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I want to repeat my thanks and appreciation to all those who have helped deliver the covid vaccination programme. It has been a pleasure to volunteer at some of those local vaccination centres and see how much patients—young and old—appreciated their vaccines. None of that would have been possible without all those doctors, nurses, pharmacists, staff and volunteers who make a difference every day.
I also thank the many community groups in Dudley South that have supported people throughout this pandemic, such as Lions boxing club in Brierley Hill, which offers top-quality training for people of all backgrounds locally, and the “Black Country Blokes” podcast, which is based out of that boxing club and is helping men to talk about and address mental health. Congratulations to Kev Dillon, who helps run both groups, on his recognition as a Birmingham 2022 home town hero. We look forward to the Commonwealth games coming to the west midlands next year. Grassroots coaches and volunteers like Kev do so much to make it so special. Applications for the Commonwealth games volunteering programme are now open, and I hope that my constituents in Dudley South will take full advantage of the incredible opportunities on offer.
As we look forward to a time after covid, we must build back better and deliver better opportunities for our children and for the next generation in places such as Dudley South. I have started work on my seventh annual jobs fair for this September, to help people back into jobs and develop their skills for new careers. I thank the Department for Work and Pensions and local staff for all their help and support in organising that event.
Delivering a brighter future for the next generation is not only about jobs and prosperity. It was a pleasure to meet Dudley’s Members of the Youth Parliament, Jake Cartwright and Laiba Kiren, to talk about protecting our global environment, and in particular tackling plastic pollution. That is a major challenge that our generations must take up in order to leave a better world for those who follow.
Our local environment is also important. The new planning framework must help bring derelict brownfield sites back into productive use, while allowing communities to protect valuable green-belt sites such as those at Holbeache and the Triangle in Kingswinford, without worrying about decisions being overturned by the inspector. The draft Black Country plan is wrong to include those two sites, and communities need to be supported in getting them replaced with better alternatives. Levelling up means making sure that people in Dudley have equal opportunities, as they would elsewhere in the country. If we succeed, Dudley has a future that is every bit as bright as our proud heritage.
With apologies to my hon. Friend