Plymouth MP Luke Pollard has taken the decision to temporarily step down from his shadow cabinet role to give the community the “attention it deserves” following the Keyham shootings earlier last month.
The Labour politician, who is the shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, is also the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport – which includes Keyham.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced via social media earlier this week that Mr Pollard had requested to step down from his shadow cabinet position for the next month.
Sir Keir has accepted the request with Mr Pollard handing over his additional responsibilities to Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner.
The Plymouth MP will return in time for the Labour party conference in the autumn.
Mr Pollard told PlymouthLive: “I’m very proud to be a Janner and live in the area I was born. For me Plymouth is always the priority.
“This is my home. I live half a mile away from where the shootings took place and I want to make sure that the community there know they’ve got their MP on their side fighting for them.
“Long after I’ve finished being an MP this will still be my home. I want to make sure that whenever that day comes I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I’ve done everything I can do to support the community where I live and I call home.
“There’s never been any doubt in my mind that the priority should be Plymouth.”
Sir Keir tweeted at 3pm on August 30: “Today I’ve agreed a request from @LukePollard to take a step back from his shadow environment role for the next month so he can support his community after the shootings in Keyham. He will return for #Lab21.
“While away, @DanielZeichner will look after Labour’s Defra work.”
Mr Pollard responded by saying: “The events in #Keyham have shaken our community and have hit us all hard. That’s why I’ve asked @keir_starmer to allow me to step back from my shadow cabinet role for the next month so I can focus on our community in Keyham.
“Keyham is hurting and so is #plymouth. When I was elected in 2017 I promised I would put Plymouth first as an MP and I meant it. Our community must get the support we need from Ministers and it’s my job to get that support.
“Over the past fortnight our community, local councillors, the city council, the Police and many more have stepped up to help. It’s my job as Keyham’s MP to be focused on the community at this difficult time. We will get through this and will get through it together.
“I’m very proud of the work the @labourdefra team do in holding the Government to account on issues ranging from fishing to farming, food to nature. The climate and ecological emergency needs pressing action. @danielzeichner will be leading efforts while I’m taking a step back.
“The #keyham shootings have affected our whole community. Please look after each other but also look after yourself too. It’s OK not to be OK and help is available. Talking helps especially over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Please know you are not alone.
“I’m grateful to @keir_starmer, Parliamentary colleagues, local councillors and friends for the support they’ve offered Keyham, Plymouth and me. You can help too by donating to the #plymouthtogether fund.”
“The shooting in Keyham has been extraordinarily difficult for our community,” Mr Pollard told PlymouthLive. “As an MP who literally likes to roll their sleeves up I wanted to make sure I was giving the attention to the community that it deserves.
“I didn’t want too many plates spinning at once, that’s why I asked Kier Starmer to allow me to step back from my front bench role to make sure Keyham is getting the support it needs.
“We know from the tragedies that we’ve seen around the country; from the Manchester bombings to Grenfell that after something like this it takes many, many years for the community to start to heal properly.
“As the local MP for the area it’s my job to support that community. In my mind this was a no brainer.
Mr Pollard said that the Labour leaderhad been very supportive and understanding of his decision to step away from the shadow cabinet for a limited time.
He also added that he had received a number of messages from not only Labour MPs but also Conservative politicians who had supported his decision.
During his month away from the shadow cabinet, Mr Pollard has said he will be providing support in different “buckets.”
He said: “They will be the immediate support, in terms of the right services and we need to make sure people know how to access those services too.
“Having a sustained presence in the area will make a difference but that’s a job that is being shared with some really brilliant people from the city council, Livewell, the NHS, our police, our local councillors but the one job that really only I can do is to make sure that our voice is heard within the debate at Parliament.
“I want to make sure that over the next month I use this time wisely to listen to people, listen to people’s views around what went wrong, how did we get here and why this was able to happen.
“We don’t just need warm words from government, we need long-term funded support.”
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