COLUMN: ‘Knife crime crisis is spreading to our towns’ says MP Yvette Cooper

KNIFE CRIME: Urgent measures are needed, says Yvette Cooper.
KNIFE CRIME: Urgent measures are needed, says Yvette Cooper.

‘The news that two teenagers have been stabbed in Castleford is truly awful – especially coming soon after a 90-year-old man was stabbed to death in Pontefract,’ writes MP Yvette Cooper.

Knife crime destroys lives and my thoughts are with the families who will be devastated by these recent attacks.

LONDON, DECEMBER 13:  A hunting knife is held by an employee at a film and television prop company December 13, 2004 in London, England. Families of stabbing victims have called on the government to make carrying a knife as serious an offence as carrying a gun, with a minimum five-year jail term for carrying a knife with a blade longer than three inches. (Photo Illustration by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

LONDON, DECEMBER 13: A hunting knife is held by an employee at a film and television prop company December 13, 2004 in London, England. Families of stabbing victims have called on the government to make carrying a knife as serious an offence as carrying a gun, with a minimum five-year jail term for carrying a knife with a blade longer than three inches. (Photo Illustration by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

The Parliamentary Committee that I chair has repeatedly warned the Government that the knife crime crisis is spreading to our towns as the number of police officers has been cut.

We’ve called for urgent action to put more police back into our towns and to reverse the big cuts in our youth services. Schools and the police must work together too. In the Wakefield District violent crime went up by a third last year. The Government must listen - we need urgent action before more lives are lost.

How long does it take you to get a GP appointment? For some patients in our towns it is now taking weeks because we just don’t have enough GPs or nursing staff.

One Castleford man was told to wait up to eight weeks to see a GP even though he had potential cancer symptoms. Another Five Towns patient told me she had to wait over a month.

After nearly a decade of Tory austerity, there aren’t nearly enough doctors and nurses and many GP surgeries are struggling. We can’t carry on like this.

Last week it was revealed that over 15 million people across the country are waiting more than a month to see a doctor.

That’s not good enough. I met with Dr Matthew Blackmore last week at Henry Moore Clinic in Castleford. They badly need a new surgery but years of austerity has stopped them getting new facilities.

I’m backing Labour proposals for 5,000 more GP training places and 27 million more appointments.

But I’m also calling for more local GPs here. Our petition is on my website: www.yvettecooper.com/more_gps

Our NHS is too important to put at risk with any more austerity now.

Shamefully there was nothing in the Government’s Queen’s Speech this week to tackle serious problems in our NHS or crime in our towns. Nor was there anything to rebuild industry and jobs.

Meanwhile we’re still awaiting the full details of the Government’s latest Brexit plan. For three years I’ve called for a Brexit deal that includes protection for workers’ rights and a customs agreement to help Yorkshire manufacturing. I voted for a Brexit deal like that in Parliament back in April and it only lost by three votes. It matters for our area because we’ve got 15,000 manufacturing and distribution jobs.

Some people are calling for no deal or a bad deal that ditches workers’ rights and hits manufacturing with customs costs so that they can do a dodgy deal with Trump’s America instead - even though that would mean US corporations trying to get into our NHS. I think that’s a right-wing con and it would hit our towns hard. We need the Government to come forward with a sensible Brexit plan that brings people together, supports manufacturing and protects workers’ rights instead.