with a number of staff members, which gave him chance to learn about not only the history of the school but also the excellent relationship between staff and pupils.
The day concluded with Paul meeting the Principle, Adrian Richards, who outlined his vision for the school and the recent outstanding Ofsted report the school has received.
Paul said "I was encouraged by the level of enthusiasm shown by pupils, and their willingness to engage in the political debate of today.
"I would like to thank the students at St. Peters for inviting me to the school and for the effort they made in organising and ensuring the successful running of the day. I look forward to visiting again in the future."
As part of National Apprenticeships Week, Paul met with a number of care apprentices on Housing 21's health and social care programme to learn more about the services provided by the organisation.
Housing 21 is a social enterprise that focuses on providing homes and services, helping people to increase their independence and also in bringing communities together. Housing 21's Wolverhampton office is just one of 37 care offices nationwide that provide 131 000 hours of care each week to 10 000 care users.
Liz Scott-Walter, who is the vocational services business partner for Housing 21 commented "We're delighted that Paul Uppal has been able to visit our office and meet some of the people involved in our apprenticeship programme. The professional development of our workforce is very important to us and we are proud of the achievements of the health and social care apprentices."
About the visit Paul said "It was excellent to meet with apprentices of all ages today. I found the number of young men coming forward encouraging; in what has been traditionally a female profession.
"What I found most heartening was that I saw a tangible demonstration of lifelong learning, adaptation and skills, which is not only good for the people I met today but also for Wolverhampton as a whole."
Today Paul visited Wolverhampton Grammar School at a significant time in its history; 2012 marks the 500th anniversary of the school's opening. The day began with Paul observing a session of the Student Parliament, a unique initiative designed to give all students an opportunity to raise and debate issues in a democratically elected body.
The floor was then opened up to members of the parliament, who put various questions to Paul on a range of topics including tuition fees, the August riots and the conflict in Afghanistan.
Paul then took part in a question and answer session with sixth form pupils who are currently studying Government & Politics. A variety of local and national issues were raised by the pupils including regeneration in Wolverhampton city centre and employment opportunities.
The visit concluded with Paul meeting Headteacher, Mr Vincent Darby, to discuss the school's current scholarship scheme and how to ensure Wolverhampton based industries strive to employ local people.
Paul said "It was excellent meeting the pupils of Wolverhampton Grammar School today, particularly at this significant time as 2012 marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of the school. It is always encouraging to see pupils of all ages engaging in the political issues of today. I was impressed by the level of knowledge demonstrated by the pupils and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss and debate a range of topics.
"I was particularly encouraged by the number of sixth form students who said they would like to run their own business at some point in the future, which is a positive sign of aspiration and enterprise in Wolverhampton.
"I also enjoyed the opportunity to discuss scholarships and social mobility with the Headteacher, Mr Darby, and I look forward to revisiting the school in the near future."
Paul Uppal MP is taking part in the second annual Parliamentary live music competition, Rock the House, and invites under-18s, solo artists, bands and live music venues in the Wolverhampton South West constituency to write and nominate themselves. The competition was founded by Mike Weatherley MP in support of the UK live music sector to raise the profile of intellectual property rights issues and counts rock legends Alice Cooper and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Patrons.
Musicians and live music venues within the constituency can find all forms and information on the competition at www.rockthehouse2012.com and can send in their nominations to Paul Uppal MP at email@example.com.
Any musicians outside the Wolverhampton South West constituency can still write to their MP to nominate themselves to take part. Prizes include music equipment; a chance to play at high profile festivals; and mingle with the great and the good of the music industry. Successful nominees will go forward to the national competition which will be judged by a panel of international music industry experts and musicians and the finalists will be announced on Friday 18th May.
The finalists will take part in a battle of the bands to determine the winner on Wednesday 30th May and the winner in each category will perform live at a final competition reception on the Terrace at the House of Commons in the evening.
Paul Uppal MP said: “There is a wealth of live music talent in my constituency, and I would urge all musicians and live music venues to fill in an application and send it to me. We are fortunate to have some great music venues within the City Centre such as, The Slade Rooms and Wolverhampton Civic. The recognition and contacts entrants can get from taking part is priceless and it would be great to put the constituency on the map for its artistic talent.”
Founder, Mike Weatherley MP, said: “The UK has a world-leading music and creative industry and this competition aims to celebrate the very best up-and-coming artists; and to raise the profile of intellectual property rights among politicians. I urge all unsigned musicians to fill in an application form and send a copy of their music to their MP.”
My surgery at Springdale Methodist Church in Penn from 2pm onwards will be my last until the New Year. If you wish to book an appointment please contact my office on 01902 712 134.
I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Looking back on the year I believe that as a country and as a city we have much to be proud of and be thankful for. We have much to look forward to next year, Britain will be hosting the Olympics and the Olympic Torch will be passing through Wolverhampton on 30 June next year.
We should use this period as we meet with friends and family over the Christmas to reflect and think about those who may not be as fortunate as we are both home and abroad, and what we are able to do to help them.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope to see as many of you in the new year as possible.
On Friday 9th December, Paul took part in a question and answer session with pupils at Highfields Science Specialist School. Students put various questions to Paul on a number of topics, including the economy, changes to tuition fees and the recent riots.
Paul said "It was excellent meeting the pupils today, and it is encouraging to see young people engaging in contemporary political issues. I appreciated the opportunity to answer any questions the pupils had and I look forward to visiting the school again in the future."
George Osborne today announced an Autumn Statement which is designed in tough times for tough times. It is a plan to invest in our economy, create jobs and build a sustainable future for the country.
