🗳️ It's by-election season in Chester and Stretford! | Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd on how we can prevent another tragedy like Awaab Ishak
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As we were recording this week's podcast, the Housing Secretary Michael Gove was up in Rochdale for talks with the local housing association that owned the flat where two-year-old Awaab Ishak died after prolonged exposure to mould.

Awaab died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in a one-bedroom housing association flat. His parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, who came to the UK from Sudan, repeatedly complained about the mould and they say they weren't listened to because of who they were.

Since the full horrendous details of little Awaab's death, Mr Gove has taken personal involvement in making sure housing associations like Rochdale Boroughwide Housing do more to prevent future tragedies.

He has blocked the £1 million in funding RBH was due to receive to build new homes and won't give it any more until it proves it is a responsible landlord. The social landlord's chief executive - who earned £170,000 last year - has been kicked out and its directors have promised to do more to up their game.

But is that enough? Before he stepped into the Commons for a debate about Awaab's death, local Labour MP, Tony Lloyd, spoke to The Northern Agenda producer Dan McLaughlin.

And, as we head into Christmas, there's a present coming down the chimney with Santa for anyone who enjoys swingometers, late night results and canvassing for votes in the cold and wet.

The next few weeks will see not one, not two but three by-elections for Parliamentary seats in the North of England, putting Westminster watchers on high alert as they try to assess what it all means for the fortunes of the party leaders.

On December 15, we'll find out who will be replacing Kate Green in the Greater Manchester seat of Stretford and Urmston, as she leaves to become Andy Burnham's deputy mayor. And sometime in early 2023, there'll be a by-election in West Lancashire, where the incumbent MP Rosie Cooper is resigning to take up the job as Chair of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

But the first by-election grabbing our attention is in Chester, triggered by the resignation of Christian Matheson after complaints of “serious sexual misconduct” against him - which he denies - were upheld by a parliamentary watchdog.

What have these three seats all got in common? They're all held by Labour with pretty big majorities, so it'd be a big surprise if they changed hands.

But there's still plenty of local angles to be interested in, so to find out what the big issues at play in Chester, Rob Parsons speak to Mark Smith, a Local Democracy Reporter who covers Cheshire West & Chester.


The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin.

You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/

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