Working hard through the heatwave!
I know, it’s been a long time since I penned a ‘weekly’ blog. Mitigation is the ridiculously busy time we have had in Parliament. But it’s no excuse.
Starting with Brexit. You will, I know, have noticed the huge efforts our Labour team in the House of Lords put in to get amendments through on the EU Withdrawal Bill. Sadly, when they returned to us, Tory rebels did not follow through on their promises to support key amendments, but we got some important wins, and step by step are tightening our grip on the Government’s shambolic Brexit negotiations. Here’s a clip of my speech last week, for those interested in seeing it.
Meanwhile, I have been talking to political leaders across the EU27 and in Brussels to ensure Labour is fully informed, and to build key alliances. In fact I am writing this blog on the Eurostar home from Brussels, where I met colleagues, leaders and friends in the European Parliamentary Labour Party and the S&D Group for very productive talks.
Back in Parliament this week, we had a vote on Heathrow. I’m not in any way against airport expansion in principle, but I do not believe the government’s proposals on Heathrow can be reconciled with our responsibility to tackle climate change or reduce air pollution – which is already at appalling high levels in London. The government’s economic case and the likely cost for this proposal also remains highly uncertain, and there will of course be significant disruption to local residents for many years to come. As I know all too well from the impact that HS2 will have on our local community, these are serious concerns that no government should ignore.
And so to HS2, and as works begin, so the headaches and problems pile up. Every fortnight I meet constituents at my advice surgeries who are already affected by enabling works, and every month I sit down with a group of residents who do an incredible job keeping abreast of the new challenges HS2 presents. Last week I spent a morning on a Euston walkabout with Nusrat Ghani, Government Minister for HS2 , and in a couple of weeks I will have my quarterly meeting with David Higgins, Chairman of HS2. Both of these meetings are vital opportunities to speak up for Camden, and to demand that the assurances given to us when HS2 received Royal Assent are honoured now and over the coming seventeen years. I updated the community at a packed Open Meeting at Netley School last Thursday evening, and follow up will be circulated in the next few days.
On another note, you will all know that it is the NHS’s 70th anniversary. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Frank Dobson, Council Leader Georgia Gould, Mayor Jenny Headlam-Wells and many others in a triple celebration: 70 years of the NHS, twenty years of the Caversham Health Centre in Kentish Town, and two years of its Listening Space garden. I attended as the local MP, but also, with my family, as a user of the Caversham Centre. It’s a fantastic example of the incredible service the NHS delivers despite the very many challenges it faces.
The Youth Safety Taskforce continues to be a major focus of mine in the constituency (quite rightly), and after nine months we are nearly ready to report. Among my most recent activities have been a visit to St Mary’s Church in Primrose Hill where Jason Allen heads up a small but incredibly valuable 24/7 support team for those who have already become involved in dangerous life choices, and are often left behind; meeting with Rashid Iqbal and concerned parents at The Winch; and important roundtable sessions at secondary schools to listen to those who are most directly affected by our approach to youth safety. Thanks to the students of Parliament Hill, Regent’s High and Acland Burghley for their valuable contributions.
A final note on Wednesday night’s Holborn & St Pancras Big Debate, organised by our fantastic CLP. A packed hall at Kentish Town School discussed the challenges of the future economy. Many thanks to our guests Frances O’Grady, Tom Kibasi, Chi Onwurah and Anneliese Dodds, and bring on the next Big Debate!
So, until the next blog, take care. As always, if you want to contact me, please drop me a line at this address, or at firstname.lastname@example.org ,or call the Westminster office on 020 7219 6234.