We now know from the Office of Budget Responsibility, that the recession was even worse than we thought, history tells us that recovering from such a deep recession was always going to take time and effort. This has not been helped by conditions abroad, the eurozone debt crisis has increased pressures on the UK economy, which is why investment is welcomed to promote growth and create employment.
The IMF and OECD have said that without reducing the budget deficit there can be no sustained economic growth. We have seen what unsustainable debt levels have on the long term interest rates of countries such as Ireland, Greece, Spain and Italy - because of the action we have taken and continue to take this government is saving money for hard working taxpayers, businesses and families.
The Government is taking further action to help households and businesses through this difficult period by ensuring that deficit reduction is implemented fairly, with the financial sector paying a fair share; this is why we have taken the measures to ensure that the bank levy raises £2.5 billion.
We will introduce a National Loan Guarantee Scheme meaning up to £20 billion of guarantees for bank funding will be made available over two years. This will allow banks to offer lower cost lending to smaller businesses, allowing them to invest in new projects, and increasing growth.
It will be small businesses that create the majority of growth and employment as we move away from recession. Ever since the banking crisis small businesses have found it difficult to obtain funding and credit. Through this system of credit easing we can ensure that credit is provided where it is needed, guaranteeing that successful companies are not stifled by a shortage of lending.
We are continuing to support young people as well, in building for the future; we will invest an extra £600 million to fund 100 additional Free Schools by the end of this Parliament. This will include new specialist maths schools for 16-18 year olds, supported by strong university maths departments. This will guarantee that young people leaving school are equipped with the right skills and qualifications to obtain employment.
I welcome the measures put forward by the Chancellor, George Osborne; with the leadership of this Government and this Chancellor we can insulate our economy from external pressure and protect our economy from future shocks as well as the continuing eurozone crisis. We all recognise that the recovery was going to be difficult, but confidence in our economy from foreign investors shows that we are currently on the right track.
Paul Uppal today visited Sham Sharma, who owns and runs computer store Sunitek on Broad Street, Wolverhampton, on the first day of opening after the shop was hit by looting during the summer riots.
Paul speaking at the reopening said, "What happened to Sham and his store was a terrible shame, the final cost was in the region of £50,000 and there were fears that he may go out of business. It captured the social and economic cost of the riots and became a focal point for many.
"It has been a difficult time for Sham and the people of Wolverhampton, a time of rebuilding and reflecting on what has happened, but this is not the end, we need continuing support for businesses as they look to rebuild and look towards the future.
"What we have seen though from Sham and other retailers across the city is their resilience and in these difficult times this is what makes this city great. We will move forward from these terrible events, becoming a stronger and better city in the process."
The recent motion tabled by David Nuttall MP on an EU referendum has received a lot of attention. I have declined media offers to discuss this issue prior to the vote, largely because my decision was a difficult one, and I wanted to take the time to listen to both sides of the debate, including statements from both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.
I want to take the opportunity to explain to constituents, the reasons why I voted against this motion. The motion we debated was as follows:
That this House calls upon the Government to introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament to provide for the holding of a national referendum on whether the United Kingdom should
(a) remain a member of the European Union on the current terms;
(b) leave the European Union; or
(c) re-negotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and co-operation.
As I have mentioned, the decision was difficult, as many of you are aware, I am a euro-sceptic by nature. I believe that too many powers have been given to Europe, and we should re-negotiate the terms of our membership. I do agree there are merits to our involvement with the European Union; however I was disappointed when the Labour Government signed the Lisbon Treaty. I remain very concerned about the institution which the EU has become. It is very different from the institution to which we signed up and I have a very strong view that the British people should be entitled to a say on whether or not they wish to remain part of the EU. Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, who stated this weekend he couldn't rule joining the Euro in future – let me assure that I categorically disagree that Britain should ever join the Euro and would campaign against any such proposal.
Even though I share many of my colleagues' views about the need to re-examine our relationship and involvement in the European Union, I chose not to support this motion. I am not against the British people having a referendum on our membership or the terms of our membership in the European Union, however I believe this was the wrong time and the wrong motion.
I know that some Members have said they consider wrong timing as an 'excuse' not to debate the issue; however I believe, as with most things, timing is crucial. As the media reports will tell you, the Euro zone is in crisis. It is in our national interest for our economy to ensure this crisis is resolved.
We are living through difficult economic conditions, with many constituents feeling the effects. Bringing the issue of EU membership to the forefront now would further destabilise the Euro zone and put our country's growth plans at risk.
I believe for constituents of Wolverhampton South West, bringing the economy back on track, providing jobs and ensuring long term stability and growth is of primary concern, we should not let this debate detract from our efforts to provide the economy with a plan for growth.
You may be interested to know that I only received 22 letters from constituents asking me to vote in favour of this motion. While I value the views of all constituents, this was significantly less correspondence than I have received on a number of other issues. I took all the comments I received on board, however believe that tackling the economy is what most constituents want the Government to give its full attention to.
Furthermore, as the Euro zone is in crisis, we do not knowing what sort of European Union will exist come 2012 when this referendum would be called under this motion. To debate our involvement with the European Union, we need to firstly know, what sort of Union will exist after this crisis is resolved. Only then can we accurately debate and discuss our involvement.
I believe that myself, my Conservative colleagues and the Prime Minister all share the view that we need to re-evaluate our relationship with the European Union, the question is simply how to achieve this. I welcome the Prime Minister's statement that we need to repatriate some powers back to Britain, but believe that a timescale is difficult to place on this. I hope that a re-negotiation of powers will occur and aim to work towards this in the future as I do believe it is an important issue for the future of this country.
