In these last few weeks before Christmas, a lot is being packed in. This week more on HS2, a commonwealth visit, refugees and a reminder of the brilliant everyday work of our NHS staff.
The work of the HS2 Committee has reached a critical moment, as far as Camden is concerned. Petitions from people across our community are now being heard.
It can be a somewhat daunting process to make a presentation in the House of Commons. So last Thursday I met petitions from Primrose Hill to give them some idea of just what would be involved.
I explained how to lodge any slides and tables with the Committee clerk and how important it was to provide any script, so that this can be included in the evidence.
The Committee has been fairly informal in its procedure, so it is not necessary to be too worried. But it is critical to have a clear, concise argument and precise ‘asks’ that the Committee can understand.
A range of issues were raised at the meeting and I provided advice on how best to tackle this part of the process. In the next few weeks I will be appearing before the Committee to argue for adequate compensation for Camden residents.
Clearly we have many battles ahead and the participation of our community is a vitally important element in this campaign.
This Sunday a team from Holborn & St Pancras got together with our candidate for the London Assembly elections next May. We set off from Camden tube – supported by this lovely dog!
It was one leg of a ‘three constituency challenge’ with Andrew, which also took in Chipping Barnet and Hampstead and Kilburn.
I also hosted a group of MPs from across the Commonwealth something of our area.
Andre Fortin, a Canadian MP from Quebec, Wilson Duncan from St Helena, Abdikadir Ore Ahmed, who represents a seat in north-eastern Kenya and Helena Pik-Wan Wong from Hong Kong joined me for most of a busy Friday morning tour.
We took in the Royal Free, some of Camden’s new home building, Drummond Street and HS2 and had a chance to visit Netley school, at the kind invitation of the executive head, Bavaani Nanthabalan. You can read more about the visit here.
On Thursday we learnt of the tragic drowning of seven Syrian refugee children and their mother, who died when a boat carrying them capsized. They – like so many – had been trying to reach Greece from the Turkish coast. More than 600 people have died so far this year attempting this crossing. Overall well in excess of 3,000 refugees have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this year.
Finding an adequate response is testing all European leaders. But here in Camden we are trying to do our bit. Many organisations have sprung up – taking food and clothing to Calais or welcoming families arriving in the borough.
Kentish Town Labour party held a well-attended open meeting to discuss the issue. There were around 70 people, residents as well as party members. They heard from expert witnesses, as well as people who had first-hand experience of the fate of refugees. This was followed by small group discussions.
It was the beginning of a process – not the end. A group has been established to look how best to support refugees arriving in London.
Finally I wanted to thank all of you who contacted me about my wife, Vicky, who is now home after being taken to hospital.
Her treatment was brilliant and I want to join her in thanking the staff for their care. As she put it in a tweet: “Home from 3 days @ Royal National Throat Nose & Ear Hospital. So grateful 4 the care & kindness given to me by the amazing staff.”