The 2004 winner of the Epolitix Environment Champion Award, Joan has long combined her environmental concerns with a commitment to her native North Staffordshire.
She was born in Stoke in 1949, went to Biddulph Grammar School and took a degree in social administration at Hull University, followed by a diploma at Swansea. She worked with recovering alcoholics, and in the planning department of councils in Swansea and London.
Joan was elected Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North at the 1987 general election. She soon became shadow spokesperson for Environmental Protection and Development and then for Transport, a post that she held for the five years between 1990 and 1995. Prior to the election to parliament, she was a member of Lambeth Council.
Joan has been one of the key MPs raising the public and political profile of such issues as climate change, sustainable transport, alternative energy, and responsible government procurement. She is honorary president of the Institute of Environmental Health Officers and takes a keen interest in public health matters. She also knows that making big change is achieved through small steps, and works to link the local with the global. She is Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons.
However, her real focus is embedded in the constituency which extends from Burslem, the mother town of the Potteries, to Tunstall and surrounding former mining villages to the rural part of Staffordshire Moorlands. Regenerating the communities of the constituency is a must. That means working alongside local people and building local partnerships to deliver the improvements that are needed as the area undergoes structural change.
Joan works with, and has helped set up many local groups. Examples include the Chatterley Whitfield Partnership (finds new uses for the listed former colliery which is now recognised by English Heritage as important to the industrial revolution as Stone Henge is to the Stone age) and the Burslem partnership which plans the regeneration of the “mother town” of the potteries.
Representing a former mining area, she has been active in getting compensation claims out to miners. She takes a particular interest in citizenship, grass roots football and is a member of the All Party Football Group.
Her other interests have seen her recognised as honorary president of Cobridge Air Training Corps and honorary member of Fegg Hayes working men’s club.