Politically Speaking with Andrea Jenkyns

It’s been just over 100 days since I waited nervously in the Leeds Arena to hear the result of the election, so I can relate to the emotions felt by thousands of students across Morley and Outwood over the last couple of weeks!

It’s been great to see so many happy stories across Twitter and the local press. Our local schools have produced an outstanding set of results, and everyone who sat exams this year should be incredibly proud. I was delighted to hear from Outwood Grange Academy that they achieved their best ever set of results and saw plenty of photos of happy students (and teachers!). Bruntcliffe Academy also had a fantastic set of results, with a 20% increase in their GCSE pass rate and many students achieving A* and A grades.

I went up to Churwell to visit the Play@Churwell centre, where they are running a Training Partnership providing apprenticeships and work experience to train more childcare specialists in the area. They do fantastic work and I was really impressed with the care and professionalism of the staff. They are hoping to expand and move to All Saints Church in Churwell, creating a community hub. I’m excited to follow their progress.

I had a really productive visit to the Morley Jobcentre where I met Andy and his staff who work to support jobseekers across Morley. We discussed ways I can support jobseekers across the constituency, and I was really encouraged to see recent figures showing the out-of-work benefit claimant count in the constituency has reduced by 30% since July 2014, meaning more people in work and taking home a regular wage.

Supporting local businesses is something I’m really passionate about, and I had a fantastic evening at the Morley Chamber of Commerce cocktail evening meeting with local businesses. I’ve worked with the Chamber through the Morley and Outwood Business Association which I founded, and am looking at the best ways to continue and grow the Association in future.

In preparation for the end of the summer recess I’ve been having meetings to discuss the various All-Party Parliamentary Groups that I am part of. I met with Ojay from the Association of Town & City Management, who I’ll be working with as part of the APPG for High Streets and Town Centres, to discuss plans for the Group and how we can take it forward from the work they did in the last Parliament. I’m very passionate about getting a good deal for our high streets and I was really encouraged by Ojay’s passion and enthusiasm.

I also met with Glenn Turp, Regional Director for the Royal College of Nursing, and discussed patient safety and the view of nurses as part of my role as Chair of the APPG on Patient Safety. The Patients’ Association, who are supporting the APPG, recently revealed government data showing a worryingly high number of incidents of harm in the last twelve months and an increase in antimicrobial resistance, which was highlighted by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. This is something the Group will be looking into, and we will be launching an inquiry into infection prevention. 

My next street stall surgery is at Morley ASDA on September 12th between 11am and 12pm. If you have any problems or issues I’d love to see you there to see if I can help. Otherwise you can always call my team on 01133 450 380 or e-mail [email protected]

The Sun Newspaper Article About Andrea

The Tory opera singer aiming for an election high note by squeezing Balls

Conservative Andrea could pull off shock of the election by ousting Ed. She is the unknown blonde soprano singer who gave up her job two years ago to run for Parliament – and now has Ed Balls running scared.

Meet Tory candidate Andrea Jenkyns, 40, who could pull off the shock of the General Election by ousting the Shadow Chancellor.

Tory strategists believe Ms Jenkyns could overturn Mr Balls’ wafer-thin 1,100 majority in Morley and Outwood, in west Yorkshire.

As political upsets go, it would be up there with Michael Portillo famously losing his seat to the then unknown Stephen Twigg in 1997.

And while Mr Balls remains the favourite to hang on in the key marginal, The Sun has learned that his Conservative rival is now breathing down his neck.

Yorkshire-born Ms Jenkyns also has form for winning seemingly impregnable Labour seats.

While living in Lincolnshire, she won the local borough council seat of Boston North West, despite the fact that it had been solid Labour territory for years.

After spending the last two years tirelessly campaigning in Morley and Outwood, she believes she is on the verge of pulling off another major upset.

She said: “My dad always used to say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

“The seat is definitely winnable.”