On Friday 14th October, Paul joined parents in attending the Springdale Junior School 'Communication Day' assembly. Pupils participated in a range of activities where they experienced different methods of communication, such as sign-language and braille. The assembly gave the pupils a chance to show their parents and peers what they had learnt from the day.
Paul also discussed the 'Friends of Springdale' initiative set up by parents, which involves fundraising in order to buy new equipment for the school.
Paul said "It was fantastic to see the hard work staff and pupils had put into making the day a success and was great to see the day supported by so many parents.
"It is important we have an appreciation of the variety of forms of communication.
"I would also like to congratulate all those involved in the 'Friends of Springdale' initiative and I look forward to revisiting the school in the future."
On Friday 7th October Paul Uppal MP took part in a question and answer session with Wolverhampton Tenants Association who represent the welfare of tenants and leaseholders across Wolverhampton.
The session lasted for about an hour where tenants put a range of questions to Paul regarding the Government's social housing policy.
Paul said "It was fantastic to meet the Wolverhampton Tenants Association. I appreciated the opportunity to listen to their concerns and make them aware of the proposed changes to social housing that the Government are currently looking at.
"I believe that the important changes to be implemented strike the appropriate balance between the needs of new and existing tenants, whilst also increasing the supply and availability of social housing.
"I look forward to continuing to meet Wolverhampton Tenants Association and listening to their concerns."
On Friday 30th September, Paul Uppal MP hosted a coffee morning at Wolverhampton Cricket Club, taking part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
As the largest fundraising event organised by Macmillan, it is a great opportunity to raise money for their important work in changing lives and reaching out to those affected by cancer. The event has grown and grown, with all sorts of events now being held, from coffee mornings to pub quizzes.
The event, held on a sunny morning at Wolverhampton Cricket Club was filled with tempting cakes and cookies, with all sales going to the charity. All involved were pleased that they were part of raising a grand total of £188 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Special thanks go to Wolverhampton Cricket Club and Wolverhampton Racecourse for the kind support for the event.
Speaking after the event, Paul said "It was a privilege to host an event to raise money for such an inspiring charity who reach out to so many affected by cancer. They support people through the difficult times, providing medical, emotional, practical and financial support. We all know someone who have been affected by cancer, and I am sure many are aware of the work that Macmillan do in changing lives for people with this terrible disease. I'm grateful to everyone who attended the coffee morning, and helped contribute to raising just under £200 for Macmillan".
On Friday 9th September 2011, Paul visited Age UK Wolverhampton, an independent charity based in the city centre. Age UK Wolverhampton works to 'promote the wellbeing of older people and to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience'. The organisation provides a range of services including information and advice, telephone support, transport, a friendship club and many more.
Paul began the morning meeting with the CEO, Rosie Paskins, and trustees to get a summary of the structure and history of the organisation.
Paul was then given a tour of the building where he met with staff from various departments including the Hayward restaurant, insurance advice and the telephone support team.
After lunch Paul met various volunteers to discuss their personal experience of working for Age UK Wolverhampton. The contribution of volunteers to the organisation is vital. In the last year, 167 volunteers collated over 11 500 hours to the charity.
The day closed with a discussion on the expansion of Age UK Wolverhampton and 'Keep Active', a new scheme involving exercise and dance sessions for people aged over 50.
Paul said "It was fantastic to visit Age UK Wolverhampton today and to learn of the essential service they provide in supporting many people in later life. It was great to meet constituents who benefit greatly from the services provided by Age UK Wolverhampton.
"The commitment and passion of all staff at Age UK Wolverhampton is clear to see and I look forward to visiting the centre again in the near future".
Paul Uppal and Inspector Robin Edwards met this week to discuss the Government's role in addressing Metal Theft. As the price of metal increases, in times of such economic hardship inevitably there is an increase in metal related thefts. Inspector Robin Edwards states that this is an urgent issue which is increasingly affecting every constituency in the country.
Theft of metal has caused disruption and danger with the theft of copper railway cables and man-hole covers. Many churches have also been affected as lead has been taken from roofs, leading to thousands of pounds of repairs. Recently however, Police officers have noticed the prevalence of gold theft as the price of all precious metals has risen significantly. It is necessary for action to be taken to address this growing problem.
Currently, the issue falls under 'The Scrap Metal Act of 1964', however this is seen to be outdated and in need of urgent reform. The Police are working closely with Government through the Metal Theft Working Group to look at ways to update legislation to reflect the current situation. The Group have drafted a proposed new legislation which could be enforced to tackle the problem. 'The New Metal Theft Act' aims to make the rules and laws governing the metal industry more rigorous such as the need for photo-identification when trying to sell metal to scrap yards and recent documents showing proof of ownership. At the moment there is a trial operation being run in the North East by the Metal Theft Working Group using the proposed legislation and the success of this operation will determine the future of the proposed legislation.
Paul aims to continue to monitor this issue and work with the Police, and hopes through cooperation between Government and the Police new legislation can be brought in to provide tools to tackle the issue of Metal Theft.
After consulting with constituents and businesses in Wolverhampton City Centre, Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West has called for action on the volume of Street Preachers and Fundraisers.
Following an agreement in Manchester between the city centre management company, and, the self-regulating body that monitors face-to-face fundraising, Street Fundraisers will be limited to designated zones and will be only allowed to operate three days a week.
Paul has called for a similar solution in Wolverhampton to ensure that there is an attractive and pleasant atmosphere for shoppers in the City Centre;
"Shoppers say that the aggressive tactics used by some Street Fundraisers and Preachers leaves them feeling harassed and intimidated. We need a situation where consumers are allowed to shop peacefully without the apprehension of being stopped, whilst allowing charities to carry out the fundamental task of fundraising.
