Walsall North remains largely a manufacturing area, and in Willenhall the dominant employment remains lock making. Lock manufacturing goes back over two hundred years in Willenhall. There remain in parts of the constituency areas of deprivation, particularly in some of the northern parts.
In the last 10 to 15 years there have been a substantial number of private dwellings built in most of the wards which make up the constituency.
Constituency and borough issues will always, of course, be of great importance to me, and these are some of the campaigns I have taken part in:
Opposing the merger of Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and Wolverhampton
I took a prominent role in the campaign against Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust being merged with Wolverhampton. The information was given to the three MPs straight after the general election 2005 by the chief executive of the Manor hospital. Apart from anything else, I arranged a meeting between the Secretary of State, Patricia Hewitt, and the three members of Parliament for the borough. There was almost unanimous opposition in Walsall to what was being proposed, and towards the end of 2005 it was officially stated that the merger was off.
The Manor Hospital
The next campaign was to ensure that the Manor hospital got ministerial approval for major extensive improvements. This had been agreed in principle on the basis of a PFI arrangement. However, the Treasury intervened because it felt that the rate of return was not affordable for the hospital. Together with the other two MPs for the borough, I strenuously campaigned for approval to be given for the work to go ahead in 2007 and had an adjournment debate over this on 8th June 2006. Later I arranged a meeting between the Health Secretary and the three members. A final decision was taken in September 2007 by the Treasury to approve what will be the largest amount of work since the hospital was first built in the 19th Century. The work on the fully modernised Manor Hospital will be completed in 2011.
Proposed boundary changes
On 4th November 2011, I made an oral submission to the Boundary Commission for England in Birmingham over the proposed changes to the constituencies in the Walsall area. My submission can be found at the tab above or by clicking http://davidwinnick.webs.com/transcripttobce.htm
18th May 2012 - Opening of temporary premises for surgery on the Mossley estate
I am pleased that arising from the closure of the medical centre on the Mossley estate, Bloxwich last year a temporary surgery at 3 Fisher Road has been opened.
It was intended by the health authority that once the GPs at the Mossley surgery retired, there would be no replacement, despite 3,000 patients. A vigorous campaign was waged by the residents with literally hundreds attending meetings with health officials against a permanent closure. The campaign had the full and enthusiastic support of myself and Labour councillor Fred Westley.
The next step is for the new health authority to provide permanent premises.
28th August 2012 - ATOS Healthcare Screening
I was seen on Saturday at one of my regular surgeries by a constituent whose close relative had died very recently.
The relative, who also lived in the constituency, had first been found medically unfit for employment; it should be said that until he became ill he worked continuously from when he left school. Shortly after he was found ineligible to take employment, the decision was to be reversed, despite there being no improvement at all in his health, and documentation from his doctor confirming this.
An appeal was lodged, but before it could be heard, the person sadly died from the very condition that he had been suffering from for some time.
The family rightly decided to pursue the appeal, and I was shown the tribunal’s findings. The appeal had been upheld stating entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance with the work related activity component should not have been taken away at the time.
In view of this, I will be writing again to the Secretary of State for Work and Employment expressing the understandable concern felt by the family over what occurred in this case. There are disquieting aspects, I believe, that need to be looked into at senior ministerial level.