It was the tragic death of her ex-lorry driver dad Clifford in 2011 that set Ms Jenkyns on the path that could lead her all the way to the Commons.

He was admitted to hospital in Wakefield, west Yorkshire, with fluid on his lungs.

But he contracted the hospital superbug MRSA and died shortly afterwards.

Grief-stricken Ms Jenkyns became active with the campaign group MRSA Action UK, and eventually moved back to Yorkshire to live with her mum, Valerie.

It meant giving up her job as a music teacher and her council seat, but her political ambitions were undimmed.

She applied to be the Conservative candidate in Morley and Outwood and, following an open primary election, was selected in 2013.

As well as teaching music in various schools, she has also performed around the world — including in Pakistan — and has released an album of her own songs.

Ms Jenkyns even suggested that she and Mr Balls — who has fought a well-documented battle to master the piano — perform together to raise funds for Help for Heroes.

But unfortunately, the Labour heavyweight turned down the offer as he didn’t believe he was good enough yet to perform in concert.

David Cameron and George Osborne have both visited the seat to campaign on Ms Jenkyns’ behalf, and are expected to return before polling day — in a huge vote of confidence in her chances. http://www.sunnation.co.uk/the-tory-opera-singer-aiming-for-an-election-high-note-by-squeezing-balls/

My Column in the Wakefield Express

Politically Speaking
My column in the Wakefiled Express

Milestones

In a few days’ time it will be my 40th birthday, and it got me thinking about milestones in our lives. When you are in your early twenties; the forties seem to be so far away, then at the blink of an eye a couple of decades have passed. Last Friday was a significant milestone; the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I would like to begin by saying thank you, and to pause and reflect for all those brave servicemen and women who fought for us to enjoy the freedom we have today. It was a heart-warming story last week of the veteran who left his care home without telling anyone to go to Normandy to mark D-Day, and was a story that was relayed at the Morley and Outwood Business Association event by MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Timothy Kirkhope. Timothy pointed out that it was particularly apt that ‘today we would be discussing Europe on D-Day and seventy years ago on this day we were at war’. This was the third Morley & Outwood Business Association event (MOBA) that I had organised and I invited Timothy as I wanted businesses to have a post-election session on what the result of the European Parliamentary election and the incoming new Commission is likely to mean for future European policy.  There was a frank and open dialogue between Timothy, local residents and businesses with issues discussed including the red-tape and bureaucracy in the European Union, immigration, trade in the single market and what the new EU landscape is likely to mean. There was plenty of opportunity to chat with Timothy who took away with him concerns that businesses raised.  The event was attended by local residents, charities, businesses, the Mid-Yorkshire Chamber, and the Federation of Small Business. 

On Friday evening I went to watch Lofthouse Brass Band performing at Outwood Working Men’s Club. The group is very talented, the music was both rousing and uplifting and it was wonderful to see such a mixed age group engaging in the music. Then followed the ‘New York Brass Band’ who are sponsored by the Arts Council. They told me that this year they are going through a significant turning point as they are playing at Glastonbury. They were so energetic and original, and I am sure it won’t be long until someone signs them up.

As I say goodbye to the thirties, and grey hairs ensue, I reflect that everyday around us there are important milestones in people’s lives; at an individual level, for a business and for our region as we enjoy the Yorkshire Festival and look forward to the Tour de France coming to God’s own county.

Wakefield Express Column

Wakefield Express: This weeks Column.

Politically Speaking 
Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I welcome the government’s announcement this week regarding the £50 Million GP Access Fund. It is about time that people are able consult their GP’s outside of working hours; it can be a real challenge to juggle work and family commitments and these reforms will better fit into people’s lives, and take the strain off hospitals.  Whilst this is not yet available throughout the country, it is an important step towards change and will help some 7.5 million people in England. Labour changed GPs’ contracts so 90% of them stopped giving out-of-hours care, with these reforms we are moving in the right direction and I will fight to ensure that residents in the area get the health service that they deserve.

