Hilary's Blog - 7th November 2014

Now that the clocks have gone back and winter is on its way, we are rapidly hurtling towards the end of the year. Hard to believe.

Last week the final two reports on the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery saga were published. They confirmed what we already knew, namely that the Leeds unit was safe and that there was no reason to close it. Nor was it true that Leeds had refused to refer sick children elsewhere, including to Newcastle.  We can all learn from what happened and everyone involved should do so, but for now let's just say a big thank you to the wonderful staff of the unit for the extraordinary work they do to care for very sick babies and children.

On Friday I attended a meeting of city leaders, including our own Keith Wakefield from Leeds, to hear from Ed Miliband about Labour's plans to give local communities more of a say over the way bus services are run. My constituents rightly get very frustrated when routes change or disappear, or fares rise, and no-one seems to be able to do anything about it. Well, we are going to change that. For quite a few years London has had control of its bus services and passenger numbers have doubled. By contrast, outside London they have declined and this is the result of the bus deregulation that the last Tory Government put in place. It has not worked and we will give councils who want to co-operate the power to run their own bus services.  If it's good enough for London then it's certainly good enough for Leeds.

This is just one example of our determination to pass power back to local communities. People want more of a say over what happens in their area and it is up to Westminster to let go.

ThIs week has seen yet another strike by firefighters over their pension scheme.  They are understandably angry that the Government promised to sort the problem out and then did nothing to respond to the concerns they had expressed. Lots of people are having to pay more into their pensions for the simple reason that we are now living longer than when the schemes were drawn up, but changes need to be fair and there are particular issues that affect firefighters because of the physical nature of their job. The Government should get round the table with the FBU and sort it out.

This weekend I will be out talking to residents in Hunslet despite the drop in temperature - who said we weren't hardy? - and I am also appearing on the Sunday Politics to talk about more power for the north.

And then on Sunday I will be attending the annual Service of Remembrance at the war memorial in Victoria Square. It will be especially poignant this year as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

We will remember them.

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