Education and health are two issues of vital importance to Sunderland – and I have serious concerns about the future of both.
Earlier this month I contacted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to highlight my fears over school funding problems within the city.
The stark reality of the situation in Sunderland was brought home to me when I recently met with a local head, who told me how teachers and assistants are not being replaced due to lack of funding.
This particular school has an excellent reputation and has always been prudent with its finances.
However, for the financial year 2019/20 they have a projected budget deficit of £90,321.
Unfortunately, this school is not unique.
I understand that most schools in my constituency are facing swingeing cuts to their budgets – which are going to push them beyond breaking point.
I am now calling on the Chancellor to use his autumn budget to address this issue.
It is vital that the children of Sunderland are given the best possible educational grounding to help their futures.
Also of great concern are proposals to close three urgent care centres in Sunderland.
Access to healthcare when needed is a basic right that the people of our city should be able to rely on.
Figures released by campaign organisation 38 Degrees show 95 walk-in centres in the UK – 40% of the original number – have closed, or are due to close, since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
This has resulted in even greater pressure on A&E departments and now, sadly, the NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is proposing to close centres in the city.
Instead of patients accessing urgent care at Washington, Bunny Hill and Houghton, they would – under the proposals – be sent to Pallion or for other out-of-hours appointments.
I am seriously worried about Pallion’s urgent care centre being able to cope with a huge increase in patients if these plans go ahead.
We really do need local services for local people.
A campaign to protect our city’s urgent care services has my full support, and I have also written to the chief executive of the CCG asking for an urgent meeting to discuss this issue.