Westminster Column

2nd March 2012

The annual Sutton Coldfield Inter-Schools Debating Competition was held last week at Plantsbrook School and I was extremely sorry that at the last minute my Parliamentary duties meant I was unable, for the first time in ten years, to Chair the event. Feedback from the participating schools, parents and the panel was that it was a fiercely fought competition which everyone enjoyed and I send my congratulations to the winning team from Arthur Terry School as well as to all of the talented students who took part. I look forward to welcoming them to Parliament this summer where they will be able to watch MPs debate in the House of Commons.


Last week I hosted a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons to promote Birmingham as a Global City. Over the past decade Birmingham City Council and its stakeholders have worked hard to establish strong connections with some of the fastest growing economies in the world to boost economic growth, inward investment and job creation across the West Midlands.

The Reception attracted a large business and Parliamentary audience and was kindly supported by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. The celebration of business in Birmingham coincided with the Prime Minister’s Business in the Community speech which emphasised that business is the most powerful force to build bigger and stronger societies.


I also wanted to take this opportunity to update my constituents on The Times ‘Cities fit for Cycling’ campaign. As an enthusiastic cyclist I am supporting the campaign for better cycling safety on Britain’s roads. As a result of the national campaign I have been contacted by a number of concerned constituents and have made representations to the Chief Highway Engineer at Birmingham City Council for an update in respect of safe cycling routes in Sutton Coldfield.


Many people in Sutton will be immensely pleased that a settlement has finally been agreed for my young constituent Cerys Edwards who suffered severe brain damage in a car crash involving a speeding driver. Cerys’ parents have campaigned tirelessly to try to change the penalty for dangerous driving and I have made representations to both the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General on this matter. This Government responded positively by creating a new criminal offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving which will carry a 5 year maximum prison sentence. There is absolutely no compensation for the horrendous injuries that Cerys sustained and the amount the family has suffered but I am glad that the final settlement will ensure that Cerys and her family are able to access the assistance that they require.