Volunteers celebrate opening of revamped Batley station

Gwen Lowe and Jo Cox pictured in front of the new muralThe revamp of Batley Station was officially opened on Friday with a celebration of all the work that has been done.

The Friends of Batley Station, which was created by Batley councillor Gwen Lowe and Jo Cox MP, has led the work to rejuvenate the station. This included securing invaluable support from PPG, the Birstall paint and coatings company.

More than 100 PPG volunteers completed painting the entire station on Friday, including the old waiting room, which will now become a community space, and a spectacular mural along the subway that links the two platforms.

Mrs Cox said: “The transformation of Batley station is absolutely amazing. The work PPG and its staff and volunteers have done is incredible.

Friends of Batley Station“Friday’s celebration not only launches our wonderful revamped station but pays tribute to PPG, the Friends of Batley Station and all those who have played a role in making it happen.

“When we formed FOBS I don’t think any of us imagined just how this project would capture people’s imaginations. It shows what a community can do when we all come together.”

Mrs Cox wrote a piece for yesterday’s Yorkshire Post newspaper on the benefits of community rail projects, such as the Friends of Batley Station. You can read it by clicking here.

Charity of the month – Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice

Jo Cox supporting Kirklees's Forget Me Not Children's HospiceJo Cox MP has marked Children’s Hospice Week by nominating Kirklees’s own hospice as her charity of the month.

Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley & Spen, promotes a local charity every month and this month is promoting Forget Me Not.

The children’s hospice, which serves all of Kirklees, is based in Huddersfield and they have a charity shop in Heckmondwike.

Mrs Cox visited the hospice and made a donation. She said:

“It was a very moving visit. The good work they do here is incredibly important. They help so many children who are expected to have a short life, and their families and loved ones. It was an honour to learn more about their work and make a small donation to help that.”

For more information about Forget Me Not please click here. For more information about Children’s Hospice Week please click here.

Newspaper column – Better to improve than leave

UJ EU flagEvery month Jo Cox writes a column for the Batley News and Spenborough Guardian. This month’s column appeared this week.

On June 23 we have the rare opportunity to make a choice about Britain’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

I know for many people that this is a tough decision, that the debate has been highly charged and the facts difficult to pin down. But I believe that the patriotic choice is to vote for Britain to remain inside the EU where we are stronger, safer and better off than we would be on our own.

What’s more a vote to remain is a vote for certainty. The EU may be imperfect and definitely needs reform but risking all the current advantages of being inside Europe to take a leap in the dark doesn’t feel very patriotic to me.

Remaining gives us far more stability and security. We benefit from a stronger economy. Three million British jobs are linked to our trade with EU countries. We benefit from investment of £24bn a year and families benefit from lower prices. The Confederation of British Industry says being in the EU is worth £3,000 a year for every family, a return of almost ten to one on what we pay in.

We’re also safer in the EU. Many of the threats to Britain’s security are global in nature, such as terrorism, cross-border crime or climate change. There is strength in numbers in an era where international co-operation brings us more power and more influence.

Here in Yorkshire we get a share of the billions of pounds that Britain receives from the EU to support regional development. This investment creates jobs, improves prospects for young people through apprenticeships and higher education, and supports agriculture.

Our region exported goods worth £8.4 billion to the EU in 2014, almost half of all of our exports. We saw 157 investment projects from the EU in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last five years alone, creating or protecting almost 12,000 jobs. And overall a quarter of a million Yorkshire jobs are linked to trade with the EU. A vote to leave puts all this at risk.

The evidence is also now clear and compelling: if we leave there would be an immediate and severe shock to our economy. Treasury experts estimate that we could be pushed into a recession with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. House prices would be hit, holidays made more expensive and shoppers forced to pay more for their groceries.

It’s also unclear what deal we would get from Europe if we left. Any deal would need agreement from all 27 EU countries and could take years to negotiate. This uncertainty is not what businesses want nor is it what working people and families need.

