As most of you will know I have been a keen advocate about the ills of smoking whether it is cigarette advertising, changing the law re smoking in public places or second hand smoke in general.
Therefore, I am delighted to see that Rotherham Council is renewing calls for standard cigarette packaging.
According to statistical analysis by Cancer Research, approximately 288 school children in the Rotherham area will start smoking this term and within a year there will be 952 new young smokers.
Local councillors have expressed their dismay that central government isn’t doing enough to protect children from glitzy cigarette packaging.
I wrote to the Prime Minister on this very subject back in May, asking him why there was no mention of this in this year’s Queen’s Speech. I am still awaiting a reply.
The recent child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has been in the national media and has shown Rotherham in a very bad light. Whilst people have been sent to jail in recent years there are still issues about what happened.
Last week I had the opportunity to have discussions with the police and the council about their different enquiries into this.
Although I am unsure about the time scale for these enquiries, I am happy that the criteria they are using will answer any questions the public has.
Last week, there was a very lively debate with the Rotherham Pensioner’s Action Group. The main discussion focused on funding for the future of social care, especially the implications on an ever aging population.
Unfortunately, there is still no political consensus on how this will be paid for, and I worry that a solution is not quickly forthcoming.
It is conference season and this week I attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. The aim of such conferences is to meet with delegates, charities, lobby groups and take part in debates, discussions and fringe events.
It also offers the opposition party the chance to put out into the public domain, some its manifesto plans for the General Election in 2015.
At my surgeries, I hear over and over again the big problems many families are facing, especially the huge costs of childcare, fuel prices and general cost of living.
At conference, there have been many discussions on these issues and I gained the impression that if there were a change of Government, they would be given priority, including reversing the “bedroom tax”, which discriminates against the disabled.
I also had discussions with Baroness Young, chair of Diabetes UK, about the time bomb that is type 2 diabetes. It is one of the greatest health challenges we face at present.
There are seven million people at high risk, and an estimated 850,000 undiagnosed.
An awareness campaign has been launched to let people know that their local pharmacist or doctor can do a risk assessment and offer advice. Please visit: www.diabetes.org.uk/risks for more information.
Although it is short notice there are couple of days left to nominate a voluntary service for the Queen’s Award.
Created in 2002, the award recognises the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers and has the status of an MBE.
I would like to encourage you to nominate a group who you feel deserves this recognition.
The winners will receive a certificate from the Queen along with a commemorative crystal, and representatives of the Award recipients will also receive an invitation to attend one of the Royal Garden Parties.
Nominations can be made at: www.gov.uk/queens-award-for-voluntary-service.