Whilst I fully support and are proud of our NHS, I see clearly the areas in which it needs to improve; which include standards, cleanliness, and more transparency on how tax payer’s money is spent and new ways of preventing wastage. Compassionate care should be the hallmark of every hospital. After losing my Dad who caught MRSA in hospital, it has been my driving force to make a difference in the NHS and two years ago I became the Regional Voluntary Rep of the Charity MRSA Action UK.  I have worked with hospital trusts and schools on educational programs and have seen first-hand that the NHS needs a critical friend who will help improve our service and not a protectionist stance. Politicians need to stop unhelpful scaremongering rhetoric and instead replace it with a can-do attitude of action. I truly believe that, ‘Actions speak louder than words’. 

At times we all take the simple things for granted, and recently I spoke with a lady who lives in Outwood who relies on a motorised scooter to aid her on her daily trips. Mrs Waite explained how the poor state of the pavements is proving to be a real challenge for her.  I spent time with Mrs Waite and witnessed that it really was an obstacle course as she tried to manoeuvre around cars that were parked on the pavement and over deep potholes. The local council have increased council tax and we need to ensure that our money is better spent on issues that really effect local people.  In the recent budget Chancellor Conservative George Osborne announced that an extra £200 million is available to be spent on our roads.  I personally want to ensure that some of this money comes to our area that is why I am launching Pothole Patrol’, if you have a pothole problem please email or tweet your pictures and I will personally ensure the council is made aware of this. [email protected] twitter.com/andreajenkyns

My Column in the Wakefield Express

Here’s wishing all Wakefield Express readers a 2014 filled with peace, hope, good health and many joyous moments.

This time of the year is a period of reflection for me, as I am sure it is for many of us. It’s a moment to pause and reflect on the highs and lows of the past year and to make plans so that the New Year may be the best ever. For me, there have been many highs; from being selected as your Conservative PPC, to meeting lots of passionate people along the way and, of course, some personal happy memories too.  There have also been moments of poignancy and challenge; hearing how a wonderful elderly couple lost their son and now their daughter has been diagnosed with cancer, which is heart-breaking – you go back and hug your loved ones even harder and feel thankful.

Turning to the political landscape, I have been looking back on what the government has achieved over the past 12 months. In January we committed to hold an In-Out referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU and the Prime Minister secured the first ever cut to the EU budget, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year. In March, we again froze fuel duty, saving an average of £7 every time we fill up our tank.  April brought a tax cut for 24 million people, saving the typical taxpayer £590; it was also when I got selected to become the Conservative PPC for Morley & Outwood.

Spring brought a National Insurance cut for businesses, making it easier to employ people.  In June we helped to put people on the lowest energy tariffs, saving up to £160 a year. In August we announced an extra £500 million to help A&E departments prepare for this winter.  In October, the Help to Buy scheme was launched to get people on to the housing ladder. In November, the PM announced that EU migrants will have to pass much tougher tests and wait for three months before they can apply to claim out of work benefits.  And finally, December, when employment hit a record high – there are now 30 million people receiving a pay packet each month. It’s been a very busy year.

As we reflect on the achievements of the past year, there is still a lot of work to do, and I am committed to doing the very best in the coming year and beyond.  One of my favourite quotes about New Year is by poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and I would like to leave you with is: “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.”

Politically Speaking (Wakefield Express)

Ploughing extra money into an organisation does not guarantee services and standards will improve. We need to pull together, stop protectionist propaganda, be productive and face up to the fact all organisations including the NHS can be improved.

Under this government there are now over 8,000 fewer managers and 4,000 more doctors in the NHS, whilst a Department of Health study has shown up to £500 million could be recovered from overseas visitors’ use of the NHS every year.

It’s time for action to ensure the NHS is a National Health Service – not an international one. These independent reports prove this is a serious problem the Government was right to address and this is the way forward for all of our sake.

The cost of living is a concern for all of us, and it is disappointing to hear that energy suppliers are set to increase their prices.

