By Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves
As some of you may have seen, Keir Starmer has appointed me as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It is a huge honour to take on such an important role at such a critical time when our economy is trying to recover from the devastating impact of Covid.
My first priority will remain my constituents in Leeds West and delivering positive outcomes for everyone here. This role also means I will be able to push the Government to honour their promises to invest in our region.
I was very pleased to make my first visit as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in Leeds West, to the CEG housing development at Kirkstall Forge.
It was brilliant to go onto the building site and see for myself the progress being made. The development will host a range of affordable eco-homes, all built to a high specification, with a focus on sustainability, as well as offices, retail and leisure space, and a new school.
Whilst at the site, I also had the opportunity to meet learners from the Forging Futures scheme, who are helping to make this development a reality, as well as young people working on site through the Skill Mill, a social enterprise which provides opportunities and employment for young former offenders.
It’s fantastic that CEG is partnering with these organisations to improve the skills and life chances of these young people, and that the oldest industrial site in England is once again providing good, lasting jobs for the local community.
The recent local elections gave me a chance to safely meet more people across Leeds while I was out and about campaigning with our local councillors. Congratulations to all successful candidates – the work councillors do to further the interests of their local community and to protect public services often goes unappreciated.
There was also some fantastic news about Tracy Brabin who became the first ever West Yorkshire Mayor. I’m know she will do a brilliant job and fight tirelessly for the people of West Yorkshire. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of her in and around West Leeds in the coming months and years.
Covid Memorial Quilt
My fellow Labour MP Dawn Butler is creating a COVID memorial quilt made from squares created by MPs from all parties, representing their constituency’s experiences of COVID.
The finished quilt will be a lasting, tangible reminder of this difficult time in all of our lives, and of those we have lost. I am pleased to have contributed to the quilt, with my patch celebrating the outdoor spaces in Leeds West that so many of us found solace in during the lockdowns.
I’m not great at sewing so I had lots of help from the people who work in my office, both in planning and assembling! I’m really pleased with the final product though, and hope that when the finished quilt goes on display, people will look at “our” square and recognise the pride I have in representing West Leeds.
I am pleased to be supporting the work of the Reading Agency, an important charity that promotes the benefits of reading among children and adults. As you may know, I was involved in the Jo Cox Loneliness Foundation.
It was established to continue the important work my friend Jo started before she was tragically murdered. There is evidence to suggest that reading can help tackle life challenges and social isolation, and The Reading Agency have signposts to some excellent resources to support with mental health and well-being. The charity also run a children’s summer reading challenge, with the support of the library services, aimed at preventing a dip in learning whilst schools are on holiday.
If you would like more information, please do visit their website.
Leeds Women’s Aid
I continue to work closely with headteachers across Leeds West – and one of the initiatives we established jointly this year was a January collection of unwanted toiletries, collected in local schools, to be distributed to Leeds Women’s Aid.
These are then passed onto women escaping domestic violence or used to raise funds for the vital work they do. Several schools took part and we were able to pass on a significant haul to the charity.
Huge thanks to Cobden Primary School who came up with the great idea to collect more than just once a year. It was great to collect yet more goodies from them recently. These will be passed on to Leeds Women’s Aid.
A big thank you to all at Cobden Primary School.