"Shoppers should be free to decide if they want to donate to charity without being ambushed in the street. We are by nature a benevolent nation, what I do not want to see is the relationship between the British people and Charities tarnished by the activities of aggressive Street Fundraisers.", Paul says.
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, has held a meeting with Wolverhampton City Council Chief Executive Simon Warren after consulting with businesses and members of the public in Wolverhampton City Centre.
The main findings of the consultation were concerns surrounding parking and the volume of street fundraisers and religious preachers. The number of empty shops was also cited as a worrying issue in the city centre.
Paul presented these findings to Mr Warren and called for a meeting between council officers and business leaders so they can discuss moving the city in a forward direction.
Paul said, "It is important that business owners and leaders can shape the direction of regeneration in the city, they are the driving force behind growth and job creation in the city.
"I am concerned about the number of people who are discouraged from visiting the city because of the volume of street fundraisers and other canvassers. We need a situation where consumers are allowed to shop peacefully without the apprehension of being stopped whilst allowing charities to carry out the fundamental task of fundraising.
"Finally I hope that if we can bring together businesses and work together we can make Wolverhampton the vibrant city it deserves to be."
On Friday 2nd September 2011, Paul visited Wolverhampton YMCA where he met with Chief Executive Steven Clay and Pauline Tomlinson (Head of Business Development) to discuss current projects run by the YMCA. Topics discussed included engaging with young people and dealing with drug and alcohol dependency.
Paul was also given a tour of the site, where he met with various staff members to discuss the fundamental work they do.
Paul said "It was fantastic to observe the vital work carried out by the YMCA first hand. The range of programmes offered at the site, to people of all ages, really can make a difference to people's lives and I look forward to revisiting the centre in the near future"
Paul Uppal MP for Wolverhampton South West launches a regular monthly Surgery at Whitmore Reans Welfare Centre, taking place on the first Friday of each month, due to demand this will be by appointment only.
Paul will continue to hold surgeries at the constituency office on the second floor of Gresham Chambers on subsequent Fridays.
Paul says "By having a regular surgery outside the office I get a chance to meet new people and hear views from the people that matter.
"I hope that more people will be encouraged to come and see me and discuss the issues that are affecting them. I look forward to meeting as many people as possible so we can continue to make Wolverhampton an even better place to live."
If you wish to see Paul at the Whitmore Reans Welfare Centre or to book a surgery appointment please phone 01902 712134.
Paul Uppal has welcomed the swift justice being handed down to rioters in the West Midlands. The latest figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that 126 court cases have already been heard in the area, following the violent disturbances in Birmingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
Among those appearing in court in the West Midlands, 11 have been sentenced to immediate custody, three received non-custodial sentences, and the majority are remanded in custody awaiting sentence.
Following the riots across the country, during which shops were looted, buildings burned and five people died, almost 1,500 people have appeared in court as the Government sends a very strong message that such behaviour is wrong and will not be tolerated.
'What happened on our streets was absolutely appalling and local people rightly expect to see the rioters pay for their crimes. The courts are working swiftly and effectively to punish the wrongdoers and help ensure such disorder does not return to our communities.
"I am proud of the enormous effort being made across Government and the criminal justice system in the West Midlands to bring these individuals to justice as quickly as possible."
Paul has received a number of correspondences from local residents concerned over the changes to bus routes in the city.
Constituents have expressed concerns that their buses do not stop at the bus station, which has led to them feeling cut off from both the bus and train station. Particular concern has been expressed for elderly residents who now face a significant walk to access the train station and the new bus station.
All residents who have contacted Paul Uppal MP regarding this issue will receive a personal response from Centro to their concerns, however Paul is calling for a public meeting so that all local people affected will have a chance to raise their concerns.
Paul said "I feel it would be useful for Centro to hold a public meeting, as I know Wolverhampton residents would be grateful of an opportunity to raise their concerns directly with Centro. I understand that Centro feel these changes are an improvement and this meeting would also provide the opportunity for them to discuss the routes and reasons for the changes. If any residents would like to discuss their concerns regarding bus route changes, please contact me."
Wolverhampton experienced rioting on Tuesday evening. Shops were emptied and our city centre became a 'no go zone'. Businesses that took generations to build have been destroyed in a matter of minutes. Livelihoods that took years to create have vanished in a couple of hours. During the clean-up the next morning, I was struck by a mental image. There is an Indian saying that it takes a lot of effort to grow a flower: it needs water, love, time and effort, but anyone in one callous moment can come and stamp on it and destroy it.
Many will have seen the TV coverage of Sham Sharma's shop, which was completely looted by thieves. He and I have been struck by the total lack of respect and the disregard shown by some young people for the rights and property of others. We as a Government must do everything possible to make sure that this never, ever happens again. There is a need to restore confidence in the safety of our towns and cities, so that they are no longer boarded-up ghost towns of an evening. To achieve this, a continuing strong response is needed from the authorities. I welcome the initiatives announced earlier today.
I have met with many people after the events that gripped Wolverhampton Tuesday evening, and I am grateful to the Prime Minister for taking the time to meet business owners and people that have been affected by these terrible events and for reassuring them the police are being given the right tools to address the lawless behaviour. I am also grateful to our Police and Emergency Services that have done us proud up and down the country.
Many are questioning the values of society and wondering how the country has ended up in this situation. I have had many conversations with an elderly gentleman in my constituency, Mr Gurdev Rai about what he titles the three R's, Respect, Responsibilities and Rights.
