'Jared O'Mara had his faults, but he highlighted crucial issues,' says new MP for Sheffield Hallam Olivia Blake

The new MP for Sheffield Hallam has thanked her predecessor Jared O’Mara in her maiden speech in Parliament.

Labour’s Olivia Blake delivered one of the shocks of election night when she held on to the seat for her party, when it was widely predicted to go to the Lib Dems.

And speaking in Parliament yesterday she paid tribute to former MP Mr O’Mara, who was largely criticised for being absent while he was supposed to be representing the constituency.

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Ms Blake said: “It is tradition for newly-elected MPs to thank their predecessors upon entry into the Commons. Jared O’Mara, the previous MP for Sheffield Hallam highlighted important issues relating to accessibility of this House, and for this, he should be commended.

Sheffield Hallam Labour MP Olivia Blake. Photo: Olivia Blake

“Whilst he had his faults, many of which he himself admits, I noticed that members have recalled that his intervention in Westminster Hall on his own experience of autism was moving and bought the issue of the agenda.”

Ms Blake said Sheffield Hallam had a reputation for being “prosperous” and was “not considered your typical Labour seat”.

But she said: “The area has a very long history of social justice, to the North of the constituency is the village of Locksley, whose most famous son is Robin of Loxley, also known as Robin Hood. So I'm not the first person in Sheffield Hallam to stand on a platform of redistributing wealth.”

She added: “Despite the history of Robin Hood, many areas still suffer from massive inequality. Some of the most deprived areas in the city sits alongside some of the least.

“In fact, on polling day, this was stark. We not only spoke to people on the so called Millionaire's Row, but we also spoke to families who had been hit by the bedroom tax.”

Turning to an issue she is passionate about, climate change, Ms Blake said: “The climate chaos we all face is unprecedented. Now is not the time for propriety.

“It's the old way of doing things that brought us to this crisis. Some of the industrial relics of that way are still standing my constituency. But now we need radical change.

“And with the only way we'll get that is by taking radical action and taking it now. It is not just urgent it is well overdue.”