Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 13 February

Earlier this month barely a quarter of a mile from my office Tracey Shelvey jumped from the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre roof and died. She had been staying at a Rochdale hostel at the time and was said to be living in fear of a former soldier who had been cleared of raping her. 

What has subsequently emerged is that the Independent Police Complaints Commission have now acknowledged that they are investigating the way in which Greater Manchester Police dealt with her rape allegation 18-months ago. 

The police watchdog is expected to report on this soon. While I wouldn’t want to pre-judge their verdict, I am of the view that there’s still a long way to go before we can have full confidence in how police deal with rape allegations. 

Getting access to justice for everyone, particularly vulnerable people, has to be a major priority in Rochdale and, as the recent Serious Case Review into the grooming scandal showed, we still have work to do to achieve this. 

The recent case of Sheila Holt has shocked many people and I was extremely disappointed to hear this week that she is still being harassed by the Department of Work and Pensions despite lying in hospital fighting for her life. 

Sheila suffers from a complex disability and was recently admitted to hospital where she subsequently had a heart attack as a consequence of the pressure she was put under to take part in the Government’s work programme. Even now, despite being in a coma since December 17, she is still getting letters from companies contracted by the Government urging her to get back to work. It beggars belief. 

I was pleased to speak in a debate on entrepreneurs this week in Parliament and voice my concerns at the barriers preventing people setting up their own businesses. All over our Borough there are thousands of people who dream of setting up their own business, being their own boss and having greater control of their destiny. I would like to see more of these dreams become a reality, but the cost of doing business has become extremely prohibitive. 

Unfair business rates, soaring energy costs and the cost of finance all need to be tackled if we’re going to properly unleash our town’s entrepreneurial potential to bring back growth, jobs and create value. At the moment ministers rely too much on big companies for growth and that has to change.

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