Wakefield’s new MP Simon Lightwood plans to tackle anti-social behaviour to give ‘voice’ to the city

Wakefield’s new MP said he will aim to get tough on anti-social behaviour as part of his plan to stand up for the city which has gone unrepresented in Parliament for the past year

By Tony Gardner
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 3:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 3:35 pm

Simon Lightwood said the NHS, the cost of living crisis and transport are also high on his agenda after winning the seat back from the Conservatives.

Mr Lightwood spoke after spending his first week representing the city at Westminster.

He said: “For the last year we have had nobody representing the area.

Simon Lightwood said anti-social behaviour, NHS, the cost of living crisis and transport are high on his agenda after winning the seat back from the Conservatives.

“This has come at a time when there is a cost of living crisis so there were decisions being made and votes happening but Wakefield didn’t have a voice.

People really desperately needed a voice and needed to be heard in Westminster.

“I have hit the ground running with that already.”

Mr Lightwood won the by-election with 13,166 votes, taking the seat back from the Conservatives who won it in the 2019 general election.

Simon Lightwood won the Wakefield by-election with 13,166 votes, taking the seat back from the Conservatives who won it in the 2019 general election.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan, who quit the party after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Mr Lightwood said his first actions as an MP was to put written questions to ministers in The Home Office, Department of Work and Pensions, Department of Transport and Department of Health.

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He said: “People have consistently raised issues with me about anti-social behaviour across Wakefield.

“I will be working with (West Yorkshire Mayor) Tracy Brabin on that to try and get some additional neighbourhood policing.

“We need really visible policing to try to crack down on those issues.

“People have said that there are blatant drug taking issues and people aren’t even pretending to hide it any more. It is visible in the community.”

The MP said he was also seeking assurances over the future of Wakefield’s King Street NHS walk-in centre.

He said: “As a former NHS worker myself, the NHS is also going to be front and centre of my attention.

“That goes for both mental health, physical health and dentistry.

“We have challenges around all of that in Wakefield.”

“I didn’t just come in and say ‘these are the things that I think are the priorities’.

“I asked people. They are all based on conversations on the doorstep and it will continue that way.

“I will be back on the doorsteps in the next few weeks to continue that conversation.

“I think it is really important that I keep the conversation going.”

Mr Lightwood’s first week as an MP started as Wakefield Council voted in favour of declaring a ‘cost of living emergency’ across the district.

Commenting on the issue, he said: “It’s a huge concern. There is a huge concern about child poverty.

“That was even before the cost of living crisis started to hit.

“That is something I will be working on with the council and trying to convene a group to look at what we can do ourselves in Wakefield to try and help people because I can’t wait for the Government to come and do something about it.

“They are not delivering what we need to address it. So we need to work out what can we do ourselves to try and help that situation.”

He described how his first real involvement with politics began when he moved from from the north east to study for an arts degree at Wakefield’s former Bretton Hall Campus.

The MP said: “I really fell in love with the place. I came from quite a poor background but when I came to Wakefield I just saw all these opportunities available to me.

“Bretton Hall was forced to merge with the University of Leeds and we felt during that time that Leeds were not listening to us as a student body.

“We decided we would put somebody up to stand for the Leeds University Students’ Union president officer.

“People persuaded me to stand.

“Because people were so energised and engaged and angry with how they were being treated we ended up out-voting the students in Leeds.

“I ended up getting elected then and representing the entire student body in Leeds.

“It started to show me the kind of difference that you can make and change things.”

He added: “We can change things for the better and we can make sure that people’s voices are heard.

“I see the Labour Party’s values as my values and being an MP as a really important way of making sure that people’s views are heard.

“That’s what I’m absolutely committed to doing in Parliament, making sure that the views and voices of Wakefield are heard on issues that haven’t been heard for so long now.”