It is clear that the rights to live free from fear have been destroyed for many by the actions we have seen over the past few days. Some of the rioters have spoken of their right to express their views, to 'show the authorities what they can do' and to cause havoc in doing so. Much has been said of their rights, however they display very little acknowledgment of their responsibilities. Responsibilities that each of us has to each other, our communities, and this nation as a whole. Maybe this is something that has been neglected in the education that young people have received both at home and at school. It is clear that if everyone was to behave in this manner, our society could not exist as it does. It is the responsibility of all to maintain all that we hold dear in this country.
We all agree in the principles of the right to a voice, to an opinion, but to do so within the limits of the law which protects the values of society. We should be grateful to live in a democratic and peaceful society. Many young people across the world have been willing to die for the rights we enjoy in this country. We have the right to free speech, free press and to congregate and protest peacefully. These rioters have abused these rights and have destroyed much of the stability that has existed. They have destroyed confidence in the safety of our towns and cities, and left many scared of our young people.
They have let us all down, none more so than their fellow young people. Scenes have shown there are many young people who value their society and work hard to maintain it. To return to the flower story, what I saw in Wolverhampton on Wednesday morning was many young people planting those flowers for the future.
To live in a positive and enriching society we must all ensure that we live by a principle of respect. Respect for each other, for our communities, for authority and the law that maintains it. To have respect, we must show this respect and acknowledge our responsibilities.
Many have commented that respect in its fuller sense has been lost from society. Some constituents have said that they feel the education seem is failing in this regard. Gone has the time when young people were inspired by their community leaders, teachers and parents. Instead they look to fame and celebrity culture, and consequently the lifestyle that goes with it. We are failing to inspire our children to know their own value and self worth, a value that is not attributed to fame and wealth, instead striving to be the best you can be.
If we are to restore respect for authority and for our society, this must start at home and in school. We need to return to the values that make our society great. This is not celebrity, fast cars, and a culture of 'me first' regardless of the consequences. This is the real world where young people should look to those who aspire to respect others and work hard for what they achieve.
These are the real heroes of our society, those who know their own value, respecting not only themselves, but their families, community, society and country.
The trustees of the Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji Sikh temple in Wolverhampton have donated £5,000 to the development of the Atrium at Springdale Methodist Church & Community Centre.
On receiving the cheque from Paul Uppal MP, who is a trustee for the temple, Reverend Donald H Ryan -the Project Overseer - said, "We are extremely grateful for the generous gift from our Sikh friends for the community centre."
Paul Uppal MP said, "What has impressed me most was the community pulling together, people from different faiths working together for a common goal. The money donated today will go a long way to completing the community centre, which I hope will be enjoyed by all members of the community."
After a meeting between business owners and The Prime Minister in Wolverhampton, David Cameron today announced a review of planning laws to make it easier for shops to put up shutters.
Prime Minister David Cameron visited Wolverhampton and met with Local MP Paul Uppal and local businesses. At the meeting some shop owners raised the difficulties they have adding shutters to a listed building because of existing planning laws.
One shop in particular, because of its location has been subject to attack on a number of occasions, most recently during riots on Tuesday.
Paul Uppal speaking on the announcements said, "This is a problem that is unnecessary, it is clear that after the recent events, whilst it is important that we preserve listed buildings, this must be balanced against the need to protect businesses safely and effectively.
"I am pleased that retail managers were able to raise this issue with the Prime Minister, and that he has taken this decision swiftly – I know it will be of great benefit to many businesses across Wolverhampton and up and down this country."
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, visited Wolverhampton on Wednesday and met with police officers and local business owners to discuss the rioting on Tuesday evening.
The Prime Minister assured those at the meeting that more police would be out on the streets on Wednesday, and police forces up and down the country would be given the tools they needed to address the situation and return order to the streets.
One local business owner stated after the meeting, "The Prime Minister listened to all of us and said he would give the police all the resources they need in order to retake control of our City. I think it was brilliant that he came and held a meeting with us. We felt like something would be done".
The following day, the Prime Minister returned to Westminster as MPs were recalled to debate the recent public disorder which took place across England. To read the Prime Minister's statement to the Commons, please visit: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110811/debtext/110811-0001.htm#1108117000001
Today Paul Uppal took a tour of the new Wolverhampton Bus Station and met with employees of Centro to discuss the launch.
Speaking about the new development, Paul said " it is really great to see some regeneration and investment in Wolverhampton, and I welcome this addition to the city. For the many visitors by coach it makes an impressive first impression, and I'm sure it will also benefit local residents with a smart and weatherproof facility".
I did note the lack of pedestrian crossing linking the bus station to Queen Street and Lichfield Street, and will be highlighting this issue to Centro and Wolverhampton City Council.
After the Prime Ministers Statement and subsequent debate, I thought it may be usefull to outline my own thoughts on this matter;
"The Prime Minister today showed strength of character and leadership in a time of crisis for this country. Further I welcome the appointment of Lord Justice Leveson to look at specific wrong doing in the Police and Press, and James Murdoch for backing the review into media ethics. I hope the events of the last few days will signal a change in standards, so that we can see positive outcomes to this scandal.
"I would hope that the resignations of John Yates and Sir Paul Stephenson do not absolve the Metropolitan Police from their responsibility over the scandal, because as a Government, we do not only need to restore trust and faith in journalists and newspapers, but the police and parliament who's responsibility it is to prevent said events occurring.
"I appreciate the role that investigative journalism plays, but with such a sea change people must question what constitutes news, and question how this news is obtained. While the Government and Authorities can and should always insure illegal behaviour does not occur, in light of this scandal we must all reflect and hold to account the papers that we read, and the news we watch."