I am pleased that the Conservative led Government is legislating to force suppliers to automatically put the customer on the lowest tariffs, while encouraging competition among suppliers which will help to keep prices down.

The Labour Party doubled gas bills while in office and their current policy is not an energy freeze. Within 12 hours Ed Miliband himself admitted he would break his promise if wholesale prices rose. Energy companies would simply raise prices before and raise prices after the freeze to avoid it. He also wants a decarbonisation target, which would add £125 to every household’s bill.

The Conservative led Government had to deal with the worst peace time recession  and has achieved a great deal so far, but good news stories never always make the news. It has helped freeze council tax for 3 years in a row, seen an average tax cut of £700 for 25 million people and 2.7 million people taken out of tax altogether, helped businesses create 1.4 million new jobs, the deficit is cut by a third, employment is up and 29.87 million people are now in work.

The UK’s economy grew by 0.8% in Q3 and the government announced it is supporting British Motorists by freezing the MOT test price and putting in measures to clamp down on high motorway fuel prices.

It is also helping families with childcare with a scheme which means families effectively pay no tax on the income that goes towards paying for childcare and have extended free childcare.  It is these types of measures helping secure the future of all of us.

Things are not easy for any of us, but at least we are striving to improve Britain and ensure all of our futures are brighter.

Wakefield Express Column

As mentioned in my last column, planning and development are indeed incredibly important issues affecting people within our area. The Labour run Leeds City Council is proposing to build 8,000 homes in our area which includes building on our greenbelt sites. We need new houses and development, but, we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to cope with it and we must begin by making better use of our brownfield sites.

This is why I recently took a local resident action group to meet the Planning Minister Nick Boles to discuss the concerns. He was very supportive and gave the group invaluable advice. I have also arranged for the Secretary of State Eric Pickles to visit our constituency over the next few weeks. I have been working with the community groups and been supporting them with developing a strategy and counterproposals to be submitted to the council and planning inspector. If these concerns are not addressed then it will put tremendous pressure on our schools, doctors, roads and services. We also need homes that are more affordable, and future-proofed to cope with the needs of our ageing population.

I am pleased to see the British economy continues to improve under this Government with the UK growth forecast to 1.5 per cent for 2013, from the 0.8 per cent it had predicted in May 2013. Surveys have shown consumer confidence has grown, which will only aid the economy further as consumption makes up two thirds of spending. There has been an income tax reduction for 25 million people and 2.4 million lower earning individuals have been lifted out of income tax all together. A total of 1.25 million new jobs have been created in the private sector, Council Tax has been frozen for three years in a row now and mortgage costs are lower; the British economy is moving from rescue into recovery. We still have a long way to go, but, the fact we are keeping interest rates lower, fixing the welfare system and cutting taxes ensures all hardworking people benefit during this recovery period. If we spend, borrow and incur debt as previous governments have done, then it is the hardworking people who will incur higher taxes, more expensive mortgages and higher bills. Therefore, this improvement in our economy is incredibly encouraging.

Finally, last week I attended a meeting in Outwood, it was to set up a community-led group called ‘Friends of Outwood Park’. It is designed to be resident-focused and a way to make the best use of our parks in providing facilities people really want. There were some great proposals and I look forward to updating you on these over the coming weeks.

Diary of a candidate: Bolts from the blue (Total Politics)

Continuing the theme of writing; I was recently asked to contribute to the Total Politics Magazine. They wanted me to write a light hearted column regarding life on the campaign trail. So here is my first go at writing it:

I thought of entitling this journal entry ‘selection day dancing’, as that’s precisely what I did when I was selected in the primary. It was one of those euphoric, dancing-around-the-room moments – a goal I’d worked towards for some time was in reach. Being a Yorkshire lass and having lived and worked locally, I want to represent the people in an area that I know well. My first month was a flurry of campaign meetings, writing press releases, designing flyers, setting up social media, organising our first Action Day and campaign launch event.

