Paul Blomfield MP

A strong voice for Sheffield Central

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Today is World Refugee Day 2017. It’s difficult to imagine just how harrowing it must be to be in so much danger that you are forced to flee your home and travel hundreds of miles, often in the most dangerous conditions, to a country where you may know no one. My father’s generation saw 61 million Europeans become refugees as a result of war. Today Europe provides refuge to those fleeing war and persecution around the world. In Sheffield we became the UK’s first City of Sanctuary.

But gaining refugee status isn’t straightforward. Asylum seekers must be able to convince authorities that they are under threat in their homeland. It’s not always easy to provide the evidence. Many asylum seekers who are refused refugee status cannot return and so end up destitute in the UK.

This is where Assist Sheffield comes in. It’s a great Sheffield charity focusing on destitution among asylum seekers. I have worked closely with Assist on a number of issues and I’ve seen their amazing work helping asylum seekers who have little or nothing and have been forced to live on the streets. They have lots of great volunteers, but need funds too.

Assist are holding an “Auction of Promises” to raise money for their vital work - including film tickets, Spanish classes, adventure course passes, homemade cake, Sharks tickets - and I’ve contributed a personal tour of Parliament and lunch. Please take a look at these brilliant promises and make a bid:

http://www.jumblebee.co.uk/assistauction2017

World Refugee Day 2017

Today is World Refugee Day 2017. It’s difficult to imagine just how harrowing it must be to be in so much danger that you are forced to flee your home...

The disaster at Grenfell Tower has shocked the country. It is appalling in 21st century Britain that fire should be able to take hold and engulf a building in the way that we saw last week, with its heart-breaking consequences. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, but we must also act quickly to ensure that it can never happen again.  So I’ll be joining colleagues in Parliament in pressing for an urgent review of fire safety regulations – based on the results of a full public inquiry into the fire that must take place without delay.

I arranged a meeting with Sheffield City Council yesterday to discuss the local implications. Most of the city’s high rise housing is in my constituency. I was pleased at the quick and positive response from the Council in contacting their tenants to reassure them. Although we can’t pre-judge the outcome of the inquiry, much of the attention on the Grenfell Tower fire has been on the cladding – so it is reassuring that the materials and systems used to clad Sheffield blocks are completely different – being made of metal or brick and with strong fire breaks.

Sheffield is a national leader on fire safety and we discussed what other measures the Government should take, and fund, to improve standards – particularly looking at retro-fitting sprinkler systems, electrical testing, waste management, and fires safety inspections. Much of the high rise in central Sheffield is privately owned and managed. Having been built more recently, it has been subject to the latest building regulations, but the South Yorkshire Fire Service are carrying out further inspections and I will be meeting with them to discuss their views and the resources they need to keep people safe.

High rise housing and fire safety

The disaster at Grenfell Tower has shocked the country. It is appalling in 21st century Britain that fire should be able to take hold and engulf a building in the...

Before heading to Westminster today, I’ve arranged to meet with the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and the Director of Housing, to discuss fire safety in high rise accommodation in the light of the appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London. The Council have acted quickly to reassure tenants over fire safety and to explain that the external cladding in Sheffield has been designed, and used materials, to prevent fire spread. We’ll be discussing what more the Government can do on the issue.

On Tuesday I’ve a meeting of Labour’s Shadow Brexit team, in which I’m continuing as a Shadow Minister. The General Election did not give Theresa May a mandate for an extreme hard Brexit, and we’ll be opposing it every inch of the way as negotiations start today.

Wednesday sees the State Opening of Parliament, during which the Queen’s Speech will outline the Conservative’s programme for Government, after their negotiations with the DUP. Along with everyone else, I’ll be looking to see how much of the Conservative manifesto has survived those negotiations.

I’ll be heading back to Sheffield on Thursday to support Labour’s Jim Steinke in the Council by-election in Nether Edge and Sharrow. On Friday I’ll be speaking on why Sheffield is a great place to do business at the national Anglo-Polish Business Conference organised by the Federation of Small Businesses, and meeting with NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as holding one of my regular open advice surgeries.

Fire safety, Brexit, the Queen’s Speech and Anglo-Polish trade – some of my week ahead

Before heading to Westminster today, I’ve arranged to meet with the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and the Director of Housing, to discuss fire safety in high rise accommodation in...


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