I am happy to congratulate two Wolverhampton residents on winning medals on the Special Olympics Gymnastics. The Special Olympics were held in Athens Greece and there were over 7000 disabled athletes who represented 180 countries. Great Britain was able to send 157 athletes and 56 coaches to this event which was the largest multisport event of 2011.
Sarah Whitehouse won a gold medal on the bars and a silver medal for her all around performance. Richard Hammond won two silver medals on both the parallel and horizontal bars as well as the gold medal for his all around performance. Both of these athletes were trained and coached by Greg Silvester who is also from Wolverhampton, and a Special Olympics GB board member and award-winning former Special Olympics GB gymnast.
I am so excited for these young athletes and very proud of their representation of Wolverhampton and Great Britain.
Paul spoke today in a Westminster Hall debate secured by Caroline Nokes on Dangerous Dogs, a number of issues were debated from the compulsory microchipping of dogs to the rise in 'status dogs'. Ministers have said the Government is now considering a number of options relating to the control of dangerous dogs and improving responsible dog ownership and a decision will be made in the future.
Paul speaking after the debate said, "I would start by urging the Government to introduce legislation as quickly as possible, for any delay in tackling this issue could have a devastating impact on children and families. This issue has affected families across Britain, from the suburbs, to our green spaces and the inner city estate; we can all talk about lives that have been devastated by a dog attack and the impact that this has had on friends and relatives.
"There needs to be a greater responsibility on owners of dogs, and the law must reflect this, I know that I am echoing the words of David Cameron but if a person chooses to own and look after a dog then they should be legally responsible for the actions of that dog. In agreeing to take that dog into their home they must be ensure that the dog is safe and behaves in an appropriate way wherever it is.
"I would like to also commend the work by the Communications Workers Union in standing up for its members on this issue, for trying to protect them as they carry out their day-to-day duties. One statistic that stands out is that according to the CWU, 70 per cent of the dog attacks on their members occur on private property.
"This means that as the 'attack' occurs in a private space rather than a 'public space' the victim is unprotected. "As a result, police have been powerless to prosecute owners for some of the most horrific attacks by dogs in recent years." Any change in the law must take account of this and extend protection towards victims of all dog attacks."
Paul Uppal the Conservative Member of Parliament has called for free parking in Wolverhampton city centre. Paul raised the issue in the House of Commons and called for a debate in order to boost trade.
Paul said, "My constituency carries the unenviable burden of having one of the highest rates of empty shops. Will the Leader of the House facilitate a debate on what measures could be introduced to encourage local authorities to provide free car parking, which would fillip not just to city centres but to high streets and small independent retailers".
As shopping centres in neighbouring Birmingham thrive, free car parking would make our city more attractive to shoppers, giving a much needed boost to the retail sector of Wolverhampton.
Paul Uppal took time out for a special Strawberry Tea party in the House of Commons on Tuesday 14 June.
Arranged by Breast Cancer Care, the event was a chance for Paul to find out more about the charity's work supporting people affected by breast cancer and the issues that are important to the 50,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year.
And as well as sampling a superb selection of mouth-watering strawberry treats, Paul also had the chance to meet some of the charity's volunteers, who are instrumental in delivering its free support services in communities across the UK.
Commenting on the event, Paul said: "I know that there will be countless families across my constituency who have been affected by breast cancer, either personally or through the experience of a friend, family member or work colleague.
The Strawberry Tea was a great way to find out more about the impact breast cancer can have on the lives of people affected and to learn about the free support services Breast Cancer Care provide. By hosting your own Strawberry Tea event this summer you can help Breast Cancer Care to continue to be there for anyone affected by this disease."
Geri Halliwell, Breast Cancer Care's Patron, urged anyone interested in supporting the charity to host their own Strawberry Tea.
"A Strawberry Tea with my best friends – how fabulous! And all to help Breast Cancer Care, what could be more fun?! Get all your guests to kindly make a donation, which helps Breast Cancer Care to support over 1.7 million people every year. Breast Cancer Care provides world class support, help and information to anyone affected by breast cancer."
Thank you to all residents who attended the meeting today regarding the proposed phone mast on Finchfield Hill.
The strength of concern about this mast is evident, and as your MP I will support you in voicing these concerns to Wolverhampton City Council.
As discussed, I would encourage you to send your concerns to the Council either by letter or email. I have been informed that responses need to reach the Council by 23rd June 2011.
Details for contacting the Council:
Quote reference: DC/11/00531/TELMr Alan Murphy
Mr Alan Murphy
St. Peters Square
Paul Uppal the Conservative Member of Parliament has called upon Nick Herbert to implement a Royal Commission on Policing, in his open letter to the minister Paul outlines his belief that a royal commission implemented now would be in the best interest of the police force and communities up and down the country.
Paul said, "We are approaching a critical time for the police service in this country, the Winsor review of police pay and conditions, the Hutton review of public sector pensions, and the Neyroud review of police leadership and training, will shape and define the police force for a generation.
"We all agree that the police force is a credit to this country, which is why it saddens me that John Giblin, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales' sergeants' central committee, felt it necessary to speak out and say that, "a royal commission was 'desperately needed' as the police service witnesses a 'fragmentation of the police service characterised by a lack of standardisation, consistency and clarity of roles and responsibilities.
"In light of this I have decided to write to Nick Herbert the Minister for Police urging the implementation of the Royal commission, a commission that will ensure that needed reforms reflect the needs and expectations of a modern police force. I understand that our Government believes that there is not time for a wholesale review when savings are needed to cut the deficit, but surely this is an issue that is as paramount as the deficit and the country's finances."
"I do not believe that we can afford to trade speed with outcomes of these reforms."
