Back in 2005, when I was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, I made a promise to myself that – whatever happened – I would always do my best.
I had already worked as a Denton West Councillor since 1996, as well as in the Constituency office of my predecessor Andrew Bennett, so I knew that the nature of politics means that you don’t always get things 100% right, but that you must give it your all if you want to be an effective representative.
18 years on, I hope that I’ve kept that promise. It is the honour of my life to represent my local area in Westminster. I’ve learned an awful lot, had tremendous highs and tough lows, but I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. I’m proud of everything I’ve managed to achieve with the help of fantastic Councillors and residents, but still have that burning passion to do more to improve the place I call home.
BUT at the next General Election, things are changing.
As I have written about in the past, boundary changes mean that the Denton and Reddish constituency – which has existed now for 40 years – will be abolished.
The Audenshaw and Dukinfield wards will go into the Ashton-under-Lyne constituency, Reddish North and South will move into the Stockport constituency and the three Denton wards will be joined with Gorton & Abbey Hey, Longsight, Levenshulme and Burnage in the city of Manchester to form a brand new Gorton and Denton constituency.
I am incredibly honoured to announce that I will be standing as the Labour Party’s candidate to become the Member of Parliament for the new Gorton and Denton seat.
I have lived in Denton my entire life and have raised my family here. It is home, and I am thrilled that I will continue to have the opportunity to fight for it in Parliament.
Similarly, I am equally excited to have the opportunity to represent residents living in Gorton & Abbey Hey, Longsight, Levenshulme and Burnage. These are areas that have been wonderfully represented by my friends and colleagues Afzal Khan MP and Jeff Smith MP and I hope to be able to continue their good work after the next election.
From the array of restaurants and takeaways in Longsight and Levenshulme, to the Gothic-revival splendour of Gorton Monastery, the new Gorton and Denton constituency will be diverse, vibrant and unique. It will encompass gorgeous green spaces including the Tame Valley and Debdale Park, and also the hubbub of Longsight and Levy Markets and the burgeoning ‘Destination Denton’.
There are also a number of challenges, locally and nationally, which I’m committed to tackling. I know that many residents are suffering during the cost-of-living crisis and are struggling to put food on the table. I know there are some fantastic local food banks already doing great work, and I look forward to supporting these community initiatives.
I know that for residents right across this new constituency policing and safe neighbourhoods is incredibly important. We all deserve to feel safe where we live, and residents can rest assured that safer streets will remain a key priority of mine moving forward. So too will tackling things like flytipping and pavement parking, which is causing a huge problem locally.
I am also pleased to serve as Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, a role which means I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can rebuild our NHS after 13 years of Tory neglect. No matter where you grow up, I have always believed that everyone deserves the right to high quality care and health outcomes.
It’s why I’m such a keen supporter of Labour’s plans to recruit more doctors, nurses and health visitors. I want the NHS to be there for everyone who needs it and am working around the clock with Labour colleagues in Westminster to make that a reality.
While constituency boundary changes are nothing new, I’m aware that it can the sudden change can seem a little bit strange for people who have been represented for several years by an MP.
Until the General Election, I remain the Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, and I also remain fully committed to the job at hand that I was elected to do. However, in announcing my candidacy for the new seat, I want to take a moment to thank the incredible local representatives and residents across Audenshaw, Dukinfield, Reddish North and Reddish South who have made – and continue to make – my job such a pleasure.
I’m enormously proud of what has been achieved locally. Recent personal highlights for me include saving the Tame Valley from a speculative and damaging warehouse development, to securing preliminary funding for a passenger line from Stockport through Reddish South and Denton to Ashton Moss (we’re now in the fourth stage of this process, and I don’t plan on taking my foot off the pedal for one second!).
Ultimately, my job is to give a voice to the people I represent. It’s a real privilege, and one that I have never for a moment taken for granted.
A lot has changed over the last 18 years, but that promise – to always to my best – will continue to underpin the work I do as Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish until the next General Election, and afterwards when I stand to be the Member of Parliament for Gorton and Denton.