***

My first outing was with local MPs Alec Shelbrooke and Nigel Adams, spreading the message in West Yorkshire that 25 million people have benefited from our government’s Income Tax Cuts. Next came the St George’s Day celebrations in Morley. Thousands of people attended the event, which included St George on horseback and a parade through the town. My first campaigning Action Day was held on an extremely rainy day in May. With umbrellas in tow, over 20 party volunteers helped to distribute leaflets, and we finished off the day with a carvery in the local pub.

We’ve been out every week conducting surveys and delivering leaflets. In one surreal moment on the campaign trail, a lady stopped me in the street and asked if I’d seen the Avon Lady. “Follow me, then; maybe you can do something about this?” she said, pointing to the statue in the park opposite where she lived: “That really freaks me out – I keep dreaming about it. Can you get rid of it, please?” That’s been my most unusual request so far.

***

I attended a well-attended public meeting regarding the Local Development Framework. Leeds City Council has proposed building over 8,000 homes in the Morley district, predominantly on green-belt land. Hearing the attendees’ concerns, I arranged for a local action group to meet with the planning minister, Nick Boles, to discuss the LDF and voice their worries.

I’m not against development per se, as we do need more homes, but I’m concerned whether the local infrastructure can cope with these development ideas. We need further investigation into options to make better use of our brownfield sites. I’d also like to see more homes being built that local residents and first-time buyers can afford.

***

The Ee Bah Gum Festival on Saturday 3 August celebrated all things Yorkshire, and I had a stall at the festival. It was truly a day to be proud of our Yorkshire heritage, and I couldn’t think of a better time to launch my local ‘Let Britain Decide’ campaign, supporting the Conservative promise to give the British people an in/ out referendum on our membership of the EU before the end of 2017.

Andrea Jenkyns is the Conservative PPC for Morley & Outwood

First Column in the Wakefield Express

Welcome to my first column. It is a privilege to be standing as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Morley and Outwood, it is a role that I take seriously and I am 100% committed to.  Firstly a little bit about myself; I am aged 39, a Yorkshire lass, I have worked as a store manager in Wakefield, and the White Rose Centre. A life outside politics with over 15 years in management in the private sector working for multi-national companies, I also taught as a music tutor in three secondary schools.

A singer and songwriter, I have always used my music as a way in which to fundraise for charities.   I am a Trustee for the charity MRSA Action UK.  My passion to make a difference in raising hospital standards was a result of the tragic death of my beloved Dad from the hospital superbug MRSA .  I would like to kick off this first piece thinking about history.   Our beautiful Yorkshire County has some fine examples and historic landmarks and we Yorkshire folk are proud of our Yorkshire roots.

I recently saw on one of our community websites a phrase that reflects our pride,  ‘a community that forgets its history has no future’.  This statement resonated with me last week when I was looking at the greenbelt sites where the council has proposed to build around 8000 new homes.  Looking at the beautiful countryside I did wonder what will become of it, will future generations have the chance to enjoy these green open spaces?  We need to preserve all that is good, but I am also mindful that we also need to move forward, we need new houses and development, but we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to cope with it and we need to begin by making better use of our Brownfield sites.

It is also important for political parties of all colours to learn from history.  I was interested to read how in May 1996 Gordon Brown as Shadow Chancellor promised that Labour would display irondiscipline” on economic matters.  Today and over a decade later the Labour party are using the same rhetoric.  In truth we inherited the worst deficit in the G20. But we are moving from rescue to recovery with the deficit down a third, employment up and record low mortgage rates. 

I am pleased to see that the vote in parliament on whether to have an IN-Out Referendum to decide if Britain should remain in the European Union was successful andhad the full backing of David Cameron and the Conservative MP’s.  We British people are now one step closer to getting the chance to have a say on our future, and protect this great country of ours from further meddling by the EU bureaucracy.  

Andrea Jenkyns Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morley and Outwood