Community

Mike Wood: It is a pleasure to follow Stuart C. McDonald, who made a number of points that certainly deserve far more examination and scrutiny. Like other Members, I congratulate Angus Brendan MacNeil on securing this important debate. I did not know whether I would get the pronunciation of his constituency right, but I think I was close enough—I am afraid that that might be as good as I get on Thursday afternoon.

Mike Wood: Given the serious questions that have been raised about the disposal of council land in Sandwell, does my hon. Friend agree that the council should also investigate the case of my constituent, Patricia Barlow? Her late mother repeatedly tried to buy a piece of land next to her house, only to find out—after years of asking—that the council had disposed of that land to another business without even notifying her. Should the council look at the price at which that land was sold, and at whether it was all above board?

 

Mike Wood: I declare an interest as my wife volunteers at a refuge. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that Ministers have met organisations such as Women’s Aid to ensure that their views on the new funding model are properly listened to and considered?

 

Victoria Atkins (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)

In my constituency, we have both private and local authority-owned Traveller sites, but those are not the subject of this debate; this debate is about the kind of unauthorised encampments that many of us will have had a series of, summer after summer. In my constituency many of these encampments cause significant disruption, misery and loss of amenity for local residents.

Everyone in the House will agree that members of our communities have a right to choose alternative ways of life, but none of them has the right to opt out of British law. When that breaks down, not only community cohesion but respect for the rule of law and those who represent the people affected break down as well.

Mike Wood: The Black Country flag has come under attack from Labour Members in recent days. Will the Prime Minister join me in again congratulating Gracie Sheppard, who designed the flag, reflecting our industrial heritage, when she was just 12 years old? Does the Prime Minister agree that the latest figures showing the west midlands as the fastest growing part of this country show once again that the Black Country remains a great place to do business?

 

Mike Wood: Some illegal Traveller camps in Dudley have left behind criminal damage and large clean-up bills for council tax payers. May we have a debate on the use of police powers to remove illegal camps and on proposals to allow combined authorities to pool provision for authorised Traveller sites, rather than insisting that each local authority has its own provision?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: Some media outlets have suggested that Grenfell survivors have been forced to move to cities in the north of England. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House that nobody who chooses to not move out of London will be deemed intentionally homeless?

 

Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Mike Wood: All Members will have their own examples of mental health casework. Often, those constituents will have attended an advice surgery or sent an email for help about a different problem entirely. It could be housing; it could be employment or welfare; it could even be a problem involving the criminal justice system. But it soon becomes clear, after a few questions and a little bit of probing, that the underlying problem is one of undiagnosed—or unsupported—mental illness.

Mike Wood: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the potential cost of repairing historic windows in churches.

 

Caroline Spelman (The Second Church Estates Commissioner)

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