And this is not a future I want to pass on to my children or grandchildren. A vote to leave is a risk that is simply not worth taking. So to keep Britain strong, safe and better off I urge people to vote Remain on 23 June.

MP offers help with new tip permit scheme

binbagsBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox has offered to help constituents register to use Kirklees tips.

The council has changed the permit system for its household waste sites. The plastic permit cards are being phased out and Kirklees residents must now pre-register their vehicles online, using this link.

Mrs Cox said: “I know there is a mixed reaction to this change and that it has caught a lot of people by surprise. Constituents have contacted me to raise concerns about people with multiple vehicles or not having access to the internet.

“Clearly Kirklees makes these local decision and I can’t affect that but what I can do is offer to help any of my constituents who are worried that they will suffer as a result of this change.

“Anyone who lives in Batley & Spen who is are worried about registering due to not having access to the internet can contact my office and my staff will happily do it for them. If you know of anyone, put them in touch.”

Mrs Cox’s office in Batley can be contacted on 01924 910499.

For more information about the scheme click here.

Newspaper column – Time to enforce Syria’s ceasefire to save lives

1204 FCO questions Syria aid drops 2crObama and Cameron did not intend to cause harm in Syria but containment has been a disaster

By Jo Cox, The Times – 25 May 2016:

I am a huge President Obama fan. I worked on his first campaign in North Carolina in 2008, I admire the leadership he has shown on everything from the financial crisis to climate change and the good advice he gave us recently on Europe. But on Syria both President Obama and the prime minister have been a huge disappointment. Both men made the biggest misjudgment of their time in office when they put Syria on the “too difficult” pile and instead of engaging fully, withdrew and put their faith in a policy of containment.

This judgment – made by both leaders for different reasons – will be judged harshly by history. And the failure of their strategy has had huge repercussions: the biggest refugee crisis in Europe in a generation, the emergence of Isis and all that has followed, the strengthening of a resurgent Russia and most importantly the human suffering that continues unabated for the people of Syria. It’s been nothing short of a foreign policy disaster.

Whereas Iraq has become the great example of what happens when you deploy force with no follow-up strategy. Syria will become the great counter example of what happens when you decide to disengage with no strategy whatsoever.

But there is still time for Cameron to write a postscript to US and UK failures on Syria. Specifically, he should do three things: refocus UK strategy towards the protection of Syrian civilians, get aid to besieged communities and throw the UK’s diplomatic weight behind the fragile peace talks before they fail.

First, the ongoing systematic destruction of civilian communities and infrastructure by the Assad regime and their Russian ally is not just morally unacceptable, but it continues to undermine military efforts to combat terrorism in the region. It creates the conditions of chaos in which extremism thrives and radicalisation is spread. The success of the international coalition against Isis will remain limited so long as civilians are subject to starvation tactics, indiscriminate airstrikes and barrel bombs with impunity.

Having succeeded in securing parliamentary support for a policy of military engagement in the fight against Isis, the British government has yet to come forward with a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of the Syrian conflict: namely the systematic and large-scale targeting of civilians by the Syrian regime and its allies. It is time to now do so.

Second, last week the UK finally started to show the potential of its leadership in securing agreement from the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) that if the Assad government continues to block ground access for life-saving assistance then air drops to besieged areas in Syria would begin from June 1. Ensuring this deal is now upheld must be an immediate priority for the British government: at stake is the credibility of British diplomacy and the ISSG itself, as well as thousands of lives.

Third, it is now clear that to succeed, diplomacy on Syria needs the backing of serious pressure to change Syrian government policy. This means imposing robust and clear consequences, including sanctions, for continuous violations of the Cessation of Hostilities, and the military enforcement of UN resolutions on aid and civilian protection.

I don’t believe that either President Obama or the prime minister tried to do harm in Syria but, as is oft said, sometimes all it talks for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. It’s now time to enforce Syria’s ceasefire to save lives.

Mrs Cox has written to the Prime Minister in her role as co-chair of the Friends of Syria APPG. You can read that letter here.