Under fire Sheffield MP Jared O'Mara describes new office and team as being 'like a rebirth'
Under fire Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O' Mara – who has faced calls to resign over a string of controversies – has pledged to represent his constituents with fresh verve and vigour from a new office and with a fresh team behind him.
The politician closed his constituency office for a month in April, there were reports that all his staff were either sacked or walked out, and he stopped holding surgeries or responding to correspondence.
This was the latest in a string of controversies since he was elected in 2017.
During two turbulent years he has also quit the Labour Party after being suspended over historic misogynistic and homophobic comments made online.
More recently, he faced criticism for failing to take part in a key Brexit vote.
During an exclusive interview with The Star, the MP said he would not resign and added that appointing a new team and moving into new officers has given him renewed focus to fight for constituents.
He said: “It feels like a rebirth. I have people moving in my direction. I feel really energised going forward.
“Watch this space because there will be a lot happening.”
Mr O'Mara said several members of his team either left for other jobs or were 'let go' in the Spring.
One ex-employee, Maggie Flude, is taking him to an employment tribunal but he would not discuss the specifics of the case as it is due to be heard in court in September.
He has since scrambled to fill the vacant positions within his team and thanked constituents for bearing with him during a period of change.
“I have not been lazy, we have been really busy. There has been a huge recruitment drive for new staff and we will be moving into a new office.
“Rather than apologise I want to thank my constituents for their patience, I am proud to represent them.
“We have been doing casework since June 3 and we have caught up with everything now.”
He is set to move out of his current office in Redlands Business Centre, Crosspool, within the next couple of weeks.
For the first time, the MP revealed his new base will be in Courtwood House, Silver Street, in the city centre – subject to the final bits of paperwork being completed.
He accepted that this would take him out of his Sheffield Hallam constituency, but believes there are many benefits to the move.
“Disabled access isn't the best at this building, there's no lift. It is a much better at the new place.
“There are also three meeting rooms and it is much more private for people who visit.
“People complain that they find it difficult to get to the current office because of the bus routes, but they are more frequent heading in and out of town – so it should make it easier.”
Mr O'Mara, who has autism and cerebral palsy, said health factors prevented him from taking part in a key Brexit vote recently.
He slipped a disk in his back and has a torn bicep which has forced him to wear a 'vest and elasticated shorts' to help with mobility, but he would not be allowed into Parliament in the outfit.
The MP is now calling for Parliament to move into the digital age and introduce technology that would enable MPs to take part in votes electronically without needing to be in the House of Commons in person.
He said: “(The technology) is not even at 1960s level, let alone 2019.”
In the immediate future, Mr O'Mara intends to organise a series of public meetings in Sheffield over the coming months to engage people in current affairs.
Details about where, when and what the topic of conversation could be are still being worked out.
But he said they would take the form of a panel of guests, including himself, before an audience in a question and answer format.
“I want the aim of it to be about discussing where we are at in society and where we want to be a decade or so down the line.”
Mr O'Mara also pledged to support campaigns and causes important to people in Sheffield Hallam – and he would be revealing which causes he is backing in the coming weeks.
He also said he will “work solidly” over the next couple of months – a time MPs usually reserve for summer recess.
Said Mr O'Mara: “From July with a new team and office we will be fully up and running and I will be working solidly. So I urge constituents to get in touch and we will look into their issues.”