MPs Watch: Antisemitism, £380m transport fund and road safety
Last updated Mar 1, 2024

Every month the Stray Ferret tries to find out what our local MPs have been up to in their constituencies and in the House of Commons.

In February, the newly launched York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority was allocated £380 million to improve local transport, and a Harrogate councillor came under local and national spotlights following an antisemitism row.

Here’s what we know after analysing their online presence.

Andrew Jones, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP.

In Harrogate and Knaresborough, here is what we found on Andrew Jones:

  • Mr Jones spoke in the House of Commons about antisemitism on January 19. He cited former Harrogate Lib Dem councillor Pat Marsh’s “horrendous” tweets, which described Jewish people as “vile”.
  • He visited Yorkshire Water’s treatment works in Killinghall, which the company has invested £19m in to reduce phosphorus levels from running into the River Nidd.
  • Mr Jones spoke about road safety in the House of Commons on February 27. He referenced the £380 million investment into North Yorkshire transport and asked if this money could be used to fund road safety improvements through capital projects.
  • He voted in favour of the third reading of the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill.
  • He also visited the Harrogate Bus Company and Harrogate Neighbours alongside the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

When we contacted Mr Jones for comment, his office sent details of his February engagements.

These included meeting with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to discuss VAT on dementia day care services, as well as meeting with Cancer Research UK to mark World Cancer Day.

Mr Jones also chaired a meeting of public transport providers with Disability Action Yorkshire and hosted the UK Infrastructure Bank in Parliament for a reception.

He hosted the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Parliament to launch its latest report and also met with chief executive of Elevate, Nigel Ashley, to discuss plans for the new primary school in Knaresborough.

Julian Smith, MP for Ripon and Skipton.

Julian Smith, MP for Ripon and Skipton.

In Ripon, here is what we found on Julian Smith:

  • Mr Smith spoke in a debate about the Windsor Framework in the House of Commons at the beginning of the month.
  • He tweeted about the roll-out of “lightning-fast” broadband, which he said is “great news” for residents and businesses in Ripon.
  • Mr Smith also supported the £380m transport funding for North Yorkshire, which he said would go towards more regular bus routes, fixing potholes, upgrading train stations and reducing congestion.
  • On February 23, Mr Smith also met with pupils from Nidderdale High School in Parliament.
  • Mr Smith also voted in favour of the third reading of the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill.

We contacted Mr Smith to see if he would like to share any particular highlights. His office responded with a review of his February engagements.

They included visiting Farewell Funerals in Masham, which offers bespoke and environmentally friendly funeral services.

Mr Smith also welcomed the news of an increase to North Yorkshire Council’s budget, which will see a rise of nearly £45 million for 2024 and 2025, as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

The MP also met with local farmers after the Prime Minister announced the government’s plan to back British farmers. This includes investing in sustainable farming businesses, strengthening food security and improving support available to farmers. His office said this is “welcome news” for farmers in Ripon.

Keir Mather, Selby and Ainsty MP.

Keir Mather, Selby and Ainsty MP.

In Selby and Ainsty, which includes parts of south Harrogate, here is what we found on Labour MP Keir Mather:

  • Mr Mather updated his X, formerly Twitter, page 11 times this month. None of the updates related to areas of his constituency which fall in Harrogate.
  • He led a debate in Parliament about road safety in North Yorkshire. In the debate, he said 36 fatal collisions happened in his constituency between 2018 and 2022. He did not say how many, if any, happened in Harrogate.
  • On February 21, Mr Mather posted on X to say he was voting for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire with regard to the Israel and Gaza conflict.
  • In the House of Commons, Mr Mather also contributed to a debate on the UK economy on February 19, which followed the news of the UK slipping into a recession.
  • Mr Mather voted against the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill.

When we contacted Mr Mather for comment, his office sent details of his engagements for February.

These included meeting with North Yorkshire Council to discuss preparations for flooding, as well as hosting his first cost-of-living advice hub.

Mr Mather also took to X to claim the Prime Minister has “plunged standards in public life to new depths”. This came after Rishi Sunak criticised Keir Starmer’s definition of a woman as the mother of Brianna Ghey, a transgender teenager who was murdered last year, sat in the Commons during the debate.

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