Mary Kelly Foy’s Newsletter – May 17th

We are another week through the year, and we still have no idea about the PM will decide enough is enough and call a General Election!

While we all wait for him to eventually make up his mind, here is a taste of some of the things that have been happening this week, and a couple of notices of events you might be interested in coming up soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the newsletter!

Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee
For the past couple of weeks, I have written about the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee and how passionate I am about securing a smoke-free future for the next generation. I’m pleased to say that the Bill has now passed the Bill Committee.

I’m proud to have played a part in this historic legislation, which will create a smoke-free generation within our lifetime.

Knife Crime
You’ll no doubt recall that I have supported the Northern Echo’s Knife Crime Task Force since its inception. 

I’m sure you can imagine my disgust to learn that in Parliament, the Tories voted against Labour’s proposals to ban ninja swords. It’s worth remembering that all County Durham MPs are invited to the task force meetings, yet all of them voted against this plan. The Government has promised 16 times now to outlaw dangerous knives, but given the opportunity to do so here, they decided to play politics with the issue. You can read more about this here.

Tees, Esk & Wear Valley
You may have seen in the Northern Echo this week that there have been more revelations about the standard of mental health care in Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV).

This is an issue that has crossed my desk a number of times, and I have heard from several constituents with some absolutely horrific stories of the treatment they had received. As you can imagine, I took these cases up directly with TEWV, but sadly didn’t manage to get very far with the organisation. Due to the apparent lack of progress, last summer I joined with a number of other MPs and demanded a public inquiry into TEWV, which has so far been resisted by both the Trust and the Department for Health and Social Care.

I’m pleased to see that the Northern Echo has begun to tell the stories of some of those worst affected by the failings of this NHS Trust, and I have renewed my call for an enquiry. For some of these families, it’s simply too late, but the Government simply has to act now.

HMO Applications
On Tuesday, some of my team went along to County Hall for a planning committee meeting, another planning application for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) was granted for the Sunderland Road estate. 

You’ll probably know that this is something I have been working on for years now, and it is becoming more apparent that there is a large oversupply of student housing in Durham City. This latest application represents another much needed family home that has been taken off the market in Durham and, as we know, once a house has been converted into an HMO, it is highly unlikely it will be changed back to a family home in the future.

I’ve been working with the university to try and push the council towards a better understanding of where and how many HMOs are in the city, and hopefully towards an additional licensing scheme in the city centre. This work is still ongoing, and I will keep you updated with any progress.

Northumbrian Water Drop in Event
I wanted to let you know about an upcoming Northumbrian Water event in the city centre. Northumbrian Water will be using this event to update attendees with the projects they are working on, and gives people the opportunity to ask questions of the company.

My team will be popping along for a bit, so if you want to go along, there are more details here


Durham Pride 2024
It’s almost time for Durham Pride 2024! Make sure you have Sunday 26th May circled in your diaries.

Durham Pride is always one of my favourite events of the year, and I’ll be making a speech, as I have in previous years.
It’s genuinely one of my favourite days of the year, and I really hope you’ll be able to make it. Mel and the team have really pulled out all the stops to make this years event bigger and better than ever! 

If you are planning to come along,  make sure you book now!

Israel Gaza Conflict – Mary’s Response to Constituents

Mary's response to constituents on the Israel Gaza conflict.

I understand that this issue weighs heavily on the hearts of my constituents as we all try to come to terms with the horrific events unfolding in Gaza.  

Like you, I have been horrified by the violence in Israel and Palestine. Every life that has been lost is a tragedy. There is no justification for attacks on innocent civilian populations. 

Please be assured that I have made my position clear and will do my utmost to ensure that your voice is heard, as well as the hundreds of other constituents who have contacted me to express their anguish. 

Over the last few weeks, I have made representations to the Labour frontbench regarding the need for a humanitarian ceasefire and will continue to do so. I have also publicly declared my support for a ceasefire. Every effort must be made to restore peace to the region and ensure both Palestinians and Israeli authorities are encouraged and supported by the international community to re-engage with the peace process. 

Innocent people in Gaza must not be collectively punished for the actions of Hamas, who must be condemned for their part in these atrocities. My thoughts remain with the victims of those horrific attacks as well as the Jewish community around the world who continue to grieve. All hostages must be returned safely.  

The actions of Hamas, no matter how devastating, cannot justify the violation of international law. Indiscriminate bombing and collective punishment only leads to further devastation. We must seek peaceful solutions whenever and wherever possible to ensure more civilian lives aren’t lost. 

Gaza is in the midst of a humanitarian emergency. It is estimated that almost a third of Gaza’s hospitals have already ceased to function; many are running out of water and fuel for generators while struggling to cope with the sheer number of casualties. The stories and images coming out of Gaza are absolutely heartbreaking, and I agree with you that we cannot simply sit back and watch.  

Labour has called on the government to increase Britain’s humanitarian aid to Gaza by an extra £10 million, appoint a UK special coordinator for international aid to Gaza, the immediate deployment of British experts and medical support teams, as well as working with international partners to give UN agencies, such as UNRWA, the long-term resources they need, as well as insisting that fuel is allowed into Gaza. 

The British Government must do everything in its power, and work proactively with international partners, to ensure food, water, medicine and fuel reaches those affected. Britain must uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights of all and call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.  

An immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and the release of hostages, is the only way to prevent further loss of innocent civilian life and lay the foundations for progress towards a lasting peace.