The MP sent a newsletter of his successes and added that the “first few weeks of 2024 have also been very busy with two Secretary of State visits which build on a really successful 2023.”
Questions in Parliament about supporting wronged postmasters
In the House of Commons Chamber more than a year ago and again last week, this scandal was a travesty and the experience of the hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and their families is harrowing.
When I became the Minister responsible for Postal Affairs, I ensured one of my first meetings was with Alan Bates and provided an unequivocal commitment for full and fair compensation for those unjustly prosecuted. I am grateful for the former Business Secretary’s recognition of my work on this issue and I welcome nearly £150 million has been paid out.
But more must be done. I therefore sought assurances from the Minister last week on a number of issues to ensure an injustice of this magnitude never happens again.
My office continues to support local postmasters affected. Please get in touch if you have been impacted.
I was pleased to welcome the Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan to West Herts College in Watford.
As the local MP, I have long been a supporter of the college, recognising its vital role in providing excellent further education opportunities. The college showcased their commitment to ground-breaking education practices and strong partnerships with local employers.
West Herts College is renowned for pushing the boundaries of education and for supporting pupils from education into employment.
The visit included meeting groups of students that took part in my initiative to train a thousand people in mental health first aid awareness. The feedback was inspiring and showed the West Herts College’s commitment to mental health.
The training was delivered by the Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce and was supported by Camelot with the College helping us reach our target by encouraging students to take part, for which I am incredibly grateful.
Health Secretary visits Watford General Hospital
I would like to thank the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care for personally visiting Watford General and to see the transformational plans for the new hospital. The announcement last year that we have the full funding has meant the Trust’s team have been able to get plans ready for, what will become, a state of the art new hospital fit for the 21st Century.
Along with inviting the Prime Minister last year to see the progress first hand, these visits ensure investment and support for our town continues to be a priority for Government. The success with the new hospital is proof of this.
Thanks to all local residents that shared feedback and support so far. I intend to continue to engage actively to make sure local residents and patients voices are heard as part of the process moving forward.
With numerous drop-in surgeries and private surgeries across Watford, while my team and I have been helping thousands of constituents covering everything from local issues which directly affect constituents to national and international policy.
Delivered full funding for Watford General Hospital
I helped to successfully secure the full funding for a brand-new hospital for Watford General. Thank you so much to all the residents who supported my campaign. I will keep you informed of progress at every stage.
Surpassed my pledge to train 1,000 residents in Mental Health First Aid Awareness
One of my election pledges was to help train 1000 residents in Mental Health First Aid Awareness. Thanks to the Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce and Camelot, this has been achieved.
Successfully passed my Tips Bill, benefiting more than 2 million workers
After campaigning for several years, my Tips Bill has received Royal Assent. The bill will help to ensure that workers in the hospitality industry receive the tips and gratuities given by customers, rather than businesses retaining them. When this comes into force, it will help many local Watford workers and people across the whole of the UK.
Successfully passed Zach’s Law, protecting those with epilepsy from cyber flashing
I am proud of the role I have actively played in successfully campaigning for Zach’s Law to be included in the Online Safety Bill. It is now an offence to electronically send or show flashing images to someone with epilepsy with the intention of causing them harm.
Mental health and suicide prevention campaign success
I am a passionate campaigner for better mental health provision; introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill to make mental health first-aid part of first-aid training requirements, and successfully launching my own initiative in Watford to train more than 1,000 people in Mental Health First Aid Awareness. I was also very grateful for the support provided by the Chancellor when he attended the Parliamentary event I sponsored with the Baton of Hope earlier in the year to create a suicide free society.
The UK’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George, has provided his full support as have other organisations and charities who do fantastic work in this area, for updated first aid guidance.
A proud accomplishment in 2023 was delivering legal change to ensure mental health and physical health has parity within first aid guidance and assessments.
Additionally, I greatly welcomed reference within the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, published on the 11th September 2023, for further support for employers and I am pleased my recommendation to train a Mental Health First Aider has been given consideration within the recommendations for businesses.
Welcomed UK investment into Watford by Warner Bros with 4,000 new jobs
This year we received the exciting news that Warner Bros will be investing in and expanding its studios at Leavesden. The company wants a real focus on local jobs and support for local businesses. This will have a significant impact across Hertfordshire and across the UK, with Watford playing a really important part.
This positive investment shows confidence in our town and our country, and will have an impact for decades to come.
Protecting the right of veterans, the disabled and elderly to live at Kytes Drive
I introduced a petition to Parliament to reflect the concerns of local residents at Kytes Drive and enforce the developers assurances that the Kytes Estate will continue to offer purpose-built and well-maintained accommodation for individuals over the age of 55, those with disabilities, veterans, and their families.
I am very grateful to all the residents who have contacted me on this important issue. It is absolutely paramount that the commitments for the long term are formalised in order to give residents peace of mind.
Reporting back on 2023 and looking forward to 2024
2024 looks to be a busy one both in Watford and in Parliament. I have already booked a number of visits and events to attend throughout our town which I am looking forward to.
We start the New Year with some excellent news. On the 6th January, an amazing 27 million employed people will start to see the huge benefit of the National insurance cuts in their wages which was announced through the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Inflation has more than halved from its peak which will provide relief for every household across the country.
Over the next 12 months, my colleagues across Government will be introducing additional measures to grow the economy, increase energy security, bring investment to the UK, create jobs, improve skills and boost our brilliant entrepreneurs. We want to assist people across our great country to grasp new opportunities.
The government will be further strengthening society by supporting our fantastic NHS by creating a smoke-free generation which will protect our younger generation from the harms caused by tobacco. We will be giving renters more security and will be doing everything we possibly can to eradicate antisemitism and discrimination more broadly.
We will be keeping people safe by ensuring the police and security services have powers which they need and that criminals receive appropriate punishment. We will aim to protect our national interests by backing our superb Armed Forces, supporting Ukraine and leading in NATO.
In each and every area, the Government is looking to the long term, making the difficult decisions needed and changing things for the better. Our tremendous country will become even more prosperous, more innovative, more secure and further prepared to seize the better future that everyone across Watford deserves.
You can also visit my website: www.deanrussell.co.uk