During National Volunteer Week in June, Paul Uppal MP had the pleasure of spending a day helping volunteers at Wightwick Manor and Gardens which is owned by the National Trust.
Paul learnt about the variety of different roles for National Trust and spent time gardening, helping serve teas and also selling raffle tickets.
Speaking about the day, Paul said, "it was a pleasure to spend a day at Wightwick Manor and Gardens, I particularly enjoyed working in the lovely gardens on such a sunny day. I also enjoyed speaking with volunteers and learning about the rewarding work they carry out".
The National Trust has many options for those seeking to volunteer, from volunteering holidays to working at a location in your local area in roles such as conservation or working in the historic houses. For more information on volunteering with the National Trust visit their website www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Regrettably due to my commitments on the Welfare Bill Committee, I was unable to contribute or vote on the debate on the future of the European Financial Stability Mechanism. I will however outline my position as I was unable to attend;
As we are not a member of the euro zone we should not be held responsible to ensure the financial stability of the currency itself or the economies of the countries involved.
I am pleased that from 2013, it is expected that the European Financial Stability Mechanism will be permanently replaced by a €500bn European Stability Mechanism. This will be financed by guarantees from Eurozone countries only, so it will not involve any liability for the UK.
We must though remember why we find ourselves in such a position; The EFSM was originally agreed at an extraordinary meeting of the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 9 May 2010, this meeting was undertaken by the then Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling.
George Osborne made it clear to the Chancellor at the time that he did not support what he had done. I agree with this as money which this Government saved under the comprehensive spending review should not go to stabilise the economies of Eurozone countries. Governments have found themselves in this position due to the mismanagement of their own public spending and unsustainable budget deficits, taxpayers in this country should not be bearing the cost.
Problems have arisen in the past few months regarding the hand searches of Sikh turbans in airports based on new EU regulations. Under the EU regulations, airport security is allowed to insist on a hand search of the turban if the passenger in question either sets off the metal detector or is chosen at random for a search. This is seen as deeply disrespectful in the Sikh culture and it is received by most as a humiliating breach of their personal privacy.
The Department for Transport has taken the lead in trying to rectify the situation in establishing a trail that would have airports offer swabbing of the turban for explosive residue as well as hand held metal detectors as options for those individuals who need to be searched. This trial was well received by the Sikh community but is still not the norm in airports. The trial is optional in airports, but even in the participating airports, some staff are loathe to allow Sikh passengers the option.
There is still much discussion among Sikhs regarding this issue and many Members are being contacted by Sikhs in their constituency which is why I have sponsored the Westminster Hall debate that is taking place today. Hopefully we can get clarification on the things which still remain ambiguous as well as enter into a frank discussion amongst both ourselves and the minister on what we feel needs to happen in the future.
The current trial is not a long term solution and there are still screening problems at both airports in the UK as well as all over the world. It is my hope that the swab test is the standard for testing all over Europe in the near future and that it is offered first rather than the attempt to force people into a hand search. There is always hope for tomorrow. There is new technology being developed all the time from x-ray machines to more sophisticated swab tests that could make this problem a thing of the past. But until that happens we must work together to increase both awareness in the Sikh community regarding their rights to ask for a swab test as well as in airports to ensure that all passengers are treated with respect regardless of their choice of religious dress.
There can be no mistake that the events that have unfolded in Japan over the last week are devastating. Japan will be forever altered by the tragedy and they will continue to need help as they try and rebuild the areas hit by both the earthquake and the tsunami. Yesterday David Cameron spoke to the House of Commons and I asked him if we would see the full force of British friendship and generosity during this time. Here is his response:
The Prime Minister: I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that assurance. I spoke to our ambassador at lunchtime today, and he said that the way in which we respond will be very important to the Japanese people. Japan and Britain have a very strong, close relationship, and we should do everything we can to say, "We are with you at this time of need, and we are going to give you aid and help." Japan is an enormously capable country with fantastic technology and ingenious people, so if anyone can cope with the appalling things that have been visited on them, they can. There is also room for friends to help as well.
I have received word from the West Midlands Fire Service that 12 of our finest fire service personnel have gone to Japan to assist in the rescue efforts. I wanted to ask that you keep the team as well as the whole of Japan in your thoughts and prayers. And if you want to help in Japan you can donate to many organisations that are doing great work by clicking the links below.
Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) (Con): It is an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Croydon North (Malcolm Wicks). I very much shared some of the sentiments that he expressed. His speech contained a good deal of common sense. I would not expect anything else from a fellow Wolverhampton Wanderers fan; that is the least I would expect from him. I do not think I am the third Blairite in a row to speak, but I will endeavour to add some thoughts, particularly from a personal perspective. Six minutes is not long enough to do justice to my full thoughts on the Bill, but I shall be brief. Hon. Members may be happy to hear that I do not intend to use all of my allowance.This piece of legislation is a seminal Bill. It is one of the reasons that I hold the politics that I do. I am a Wolverhampton Member and Wolverhampton South West is a no-nonsense constituency, full of decent, hard-working folk who say it as it is and always wear their heart on their sleeve. The sentiment that has been repeatedly expressed to me is that the Bill has been a long time coming. Its central ethos is that work always pays. I shall sum it up by recalling my personal experience of my father.
My father came to this country with less than £5 in his pocket and no idea where he would sleep that night. He took that risk not only because he wanted to live in a country that had choice, freedom and opportunity, but because he wanted to work. Within 48 hours of his arrival, someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Do you know you can actually claim benefits?" That was anathema to him; it was not even in his mind. He came with the ethos of working, and working is what he has always done. That story has been replicated by those of scores of my relatives, who came over to work and had the ethos of working hard at their core.
