Over the course of the summer I have been very happy to spend time in Leeds West, visiting a range of local businesses and community groups.
One extremely disappointing local development over the summer has been the closure of Hawksworth Wood Post Office. Though I have been assured it is a temporary closure I am pressing the post office to re-open the service as soon as possible.
I am also continuing to work hard to protect funding for the Kirkstall Forge railway station. I recently went on another site visit with the developers and am having meetings in London and Leeds to campaign for this development. I have also had the chance to visit some fantastic local groups and businesses, who will be dealing with the impact of budget cuts and working to continue providing a fantastic service for our community - including Armley Helping Hands and Hawksworth Wood Community Association. I also met with representatives from local mosques, who have been raising money for the victims of flooding in Pakistan - supporting those facing the very worst challenges.
Back in Westminster, the recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has underlined my fears about the intentions of the Conservative / Lib-Dem government. I can see nothing fair or progressive in policies which mean that the poorest families are paying five times what the richest families are contributing to cut the budget deficit. It is also important to note that women will bear the brunt of the cuts – with cuts to child tax credits and maternity allowances, and that the government is facing a legal challenge over the equality impact of the budget. I wrote a short article for Left Foot Forward on the regressive budget which you can read here.
These are the measures that the new Labour leader will have to address, and I believe Ed Miliband is the person best placed to do the job. I believe he has the qualities to challenge the government where it matters, and the policies to set Labour apart – such as the living wage campaign, a high pay commission and a strong economic recovery across the country – not just in London and the South East. Ballot papers to Labour and Trade Union members went out this week.