Since being elected in December 2021, our new Member of Parliament, Helen Morgan, has made the news speaking about local ambulance waiting times, championing local business and farmers as well as disability access to Whitchurch station.
Speaking with Pant Today, Helen who lives with her family in Harmer Hill, shared her thoughts on a number of important issues – both nationally and more locally.
But we started with an international question on support for Ukraine. Helen says that she is generally supportive of the Government’s efforts to help Ukraine, although she would like to see even tougher sanctions introduced. She says she is also concerned that bureaucratic delays are getting in the way of families finding safety.
“What is really important is that the process to help Ukrainian refugees is made easier,” she says.
“There are lots of generous families across North Shropshire who have kindly opened their doors to house refugees but many of them are having a difficult time making any progress due to the burdensome and inefficient nature of the system.”
Helen says that she is largely in favour of a bypass being built for Llanymynech and Pant. But adds: “In general I’m against building new roads but having seen the amount of traffic and the size of the vehicles using the A483, it is clear that a bypass is needed.
“I am looking forward to seeing the details of National Highways’ proposals which are currently being worked on and then the best option will need to be decided on and put to Government.
“While the long-term option is worked on, more needs to be done to improve safety blackspots along the A483 like Llynclys Crossroads and the villages. Therefore, I was pleased to learn recently that the police are due to install speed monitoring equipment between Llanymynech and Pant.”
As a new MP, Helen says she has had to learn a lot about Parliamentary procedure quickly. “There’s a whole world of acronyms you need to understand to get by, from UQs to EDMs to better known ones like PMQs.”
Getting to speak on the floor of the House of Commons isn’t as easy as it might sound says Helen: “I’ve tried to seize every chance possible to stand up and champion North Shropshire in Parliament but it’s not as simple as just standing up in the Commons whenever you want to speak, the old-school system means you have to be persistent and have a bit of luck.”
She says that, behind the scenes, some parts of Westminster are very helpful for finding solutions to local problems but others can be infuriatingly slow and ineffective. For example, she says that the Home Office is clearly failing to cope with the volume of passport and visa applications.
One important area of work for every MP is liaison with their local councils. Helen says that she works extremely closely with Shropshire Council on all sorts of issues – from road improvements to helping Ukrainian refugees and dealing with housing applications.
“My team and I are in constant contact with council officers and I have a quarterly update with the Council leaders along with other Shropshire MPs.
“While I don’t agree with many decisions the council makes – like spending tens of millions of pounds on Shrewsbury’s shopping centres – it’s important that MPs work together with local authorities regardless of political persuasion and I try to do this as much as possible.”
Finally, we asked Helen how she enjoys spending her spare time, away from constituency work.
“What spare time?! It’s been pretty hard to come by since I was elected but whenever possible I try to go walking with my family. I also keep chickens and cats, enjoy gardening and am trying to start running again after taking a long break.”
To get in touch with Helen on constituency matters visit https://www.helenmorgan.org.uk.