I have actually been poor. I was brought up in poverty. I say this to Opposition Members-to all Members, actually: there is no nobility in poverty. It is something one strives to escape from. I went to a state school. My friends divided into two camps: those who had the ambition to move on, and those who, even then, in the late '70s and early '80s, would tell me to my face that they envisaged that the rest of their life would be on benefits, and that they were quite happy to live that way. The Bill, through its ethos of making work pay, tackles that problem head-on.
The right hon. Member for Croydon North said that a lot of people had the stuffing knocked out of them in the 1980s. I will use a personal example. Many of the uncles that I referred to earlier lost their jobs because they worked in industries in the midlands in that period, but almost all went on to establish their own businesses. They were driven by ambition and the ethos of trying to better their lives.I have spoken a lot from an historical perspective, but I want to bring my remarks up to date with a personal story that I heard from one of my closest friends just after Christmas. He had run a motor salvage firm, which, through a bit of bad luck and for other reasons, had gone downhill and eventually folded. People said to him, "How about claiming? You've contributed enough in your life," but he said, "No. I've worked for myself and that's what I'm going to do." He set up a new business-a cleaning business. He has worked hard, but whenever he tries to employ staff-this frequently comes up-people approach him and say, "I'm happy to work for you if you give me a bit of cash on the side." What they are saying is that work does not pay in those circumstances.
I am glad, and absolutely proud, to be part of the Government who are introducing the Bill. To make a non-partisan point, this has been a long time coming. It should have been done, not just in the past 13 years, but very many years ago. I shall sum up briefly by paraphrasing a saying that was used by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen): there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. As the Chinese always say, the first step of any journey is a long journey, and the most difficult step. I am happy to put my shoulder to the wheel and support the Bill, and push it through its very important journey.
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West has been thanked for his involvement in a successful decent homes bid by Wolverhampton Homes. Paul who has been central to negotiations with Housing Minister Grant Shapps and the Government was thanked by the Chief Executive Lesley Roberts for his involved in securing £66.5m of funds from central government.
Paul Uppal speaking after the announcement said," I have supported the decent homes bid ever since I came into office last May and was contacted by Lesley. This project has been at the heart of my first six months as a MP and it is great to see all this hard work creating a positive result for the people of Wolverhampton"
"This money will go towards the refurbishing of the social housing in Wolverhampton and will mean that all tenants across the city will have an even nicer place to live. I was concerned that if this money was not made available it would lead to a two-tiered social housing stock – this would be unacceptable for the people and more importantly the tenants of Wolverhampton."
During National Apprenticeship Week, Paul Uppal MP met with two apprentices training at Alex's Restaurant and Bar in Compton, Wolverhampton.
The two 17 year old apprentices are also currently working towards an NVQ Level 2 Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery at City of Wolverhampton College.
Paul said "I'm really pleased that I was able to meet Ashleigh and Nick, their hard work and passion is evident. I also had the opportunity to meet with staff of City of Wolverhampton College and discuss the importance of apprenticeships and learn more about the work they do in supporting both employers and apprentices".
"As someone who's been in business for 20 years, I know how important and crucial it is to get hands-on, practical experience. The Government is committed to supporting the apprenticeship program, creating up to 75,00 new apprenticeship places, investing up to £250 million over the spending review period, and increasing advanced level apprenticeships to help meet are target to have a world class skills base."
Paul today chaired a Westminster Hall debate on Economic Regeneration in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. Paul stated how important it was to raise this issue as Wolverhampton has experienced a lack of major investment over the past two decades.
The aim of the debate was to bring together Black Country MPs to raise the profile of this region at both a parliamentary and national level. Paul said "I do not want to dwell on what has passed, but look ahead to what can be achieved for this region, as I believe it has much to offer".
The debate provided a forum for discussion aimed at encouraging private investment and finance to the region.
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, spoke today in the debate on Decent Homes in Westminster Hall. He said the following:
As a government, one of our primary goals is to move power away from Whitehall and out across the country to individual councils and cities and to the people who know what is best for their own community. That is why it is so hard to speak about widespread national programs like Decent Homes- there are always different local factors, local economies and local councils and local needs that play a part. I cannot comment on the program as a whole but I do know that Wolverhampton needs Decent Homes.
Our Decent Homes program in Wolverhampton is carried out by Wolverhampton Homes, an ALMO, that is doing good work in our community. I have had the opportunity to meet with them and see some of their programs first hand and I think that losing their ability to complete the job that they have started would do a great disservice to Wolverhampton. Not only is Wolverhampton Homes updating houses that are in desperate need of repairs but they are providing jobs in a city with a very high unemployment rate. They have started an apprenticeship program and have been training over 60 apprentices a year. They have also given the very tenants that they are helping a way to be involved with the decisions that will affect them and several of the tenants in affected homes serve on the board of Wolverhampton Homes. Wolverhampton has been hit hard by the recession and Wolverhampton Homes has been an organisation has been both employing local residents as well as ensuring that those in some of the most indecent homes now have a decent place to live. As a Conservative Government we want people to have dignity and pride in their communities and in their lives and work together to begin making the nation a better place to live- what better place to begin than in the homes?
Please contact Andrea Coker on 0207 219 7195 for more information.
Welcome. My name is Paul Uppal and I am the Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West.
I hope that this website will keep you up to date with what I am doing for the people of Wolverhampton both in the constituency and in Westminster.
PAUL UPPAL MP
Paul Uppal MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA
020 7219 7195
020 7219 5221 (fax)
Paul Uppal MP
14 Lichfield Street
01902 712 134
01902 238 931(fax)