Posted at 12:06 pm , on Jan 17, 2019
It was to my deep sadness and regret that on I was informed on Tuesday that Marks and Spencer is to close its store in Huddersfield town centre. The store is not only the source of employment to 71 of my constituents, but it is a vibrant and long-standing pillar of our town.
The decision will have profoundly damaging and lasting effects on footfall in the town centre, the security of the store’s employees, the access of shoppers, the prospects of M&S and indeed the faith consumers have in the retailer. Huddersfield, for 85 years, has shown loyal custom to the retailer and I believe that M&S should duly value this and reconsider its decision to withdraw from the town centre.
Huddersfield is a vibrant retail hub and it saddens me greatly to know that M&S intend to no longer be a part of that. For nearly a century, the people of Huddersfield have had access to a full range of M&S products and that practical convenience is now being taken away from them in a move that I consider to be short-sighted and fundamentally flawed.
I urge Marks and Spencer to halt its implementation of this decision and consider how it can retain its vital and valued presence in Huddersfield. I stand with my constituents and ask the retailer to think on what I believe to be a decision which will incur lasting damage to consumer confidence, the place of M&S on the high street, the constituency’s loyal customers and the store’s 71 employees.
Posted at 9:54 am , on Jan 11, 2019
On New Year’s Eve, a fire at a self-storage facility in Croydon meant that almost 12,000 customers lost everything that they had stored within the facility – in some cases this included treasured personal possessions or the entire stock of some businesses. After the event, customers raised concerns and questions regarding fire safety risks within not only the facility in Croydon, but self-storage centres across the country. These concerns were relayed to me by the MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, who determined that the fire in his constituency, which devastated the lives of many, was an ‘accident waiting to happen.’
The facility’s inadequacies included that the storage units were open at the top allowing the blaze to spread from one unit to the next, a lack of a sprinkler system and 24/7-hour security presence, no records being taken of what was stored in the facility, and considerable issues surrounding the insurance of goods. Given the amount of personal and commercial property which held in these facilities in Huddersfield and nationwide, I feel compelled to share these concerns with their managers and owners. As such, I have corresponded with each facility in Huddersfield, urging them to consider the answers to the questions below in order to identify, pre-empt and resolve any safety concerns which could cause irreversible damage. The questions include:
- How does the design of your self-storage facility prevent fire from spreading once it starts? E.g. are the individual units fully contained with no gaps through which fire can spread; what other fire containment measures are present; are sprinklers installed throughout the facility?
- Are security staff on-site 24/7, and if not how is the site monitored when it is not staffed?
- What checks are made to ensure that customers do not store flammable materials on site?
- Are all entry points to the site (including loading bays) fully secured or monitored at all times to prevent accessed to unauthorised persons?
- Are all insurance services you offer to customers fully regulated by UK regulatory authorities or are they structured in ways that subject them to regulation by other jurisdictions?
- Are all staff giving advice to customers on buying insurance, insurance risk and levels of cover fully trained, and how are untrained staff prevented from giving advice?
I am confident that if we can identify any risks and manage them accordingly, we can mitigate the possibility that the events of Croydon will be unnecessarily repeated and further property destroyed.