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Q&A: Welcome in the New Year with Daisy Cooper MP for St Albans

 Published on: 2nd January 2022   |   By: News Bulletin   |   Category: Uncategorized

As we welcome in the new year, the MyLocalNews team spoke to Daisy Cooper MP for St Albans to reflect on 2021 and asked about her plans for 2022.

What have you learned from 2021 that you’re bringing into 2022?

The big event of 2021 was COP26: the UN global climate summit that took place in Glasgow in November. Whilst I found the overall outcomes to be disappointing, there was one really big take-away: for a few weeks, people around the whole country and indeed the whole world felt united in demanding that more urgent action is taken by governments to tackle the climate emergency. I’m going to try and carry that feeling with me into 2022.

What are you most excited for, this year?

The arrival of the new COVID variant Omicron, has created a huge amount of uncertainty about what the new year will bring. No-one will be feeling this more keenly than the clinically extremely vulnerable – a lot of whom are still shielding. I’ve heard heart-breaking stories of how many extremely vulnerable people feel forgotten about, and ignored.

There is however a small ray of light: the arrival of anti-viral COVID drugs. Soon, vulnerable and elderly people who contract COVID-19 will be given pills to take at home to reduce the risk they end up in hospital. These drugs, combined with the continued vaccine roll-out, could help save lives and reduce the risk of unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

Once again, our scientists and health professionals have stepped up. I know this will make a big difference to some of our most vulnerable residents here in St Albans and around the country.

What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge?

There are many big issues affecting St Albans residents, which I’m trying to bring to the attention of the government but the pandemic understandably keeps pushing these other issues down the agenda. One example is the flawed formula for calculating Special Educational Needs and Disability funding.

After twelve months of raising the issue, I only recently managed to secure a ‘surgery meeting’ with the relevant Minister. I was really pleased that he agreed to my request to re-visit the formula and how it affects funding for SEND students in Hertfordshire, but he indicated that he will only be able to do this from April onwards after the now two-year overdue SEND review is completed. I suspect that my big challenge will be to keep the government to this commitment, as other issues arise.

Come the end of this year, what will you hope to have achieved? 

Year in, year out, my main objective is to help St Albans residents. In the last twelve months, I’ve sent more than 13,500 emails and letters to, and on behalf of, constituents. I’ve helped local residents with housing issues, domestic violence, immigration paperwork, and I’ve supported carers and those needing care to battle the bureaucracy of the benefits system.

In the last three weeks of 2021, I’m focusing on helping people with acute mental health needs and I’ll be working hard to get them the support they need before the new year. In the year ahead I will continue this work and my campaigns to bring the post-Grenfell fire safety scandal to an end, release funding for the transformation of our local hospitals, secure extra SEND funding for Hertfordshire students, and get a fairer deal for our small businesses and high streets.

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